Ladybug Secrets

Ladybug Secrets:
Don't let the small stuff bug you. And Spot new opportunities.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Video

I woke up this morning to a video on Facebook of a little friend of ours. She just had major reconstruction surgery due to Chiari and Ehlers Danlos. Her little "thanks for the prayers." made me remember how easy it is to get caught up in the How. It is hard to get to the How if we first do not step out in Faith. Right now everything around me seems very uncertain. I wish I could say I have never experienced this before. Sadly uncertainty pops up often in our life. But lately has been different. Before it was easier to reach out in Faith. I have grown very weary.

The last few months have been hard. We went through a family rough patch here. Most families experience highs and lows. Through the lows we try to drag each other along. This year has been different. Instead of pulling together, we did a bit of pulling apart. After realizing we are better went back to semi-normal. Through it all I have been becoming more and more depressed. I wish I could say rainbows and unicorns fill my mind but that would be a lie. Seeing my body continue to fall apart and watching my kids hurt more felt like a weight I could not carry. I think another struggle has been having family and friends tell me sharing our story is wrong. Asking others to pray for us is selfish. And not letting my kids be kids is bad parenting. It has felt like a terrible slap in the face. Instead of feeling love, I felt great sadness. I have heard many times from other people with chronically ill family members, how toxic others can treat them. I thankfully had never dealt with it. Now I am. I think because I have always been a sensitive person I dwell too much on how to make it better. In doing this, I take away from the healing that needs to happen with myself and kids. It is mind blowing we are still in a place where others call you out on physical and emotional differences. It leaves me feeling trapped in a place I do not want to be.

All of this brought me to the video this morning. God always finds a way to place goodness in your life. A little girl, braver than I will ever be, can make me stronger. It is not an easy task living life with medical uncertainty around every corner. Yet we can choose to be brave, seek joy, and comfort others. This is something we must do. It is ok to be broken, sad, and cry out for help. It is never ok for someone to tell you not to "feel" so much. If that brokenness overwhelms you though, find someone who will hold your hand and lift you up. That is what makes us feel whole again.

A little update on our future:
Today we head to CC for Brooke to have an EEG. Next Tuesday she will have her MRI. I will be able to talk with her neurologist before I head off for surgery. Brooke has been nervous her seizures are returning or her Chairi is bad again. We hope the test can shed some light on what is going on.

Next Thursday I take Aidan to a specialist in Cleveland. We are hoping he can help Aidan with his very low energy levels and terrible pain. I would love if he could get some relief.

Next Friday Amy has a colonoscopy. Although this is routine, I am praying it will go well. I know she will be nervous and I want to have the strength to calm her fears.

In a little over a week, I leave with Tim for my surgery in Maryland. I am less than thrilled to being going through this again. I am very hopeful it will help. We will be there almost 2 weeks. I am not able to drive for at least 6 weeks. The last time I had this surgery my recovery was not easy. I am praying this time will be easier. I am so very thankful for all who have helped us! We are humbled by meals, car rides for kids, donations, and offering to come do our laundry. We are beyond grateful to all who are helping us with kids, Amy, and animals why gone. I love my village!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Called Here for a Reason

January, February, and even March are Birthday Central at our house. Thankfully March is just Hubby and my birthday's, so no planning or crazy parties. Amidst all the party planning, we had several doc appointments and procedures scheduled. Sadly due to a nasty head cold that every single one of us has had...all procedures(sleep studies and mri) had to be postponed. Thankfully we muddled through sickness and made our way to Cincinnati for Aidan's appointment with the geneticist. One of the most frustrating things about kind of rare chronic illnesses is travelling for specialists. The next frustrating thing, going even when you know exactly what the doc is going to say but needing to stay established as their patient. 

I knew seeing the geneticist would not be terribly enlightening. Aidan has been struggling with pretty specific things. We had not seen this doc in several years though. We had tried a more local geneticist with not great results. This particular geneticist is very hard to get into and we really like him. It was worth the 4 hour journey to be set up as his patient again. He was also very blunt with Aidan. I think this was good. Aidan needed him to tell him like it is. Here are a few things we learned or relearned. 

Aidan's shoulders are not great. Doc feels they are subluxing in and out of socket. He wants Aidan to see sports medicine. Hopefully they will be able to guide him on healthy ways to keep shoulder in shape. He did feel like swimming was great. He did tell Aidan to lay off butterfly for awhile. Thankfully Aidan has 6 weeks off of swim. Doc said another thing to look at is rowing. The rowing movement is very good for people with EDS. This is great since Aidan loves kayaking. The important thing is to keep him moving. The less movement the more EDS will rear its ugly head. Water is great therapy and we should keep it up. He also said Aidan's 2 and 3 baths a day to soak is not uncommon. He agreed Epsom Salts are great. We also like to add our oils in too. 

