Happy First Day of Summer!

Hope StandingSummer is here without a doubt, and our house is not appreciating it.  Our AC quit on us yesterday so it’s up to a whopping 82 degrees in the house.  This is good news for you because it means I’m chilling with the kids in Jake’s office while he cleans and I get to write a blog, yay!  (Yes, that all must sound very strange, so I’ll explain.  Monday is his day off and it was cleaning day today and I was doing the cleaning like any good wife probably should, but then the baby needed help getting to sleep so I am getting a break while Jake does a few things.  Isn’t he awesome?  Yes he is.)

Anyway, so I owe you a bit of a catch up post.  This last couple of weeks has been rather tough for us.  Hope got her casts off at the beginning of the month, which I was looking forward to.  I thought she’d be happier without them, oh boy was I wrong.  The super loud little saw thing they use to get the casts off was traumatizing for her in every real sense of that word.  I was in Jacob’s post-op appointment and Jake was with Hope so I didn’t see any of it, but when I saw her afterward she was a terrible mess.  Her eyes were red from crying (rarely does she cry that much) and all the color was drained from her face.  She proceeded to cry the next 45 minutes until we could get back in the van to go home.

Jake told me how terrified she had been during the appointment; when the tech was trying to get her casts off she literally sat up on the bed and starting punching him.  This is not typical behavio,r as any of you who have followed along will probably realize.  Yes, she hits herself, but she is never violent toward other people.  He told me that he had never seen her that upset, even when she was in excruciating pain when her shunt failed last year.  Wow, has it only been a year since then? It seems like way longer.  Longest year of my life… so glad it’s over… anyway I digress.

When we got her home she did not improve.  Any time we would touch her, especially her legs or feet, she would jump and start screaming and crying.  Even if I accidentally brushed her toe while I was walking by it would cause a terrible fear reaction, any kind of touch at all was scary for her.  For the first couple of days I touched and moved her as little as possible.  We just tried to use very quiet, gentle voices and reassure her but it was like she wasn’t even hearing us.  She was not present.

Diaper changes, and putting her knee immobilizers and braces on were the worst times, and still are.  Whenever I would have to do any of those things it was like she wasn’t even in the room with me anymore, she was somewhere else reliving some horrible trauma, and I was the one triggering it.  The only way I could touch her without her screaming was to pick her up and wait a minute for her to calm down.  One time I did that, and when she came back to reality and stopped crying she just got very quiet and wrapped her arms as tightly around me as she could and grabbed my hair.  It was like she was holding on for dear life.  She’s never done that before, and while I’m glad she’s looking to me for safety, it was heart wrenching to see her like that.

It’s slowly getting better.  She has always had anxiety over people going near her legs and feet, so we are sure the casts must have caused her to have a flashback from some trauma long ago.  She also had other strange symptoms, fever, diarrhea,  seizure-like episodes, lack of appetite, etc.  We ended up having to take her to the ER (where I insisted she get some good drugs so as not to traumatize her more).  Nothing showed up in the tests and the meds they gave her worked great, she was very chill the whole time and didn’t remember it the next day.

She’s slowly improving.  My Hashimoto’s flared up very badly that week and the week after.  Stress is not good for autoimmune conditions, and I was quite devestated by the whole experience myself.  Now we are two weeks out exactly and things have settled down again.  I haven’t been blogging due to that and the fact that I no longer have a computer at the house.  We are rearranging our whole house from top to bottom and the desktop has not been set up the last two weeks so I really don’t have a great way to blog.  Planning on remedying that very soon.

In other news, we are starting school for the kids next week and everyone is very excited about that.  I figure we should probably start over the summer so that when life inevitably happens during the year we have some wiggle room and can still finish up all of our weeks by the end of the year.  And as for Facebook is concerned, I don’t miss it one little bit.  I really thought I would, but I haven’t.  I am so much happier without the drama of it all and the ridiculous amount of time and energy it took from my family.  I feel way more productive now and I’m overall more content and happier with life.  I’m more present with the kids.  It’s an awesome feeling.

