Faith · Fitness · Health · Love · Parenting · Perspective

2 Steps Back and 5 Forward

5F2B2 Steps Back and 5 Forward: An effort to get to know yourself and who you are made to be, deeper than the outward reflection shown in the mirror.

A local women’s group did a short exercise with the ladies who were present. It is a Christian non-denominational group for new, seasoned, young, and older. A lovely mix of women.

*I follow online because although it is God-centered, it still isn’t a Best Yes for my time when I add in the driving to town and back and how it disrupts my family’s schedule.*

The exercise asked the women to say or describe two things about themselves that are negative.

  1. I overshare details and stories… then spend anxiety-ridden time mentally re-hashing all the oversharing moments that just spewed forth from my lips. Ugh. Thank goodness I don’t publish on here every thought I actually say out loud. Awkward!
  2. I get extremely frustrated during transition times with my kids. Daycare pickup is the absolute WORST. I’m overwhelmed. They’re talking and arguing over each other for my attention. We all end up with our feelings hurt when I have to SHUT IT DOWN.

^^^ It honestly didn’t take much to come up with those. ^^^

The exercise then asked the women to say or describe five positives. I’ll take this one step further, in honor of the book I’m currently reading – Walking with Purpose, and say it can’t be about my job or my duties as a mother or wife.

giphy4Ummmm…. Hmmmm… Maybe…. ?

  1. I am compassionate for ALL things. I catch spiders and release them outside. I don’t want anyone to suffer. If it has to be the end for a living creature, I want it to be quick and painless. Hungry? I want to feed you. Confused? Let’s figure this out.
  2. I very rarely rush to judgement. I like to gather my own research before forming an opinion. I have friends from all sides of the political, geographical, and faith spectrum. Discussions, when respectful, are thought-provoking and enlightening, even if I disagree with the other parties.
    giphy5
  3. I am determined. Four years and two babies ago, I decided if I ever wanted to get in shape and feel good mentally, physically, and emotionally, I had to make it happen. No one else could do that for me. It was MY job to exercise; MY job to make devotion time; MY job to figure out where my life was going. Yes, I have a husband, two littles, a job, a pet, family, friends, etc… but what was my path? my goal? Was I just supposed to feed small people and handle advertising from my computer? No.

    I have a bigger purpose. It is one that is constantly evolving and coming into focus as I make another trip around the sun.

  4. Honesty. I told my children that if they ever ask me a question (which they do 3:1 for every statement – truly, I counted), I will ALWAYS tell them the truth. Don’t want to know about Santa? Don’t ask unless you want the truth and history behind Ol’ Saint Nicholas. What happened to Nana & Papa’s old dog? It died because a body gets old and unable to heal. NOT that it went to live on another farm with other old dogs…. Right Mom and Dad?

    I really think honesty is key here. We sugar coat too much to the point where the next generation won’t understand reality.
    giphy6

  5. Love. Love for my family. Love for my friends. Love for people I don’t even know. I am unconditionally loved by God and want to share that love with those around me.

    I separate love from “like” and “enjoy” and “happiness.” Sure, those are comfortable feelings, but in the uncomfortable is where we grow, support, and care for one another. It’s easy to give a high-five or a smile at the end of a game. It isn’t as easy to sit with a bestie after her engagement ends or know what to say when a friend miscarries, but those are the places that love illustrates beauty. Spending time volunteering to give a hand up to the less physically fortunate or going to an elder care facility and touching a frail, lonely hand, that’s love. Parenting with grace (so hard sometimes!) is another form of love.

    We don’t all “do” love the same way, but think of the world if we all “did” real uncomfortable love in SOME way for somebody.

So there it is. My five positives and my two negatives are out there. Time well spent looking a little deeper into myself.

Much love — Jen

Health

Road Trip

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Sunday- Monday was our biannual road trip to see my neurologist. We left after church on Sunday. Kissed the kids, installed the car seat in grandpa’s vehicle, threw the bags in the backseat of our truck and headed west. 

I love getting to spend that time with my husband — and by time I mean about 7 hours one way and then about 7 hours back. We cover a lot of topics that we don’t normally get to talk about. 

