Health · Perspective

Invisible Symptoms

Today I’m filling a chair. That’s virtually it. At work, I’ve answered the phone (a lot), taken messages, updated the website and made a to-do list. But…. much of that to-do list will just have to wait for tomorrow. My brain is altogether exhausted.

When a brain is tired, one might think it’s from being a contestant on Jeopardy or perhaps sitting at an important round-table business meeting. Today, my brain is fatigued from a main platter of MS with a side of crazy female hormones. Friends, that’s a bad combination!

Last week, my husband and I trekked to Denver for my annual neurology appointment. Overall, I’m doing very well and MRI-land is completely stable. We both love being active and outdoors, so in addition to the yearly neuro appointment we spent the day in Rocky Mountain National Park.

I met with a new-to-me neurology NP for this appointment the day after our hike. This was the most informative appointment I’ve ever experienced. Perhaps this was because she had a medical student with her? The med student actually performed the physical exam (the works – walk on toes, follow finger, tell me when the vibration stops on your foot…). With each test, she explained whether my results were “normal” or “typical of MS patients.”

My three biggest concerns were addressed. Two of these, I’ll talk about here. Numero Uno is fatigue. I found myself needing 20-40 minute naps a few times a week this summer. If you read my previous post about our summer activities, you’ll see a constantly on the go schedule. Who had time for naps?!

Guess her prescription. Seriously, just guess…

It was to…. TAKE NAPS. Her exact words were “a nap can do more for you than any medication I could prescribe. You need to take the guilt out of getting rest.”

She explained that where the lesion is on my spine, I have a “loss system with invisible symptoms.” When my brain contacts my legs (and thankfully they still do), my legs hear the request as a whisper and they SCREAM back. It takes my body more energy to do things because the lesion slows down communication.

When my legs SCREAM back, it comes across to the onlooker as over-reactive reflexes. This was my second concern. My feet and legs have such a touchy reflex that spin class is difficult. As my body heats up from exercise, they become even MORE over-reactive!

Her response: “Get used to it and be happy about it.” Well…. alrighty then… She further explained that I should be ecstatic that my legs and brain are communicating. I guess that means that I’ll strap my feet into my spin bike and just roll with it (pun intended).

After my physical examination, she told me that I’m doing all the right things. I’m drinking a plethora of water daily and my nutrition is good. Continued exercise and guilt-free sleep are my  prescriptions in addition to the Tecfidera.

When I relayed this information to a nurse friend of mine, her response was that it was refreshing to have a medical professional NOT push medication. Instead, she recommended I go back to the basics of self-care: sleep, exercise, and water.

Thus, I have. I napped both Saturday and Sunday. I exercised in some form 6/7 days last week. Water? Always 90-110oz a day.

I can’t reverse the damage already done, but I can make sure I’m doing everything possible to prevent progression.

Much love — Jen

Faith · Family · Health · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Long Hiatus

Back to writing. This has been a goal for months. Cue the triumphant music!

Shortly before this long writing hiatus began, my life was increasingly frazzled by anxiety. I’d been battling this for months… basically the majority of 2018. After suffering a couple actual legitimate anxiety attacks while my husband was away on a trip and then (quickly after) chosen to sit on the jury for a brutal murder case, I sought help from my family practitioner. She helped me get chemically back on track with the assurance that with a very small amount of anxiety medication, my already strong coping skills would kick back in.

She was correct. I stopped wanting to run away from my family. The crazy sweating, racing thoughts, and desire to be alone stopped! My coping skills like reading, exercise, washing dishes, etc… were able to climb back to the surface and work their magic.

Good thing those stopped because baseball started for my son in March and ran thru July. Even after 4.5 straight months of baseball, he was disappointed when it was over! I ate more hot dogs in those months than I have in my entire life. We started the season wrapped in blankets wearing gloves and ended it sweating thru tank tops and shorts. Totally worth it!

baseball blog
Pee Wee District Champions!

My daughter had 6 weeks of a coach pitch/ t-ball combo in the mix as well. The kids had us hopping all summer. Something at the ball field Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday (all day) and Sunday evenings means that this mama is investing in better lawn chairs next spring. It’s on my Christmas list. The kind of lawn chairs that fold up and have hydraulic shocks — the deluxe model – will be worth the cost.

