Thursday, August 29, 2013

Speaking of Labor...

Labor Day is coming up.  It's a 3-day weekend for a lot of people - WooHoo!!  This day really has me thinking about the different types of "labor" that family and I do.  The recent health problems that I've been having have made me feel like maybe I do too much "labor" - or at least that's what my mom(s), family doctor, gastroenterologist, neurologist, and chiropractor are all telling me.

I don't do a whole lot of physical labor.  It's not like I'm out in the heat doing grueling manual labor like so many men and women do on a regular basis (like my husband).  The physical labor that I do consists of chasing my kiddos around and getting them everywhere they need to be, coaching Braxton's soccer team, walking in and out and through lots of homes and properties with real estate, running around getting parts and vehicles for the shop, making jewelry and scarves, and occasionally cleaning my house.  None of this is really very physically labor-intensive.

Labor, however, is more than just physical.  The majority of my labor takes place in my brain and in my heart, which might be why I hold so much stress inside...which is likely the root of the cause of most of my health problems.  Aside from what I use my brain and heart for all during the day, those are the two organs that I have the hardest time "calming down" when I try to rest and relax.  I've come to find out that I SUCK at relaxing.  Who knew?? 

When I try to relax, or lay down to sleep, my brain goes 100 miles per hour.  It thinks about EVERYTHING.  It plans activities, it designs jewelry and craft projects, it thinks about gift ideas and ways to help others, it worries about my children - a lot, it thinks of scary things that could happen, it stresses and frets about our business at the shop, it thinks of new marketing ideas and ways to be more efficient for our staff and customers, it thinks and plans and brainstorms to try to think of the best houses to show my real estate customers, it worries about the listings that haven't yet found a buyer, and makes a mental checklist of everything that needs to be done from contract to closing.  While all of this is going on in my brain, my heart just starts pounding.  It goes faster, it skips beats, it speeds up and slows down and feels irregular and just sometimes hurts.

I do fall asleep eventually.  Currently it's with the help of Melatonin and an anti-anxiety medicine to specifically try to "calm down my brain" so that I can go to sleep.  It works pretty well, but I generally wake up in a very tight ball.  My fists are clenched, my jaw is clenched - and though I've been sleeping...I certainly don't feel very rested.  I just feel really tense.  When my fingernails are long, I can literally see the indentions they've made in the palms of my hands, and my jaw is sore nearly every morning.  I'm lucky if I don't wake up with a headache.

So, what to do resolve the problems that my specific type of labor causes...?  It's so hard for me to hear everyone say that I do too much and that I need to cut back.  I love (nearly) everything that I do.  How do you cut back doing things that you love?  I know too much of a good thing is sometimes a bad thing - but still.  I know that doing yoga and/or going for a walk helps relieve some of my stress and tension, but I don't make it a priority.  All of these things that I love doing take up a lot of time, and I'd rather do them than do the yoga and walking.  But, what if my health problems keep getting worse?  I don't consider myself an unhealthy person.  I eat in moderation, I don't do a lot of exercising, per say, but I am still physically active and maintain a fairly average weight.

Dieting is hard, breaking a bad habit is hard, starting an exercise routine is hard, and being consistent is hard.  These are all things I've learned, I agree with, and I know a lot of people struggle with.  You would think that the fact of knowing it will make you feel better would be enough of a push to help you do the daily whatever you've got to do to get it done!!!  But for so many people, that is just not enough motivation.  I've tried scheduling yoga time in my phone calendar in between all my other appointments, but I'll be honest - it usually gets bumped.

So again, I'm back to "Do I give something up, or do I just suck it up and squeeze in the time for yoga/walking/whatever."  Anybody want to go for a walk or do some yoga with me??  It's good to have a buddy system. 

Have a Happy Labor Day!!  I hope you get to take a break from whatever labor that you feel you have to do, and get to do something that you enjoy. 


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Update

So, I've felt for a while now that I should do a "follow up post" about the Big Scary Procedure that I blogged about last Spring.  To be honest, it has taken longer than I expected to wrap my brain and my heart around how I felt about and dealt with the whole situation.  It was an imperfect and frustrating process, and those that know me well - know how difficult that is for me.