Next was Aidan's poor diet. He is concerned with the very low caloric intake Aidan has. He also does not like the binge eating we see in him. He stressed to Aidan his 2 jobs in life are eating and drinking, nothing else. He went through a scenario of wild animals to illustrate what he meant. Thankfully Aidan was all ears since the doc was using animals as an example. Doc wants less sugar and more high calorie/high protein foods in his diet. He wants us to see a nutritionist for this. He does not want this to lead to further complications of needing food supplemented in other ways. Neither do I. We have to work with him on having a healthy relationship with food...seeing it as fuel and not luxury. We also need him to hydrate. He should be drinking 3/4 to a gallon of liquid per day. He should carry fluid with him every where. 

Doc addressed Aidan's headaches. He talked about posture. Where swimming is great for EDS it is awful for posture which in turn leads to more headaches in EDS patients. So I have to work with him on keeping his body aligned correctly. He recommended yoga or core strengthening for this. I may just pull out my ballet training on him! :) The doc said Aidan is basically trying to hold a bowling ball(his head) on very loose rubber bands. We need to teach his body to hold his head up with bone not muscle. 

The last thing we discussed were the "crashes" Aidan has been having. He will be fine and then he will get hot, feel flushed, sick, upset, angry, light headed, thirsty, and agitated. I was pretty sure I knew what doc was going to say about this. He feels like Aidan is experiencing episodes related to Dysautonomia(POTS). Sadly I recognized the symptoms because I have them too. The main things though to help dysautonomia are the same things we need to work on for EDS- high protein, more liquid, endurance, and salt intake. 

The really good news about all of this...Aidan is a boy. Boys tend to have a few years right before puberty where they get worse. Then testosterone kicks in and many if not all symptoms can get better. No this does not always happen but it does happen. Where a girl will see many of her symptoms start in teen years, a boy will see many leave. The doc encouraged us to keep moving forward. We need to help Aidan have a healthy exercise plan, a good food relationship, and high liquid intake. 

This is all simply fantastic news! I say that with a certain level of sarcasm. I read in a book I am reading for lent, "Don't you want to get better?" Do not get me wrong...YES we want to be better. But all of what I just said takes work! Don't believe me...think about this for a moment. Brooke has several food allergies, requiring certain food prepared before we even walk out the door. I also have allergies and have to watch certain foods. Now Aidan needs his food monitored. Plus others who live in the home need fed. All of us need to drink lots of fluids to keep headaches away. It is my job to stay on top of that. When someone gets a headache, I must decipher from how they are crying and holding their head what kind of headache. This will help me to figure out best treatment. What if I have a bad headache and so does a child? This leads to another complication. What if something slipped into our diet and makes poor Brooke sick? I have to retrace my steps to figure out what it was. Brooke and I react to soaps and perfumes. I have to be super careful what smells are brought into our home. Just the other day I started reacting to a detergent I had been using for six months. So now all my clothes need re-washed. If someone comes in with a strong perfume, I have to wash or clean where they were. I take large amounts of benadryl just so I do not have hives all the time, which in turn makes me super sleepy.  I am supposed to have PT. Aidan now needs sports medicine. All kids need to be in swim to keep them strong. I actually should be in something to keep me moving as well so a wheel chair is not in my near future. I am supposed to see a nutritionist to figure out how to help Aidan. Both boys still need sleep studies. Chan needs a full spine MRI which requires sedation. All of the tests are followed by doc appointments to hear results and learn what is next. Plus our regular follow ups with geneticist for Aidan and I, allergy doc for Brooke and I, Neurology for all 3 kids. And none of us feel good. 

I have thought many times of going the completely natural route. And for some things we do. We try to eat very healthy(minus parties). We carry our oils every where. We rely on non-traditional treatments when possible. The thing amount of "natural cures" will put a brain back in a head or change or genetic structure. So yes they are very helpful when talking about allergies and many many other things, we still need our docs for many many others. 