And that is all for me!  But I do want to say, if you are interested in checking out another Lutheran pastor’s wife who is also adopting I suggest heading over to Hannah’s Blog.  They are adopting two kiddos and they are in-country right now!  Very exciting!!  Blessings on your week ya’ll!

72 Hours After Facebook

Has it really been three days already?  I’ve hardly thought about Facebook at all today.  I had an eye appointment, the kids spent the afternoon playing in the pool while I did my favorite pastime (list making) and this evening was an early dinner and bedtime for the three worn out little ones.  I’m hoping to get some more cleaning and organizing done this evening since the day was so busy.

I am excited to keep blogging and fill in the details as I go.  I need to actually block some time off for this though, otherwise it will consume my mental narrative much like Facebook did, and it will be distracting.  I’ve noticed that my blog is already replacing some of that mental space I freed up in deleting Facebook, and I don’t want that to get out of hand or I’ll have to quit this too!  Moderation is key and I will be focusing quite intently on that as I start out.

I don’t want to try to do too much too fast.  But there are also so many things I’d like to say.  All in all I don’t think (at this point) I will ever return to having a personal Facebook profile.  It took much more than it gave, and in the end I don’t have room in my life for things like that.  I think it can be an amazing tool and I almost wish that I had found it later in life when I had a better idea of what I wanted out of my internet connections and resources.  But I am perfectly fine without it as it stands.

My dear husband has remarked to me several times today how happy I seem and how even when I do get grumpy I rebound much faster.  I’m not sure at this point if that’s just a correlation or really a direct result of my new-found freedom, but it’s certainly a great start to the journey!  I think I was expecting it to be much more difficult than this, but there is still plenty of time for me to hit some bumps in my post-Facebook road.  Perhaps the craving for that newsfeed will come back.  Stay tuned to find out I suppose!

First 48 Hours Post-Facebook

The first 48 hours without Facebook are officially over, and I am feeling great about it honestly.  I didn’t realize just how much of my mental energy was taken up by that one, virtual part of my life.  I am purging my house of a ton of clothes, toys, etc. right now and deactivating my Facebook account feels quite a lot like hauling fifteen boxes of junk out to the car and saying “So long!” It’s a breath of fresh air, a clean home, space to think and live.

My mind is free from surfing on Facebook, free from spending time on meaningless articles I found on Facebook, free from worrying about a dozen problems that aren’t even mine, free from wondering if I have new notifications, free from the drama of Facebook groups.  I’m free from all of it. And it is a totally liberating feeling.

Freedom is one word that encapsulates all of my why.  Why leave Facebook?  Freedom is why.  When I first started using Facebook it was in its infancy, before it was super cool and when you had to be in college to get an account.  I had a few friends and it was a neat concept, to be able to keep in touch with people who were far away or who might be far away a few years down the road.  Everything I posted felt “private” because most of us only had like ten friends on there anyway.

Over the years Facebook changed and Facebook habits changed along with it.  As more and more people joined and groups became connecting points, friends lists exploded.  People began sharing more than quick chats between each other and sharing other things they had found on the internet: pictures, videos, articles galore.  Advertisements came, Facebook started becoming connected to other sites, to your email and then your phone.

Before we knew it, Facebook wasn’t just a glorified virtual directory anymore – it was an institution.  It had become woven into the fabric of our very lives, intertwined with everything we did, everywhere we went, everyone we talked to.  Before I knew it, Facebook had become my main source for information on many topics.  And it was the main mode of communication I had with almost everyone outside of my immediate family unit.  Not to mention it was the catch-all for my cherished memories, pictures and videos.

I have considered dumping Facebook for years.  There are many reasons, but mostly I realized that Facebook was no longer a tool helping me – it had become the driving force in much of my daily life and routine.  But how could I leave?  Nothing could quite replace the diverse supports and services that Facebook was offering me.  And so it stayed.

But what I realized was that some things just mattered more.  When the authenticity of some of my online friendships started coming into question it became apparent that no matter what the credientials of the person or how long I had been connected to them – if I didn’t know someone in person I really didn’t know that person.  I had to figure this out more than once before it stuck.