I sing in the car to pretty much anything that comes on. I tried to introduce him to a different genre of music, not so successfully. I listened to his talk radio shows for awhile. We tried to get excited about the Super Bowl, but meh. Not so entertaining on the radio.

We arrived at our friends’ apartment in time for the 2nd half of the Super Bowl and then continued to visit late into the night — 11pm is late for us. Don’t judge. We changed time zones and have two young kids. They were very gracious to put us up for the night. In the midst of our visit, they are closing on a new house and moving out of their apartment in 2 weeks!

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Denver is a big city. We spent most of the morning in traffic trying to get somewhere to eat breakfast. We finally settled on a clean, suburban IHOP where 3 guys were sharing a joint outside. Oh Colorado… How different you are…

Of course, IHOP isn’t known for its dairy free options so it isn’t EVER my first choice. However, the map on my phone had taken us to two options that were not open, so I settled for a California scramble minus the cheese and butter and added some hot sauce. 

After that we trekked back north towards a shopping center where I completely struck out on the two things I needed: jeans and a swimsuit. There are no swimsuits for sale in or around Denver in February. #Ihateshopping

Fortunately, there was a good coffee shop at this shopping center. I settled for a coffee and read my book while he continued to browse. (Present over Perfect – a gift from a friend for Christmas – check it out for a new read.)

As usual, my actual appointment and reason for the road trip was short and sweet. We reviewed my MRI – stable, did blood work – all in normal ranges, and ran thru my physical assessment – no loss of sensation this time! All good things.

She was very interested in my bout of GI virus about a month ago as it apparently caused a psuedo-relapse and threw my nervous systems for a loop before I even had the actual GI symptoms. The crazy pain it caused was likely a “MS Hug.” All things that are new to my experience with this disease. See my blog Tingles about this.

Two interesting developments:
1) We didn’t do contrast on my annual MRI. There is research that the gadolinium can eventually build up in the body and isn’t good for the kidneys, so the group of specialists where I doctor have decided not to order contrast unless they believe something is new or active. I have neither indicators, so no contrast.
2) There is a new treatment being approved by the FDA this spring. It is only twice a year infusions and thus far after 3 clinical trials, has no risk of PML. I’m doing well with almost non-existent side effects with the Tecfidera. I’m not looking to change right now, but this would be a good option in the future according to my neuro – pending getting it thru all the insurance hoops.

Home again home again…

We were happy to make it home late last night and the kids were excited to see us this morning. It’s a big sigh of relief when that trip is over and done.

Health · Perspective

A Running Update About Running

I haven’t updated much lately about my runs. There’s a good reason for that… I haven’t been running.

I came down with a nasty, nasty, nasty virus the day I finished my 40 mile December. That’s right, just one nasty wasn’t enough emphasis. After fighting it at home for a few days, it landed me in the hospital on fluids and zofran for 2 days. Bless the person who invented IV fluids. I received about 6 bags before they unhooked me and sent me home.

That virus knocked me back hard. It fired up my immune system, therefore making my nervous system angry too. I tingled on my arms, legs, and back for two weeks. I was fatigued. I was drinking broth and struggling with solids. And now, I’m finally back at it. I’m working on gaining back some of the weight I lost. I couldn’t keep my running pants up at the sick weight. Not cool.

I went for my first run in almost three weeks yesterday. I parked the car by the grade school so I could cover my day of carpool and ran from there. I ran up the street to the track and knocked out a mile. Then I turned around and hustled back to get my crew of 1st graders. I seriously felt like this: 

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Did I pull that move out once or twice as I chugged it down the street? Maybe. I’ve been caught dancing on a treadmill. It happens.

Running that 1.6mi route sparked my mind to start thinking again of spring running goals. Do I try to train for another half or do I stick to 10K’s and work for a half this fall? I’m just not sure. 

My running thoughts on running…

1) Start easy with pace andl2sqc3popzkj5r8sq distance.
2) Visit with Neurologist about touchy immune and nervous system.
3) Set Spring running goals.
4) Refresh music playlist.
5) Go do it.

 

Much love — Jen

Faith · Family · Health · Love · Perspective

Socks on the Floor

I read a woman’s journal entry today on her site. It is titled “Stop Being a Butthole Wife.” It was blowing up on Facebook news feed. Most of my friends are young wives or husbands. Many have children. It fits for where we are in life.