We took a family vacation to South Carolina in June to visit family and introduce the kids to the Atlantic Ocean. They flew for the first time. Nerve wracking for me, but honestly, they gracefully handled layovers, a diverted flight to Charleston and tarmac time due to a storm, turbulence when our pilots squeezed us into Columbia’s airport before the storm hit again, and security when SOMEONE put an open water bottle in my bag unbeknownst to me. (eye roll)

family
Family in South Carolina

After a flight to Las Vegas in March, my spine/ lower back started to hurt. After solid scoldings from my family practitioner, husband, sisters, and a nurse friend, an MRI revealed a bulging disc at L5 – S1. This is actually a relief given my MS history. I was flippant about how serious this was until I stopped being able to move without pain. Up, down, walking, sleeping, standing… it was all painful. I started Physical Therapy. There it was revealed that along with the disc issue, my SI joint was also rotated. How incredibly humbling it is to go from running half marathons to not being able to walk! Anyone who has been thru PT knows that it’s a slow, meticulous battle. I graduated PT, bought a SI support band (Serola BioMechanics gets 5 stars from me!), and recently have waded back into running. It’s only one mile at a time, but as the saying goes “you have to learn to crawl before you walk.”

Mixed into the fun was VBS, fishing, playground time, family time, wheat harvest, fall crop planting, our full-time business, and many many more activities. Summer seemed to rush by. I’m not sad it’s over. It wasn’t a hustle, nor did it feel terribly stressful. It was simply FULL. Full of good memories and time spent together that we all appreciate.

Here we are now. Back to school and September is already rolling. I will try to write more regularly. I’ve felt it stirring in my mind and my fingers to get back to it.

Much love — Jen

Perspective

On the topic of cartwheels

I don’t remember as a child making a judgement on shorts and jeans based on if I could do cartwheels in them. I was and am still quite decent at cartwheels, round-offs, and handsprings. However, I don’t remember deliberately making fashion choices hinging on those activities.

For the past month, everything my 6yr old wears has to pass “the cartwheel test.” This means she literally does a dress rehearsal of the outfit- every single day- with cartwheels across the living room.

You’d be shocked at how many outfits don’t pass the test! This means she repeats the whole process over until the fashion matches the function.

This morning, she wasn’t feeling the cartwheel approved outfit we chose last night, so the outfit was reworked. She settled on turquoise converse shoes, black and turquoise athletic pants, and a flowered pearl snap blouse.

I’m quite positive I wouldn’t have chosen this combo, but she’s rocking it with a strawberry colored, non-brushed messy bun. Honestly, she’s pulling it off in impressive style.

Wouldn’t it be great to take a page from her book on fashion and confidence? I’ll add this to the growing list of things my daughter has taught me.

Perspective

Obvious

This morning I met a couple of my friends at the local coffee shop. No big event, but we’ve discovered that we are all happier when we make a couple hours each month to get together.

six white ceramic mugs
Photo by rawpixel.com

As we chatted about our kids and spring break plans, I realized how down-to-earth my crew is. They are wonderful, low maintenance, comfortable friends. If we don’t see each other for a couple weeks, we are able to walk right back into a conversation. No hard feelings that we weren’t able to grab dinner or if a birthday wish was missed.

Here’s a bit of wisdom I gleaned from our conversation.

  • No spring break envy amongst our group. Spring break for most of us working parents means that we are now trying to balance a work schedule with no school and minimal childcare. No one in my circle is going to lay on a beach anywhere. We did spend time talking about day trips we’d like to take our kids on this summer.
  •  The objective for kids’ sports has gotten out of control for our young children. My 8yr old son played his first year of traveling basketball this winter. He gets to exercise and spend time with his friends. We emphasized that he should do his best, but doing his best should be fun at this age. A parent commented after a bad loss (that none of the boys were upset about) that “how they played, none of them will be playing in college.” Ummmm…. yeah… I looked at the other parent and said “well, they’re in 3rd grade so that’s not much to worry about now.”
  • Don’t fool around with or sleep with someone who isn’t your spouse. Just say no. In addition, after one has wrecked his/her own marriage stop the carnage and don’t go around deliberately making passes at other married people. Just Say No.
    giphy
  • R Kelly – Sir, you aren’t allowed to buy women. Ever. His comment (paraphrased from his televised interview) “that those parents sold their kids to me” hit a nerve. You can’t declare your innocence out of one side of your mouth and then confess that you purchased young girls.