651662177095I needed out of this virtual relationship building platform that was so unstable and unsafe.  I needed to get back to the real, incarnate, flesh and blood relationships God had given me.  (Yes I’m talking about those lovely people right there.)  I’m only two days into this change, but the healing is already beginning to happen.  For so long I said “I wish I could give up Facebook but…” And I have others saying that to me now.

My only advice is, you can. And if you wish you could but you don’t that means that Facebook is no longer a tool in your tool box, it is running the show.  And that in itself is a reason to (Elsa voices everyone!) let it go.  😉

My First Day Without Facebook

Five minutes without Facebook… I do believe my body went through some physiological reactions to deleting my account.  I felt my blood pressure elevate, a small amount of adrenaline, quick breathing.  I am ashamed to admit it really, but it was a little scary letting go of it.  I didn’t know what I was losing, but I felt like there was something.

I tried to look at my already loaded Facebook screen on my phone, it reloaded itself and showed me a screen asking me to log in instead.  It felt like a rejection of some kind, after all Facebook and I go back ten years now, as long as any friend I’ve ever kept.  And what was everyone doing?  I didn’t have people to check in on anymore or to comment on their posts or like what they said, how would they know what I thought?  And… what if someone else wanted to read my posts?  They can’t.  They’re gone now.  How strange.

I commented to Jake, “I think I’m just as lonely as I was before, but Facebook let me pretend I wasn’t.  Now I actually have to face up to that.”  He nodded.  Facing loneliness is a scary thing, escaping into social media world allowed me to immerse myself into hundreds of shallow relationships that never really allowed for truly fulfilling connections.  Perhaps now that it’s gone I can begin to build that with the few of you who are still here.  But I won’t lie.  It’s terrifying to me.

*****

Fifteen minutes… we go upstairs to bed.  I ask Jake if I can scroll through his Facebook newsfeed before I go to sleep.  He says no.  I (reluctantly) go to sleep.  I feel frustrated, but I suppose if that’s the worst I feel that’s a good sign.

*****

It has been about ten hours now and I am not really sure what to do with myself.  Usually I wake up and scroll through my Facebook feed for a few minutes while I work up the courage to face my day.  I do this before I even get out of bed!  But I have no Facebook today, so I said a prayer instead, laid there for a few minutes missing my routine, and got up.

I usually check Facebook again while the kids are eating their breakfast.  I haven’t been eating with them most mornings because of not taking my medication on time, (have to wait an hour before I eat) so I’ll just escape into Facebook while there are a few moments of quiet before the craziness starts again.  There’s none of that today, so here I am blogging instead.  I’m not sure if that constitutes progress or not.

*****

Fourteen hours post-Facebook.  It’s mid-morning and I have sat down a couple of times, picked up my phone to do something and then went to open my Facebook browser before remembering it wasn’t there.  I get a tinge of disappointment, and then get up to do something constructive instead of wasting twenty minutes on internet rabbit trails.  Getting more productive, this is good…

*****

Fifteen hours gone and I sat and nursed Kyrie.  I didn’t have anything else to do but just enjoy her.  It was really nice.  I realize how little eye contact we usually make while she’s nursing because I’m usually looking at a screen instead.  When Evie was a baby I focused on her so much more during our nursing sessions.  I need to do that more often; she is already getting so big.

*****

And at about sixteen hours…. HOPE JUST SAT UP ALL BY HERSELF!!! AHHH!!!  I want SO badly to post it all over the internet and I can’t!!!  I am so so so excited.  I put her toy at the end of her bed and when I turned around she was sitting up to reach it!!  I am stunned.  STUNNED.  This is a huge, amazing, wonderful milestone and Jake isn’t home and I have no one to share this with!! AHHH!!!!!

*****

Three hours later (we are at 19hrs now if you are still counting) I am still really wishing I could have posted Hope’s sitting up on Facebook.  She sat up for me five times and no one has heard about it yet.   It. Is. Killing. Me.  And all of the kids are saying hilarious things that would make for great little quotes on Facebook world.  So many posts to post today!  But there will be no posts.  Sigh… Just this blog post.