I started taking the not-so-fun, cure it at the site medicine/treatments for my auto-immune disease, Chronic Active Proctitis (no, it's not Crohn's Disease).  It cleared the bleeding up for a while.  Then it came back, so I started back up on the not-so-fun medicine again...but then it got worse.  That specific medicine wasn't working this time.  I called the specialist, and they wanted me to start on an oral medication, steroids.  I'm not sure why this freaked me out so much, but it did.  I'm not sure exactly what triggered my response - but I was mad.  Maybe it was the fact that steroids have been viewed to the public as "bad" because athletes aren't supposed to take them or they'll be kicked out or something??  Maybe it's because as unhealthy as America is - lots of my friends, family, and others in social media are all trying to go "All Natural" and I felt the pressure to do that? 

I had already asked the Doctor (twice in fact), if my condition could be treated or prevented with food.  Like, if I don't eat certain foods, will it prevent these outbreaks?  Or if I eat more of a certain kind of food, will it keep these episodes away?  The Doctor said, no - not with my specific condition. 

This is where I went a little crazy.  Looking back, I think I did not want to accept that I now have, and will be living the rest of my life with, an autoimmune disease.  Just like with my migraines, I had become on a mission to "fix this."  I didn't want to take some artificial steroid drug - surely that can't be good for my body.  So, I met with some sort of holistic homeopathic type of person.  To her credit, she was very knowledgeable about her field.  I stopped eating everything she told me to stop.  I started taking numerous different supplements she told me to take.  I was strict about it - like, OCD strict.  So, imagine my frustration when I was trying so desperately to "fix" myself the natural way, and being SOOOO strict about it - and it wasn't working...  I was getting worse.  I talked to my step-mom (the ARNP) about it, and she said to go back to the specialist.  I talked to my husband about it, and he questioned why I was putting so much faith into the person without the medical specialty degree - instead of listening to my mom and the doctor.  Well, what do they know anyway....I wanted to give it at least a full two weeks.

So, after two weeks of a super strict diet - I had lost several pounds and inches (not my goal, but a nice side affect), but I was sicker than ever.  It was bad.  I had no energy.  I was tired, exhausted.  I was emotional, like crying several times a day!  And then there was, of course, my other actual symptoms of my condition - way, way worse.  I was completely defeated.  So, I made the call to the specialist.  I talked to her nurse, and cried and cried and cried.  Poor lady, she said she wished she could give me a hug through the phone.  She asked why I hadn't followed the initial instruction with the steroids, and I told her I just wanted to try to "fix it."  She said "you know you can't fix this, right?" 

She also said that a lot of people have a hard time accepting it.  I was feeling selfish and guilty, but her words made me feel better.  I went through a range of emotions - but what it ultimately came down to, was that I was mad that I had this condition, felt guilty that I was having such a hard time excepting it - because, let's face it - there are way worse things.  And I was stubborn that I was going to have to take medication for it.  However, after having gone through two weeks of what felt like hell - feeling like I had an eating disorder and taking handfuls of supplements throughout the day....suddenly, taking the medicine for my specific condition didn't seem so bad.  I mean, at least there IS a medicine for my condition.  It took me a while, but I finally came around and am very thankful for that. 

I don't know if God gives us these tests - or if it's just our own free will testing ourselves so that we may better understand and accept His plan for us.  It's not the first time I've been stubborn about something, and been allowed to try it on my own - but then humbly accepted what needed to be done.  He must know I like to be strong, and stands beside me while I struggle, and is there for me when I finally understand and can fully accept these things in my life.

Oh, and the medicine works!!  My condition is much, much better.  I feel much more like myself now - and haven't had any symptoms for a couple of months.  What?  I should've listened to the doctor in the first place?!!  Psshhh!!!  ;)  How about we just let others learn from my mistakes...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Big Scary Procedure

We've all seen the commercials.  Raising awareness and encouraging early detection.  We all know someone who has had something scary.  Something like cancer, or other heath problems.  What would you do, if it happened to you?  If you saw a symptom.  A warning sign.  Would it be too scary to deal with?  Would you ignore it and hoped it went away...? 

