How am I?

Well, that’s just a loaded question right there.

In the last 12 days:

  • Monday – Beauty was admitted to the hospital with kidney problems again
  • Tuesday – My mom was admitted the following day to the same hospital with internal bleeding. I also had my first ever anxiety attack
  • Early Wednesday morning – My brothers and sisters and I had to make the decision to let mom go. I had another anxiety attack
  • Thursday – Mom passed away. I had 2 more anxiety attacks. It was also my step-dad’s birthday 😦
  • Friday – Beauty was released from the hospital because the doctor is an idiot. My sisters came from Idaho
  • Saturday – Had a service here for mom. Another anxiety attack
  • Sunday – Went to my old church (also the church my parents attended). It was good to see so many of those who have been praying for us but still hard to be there without my mom.
  • Monday – Worked all day and ended up taking Beauty back to the hospital to be re-admitted.
  • Tuesday – Worked all day after getting 2 hours of sleep in a chair at the hospital with Beauty. Doctor released her again because they can tell us what ISN’T wrong with her but can’t figure out why she’s still in so much pain. Really dissatisfied with our healthcare system right about now!
  • Wednesday – Worked all day, probably the most uneventful day I’ve had in a while.
  • Thursday – Got to see the little boy who is like my grandson. Haven’t seen him since Thanksgiving. He’s growing so much! **I didn’t cry for the first time in a week!!!**
  • Also Thursday – A truck with an oversized load hit a bridge on the freeway about 30 miles from where I live and the bridge fell in the water. Thankfully nobody was seriously injured! Bad news for me is that I have to drive that way today after work! Yep, that will be fuuuuuunnnnn!!!! NOT!
  • Today is Friday and after work we are leaving for Idaho for a second service and burial for my mom. Good news is that I have Valium!
  • Tomorrow is Saturday and we will be having the above mentioned service for family and friends that weren’t able to come to the first service. I expect I will cry a really lot.
  • Sunday we will be driving back home.
  • Monday I will sleep and clean my house that I’ve barely been at in the last 2 weeks.
A very sick girl and her very sick Grandma

A very sick girl and her very sick Grandma

During the last 2 weeks I have learned just how amazing my friends are. I can’t thank you guys enough for being there for me during this difficult time in my life. Y’all know how to make a girl feel loved!

Mamma Mia

I was 13 and totally rockin' the mullet!

I was 14 and totally rockin’ the mullet!

That’s my mom and I. I was 14 years old. It was about a year after my dad died. We were still having lots of struggles in our relationship. When Dad was alive he was the calming influence between us. I’ve mentioned before that I was totally a daddy’s girl. When he died there was no longer anyone there to calm things down between us. We had lots and lots of struggles. I’m sorry Mom! I get it now!

I am the youngest of 5. My oldest sister has kids older than me. The next to the youngest was 12 when I was born. I was basically like a second family for my parents and when I was younger it was almost like being an only child. Well, until my sister and my niece moved in with us. My niece is 6 months (and 4 days!) older than me and we fought like sisters. We lived in a 2 story house and she and I shared a bedroom upstairs. We were always falling down the stairs. One particular morning we were both coming down for breakfast and each had a glass of water in hand. She went first and fell and didn’t spill a drop. I wasn’t so lucky. By the time I hit the bottom my glass was empty and I was soaked. One year I got a Slinky for Christmas. We were trying to get it to work like the commercials said it did when Mom/Grandma decided to come show us. Mom became a human Slinky. 😦 Of course at the time we thought it was super funny because we did it all the time. Now that I’m about the age she was when that happened, I’m so very sorry we laughed. I’ve fallen down a couple of stairs recently and it’s not funny anymore.

Shortly before we moved from my little hometown to the county where I currently live, Mom had surgery. It was a huge change for all of us and Mom couldn’t do much at all. When we got here she was stuck in bed for weeks. Not the easiest way to start our new life but she did what she had to do and we all survived. When my dad died we were all thrown into grief, heartache and chaos. I can’t imagine how difficult things were for her. She showed amazing amounts of strength and kept our family together during the most difficult time of our lives.