I have to trust that the people who really, truly care and want to know will keep up with me and our family.  I have to believe that I’m not cutting anyone off who wasn’t ok with losing that connection.  And I have to believe that even if I did unintentionally do that that this is what is best for our family, and my husband and kids have to come first.  Lots of emotions to wrestle with.

*****

Putting Evangeline to bed at twenty-one hours post Facebook deletion and as I went downstairs she said to me “Tootle-loo for now! And do remember me to all your friends!”  Where is Facebook when I need to post these crazy, wonderful things?!  Ahh!!  I need to start a quotes journal or computer log or something…

*****

Twenty-Four Hours.  Well, I made it.  One whole full day without Facebook.  I don’t really miss it.  I miss the convenience of it, but all my muscles are sore from lots of hard work.  I have been more diligent about everything, chores, prayers, mothering intentionally… it’s been a good day.  I think the thing I miss the very most is seeing what is happening with my friends.  I have this blog, but most of my friends and family don’t blog.  I want to be involved in people’s lives.  I want to keep up with everyone who has loved and supported our family.  I’ll need to pray about that.

Realistically I can’t spread myself so thin by being involved in hundreds of people’s lives, even superficially.   I need to build relationships that truly count.  I pray God gives me the wisdom of how to do that.  But today and tomorrow, and the next day I’m just going to focus on getting my own stuff together and building my family back up again.  I’m needed here most of all.

Not Shooting for the Stars

Some days you just can’t get ahead.  I’ve only written six hundred words today.   Not enough, doesn’t matter.  I’m going to bed.  Too much stress today and I feel awful.  I just need to go back to bed.  I suppose, when you’re blogging every day there is going to be a day that is just not pretty.  Today is one of those days.  It wasn’t terrible, but I’m just worn out at this point and don’t feel like doing more.

So tonight I’m not shooting for the stars… I’m just going to go lay down and hope to wake up and feel better in the morning than I did this afternoon.  I would say chronic illness is to blame, and I’m sure it has something to do with it.  But in reality, doesn’t everyone just have “one of those days”?  In case you were wondering, it wasn’t rhetorical.  Give me a shout out and let me know I’m not alone here! Ha… ok… night.  :)

Coconut Krispies Recipe

Today’s mini thought is a delicious tidbit, quite literally.  If you need a GAPS friendly Rice Krispie recipe look no further.  This is the closest thing I can find.  (If you have something more authentic I would love to hear about it!!)  So, before I share the recipe, I’ll let you in on why I created it.

Since I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s I have been on a very strict diet.  There are so many things I just can’t eat without repercussions that sideline me for days at a time.  I am more or less used to this way of eating now, but I get cravings for certain things that I know I can’t have anymore.  One particular item I’ve been craving for weeks is Rice Krispie squares.  Mmmmm….. Rice Krispies…. they are the perfect treat.  Oooy, chewy, gooey with just a touch of crisp.  Marshmallowy, vanilla flavored goodness all in a perfect square shaped treat that you can take pretty much anywhere.  Who doesn’t love these things?!

I don’t typically crave them, but when they’re around I can’t keep my hands off of them.  And now that I know I can’t have them, suddenly it’s all I want!  A couple weeks ago I swear I ran across a recipe for GAPS approved krispie treats made with shredded coconut.  I was thrilled!  And for about a week I stored the exciting find in the back of my mind for a weekend afternoon that I could test this out.  Unfortunately, I forgot to store it in my browser and had no link.

No problemo, I thought to myself.  Google never fails me.  I searched “GAPS approved Rice Krispies” and “Paleo Rice Krispies” and “Coconut Krispies” (which turned up this gem, by the way, but not exactly what I was looking for.)  I searched so many pages of Google and I could not find my substitute rice krispie treat recipe anywhere!  I looked for days until I finally decided that I was just going to have to figure it out myself.  And I did.  And now I’m putting it here so that you don’t have to.  (And so that I don’t have to again.  Haha)

IMG_0833Coconut Krispies

Shout out to Mommypotamus for giving me the tools to create this with her GAPS Marshmallow Recipe!