It's hard to talk about.  Hard to tell your family.  Really hard to tell your friends.  It's even hard to tell your Doctor - and that's what they're there for!  You don't want anyone to worry....they have enough to worry about already.  Surely it's nothing.  No reason to cause a fuss.

You're smarter than that though.  This isn't normal.  It keeps happening.  It's not going away on it's own.  You're a pretty healthy person - even eating healthy and drinking lots of water....but it's still happening.

So, you tell your husband.  And your mom (well, one of them).  And they say to go to the Doctor.  As if telling them wasn't hard enough, now to have to explain that to the Doctor??!!!  Oh well, they hear this stuff all the time, right?  Or even worse.  (Warning, this is where I probably give too much information - but it's for raising here goes)  So, here it is....I have blood and mucous in my stools.  I don't know why, and it's freaking me out.  I'm scared to death.

Ok, made it through telling the doctor.  Oh great - now you have to check??  OMG, seriously, how embarrassing can this possibly be?!!  Deep breath.  This is their job.  They do this all the time.  It's no big deal, to them.  So, they check.  Well, nothing visual or sensory that they can detect.  It had stopped for about a week, and for the most part, I check out just fine.  BUT - if it happens again....

It happened again.  It's time.  I have to do the Big Scary Procedure.  I am only 31 years old, and I have to have a colonoscopy.  Isn't that for "old" people?  For those men on those commercials?  Or for my mother-in-law who we thought had cancer.  That's such a scary word.  Cancer.  Isn't that what colonoscopies are for?  To find out if you have cancer...? 

I scheduled the appointment.  They sounded so casual about it - like they do this every day.  No big deal.  Well it is a big deal!!! To me it is!!!  I'm scared to death here - shaking on the phone, holding back tears!  You should probably check with your insurance.  You're a little young to be having this procedure, they say.  Well, great.  I've already told my husband, my co-worker (you kind of have to explain tears...), my mom (one of them), the doctor, the nurse, and the receptionist...and now I have to tell some lady at my insurance company??!!  Whatever.  Thankfully, we have really good insurance.  Really expensive for a small business owner, but really good insurance.  It's covered. 

Now, to tell the person that I need to have help me.  The person I want to have bring me to the Big Scary Procedure.  The person who has been through this before, so I know she will understand and be supportive like no other - not even my husband can be.  I didn't know how to tell her.  For those of you who know me well....really know that sometimes it's easier for me to write it down.  Type it out.  The words come so much easier - especially through tears, when I can type them instead of speak them.  So I emailed my mother-in-law.  Right in the middle of the afternoon!  I felt bad after I sent it.  I thought CRAP, I might have just made her cry right in the middle of her work day...  Oh my goodness, how selfish of me...  And then it came.  The most loving, understanding, supportive reply.  Of course she would take me, and be there for me, and pray for me.  And it was all going to be ok.  I could just feel her hug through the computer screen.

Those are the only people I was planning to tell.  I didn't want anyone else to worry.  But then sometimes, you just need to tell a close friend.  Because she's going to figure out something's wrong....even when you tell her all the other reason's you've just been stressed (and trust me, as busy as I am...there are plenty of other reasons), she'll still wonder what I'm holding back.  I didn't tell her at first, and she knew I would when I was ready.  So again, the coward that I am....I texted her.  She loves me though...and texted right back.  She's a prayer warrior, and personally knows lots of other prayer warriors.  I needed her to know.  I'm glad I told her.  I felt better when I told her.  Looking back now, I wish I would have told more of my friends....but I guess that's what this post is for.

I tried to be strong.  I was really busy - so that helped.  I made a valiant effort to be in a good mood - joking about it even - leading up to the preparation and procedure.  I only broke down a couple of times, to my husband.  I needed to, and he was there for me.  I really was so very scared.  I was seriously considering chickening out.  But the problem hadn't gone away.  I had to do this.