It is obvious by the number of times it has been shared that it touched a nerve. So here’s my perspective on relationships and what I took from her writing:

  • I can’t even fathom what it means to lose a spouse. I don’t think devastated is a deep enough word for that level of hurt. My husband and I joke about who would be on our “list” if something ever happened to one of us. Honestly, it ends up being a humorous analysis and conversation. At the root of it all is the FACT that he would want me to be happy and move on if he was no longer alive. I reciprocate that sentiment.
  • All those little nitpicky things like socks on the floor, his belt and pocket contents on our kitchen counter, and his mug next to his chair where he ate graham crackers and milk before bed – TINY inconsequential occurrences. These really don’t matter in the panoramic view of our life together. That I know they exist feels comfortable to me. This is his house too. He rarely comments about my bra hanging on the bathroom doorknob and when he does, it’s because company is coming… We try to extend grace to one another.
  • There is so much beauty in a committed relationship. We submit to each other daily thousands of times a day. Why do you always have to be right? You don’t. A huge weight is removed once you confidently are able to recognize that. Do we agree all the time? No, we aren’t playing make-believe house. Disagreeing is healthy. It means we both have a voice. It allows us to maintain ourselves as individuals.
  • I ordered flowers for two different funerals today. My nephew had brain cancer at 18 months and is now a healthy 9 year old. My dad had cancer twice – stage 4 the 2nd time. He is 5 years with no detectable cancer now. We lost my mother-in-law at age 54 two years ago in March to a sudden brain bleed. The innocent get sick. We are helpless to fix it. Those we love pass away.

People – socks on the floor don’t matter.

Maybe I’m writing this because I learned a number of years ago that perfection isn’t possible. I was a perfectionist until I united my life with my husband’s 11 years ago. I was a butthole wife at that point. Young. Naive. Ridiculous. Trying to make my life pinterest-perfect. We’ve had this conversation. I’m still a work in progress, but I know we are in this together for the long haul.

I’ll keep picking up those socks and he’ll keep reminding me about my bra on the doorknob before our company walks in the door. It’s a partnership of love and grace. And it’s totally worth it.

Family · Fitness · Health · Perspective

Tingles

Did I Push Too Hard?

That is the question I was asking myself as I laid with my 4yr old at bedtime last night. We finished prayers. She talked about Lola the dog and Aspen her daycare friend. She answered my daily request of “what was the best part of your day?” And then we laid there and held hands while her favorite lullabies played softly.

I cherish this time of night with my littles. My husband and I trade-off nights with each child. Sometimes it is a quick 5 minute tuck-in with prayers, but tonight was 45 minutes of laying still and cuddling. And there is nothing wrong with that for so many personal reasons. Those reasons I’ll discuss in another entry.

While I laid there patiently waiting for her to settle down and fall asleep, I thought over the past two days. I am pushing for a 40-mile December. To some, that might not seem like much. Only running 40 miles in a month. Many in my online running group have big, amazing goals like 100+ miles or are headed for a 3000 mile year. To others like my non-running husband that seems like a ridiculously large amount.

To me: Attainable but it would require finding time whenever possible to squeeze in a few miles. Time would be a much bigger challenge than distance.

So I did. Sometimes in only 10-15 minute increments. Running into the Wellness Center or down the road for however long I could snip a quick moment out of the day (with childcare). Looking at the calendar, it’s easy to see when school was still in session: homework, carpool, work, meetings, appointments, feeding my crew… and not much running.

I’m sitting today at 37.2/40. I’m feeling confident I can get the last 2.8miles today.

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However, it may be slower than the past few days. Just speculating, but I think I made my neck lesion mad.

Wednesday I knocked out a pace that I haven’t managed before. I ran my 5K in approximately 24 minutes. As I finished up mile 3, my legs started to get wonky and did not want to stride correctly. It was a strange phenomenon I’ve never experienced before.

Thursday, I ran intervals for mile 1. I warmed up from 6.0-6.5. I revved the treadmill up to 8.2. I needed a quick trip to the bathroom following mile 1 so I jogged to the locker room. 

I’ve had the “tingles” in my legs before when running, but never quite like this. It wasn’t painful, but tingles on the outside of my thighs, and on the inside and outside of my knees when I sat down. When I stood up they were gone.