During my teenage years we had daily struggles. Now that I have teenagers myself, I don’t think I can ever apologize enough to my amazing mother. I love you mom! I moved out when I was 19 and now that I have a 19-year-old myself, I understand how scared my mom must have been for me. But she always let me know that she loved me and was there for me even if she didn’t agree with my choices. I learned a lot from her.

Now that Mom is older and her health is failing, I realize how grateful I am to still have her in my life. We may not always agree on things but I know that she loves me unconditionally and I am so glad God chose her to be my mom.

I love you Mom and I hope your day is amazing!

Mom and I 2013

Mom and I 2013

Beauty and MiniMe

Beauty age 9 MiniMe age 2

This photo was taken in I think 2002. Back then my children liked each other. Minnie is actually the principal of the elementary school both girls attended. We love her!

When I found out I was pregnant with Beauty I knew my life was going to change. I was 20 years old and in what I thought was the perfect relationship. Looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t realize sooner how very wrong I was. But things happen for a reason. If I hadn’t been in that relationship I never would have had Beauty. My pregnancy was very difficult with her. You see, I didn’t handle stress very well even before I got pregnant and during, I couldn’t handle it at all. My relationship was incredibly stressful and every time things would get bad I would start having contractions and end up at the hospital. When I was about 5 1/2 month I fell and landed on my stomach. That was another trip to the hospital but they checked us out and everything was ok. My doctor put me in the hospital overnight about 6 weeks before my due date because the contractions weren’t stopping. Thankfully we got them stopped and I was able to go home. All in all, I was in the hospital 13 times during that pregnancy, the 13th time was when I had her. That Saturday we went dinner at a local steak house. I went to bed early because I was feeling a little off. My contractions woke me up at about 9 that night. I had moved back to my mom’s house due to some things that were happening at our apartment. I got my mom and let her know that I thought this was the real thing. She had me go lay down on the couch while she made me some chamomile tea. She sat a cup of boiling hot tea in front of me and I grabbed it and sucked it down (scalding my throat in the process!), set the cup on the table and said “Ok, can we go now?”

We got to the hospital and they said that while it appeared that I really was in labor this time I wasn’t very far into it and needed to “walk the baby out”. I walked all night long, stopping at one point to weigh myself on the scales they had in the hallway. Every single contraction I had while walking almost brought me to my knees. Beauty’s head was pushing on my tailbone the entire time.  I had skipped Lamaze classes so I didn’t even know I could have asked for an epidural. And they didn’t offer! So after 12 hours it was time to get down to business. They finally did give me something that made me see stars but it only lasted about 3 minutes so that wasn’t very helpful. We all knew that Beauty was a boy. Although I had 3 ultrasounds we were never able to see THAT part but every single person I knew said it was going to be a boy. So when the doctor said “It’s a girl!” we were all pretty shocked. Beauty was born at 9:48 am. I should have known because my friend was also pregnant about the same time and her doctor TOLD her she was having a girl. Yeah, she ended up with my son and I got her daughter. It’s ok, we just traded clothes and it worked out perfect for both of us. I ended up with a beautiful baby girl, and a broken tailbone. I also weighed myself the day after I had her and I was 12 lbs heavier than when I was in labor! O.O How does that even happen??? I gained a total of 87 lbs with her. Granted my big craving was baked ribs and lasagna from a local Italian restaurant that I had to have at least once a week. I’m sure that didn’t help matters…