Ingredients

1 Cup Water
3 Tbs Grassfed Gelatin
1 Cup Honey
Vanilla Extract
Sea Salt
4-5 Cups Shredded Coconut

Directions

Prepare a 9×3 inch baking dish by lining with parchment paper.

Seperate your water into two half cups. Pour one half in a medium sized pot and the other in a large mixing bowl.  Add your gelatin to the bowl and stir until completely mixed with the water.  In your pot add the honey, a pinch of sea salt and 1tsp of vanilla extract.  Bring to a boil.  Use a candy thermometer to make sure your honey reaches 220-240 degrees (soft ball stage).  This takes several minutes.

Once your honey mixture is at temp, transfer that to your bowl and pour in with the gelatin.  Add another half teaspoon of vanilla.  Use a hand mixer on low to combine and then increase to high speed until you reach a thick marshmallow-cream consistency.  Once there quickly fold in your shredded coconut. Use four or five cups, depending on desired consistency.  Be sure to work with all deliberate speed here so that your marshmallow doesn’t set before it gets to the pan!

Once the coconut is well mixed, pour into your baking dish and press down to get your square shape.  Allow your krispie treats to rest for a few minutes before cutting into them.  Thank the Lord for providing these new gifts and enjoy!

P.S. – If you were the one who posted the original recipe for GAPS Rice Krispies, feel free to give me a shout with your link so maybe I won’t feel so crazy! :)

Mini Thoughts

So far my sleep experiment has been a success.  I am certainly not less rested than I was before, and I seem to be feeling more energized.  Though it’s early on, so I’ll reserve judgments for now.  I am certainly being more productive than I was before!  The freedom to fall asleep at 7pm knowing I will have two or three more hours in my day to work (without kids!) is just so freeing.

And look, another blog!  Even so, don’t expect too much from me this month.  I plan on doing lots of blogging, but short and sweet blogs with one or two thoughts from the day… mini thoughts you might call them.  :)  The majority of my writing time this month will be dedicated to Nanowrimo!  I won Nano in 2010 when Evie was a baby and haven’t had a chance since then.  Right now I’ve got a great novel idea and I’m going for it.  I will post some excerpts for you soon!

I also have some great holiday recipes that I’ve been testing out and I will be sharing throughout the month.  Looking forward to having some time for my outlet again and praying that my sleep experiment continues to go well so my blogging can keep going.

Hey! I’m awake!

Ever watch signing time?  For those who do, I have that “Hey! I’m awake and I’m ready to start my day!” song stuck in my head.  You’re welcome to join me.  😀

Actually it’s 11pm but I just woke up an hour ago.  I am shifting my sleep cycle in an attempt to both get more and better sleep and be more productive.  I actually read about the concept of “second sleep” in this article a few years ago and just thought the other day, maybe I should try that…   Why?  I’m so glad you asked!  Let me show you.  Usually my nights go like this:

6:30pm – We start the bedtime rituals with the little ones.  I am already exhausted from the day.

7:00pm – We are finishing bedtime routine and praying everyone falls asleep.

7:30pm – Everyone is in bed, hopefully sleeping, I collapse into the recliner.

8:00pm – Jake and I halfheartedly discuss everything we should be doing but are too tired to do.

9:00pm – By now I am way too tired to still be awake, but I know how much I need to be doing so I don’t go to sleep.  I can’t sleep.  My mind won’t let me.

10:00pm – Tired. Stressed. Overwhelmed.  Still in the recliner.

10:30pm – I have now dragged myself up the stairs and into my bed.  I spend ten minutes nursing baby to sleep.

10:40pm – Stephen wakes up and needs to cuddle.

10:50pm – Evangeline wakes up and needs to go potty.

11:00pm – The baby wakes up again because I keep moving.

11:30pm – Almost about to drift off into sweet, restful sleep and Jake comes up to bed.  Kids are awake again.

12:00am – I finally get to sleep.