I've heard that the prep before the procedure is the worst part.  I was definitely not looking forward to that.  I was supposed to start at 5pm.  Well, I had house showings until I started at 8:15.  Drank the stuff, drank the water, put the kids to bed.  Well, this isn't so bad.  Then it started, at about 10:15.  Being stuck on the toilet is no fun - no matter whether you're "sick" or not...  I thought it would last all night long.  It didn't.  I only had to get up once.  At 2am.  But then I had to drink the "stuff" again at 6:30am.  Oh. My. Goodness...  I have showings starting at 10am!!  I knew I shouldn't have scheduled them - but I couldn't say no!!  Thankfully, when you haven't eaten for 1.5 days, there's not much left inside you.  So, I made it through.  It really wasn't that bad at all. 

Then came the drive to Salina.  My mother-in-law drove.  She chatted all the way.  I'm sure she could tell I was nervous.  So we get there, all checked in, back in the room (or should I say "curtain").  "You can keep your top on."  Great.  "You have to drop your pants though."  Obviously.  They start the IV.  Well, at least I'll be unconscious.  "You won't be unconscious - but don't worry, you won't remember a thing."  Seriously!!!!  I won't be unconscious??!!  You're going to do this while I'm awake??!!!  O.M.G.  So, they wheel me back to the procedure room.  I meet the Dr.  She seems nice enough.  She rattles off my symptoms.  They really don't sound any less awkward when she says them (to me anyway, but she's used to it).  Lay on your side.  O.M.G....I'm pretty sure I'm going to remember ALL of this!  Then they put the medicine in the IV in my arm.  Then the sleepy medicine.  I remember looking at the screen....

And then I was talking to the nurse back in the recovery room, with my mother-in-law.  And I was apparently asking the same questions I had been repeatedly asking for several minutes....  Ok, so maybe I don't remember.  Any of it.  (Thank God!) 

So, I'm sure you want the good news.....I don't have cancer.  Again - THANK GOD!  I do, however, have something wrong.  It wasn't nothing.  I have inflammation in my colon.  They had to take a biopsy to be able to determine what kind of medication I need to take to fix the problem.  They don't know what caused it.  But it can be fixed.  And for that, I am very, very thankful.  I'm thankful it wasn't cancer.  I'm thankful it wasn't "nothing."  I'm thankful I didn't ignore it.  And, and scary as it was in my really wasn't that bad of a Big, Scary Procedure.

Maybe not everyone has such a difficult time with this stuff.  I'm a little shy.  Kind of a prude.  But I am smart enough to know that you can't just ignore it when something is wrong.  It will not go away by itself.  Sometimes you need help.  From your family, your friends, your doctor.  I owed it to my family to make sure that I was healthy.  I'm too busy to be sick!  I could not be selfish and hide my little secret from them.  And I'm choosing not to hide it from all my other family and friends as well.  I agree with the commercials.  If you have blood in your stools - you HAVE to have a colonoscopy.  They said I caught it very early.  The inflammation would have continued all the way up my colon.  It would have continued to get worse if I would have ignored it.

So, consider this your public service announcement.  A personal account, from someone you know.  It's still a little embarrassing.  Please don't ask me about my poop in public!  Ha!  I don't know what kind of medicine I have to take yet, or for how long.  But, I'll keep you updated.  Until then, thank you for reading.  And please, don't be afraid to tell your family or friends when you are having a problem.  Any kind of problem.  And be encouraging to them as well.  You need each others prayers and support.  I'm so very thankful for mine.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Over a Year

So, it's been a year.  Over a year, actually, since my last blog post.  It just hasn't been at the top of my list.  There were so many more important things on that list, and I was too busy living them to even attempt to take the time to document them.  So, here's a summary of the last year:

January - I don't remember!  Ha!  How's that for a summary?  I remember it was COLD, but we didn't have any snow.  I don't have one single picture of my kids playing in the snow.  Booo!!!  If it's going to be cold, we should have snow.  I do remember taking my son to a couple of wrestling tournaments.  It was kind of a rough season.  He was one of the smallest in his weight class, and his Dad couldn't be there for some of them.  That was rough, on both of us.