My spine felt good – no L’hermitte’s. Hips good. No issues in my legs upon washing my hands and walking back to the treadmill. I ran another mile at 7.0 revving up to 9.2.

But in the quiet of my daughter’s bedtime, I have to ask myself – Did I push too hard? Is this normal for anyone else?

For years, I assumed that the strange things that my body did were just normal quirks. No pain, so not a big deal. Just an occasional muscle jerk here or a double clutch on my left foot when doing Zumba. It wasn’t until the numbness of my actual “event” (which I thought was exercise induced by bad form with a kettlebell) that my medical professional and I were led to say “what is going on in this otherwise healthy person?”

Pretty sure my neuro (who I’ll see in February for a 6m check) would say “Hmmm… Jen, use some common sense here.”

Common sense – Looking at, working out with, or having a conversation with me would lead a person with common sense to say ‘she’s perfectly healthy!’ But looks are deceiving, which I was reminded about by the presence of my tingles.

Looks like I’ll be finishing up my last 2.8 a little slower than I’d planned. I can’t express how thankful I am to be able to run or even hop or walk those last miles toward my goal. Those tingles gave me something to think deeply about and brought about a whole new depth of gratitude for simple mobility.

Don’t take anything in life for granted.


Much love to you as we close out 2016! — Jen

 

Fitness · Health

Socks for Christmas

What is the big deal about asking for practical things for Christmas? My list this year included foaming hand soap for the kitchen, a new knife set to replace our 11yr old dull, well used wedding gift set, and socks. I get poopoo’d for asking for simple things like this, but usually end up with what I ask for. Apparently, it isn’t ‘fun’ to buy practical items?!

I’ve asked for socks for Christmas for the last 3 years. Not just any socks though, running socks. If you run distance and haven’t tried a specialized running sock, I highly recommend you invest in a pair or ask for a pair for Christmas or your birthday!

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Crazy Compression Socks that I purchased.

Brands: I like Balega (made in South Africa) and Crazy Compression (pictured here -made in NC, USA). I’ve also heard positive reviews of Feetures and Bombas, but I’ve never tried them. Upon researching the companies (because that is something that I do), I found that Feetures is a family owned company in North Carolina. Owning a small business with my husband, I try to support businesses like this. Bombas are made in China, but do a 1 to 1 donation in the USA with homeless shelters. For each pair of socks sold, they donate a pair to a homeless shelter. This gets snaps in my book.

Cost: They run $10-30 a pair depending on the brand and what sale codes you can find. Thus, they usually go in my “gift” category instead of in the “necessity” category. I did splurge on two pairs of compression socks this year. I didn’t own any, but thought it would help with muscle recovery after long runs. Good news! Crazy Compression has a 30% off sale right now with code: “fun30”

Why Invest in Running Socks?  My philosophy on investing in good running socks lies in keeping the condition of my feet at a tip-top level for running. I’ll never be a foot model. My husband swears I have “hippie feet” from spending my summers barefoot. My feet aren’t pretty, but are completely functional for distance running. Dedicated runners get blisters, lose toenails, and can sometimes have gnarly looking feet. Running socks help with the hot spots and blisters. Getting fitted for the right running shoe for your feet plays a large part with the black and missing toenails.

My Next Run:  I tend to call the 5K, 10K, and half marathons “runs” instead of races. The word race implies that I’m trying to medal. Most half marathons do present you with a medal at the end for completion, but I’m talking about placing in the top 1-2-3. I’ll likely not be able to do that and honestly, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t run for accolades or public praise.

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I’m toying with the idea of signing up for 1 of 3 local half marathons. I haven’t chosen one yet. One is in March – Rural Route 13.1, the next in April- Wicked Half, and the final option is in May- Bill Snyder Half. Every year, I think I’ll sign up for the run in March, but then I don’t. Last year it rained for that whole event. The run in April is a good option, but I’ve heard it is a fast course. I’m not sure that even with the addition of interval training for speed that I would be happy doing a “fast course.” The final run is in May. That is as late in the spring/ early summer as I will run due to the heat in the Midwest and my body. Heat and MS do not mix. Depending on which I choose, I’ll have to start a training plan. Hmmm….