This is not my normal theme for writing. I’m often deluded into thinking that what appears to be obvious to me is obvious to everyone. However, as I age I’m finding that not to be true.

Family · Perspective

Perfect Morning

I named this post after the candle I have burning on my desk at work. It’s a delicious creamy coffee smell.

If I’m honest, I prefer the smell of coffee over the taste. Tea is more my thing.

As I write, our current real temperature is -6 Fahrenheit. Wind chill sits near -20F. This past weekend, we added another 4 inches of snow to the 7 inches we accumulated from the previous storm.

I’m thankful for the shop guys plowing and piling thru the 4ft frozen drift that blocked my east driveway this morning. The kids were also excited about the prospect of playing on this later in the week when we get a tad bit warmer. Still frozen… but in double positive digits.

My father-in-law refilled the bird feeder and threw out milo for the yard rabbits this morning. They’ve taken to chewing the bark off our lilacs. We’ve had snow cover for weeks and the wild creatures are getting hungry.

Basically, winter is still in full-swing. I speak for all us winter-loving people: “we are ready for spring!”

Faith · Family · Health · Parenting · Perspective

Three Legged Race

Just in case you’re wondering if I’m still here… yes… yes I am. I wrote an entry a couple of weeks ago, published, and deleted it. I wrote last week, but after a re-read it was just too personal (see family issues below).

My crew and I just crossed the finish line on three ridiculous months of juggling all-things-life. giphy-3

Summary:

  • Busiest season at work
  • Husband/ business partner gone long-term twice
  • Multiple school programs
  • Volunteer activities at church and in community
  • Christmas gathering – then Christmas again – then Christmas again
  • Annual MS scan and labs – I always EXPECT these to go well, just anxiety.
  • Driving the mom-bus to gymnastics, 4-H, and youth group
  • Kids’ orthodontist appointments – EVERY MONTH!!! What?!?!
  • And then we slide into this past week….
    • Family issues
    • Finding out I am signed up for treats both Tuesday and Wednesday at school
    • Being called a “dirty whore” by an addict on my way into the pancake supper at church when I asked her if she needed help. Then she looked at my husband and said he’s “a good guy” and we “have nice kids.” Right…..

So there you go. It was more of a three-legged race where we were also supposed to be rubbing our bellies and patting our heads while singing Christmas carols with gusto.

Preposterous…

giphy-2

My end of the year reflection is an annual occurrence. As if on repeat, my head shakes at lunacy we’ve just subjected ourselves to. Following closely behind the head shaking is a vow that “next year will be different!”

We can only hope.

 

Creativity · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Dodgeball and Our Village

Life has me on a bit of a writing hiatus. Here’s a few “Good News” highlights:

Family dodgeball at Christmas. My dad’s extended side is large- about 60 strong. Every year, Christmas dodgeballhosting rotates among the original siblings. Since we are too large to host in a home, we tend to meet in a community center. 2018 ushered us into a celebration in the middle school’s all purpose room and gymnasium where both my aunt and uncle work. If you haven’t played dodgeball since you were a child, you are missing out! We played kids vs. adults, boys vs. girls (all ages), and then split two siblings and families vs. the other two siblings and families. Ages 2 to 69 played. Of course, there was also a buffet of food, a kids’ gift exchange, an adult gift game.

 

The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” rang true again this past weekend. I came down with a respiratory virus complete with fever. This particular weekend, I was supposed to make 16 half-birthday treats with my daughter for her first grade classroom. (This is done for kids with summer birthdays.) A dear friend- our adopted grandparent- answered my text plea to make treats. She picked both my children up, dropped the older one off at basketball practice, and proceeded to make vanilla cupcakes with chocolate chips AND a custom purple frosting with butterflies. My kids used their decorating talents to make the butterflies out of pretzels, candy hearts, and licorice. This amazing woman then fed my children lunch and brought them back out to the house.

Yes, my daughter has her own sense of style. We aren’t squelching it at this point. It doesn’t make the top 40 of battles we need to fight.

Best wishes — Jen