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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Diagnosis, Schmiagnosis

This is my brain. All the white spots are lesions...that's MS.
Two weeks ago today I received the shock of my life—I have MS.

Of course, I freaked out. I broke down and cried in the doctor's office and in the lobby of the doctor's building. I cried in Whole Foods while talking with my sister. I cried and drove. I wept on the phone to my daughter. I prayed and sobbed. I laid in bed and wept. Woke up, went to my knees and cried some more. But, I refused to let anyone else see me feel sorry for myself. I don't want to be perceived as anything but strong.

I am strong.

But, I cry. I come from a long line of criers. Most of my siblings and my parents cry easily. We're not a bunch of babies, we're just sensitive. I'm a sympathy cryer. If I even sense someone is on the verge of tears, I well up.

This crying has been different.

I'm in mourning for the life I thought I was going to have. I don't want to be considered sick. I'm crying for doing this to my family. Could I have prevented it? I cried for the scary stuff all the MS patients told me they've been through while I was getting steroid infusions. I don't want that life!

I fought so hard to overcome adrenal fatigue. I have been so good at eating right, taking supplements, exercising and doing everything possible to be healthy. It doesn't feel fair that I have to fight this stupid MS for life!

I am fierce and I will fight.

I won't be labeled: "She's the woman with MS...she used to be so active, poor thing." I don't want people to treat me differently, look at me differently or exclude me from things because they think I shouldn't or couldn't.

One friend told me she saw me carrying my four-year-old child and was mad that I wasn't "taking it easy." That just made me angry. I will carry my child until I absolutely can't. I don't want to be told what I can't do.

I can.

I may have MS, but MS doesn't have me.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Life changer

Yes, I know it's been nine months since I posted anything. Why would I choose to post on my blog now of all times? No...I did not have a baby. No, I don't have fabulous tips for making an easy holiday meal (well, maybe I do: book a reservation at your favorite restaurant and burn scented candles at home. Boom!) No one died either (well a friend's husband did, but he was close to 100 and nearly perfect).

Yesterday I received a diagnosis of MS.

My older sister was with me and helped me through the experience as best as she could. She also offered to write a letter to my family and act as a buffer. So, I'm posting her letter here...since I'm sure there will be questions.

First, here's a photo of my 40th birthday weekend in July 2013, since that was right before the symptoms started. Good times.


Here's what my sister wrote to my family:


I hope that you are all doing well.  I'm writing per Pam's request.  I attended a doctors appointment with her this morning to see a Neurologist specializing in Multiple Sclerosis.    Pam has been experiencing some troubling symptoms for a couple months now.  Dr. Foley was very thorough with his exam and his review of a MRI taken a couple months ago when she started having some foggy vision.  That and the numbness, tingling, weakness in limbs, hypersensitivity to heat/cold on one side of her body and lesions on her brain all led him to diagnose Pam as having Multiple Sclerosis.  As you can imagine this is very difficult news to hear and Pam took it as well as could be expected.   

"MS is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your central nervous system (CNS) by mistake. This attack damages myelin, the coating that protects nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord, and eyes. When these nerve fibers become damaged, they lose the ability to send signals that help you think, move, or see."

(If you would like to find out more about Multiple Sclerosis, you can find a very informative video here: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/what-is-ms/index.aspx)

Pam will be undergoing some immediate treatment and further tests to first, mitigate the symptoms of the disease, and second, to determine the aggressiveness of her MS (it's different for everyone).  She started on a course of steroidal infusions this afternoon and will have those for another 2 days.  She'll be getting another MRI done but this time on her spinal cord to determine if there are lesions on that as well as on her brain.   There are other tests too, and I'll gladly tell you about them if you ask. (Note: blood work and eye exams.)

You may feel overwhelmed by this information and want to help but not know how.  Pam will need our love and support as she navigates through learning how this will impact her life.  Right as this very moment however, she's still grieving.    It would be most helpful, if for the first few days we give Pam time to process the emotions and reactions to this news, and refrain from calling her to inquire about it.   Flowers, cards, email messages and texts (without expecting a reply) I'm sure would help to buoy her spirits.  If you have any questions about what going on, I'd love to talk with you about it, so give ME a call!   Please just don't call Pam right now.  She needs some time.

-------
And, I do. I'll blog more about it as things progress.

Love to you all!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

How to Make Popcorn on the Stove

While I was making popcorn on the stove top for my kiddos, one of my friends told me I should post that action...apparently this skill I am so used to doing isn't one that many people know how to do.

Popcorn is both healthy and tasty...so, make some today to snack on or enjoy in front of a movie.