Five years later I got pregnant with MiniMe. I found out I was pregnant at 2 weeks. You’re not supposed to know that early. There’s a reason for that! It makes the next 38 weeks go incredibly slow! I found out I was pregnant and less than a week later I had what I thought was the worst morning sickness in the history of morning sickness. It lasted all freaking day! I was so sick I lost 15 lbs in 3 weeks! Turns out I had the stomach flu. Except when that went away I was still throwing up. Just first thing in the morning but still! Do you know what it’s like to throw up every single day for 38 weeks??? Not fun, let me tell ya! Despite throwing up every day it was a super easy pregnancy. I only went to the doctor for my regular check-ups. When I had my ultrasound at 5 1/2 months they told me it was a girl. I didn’t believe them! My entire pregnancy was so different this time that I thought there was no way it could be another girl. With Beauty, I never threw up one time. With MiniMe, every single day. Cravings with Beauty were, like I said carbs! I also called a local Mexican restaurant and got an order of deep-fried ice cream, to go! MiniMe cravings were fresh fruits and veggies. I seriously had nectarines available everywhere I went. Sometimes they were in the glove box of my car! When we went to the mall? I had one in my pocket! Not even kidding!

I went to the doctor the Wednesday before she was born and he said he thought it would happen within a week. I went back to work (I was Assistant General Manager at a local hotel) and one of my employees was freaking out and wouldn’t let me do ANYTHING! He wanted me to just sit and watch everybody else work! I think he was terrified I was going to go into labor at work and he would have to deliver the baby! I called my parents (they had moved back to my hometown 8 hours away) and they got here that Friday.  On Saturday my mom and my sisters-in-law and I went shopping. I didn’t have much for the baby because I still didn’t believe them when they said it was a girl. We picked up a bunch of neutral color stuff so I would have something at least. I started having contractions and ended up going in but they said I wasn’t far enough into it so they sent me home. I got home and my contractions pretty much stopped. That night my step-dad asked if I wanted to go to church with them in the morning. His exact words were “If you go to church with us you’ll have that baby tomorrow. If you don’t, you won’t have it until Monday.” That particular Monday was my birthday. So I went to church with them and Beauty was down in her little Sunday School class while we were up in the sanctuary preparing for the service. It was the first time I’d ever been to a contemporary service where there was an actual band playing! We started singing and it was stand-up/sit-down/stand-up/sit-down… After the 3rd time I looked at my mom and said “I’m not standing up again! My contractions are less than 3 minutes apart. Maybe we can go to the hospital now?” We got to the hospital and the nurse wanted me to lay down so she could check me. I told her she was crazy and refused. I paced approximately 3 steps back and forth in front of the bathroom until I looked at the nurse and told her “I think I need to go to the bathroom”. She said I had to lay down first so I did. I also asked for my epidural. She said it was too late. I was very close to delivering and there wasn’t time for that now. Yeah, I cried. I begged her and promised that I wouldn’t push and I would just stop everything until they gave me the epidural! Yeah, like THAT would have worked? Anyway, My doctor had gone out of town that weekend for his son’s soccer tournament and was on his way back. He was still a good 30 minutes away and I was about ready to push! He ended up bringing his wife and son to the hospital with him and they went to have lunch while he was delivering a baby. He got there and popped his head in to my room long enough to tell us he was there and going to change. I told him to hurry up so he could break my water. I think my exact words were “You need to break my water right now because I’m done with this and I’m going home!” Well, he made it back in time for me to tell the nurse I needed to push. I pushed. My water broke. I pushed 2 more times and MiniMe was born at 12:27 pm on Sunday, the day before my birthday. After she was born (Yes, they were right…it was a girl!) all of my family came to see us. Beauty was so excited! Some of my favorite pictures are from the first time she saw her baby sister. Everyone had to leave suddenly about an hour after she was born because I was hemorrhaging and bleeding to deal, literally. Lucky for me I was in the hospital so they had measures in place to take care of me. If I had done a home birth or been alive back in the early 1900’s I wouldn’t be here today. Because of the complications I ended up staying in the hospital until Wednesday. We left that Friday for my parents house 8 hours away. Would you like to know how much fun it is to sit in a big pick-up truck for 8 hours less than a week after giving birth? Let’s just say I don’t recommend it.