Do you see how unproductive this is??  Very!  To add to all of that, at about five or six in the morning the children start waking up, so I am awake again, but too tired to get out of bed.  I usually drag myself out of bed at 7:30 these days.  Guess who is making breakfast?  Yeah… not me.  (I have to add here that I do have the best husband in the whole world.)  So I spend about nine hours physically in bed and I’m only get about five hours of total sleep.  And the two hours I am not in bed after the kids are down, I am not accomplishing anything. I’m much too tired mentally, emotionally and physically.  But I can’t sleep because I know it’s my only time of day with no children.

So a few days ago a lightbulb went off.  What if I just throw out my whole playbook and made a sleeping schedule that actually worked?  Who says I have to sleep one long stretch and if I miss that window I’m out of luck?  I decided to make my own rules.  Here’s what I’m trying now instead:

7:00pm – Lay down with the children and GO TO SLEEP.  I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t ready to pass out by seven o’clock.  So might as well!  Those first couple hours are when the kids sleep the soundest.  I should sleep when they sleep.  Parenting 101 right?

10:00pm – This is when the kids usually start getting restless anyway.  So I’ll just wake up here, help all my precious little ones get their nighttime needs met (not begrudgingly because I was going to get up anyway! Brilliant!!) and then go get some work done.

12:00am – I think this is where I will probably crash again and the restless window for the kids is usually done by now.  So I will go back to bed about here.

5:00am – If I get a three hour stretch earlier and then this five hour stretch it should be easy for me to wake up at five, a little ahead of the kids, so I can make breakfast and prepare myself for a great start to the day!

I know, it seems a little too good to be true, right?  I get more sleep and spend less time in bed, all with waking up earlier and getting more time to myself.  Perfect.  We’ll see if it works!  But, if nothing else, you have a blog post tonight courtesy of second sleep!  I’ll see if we can keep it going!

P.S. – For those of you who might be new to my blog, welcome!  (I got quite a few views on my Replacement Mom post that I wrote a year ago.)  I also just wanted to thank all of you who commented.  Your thoughts mean the world to me!  I wish I could respond to each one, but please know I do read them all and they are so encouraging and make me want to keep writing.  Thank you for taking the time to chime in.  <3

About My Diagnosis

Fair warning: This is going to be a long, dense post as I try to sift through all the information as efficiently as I can. I want to explain what’s going on, as this has come out of nowhere for a lot of you and many of these things I never really talked about before. Also, when I announced my diagnosis the other day I was quite vague.  (I wasn’t exactly sure what to say yet.)  So I’m just going to connect all the dots and tell the whole story. Ready? Ok.

First I want to backtrack a little bit. When I was in high school (ok so maybe we are backtracking a lot…) I played sports: volleyball, basketball and track along with plenty of camps and training during the summer. I worked out on a daily basis, and although I wasn’t exactly a star athlete, I was in pretty awesome shape.

But there were a few warning signs that something wasn’t quite right. I was a long distance runner; a typical daily run for me was three miles. I began to notice that during these longer runs I would get really itchy, followed by headaches. I chalked this up to sweating, dehydration, you know the usual culprits.

One day at track practice I had an anaphylactic reaction. I had no idea what caused it, itchy palms, swelling of my face and hands, trouble breathing… I was prescribed an Epipen, it happened once more during a basketball game and then never occurred again. We never tried to understand what had caused the episodes. All I knew was that both episodes had two things in common: exercise and an emotionally charged situation.

I carried my Epipen for a few years, but after sports in college and plenty of exercise never triggered more anaphylactic episodes, I never bothered to get it renewed. So now I was in college, and I began trying new foods, guacamole was a favorite. Unfortunately, after a few encounters with my new friend, I began reacting negatively to the avocado. Eating it caused terrible abdominal pain that’s difficult to describe because it is unlike any other stomach ache I’ve ever had. It rendered me bedridden anywhere from twenty minutes to several hours depending on how much I ingested. I stopped eating avocado.

As time went on, more foods began producing the same reactions. Bananas were the next culprit followed by kiwi (that developed a few years later when I was pregnant with our first-born, Evie). During that pregnancy I also encountered another health issue. Late in my second trimester I developed a painfully itchy rash all over my tummy, sides and thighs. They blistered and scarred and were pretty much horrible.