What you'll need:

Coconut oil
White popcorn kernels
Stainless steel deep soup pan with clear glass lid
Salt

Steps:

  1. Put your pan on a burner at medium high heat. 
  2. Scoop out enough coconut oil to coat the bottom of your pan.
  3. Drop one kernel into the pot once all coconut oil is melted (there should be about a 1/4" of cocunut oil in the base of the pot). Put on the lid.
  4.  Wait for that one little kernel to pop.
  5. Once the kernel has popped, pour enough popcorn in to coat the bottom of your pan in a single layer. I use 1/2 cup.
  6. Shake the pot back and forth to coat all the kernels.
  7. Wait for it all to start popping. 
  8. Once the popping slows down or stops, pour the contents into a big bowl.
  9. Salt to taste.
  10. Enjoy!
Here's a quick video to show how it's done:



Friday, January 25, 2013

Ideas for Staying Healthy While and After Traveling

Staying healthy while traveling
Travelling throws things off for me. For one, I always manage to feel like I can't, um, poop on a trip. Sorry for the overshare, but it's true. The other thing that tends to happen when I travel is that I get sick upon my return. I recently went to Arizona for my little brother's wedding and decided, doggonit, neither of those things were going to happen to me on this trip! I'm happy to report, neither did...because I was prepared.

I brought a lot of stuff with me to keep me healthy, kept my exercise routine as close to normal as possible and got lots of sleep. I filled up my water bottle in the airport and dumped an Emergen-C packet into it, then downed the whole thing once I got on the plane. After which I promptly sanitized everything my hands, arms, etc. touched with hand sanitizer. Here are some of the other things I did and strongly recommend if you're travelling a lot or a little:

  • Make sure you still get plenty of veggies
  • Listen to your body! If you eat a big meal, don't feel like you have to eat another
  • Drink a large green smoothie on the morning of your trip, your tummy will thank you later
  • Stay hydrated by bringing a large bottle of water with you wherever you go
  • Stay on track by exercising every day. You'll automatically eat less if you do some vigorous exercise and break a good sweat every day

You can always chance it and try to purchase the following things when you get to your destination, or, if you're budget-conscious like me, you can just bring:
  • Quick oatmeal packets or pre-measured oatmeal
  • Flax meal 
  • Nuts in pieces that can be sprinkled on oatmeal or eaten by themselves
    •  Make yourself oatmeal with the hot water from the hotel coffee maker
    • Sweeten it with Greek yogurt that you can purchase at convenience stores or grocery stores or get honey packets from the barista or bar in the hotel
  • Protein bars (my favorite are Luna protein bars)
  • Any fruits and veggies that travel well in purses and carry-on bags (like oranges, crisp apples, baby carrots, etc.)
  • Vitamins (my favorite are Vitamin C, fish oil, acidophilus, food-based multi, Gingko Biloba and B Complex)
  • Melatonin (this helps when you have a time change to adjust to or a hard time sleeping in new places)
  • Did I mention hand sanitizer?
What are your go-to tips for staying healthy while traveling? 


Monday, January 7, 2013

End-of-Year Review

Doing a year-end review is eye-opening. Loads of wonderful things happened in 2012:

The toddler was successfully potty trained.



We took a fun family vacation to Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona for spring break.

My best friend from childhood visited me and we spent a weekend at Snowbird, including a day at the Cliff Spa.


Our family travelled to Chicago for two weeks.



I started running and triathlon training again and competed in my first triathlon after adrenal fatigue.

I painted a lot more and started sharing my art with people on this blog.

My sweet daughter was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.


I ran my first 10K and half marathon.
My parents celebrated 50 years of marriage and I celebrated 19 years of marriage. 

Oh, and I was fired from my job on April 9, 2012.

Of all the things that happened in 2012, getting fired has been the biggest catalyst. 

I haven't written about getting fired because I was so upset and frustrated. I didn't want to write in anger and appear bitter or vindictive. But, I was both of those things for a long time. The crazy thing about getting let go is that it completely minimizes you. In my case I had no warning and was completely blindsided when I had worked so hard to show my employers how much I wanted to help the company succeed. In the end, though, I wasn't enough...and that's what devastated me. 

Now, though, I can look back and see all the beautiful things getting fired taught me. 
  • Getting close to your kids and husband is fulfilling and joyful
  • Nurturing talents feeds your soul in a lasting way 
  • Personal value is deeper than your career or job
  • Meetings are overrated and more often than not—unnecessary
  • Focusing on your blessings and helping others will always help you feel happy

Although I wouldn't wish that on anyone, I am grateful for the lessons I've learned about life, about human nature and about what's really important. I'm ready now and looking forward to the lessons of 2013.

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