Being a mom has been the hardest, most rewarding job I’ve ever had in my life. I love my girls more than they will ever know. They are my whole life and although life hasn’t always been easy, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Living with RA

Mt Baker (2)

This picture has nothing to do with RA but this weekend we got to house sit for my brother and sister-in-law. This picture was taken from the back yard. Beauty took it early Sunday morning. She spent the night with us and woke up early. She grabbed my phone and took this picture. It was a great surprise when I woke up. One of the local coffee shops is having a photo contest and it was suggested that I submit this for it. I did but got an email back saying they needed a higher resolution copy. Unfortunately, I don’t have one. Oh well, I like the picture anyway. Those of you who are Facebook friends have already seen it but I just love it so thought I’d share here too!

I’ve mentioned before that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was diagnosed in February 2006. I had spent a year with what I called “The Amazing Traveling Pulled Muscle”! I was at the doctor nearly once a week with pain in a different location every time. The first was my right shoulder. My brother, Beauty and I made a quick trip for my uncle’s memorial service. A very quick trip. We were gone a total of 20 hours and about 15 of that was spent driving. I went to work the next day and couldn’t lift my right arm. My shoulder felt like someone was stabbing me with a red hot poker right in my shoulder joint. Any movement at all was excruciatingly painful. That was the first time I went to the doctor and was told “You have a pulled muscle. Here, have some narcotics!” They didn’t work. Three days later I was sitting at work and watched my left hand swell up and turn red. My left arm started hurting as well. You may recall that my dad died when I was 12? He had a massive heart attack. My mom? She’s had 3 open heart surgeries and a mild heart attack. Pain radiating down my left arm? You can bet I headed for the ER. Interestingly enough they didn’t even check anything with my heart! They ended up telling me “You have a pulled muscle” and giving me more narcotics. Really? And we wonder why so many people are addicted to pain pills???

Over the course of the next year, like I said, I was at the doctor multiple times only to be told that I had a pulled muscle. Finally after doing some research on my own I called and asked for a referral to a Rheumatologist. I ended up going in to my doctor’s office but saw a different doctor who FINALLY ordered lab work! Yes, I had been in this much pain for a year and my doctor never even did any labs! The very last time I saw the man who kept blowing off my very real pain he actually said to me “I got you in here on an emergency appointment. I don’t have time for this.”!!! Needless to say, that was the very last time I saw him. He’s still practicing. He’s even in the same office my girls and I still go to. But I’ve made it VERY clear that none of us will EVER see him again. I would rather take my chances at spending 12 hours in the ER than see him again. Lucky for us we now have an AMAZING primary doctor who actually listens and seems to genuinely care about what is going on with us. I was able to get in with a Rheumatologist that I really like. He understands that I haven’t had insurance for the last couple of years so he works with me for my appointments. He also has been instrumental in helping me get the most expensive of my medications ($2400 a month?!?!?) for no cost.

Now, 6 years after my initial diagnosis and 7 years after the onset of my symptoms, my life is mostly normal. Yeah, I have to take it easy some days and the cold generally hurts. Now that I’ve been on this most recent medication my flares are not as frequent (maybe 1 a month unless I completely overdo it) and aren’t nearly as severe as they were. When this first started I didn’t know how I could live my life with this horrible disease. Now I know I just do. Yes, it’s still horrible but I’ve learned that my body has certain limitations and as long as I remember that, I do ok. I have been blessed with a great job where it’s not overly stressful on me (which causes flares really bad!) and it’s physically not a difficult job. My last job before this was at a big box store and I walked 6-8 miles every single day.

Interestingly enough when I started writing this I was feeling great. This morning I woke up and could barely open my mouth because I’m having a flare in my jaw. Let me just tell you how much fun THAT is! If you have ever suffered from TMJ this is pretty similar. I can’t open my mouth all the way and I can’t bite down all the way. Makes eating interesting for sure! Today was the busiest day of the week at work and all I wanted was to take a nap! That’s what happens when I take my meds before work. Luckily I don’t get all of the common side effects associated with Chemo medicine, mostly because I take such a low dose. I just put a reminder in my phone to take meds on Friday night or Saturday morning so this doesn’t happen again. We’ll see how that works…