Believe me I write none of this to say "LOOK AT ME". I write it to explain to anyone just beginning, "yes this is lifelong and the road is hard sometimes, but it is so worth it to fight for your kid and yourself!" I write it for my friends who think I am a flake for cancelling or not being there again, "my kids need me right now." I write it for the stranger who thinks I am making this all up, "please just take a moment. learn about ehlers danlos syndrome, pots, chiari, and mast cell activation disorder." I write this for my mama friends who are crying tonight for their babies, "i wish i was there to wipe your tears and hug you." We do want to get better...but sometimes we were called here for a reason. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Tiny Update

Life has been very busy here at Crown Central....some good and some not so good. I thought I would post a tiny(ok let me be honest, not so tiny) update. I know so many still fervently pray for our family. I am not as good at posting because I worry many may find me complaining. Silly maybe but nevertheless one of my fears. Right before Christmas we brought Chandler and Brooke back home to school. It had nothing to do with the school. We were so blessed by the love and support that our school district showed us. We sincerely felt blasted by Chan's diagnosis and part(most) of me just wanted my babies here. They were missing many school days due to sickness. It was always a struggle in the mornings because no one felt well. By the time everyone got home, they were in pain and completely exhausted. We are loving being home together again. It is a huge blessing to support each other on our bad days, and have fun on our good.

With Chan's diagnosis, some new tests were ordered. We were supposed to have a sleep study. Sadly we have had to cancel twice. They will not do if he is sick, and well this is cold season. The other is a full spine MRI. The doc is checking for a syrinx or a tethered cord like Brooke had. The Neurosurgeon is recommending surgery as soon as summer. I am not terribly keen on this idea. Although Chandler has symptoms, they are not as severe as Brooke's were. I would like to consider holding off longer. Once we have these tests done, we will look for a second opinion. Unfortunately this means travel most likely to New York. If you know Chan, having Chiari has not set him back! He is still crazy, charming, and a cuddle bug all wrapped in one little man. I just cringe a little more when he leaps off of tall buildings(well tall jungle gyms).

Brooke is managing. She is still battling tummy issues and fairly severe headaches. She becomes overwhelmed by loud noises when her head is bad. Brooke is struggling with some Mast Cell issues. The other day we were in Target. There must have been a spill somewhere. First she started getting angry. Then hot. Her face started getting red and eyes itching. Next I saw the rash climbing up her neck. We left and came home. She took a cool vinegar bath and felt much better. I feel so bad she is dealing with this. I think out of everything this is the most misunderstood of our illnesses. People think you can't possibly get sick from a smell. I assure you that you can. She has a terrible time with perfumes and lotions just like I do. We are headed back to the allergy doc to see if he can help her. Brooke also has a follow up MRI in her near future.

Aidan is headed back Wednesday to his geneticist in Cincinnati. Aidan has really been struggling. We are not sure if it is EDS or something else going on. His poor shoulders slide in and out of socket. It is hard for him to carry anything very heavy. Even his sax gives him trouble. His energy levels are what concern me the most. For a 12 year old boy, he barely functions. Thankfully he has swim to keep him moving a bit. He is suffering from what we call crashes. We might be out at grocery and he will be walking. He will feel light headed and sick. If he does not sit down, he will get sick. He turns very pale. We are going to discuss all this with doc. Hoping to get him PT as well.

I finally saw Dr Grubb in Toledo a few weeks back. He is a doctor who specializes in POTS/Dysautonomia and the correlation with other autoimmune diseases like EDS. He was a great wealth of knowledge. He was in the room with us for 2 1/2 hours! Some of the things he said made me understand myself better and why I do/feel the way I do. One thing I thought was very interesting was how I sit is actually a coping mechanism for my pain. I have always curled up in chairs or on the floor. If you know me, I love to bring my legs up into the chair. I know people always look at me odd. I remember as a kid my parents telling me to put my legs down at the dinner table. When my legs are down though, it pulls my neck and head. This is a way I have adapted. But I am getting older. I am nearly 40. Having EDS I can still fold myself up pretty well but it is harder on me. Plus the blood pools more and is not getting back to my brain. This can cause muscle spasms, cramps, headaches, and many other things. He said my muscles are hard as rocks. This is not due to exercise I guarantee you. It is due to tensing. I tense because my joints are sliding out of sockets, so my muscles tense up to hold things in place. The problem is they are never relaxing. He recommended PT and massages. Just what every super busy mom, who home schools, and has three chronically ill children wants to hear. He also prescribed a medication to try to target one of my headaches. (I have 4 very different types of headaches) He said with my terrible track record with meds we would start out super slow. Sadly it has not been going well on the medication. Even though I am on a very low dose I feel like my whole body is buzzing. Still deciding if it is even helping head.

There is my not so tiny post! We are so grateful for this life we are living! God has put us in the perfect house, near my parents and friends. Hubby has a job that blesses us daily. And hot water runs from our pipes! Seriously!!! Without hot baths, we would cry. Sometimes we need prayers that our smiles would continue to show. We would find the blessings amidst the storms. Not for one moment do we want to be ungrateful for what we have been given! But some days we have to be sad and a little bit angry. For those days we are thankful for grace.