My midwife thought that it was PUPPPS, but when it flared up after delivery and persisted, she was rightly concerned and thought it would be best to see a doctor. My doctor was totally unhelpful, did not suggest a biopsy and only said that there was absolutely nothing else it could be and no treatment she could offer.

It did go away on its own after a few months, but I experienced mini flare ups in between pregnancies and have had the same issue to varying degrees in all three of my pregnancies. I found that there is another condition, called Pemphagoid Gestationis (PG for short). It is a rare condition that looks much like PUPPPS but it is more serious, can affect the baby, and it is an autoimmune disorder.

I was in no hurry to be diagnosed, because my symptoms seemed quite mild compared to that of other moms struggling with PG. Mine was manageable without steroids (most cases are not) and a biopsy didn’t sound like much fun. What I didn’t know is that if you have an autoimmune disorder, it’s important to know about. They are serious conditions regardless of your symptoms. And once you have one autoimmune disorder, you are at risk for developing more.

As time went on I continued to find I was sensitive not only to kiwi and banana, but to many other foods. Eggs and any kind of fresh melon would cause a reaction. About six months after moving to Missouri our family went on the Whole30 diet to alleviate some tics that Stephen was experiencing. I also found, after eating clean for thirty days, that my food sensitivities were much better. As long as I ate in moderation, I could eat eggs and avocado and whatever fruit I liked.

In my naivety this was proof to me that I could get healthy again simply by getting my diet in order, that there wasn’t anything seriously wrong with me. It actually gave me the freedom to put aside maintaining that healthy eating while we were focusing on finishing the adoption. After all, you can’t eat Paleo while travelling in a foreign country with two small children! It’s just not practical. Or so I told myself…

And for the next year and half I had a plethora of excuses to not get our family back on track nutritionally. As you well know, we’ve had a lot going on. And my health began to show it. I went into pre-term labor with Kyrie’s pregnancy last winter, a known risk with PG pregnancies. I went on bedrest and we managed to keep the baby where she needed to be, but it took a huge toll on our family and on my health.

After Kyrie was born we were relieved. We thought the worst of it was over and healing could finally start for all of us. But more health problems were around the corner. I had a uterine infection a few days after the birth; I became very ill and had to go on a week of antibiotics.

We attempted public school as a way of lowering everyone’s stress levels. It was a bust. Jacob did very poorly in school due to his institutional history and they didn’t give us any good options for schooling Hope. I was beyond stressed, the amount of paperwork and meetings and planning we had to do for school only increased my work load and made life harder.

In April Hope’s shunt failed and she needed emergency surgery. By this point my body was totally depleted in every way. I was sick all the time. If I ate food it made me ill, if I didn’t eat I was sick. I was lethargic, couldn’t think, horrible mood swings and blood sugar crashes. I knew my stress levels were too high. I knew I wasn’t taking care of myself, and I knew that I had a lot on my plate. I didn’t realize it was anything more than that or anything that couldn’t be solved by addressing those external factors.

By July we were definitely at an unhealthy point. Something had to give. We needed to find a solution. I didn’t feel like we were at any kind of emotional or mental state to radically change our family’s eating habits to get us off the crazy cycles we were on. Let alone time! I had no time to do any of that! I was lucky to get PBJs on the table as it was. I started looking for simpler solutions.

Enter Plexus. An adoptive mama friend of mine was selling it. I saw awesome things about it. Most importantly, it works to balance out those pesky blood sugar levels. We dove in and tried it. Two days before it got to us I was having such severe crashes that I was not even functional by the afternoon. I was hurting and exhausted and had to lay down for hours at a time.

I went on the Triplex, hoping that would help me work through my digestive issues as well. The first day we went on it we felt like brand new people. It was amazing! I even felt motivated to eat better and my cravings were gone, my mood swings were gone, my depression was gone. I had so much energy. It was great. I remember saying “I’m so glad we started this, because things were getting so bad that I was about to head to the doctor to find out what was wrong with me!”

Two days after we found that miracle, life struck again and Hope was back in the hospital. This time it was a two week ICU stay and two surgeries. The stress we were under was incredible. My symptoms began to return. I assumed it was just the stress, when in reality the stress had triggered something much bigger.  (Stress is very bad for autoimmune disorders.)