February - LOVE!  February is always the month that some very special ladies and I get together to go to Maple Memories in McPherson, KS. Some of us scrapbook, some of us quilt, some of us craft - but we all EAT, RELAX, LAUGH and ENJOY!  My daughter also performed in Jr. Dance at a basketball game with some of her little friends.  It was super cute!

March - I don't remember anything in particular about the month of March, except that my real estate career seemed to start to take off that month.  I had showings scheduled nearly every day of the week.  It was exciting, but also a bit exhausting considering I was only doing it "part time" while still working full time at the shop.

April - We were blessed with a new nephew on April Fool's Day!!  Mason James is the cutest little guy, and growing SO very fast!  I'm pretty sure we went mushroom hunting in April this year as well - earlier than the year before.

May - May is always an amazing month, and this past year was no exception.  My son celebrated his 1st Communion and narrated a lovely Mother's Day Tea at school, my daughter graduated preschool and performed in an adorable Alice in Wonderland dance program, I organized the 2nd Annual Spring Fling Craft Bazaar - which grew 5 times larger than the previous year, and of course it was Miss Keely Marie's 5th birthday!!

June - James and I celebrated 11 years of marriage, and by celebrate I mean we spent every.single.night. at the ball fields.  ;)  It was a HOT month of baseball and t-ball, but I wouldn't trade it.  Braxton also enjoyed another season of his favorite sport, golf.

July - Again, one of my favorite months of the year.  We always love going to Aunt Jeanie's 4th of July celebration, then we have my birthday, Braxton's Birthday, the County Fair, and this year we had something extra special - a Little Girls' Weekend at Grandma Jolene's!! It was a BLAST!

August - My baby started Kindergarten (tear), and Braxton started 3rd grade.  Oh, how the time flies.  It was also a busy real estate month as I had several closings that seemed to be happening all at once.  I learned a lot from them and the different challenges they presented. 

September - The return of the "Soccer Mom."  Literally, I coached Braxton's soccer team again b/c no one else volunteered...and he begged me too...and he LOVES it (second only to Golf) so how could I say no?!  Big thanks to Jami for helping out!! 

October - James' birthday, our 5 YEAR ANNIVERSARY at the shop (what?!!) and a totally awesome, girls weren't allowed (except Grandma) BOYS Weekend at Grandad's house.  They had such a good time, and I think it was just as good for the "big" boys as it was for the little ones! 

And of course Halloween.  I remember being in a growly mood about Halloween this past year.  I boy-cotted the pricey store costumes and gave my kids a strict accessory budget - and we made our own.  We got lots of compliments and they looked great - so it was a pretty good lesson for us all.

November - My favorite holiday - Thanksgiving!!  It was also an exciting month for me as the jewelry that I make started being sold in a local pharmacy's beautiful gift department!  AND - check this out - I learned to SEW!!!  Ha!  Don't get too excited, I can only make Infinity Scarves, but it's a start!  That's what motivated me to learn....because I wanted to make those scarves!!  And I made a lot, for lots of people.  It was fun!

December - Feeling especially grateful for the birth of Jesus this month as we are so very Blessed.  Some highlights (besides the obvious joys of Christmas) were a "snow party" indoors with packing peanuts, lots of visits with family and friends, we made homemade-from-scratch sugar cookies for the first time, my jewelry had an amazing month at the store, and the kids had sleep-overs for New Year's eve!

So, as it turns out, writing this "year in review" was actually really good for me.  Up until this point, I had considered 2012 to be less than great....but did you read all that??!!  Even if I tried to jot down the few things that I pouted about this past year - it would not even add up to half of all that awesomeness.

2013 is starting off pretty darn incredible.  So far, we've had an amazing New Year's Day full of sledding with friends, Braxton started playing basketball for the first time ever and LOVES it, Keely is starting to read and write (what??!!!!), and I've already had one house close and 3 more under contract - all within this first month of the new year.  BAM!

And...I'm still creating and dealing with life stuff and mom stuff and busy and all that other stuff.  More on all that some other time. 

Thanks for reading,