Any way around it, I’ll be needing some Christmas socks!

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Creativity · Faith · Family · Fitness · Health · Uncategorized

Creative Insomnia

Insomnia. Apparently, it is quite common. Defined as “habitual sleeplessness or inability to sleep,” this is a frustrating part of life for millions of people. Some struggle with getting to sleep. Others struggle to stay asleep. According to medicalnewstoday, there are many causes ranging from psychological and medical issues to technological media being present in the bedroom. The diagnosis of insomnia covers a wide range of people and blankets a myriad of diagnoses.

In the Trenches

When my doctor first asked me about my sleep, I was eyeballs-deep in parenting a non-sleeping 1 year old and rambunctious 3 year old. I kid you not, my 1yr old slept only eight nights the first 14-15 months. She was a tiny, healthy little thing that simply did not sleep. “This too shall pass” was a frequent phrase for me. I was also working full-time. A glowing picture of sleep, I was not.

Flashback!!!
Sleep? Who are you kidding?

So what do you say when your doctor looks at you and says “How are you sleeping?”  My reply was simply that I wasn’t but isn’t that what most parents in the trenches say? Was my situation really any different?

Insomnia and the Brain

The nervous system is an amazing superhighway transferring messages (stimuli) along the neural pathways. Central command is the complex powerhouse known as your brain. Have you seen the Pixar movie ‘Inside Out’? That’s a fun illustration, but it does so much more than just control feelings. The brain delicately sends out messages for voluntary and involuntary muscle movements. When you have a lesion – it screws everything up.

If I could find my latest disc with my annual MRI pics, I’d post one. It’s fascinating. Every year when I have my MRI, our hospital sends me home with a copy with the current scan and a copy of the previous year’s to take to my neuro. I go home and pour over these images trying to note any changes. Thus far, I haven’t had any since the first one showing the initial lesion(s).

Snowball

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Autoimmune fatigue is a different kind of animal… and it likes to snowball. For example – I like to run. I can run a half-marathon and be tired at the end. I might even “hit the wall” in proverbial running terms. It still isn’t the same kind of fatigue as autoimmune fatigue. When the real thing hits, you really don’t have a choice about “should I stay and work 15 more minutes on that project?” or “I wonder what we’ll have for dinner tonight?” It is a cancel or postpone whatever you can, tone it down, rest, keep your eyes open and body awake enough to safely get everyone home type of reaction. It is bad — and I didn’t really understand that until I experienced it.

The kicker is…. just because you rest doesn’t mean you sleep. When you don’t actually sleep, your body doesn’t get the deep REM cycle it needs to heal. Thus begins the snowball effect. It doesn’t always start with autoimmune fatigue, but you can bet that after a few days or weeks of not getting that deeply needed sleep you are seriously tip-toeing along the edge of the autoimmune cliff.

Creative Insomnia

I fall into that category of insomniacs that don’t have a problem falling asleep, but can’t seem to stay that way. Who am I kidding??? When I tuck my littles into bed, I’m probably drooling and unconscious before they are…

Back to an appointment with my neuro… He suggested a few options:

  • Melatonin
  • No media 30 minutes before bed
  • Amitriptyline (wide range of uses!!!)
  • No caffeine
  • Empty bladder

On top of those options, I’ve found that regular exercise and making sure my magnesium levels are sufficient are the keys to a full night’s sleep. Not every single night, but the majority are better with the assistance of these supplements. I can’t handle even the lowest dose of amitriptyline, so I take a half dose if its been multiple days seeing 2 or 3am. At a half dose, I still have weights on my eyelids at 9am and my amazing husband handles the school prep and drop-off.

When I do see 2 or 3am, I try to make the best of it. In the quiet of the wee hours, creativity flows and deep heart-wrenching prayers are said. If only there was a good way to record that creativity in the dark and warmth of my bed? I feel comfort in those deep prayers and sometimes an indescribable spiritual peace.

If you suffer from insomnia, I strongly encourage you to talk with your doctor and open your mind to possibly look at “outside the box” remedies (exercise, lavender, lifestyle changes, quiet meditation/prayer time).

As with all things, a positive outlook is something I strive for. Psalm 34. It’s worth the look.