Over the next few weeks I kept expecting my happy Plexus Self to return. That never happened. I could tell that it was helping me to function properly, but I couldn’t find that symptom-free person I was. I decided to start trying harder, eating better, exercising. The kids and I went for little “runs” around our parking lot and did fun exercises together. It was a great way to start and I felt a tiny bit better.

Then, on the second day of that, I had a terrible, itchy rash and a headache. I had had it the day before too. I tried to think back to if there ever was a time that I didn’t run without having a reaction. Never… in about a decade of running. My mind flitted through all of my history of symptoms from exercise-induced anaphylaxis, food intolerances topregnancy rashes… something was wrong.

I decided to go to my doctor, and she agreed I should be referred to an immunologist. The rest, as they say, is history. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder where your body mistakenly attacks its own thyroid. The immunologist told me that over the last several weeks I had jumped off of a “hormonal cliff”. In other words, my thyroid quite suddenly just stopped producing any hormones at all.

Everything my doctor read in my blood work was exactly what I was feeling. Things began to come together and make much more sense. So where do we go from here? Next week I will be going in for a thyroid ultrasound to check for any suspicious nodes that could be pre-cancerous, as is a concern when your thyroid is so damaged.  As it is, my thyroid is incredibly compromised.  Fortunately, it is supposedly still at a treatable stage. We do not know exactly what the next steps will look like from here but I’m already making some changes that are starting to help. Stay tuned for that!

What We Didn’t See Coming

This is not the post I was expecting to write to you all today.  Next week was actually supposed to be our back to school week with all the frills and fun that that brings.  I had just finished concocting my weekly chart, and was so excited to get to use it.  I couldn’t wait to blog about it and tell you what our first full-fledged homeschooling year would be all about.

That post will still happen, just not today.  And my lovely school chart will be used, just not next week.  Yesterday life threw us a bit of a curve ball.  They seem to be coming one after another these days, which makes it so hard to tell you how we’re truly doing.  One day we’re great, and the next we’re devastated, and then we find our footing again before finding something new to stumble on.  This entire last year has been this way and it’s quite exhausting.

Usually, though, it’s a health issue with the kids or emotional setbacks or our car breaking down.  This time it feels different, because… it’s me.  Growing up I was always the “healthy one”, I watched my brother and sister go through allergies and asthma and all kinds of hardships.  The worst thing I ever went to the doctor for was a broken finger and strep throat.  I’m used to being healthy, and I’m used to taking care of sick and fragile people around me.

Now it’s my turn to be sick, and it’s not something that will be leaving me.  I have a diagnosis, a fun little medical label that now gets to follow me around for the rest of my life.  The doctor is anxious to get me on medication, supposedly medication I would need to use for the rest of my life.  I have specialists to see and screenings to be done.  I am out of my comfort zone friends.  Specialists are for my children, not for me… right?  Right??

I won’t lie… this is hard.  But hard is not always bad.  The truth is, I haven’t been healthy for a long while; I’ve mostly just been ignoring the warning signs my body was giving me.  The ever-fluctuating hormones of post-partum, along with the stress of the last year, have seemed to trigger my underlying issues and have caused a downward spiral in both symptoms and severity.  It got to the point where we could no longer ignore the issues, and we decided it was time to find out what was wrong.

I am thankful we went in.  I’m thankful we have answers, even if I am not happy about what the answer was, we knew it couldn’t be anything great.  Nevertheless, now that I have a name for my malady, I can start finding some tools to alleviate it.  I extremely grateful that it is treatable.  Sickness and death are a part of the fall, they happen to all of us.

I am not immune from this, and am grateful for the opportunity to remember that life is a gift, each day is precious.  Being reminded of one’s mortality can be a spiritually healing experience.  I rest in the knowledge that God works all things to good for us, and that He is already using this curve ball as a catalyst to healing in our home in more ways than one.

I know that you all are praying, and I am so humbled and comforted by that.  Love to you all.  More to come soon.

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