Self Care Time

Who here doesn’t take time (or enough time) for self care?? Yup, we should ALL be raising our hands haha! Funny how we just always seem to find or feel that other things need our attention more huh? Yeah, sure there are lots of things that are big priorities in life, but taking care of ourselves is the only way that we can continue to be able to do those things at the top of that priority list!

If we are not getting enough sleep, restful sleep, or eating healthy foods, or drinking enough water…our bodies will not be able to carry on! We will be perpetually exhausted and worn out and feeling like we just cannot possibly do ONE more thing! Self-care isn’t always going out for a “me” day, getting a massage or manicure…although those are excellent ways to relax! Just making sure we are getting to bed at a decent time and unplugging from our phones to get good rest. Making sure to get enough water into our bodies during the day, and adding those healthier eating habits can go a LONG way!

Will it fix chronic health issues like my Crohn’s or other medical issues, no not necessarily. Will it help our bodies to keep going in spite of those health challenges, absolutely it can!

I think we often feel like we don’t have time for self care, for going out and doing things like massages and pedicures and the like, but I know we ALL can make time for adding the extra glass of water, changing out that one food for the healthier alternative or even shutting our phones off early so we can get a solid set of sleep hours!

I recently reached out to a friend on the IG about some stoma-safe exercises…I have been terrified to get another hernia, so I just haven’t exercised my abs at all!! Lately, though, I have been feeling really badly about ignoring that area of my body! I have been down on my body for not getting back to shape like I was before, and I finally realized that I cannot blame my body for something I should have taken the time to change myself! This friend was able to find some goods, safe exercises for me to begin putting into practice and I know it will help me get back to where I want, and need, to be!!

Don’t ever be afraid to reach out for help or advice when you’re unsure what to do! There will always be someone out there who is able and willing to offer their advice and help!

So I am smiling again, getting my body where I want it to be and I will keep on sharing those smiles with everyone else too!!

What do YOU do for self care??

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What a Weekend!!!

Ok, so I don’t know how many of you folks are aware of the Competitive BBQ scene…however, the hubs and I competed in our first one this weekend! We are on Facebook and Instagram ( Smokin’ Northwest Barbecue) and you can keep up with the events and competitions we will be attending by following us there!

Anyhow, this weekend we went to The Dalles’ Gorge Hops and Hogs! Up we arose at 3:45 Saturday morning, truck and pit were already packed, just had to load the last minute items from the fridge into the cooler and off we went! When we arrived, there were just a few other teams there getting set up, so we parked the pit and unloaded and awaited the cook’s meeting.

That is where it gets interesting haha! So the rules and information had been sent out previously in an email to everyone…. apparently there were not only different interpretations of the rules, there were also some total changes and unexpected curveballs! I swear that it happens on the TV shows as a dramatic attention grabber, but it really happened to us too! With the new information and updated rules, we got working and started getting our butts in gear…everything sort of got off to a later start because of the meeting delaying things… I started trimming chicken, Stephen started the tri-tips!

Once the main meats were on the pit, we were able to relax a bit, but I was still a bit anxious about the turn in boxes. (When at these events, the judging is typically blind tasting so you have to prepare a “turn in” box…) They were supposed to hand them out at the meeting but they brought the wrong boxes so we didn’t end up getting any boxes or the lettuce until half and hour before the first turn in!!! I have NEVER built a box like that before, I have only watched Youtube videos so I was crossing my fingers they were good enough lol!

Ultimately I think they all turned out good, but the only one I really got a good picture of was the chicken box…

Pretty, huh?? Anyway, I am pretty pleased with the way they turned out and apparently the judges liked it too! The chicken is what we placed best in out of the three categories, and it was truly the one category that we had the most team effort in! I did the trimming and prep/ shaping of the chicken plus I did the boxes, and Stephen did all the rub, injection and cooking of it! All the effort and work we put into that chicken, got us 1st place in Chicken!!!

It was a great feeling to get not only a call to stage at our first competition, but a FIRST PLACE CALL!!!!! We came in as a team that no one knew about, not knowing anyone else there…many of them knew each other from last year and many were locals there and knew each other that way….we sure made ourselves known with our chicken!

Many folks loved us in People’s Choice, too, and asked if we did catering as they were hoping we would cater their weddings!! HOLY WOW! How cool is that!!! We made some great new friends in the BBQ scene and we will definitely be going back next year!!

Now we’re on to Oregon City and Forest Grove in August, and we may just go to one or two more before then as well!

If you guys missed us this year, make sure to come out next year! The Kid Zone was awesome, and FREE! The BBQ sampling was awesome and the beer was great, too! Next year will be even better!!!

Don’t forget to follow us on our Instagram and Facebook pages to stay up to date on where we will be next!! Sorry this blog is a little late, but getting up that early requires an early bed time and being up for 19 hours requires big girls to nap the next day haha!!!

One more thing, remember to share a smile with someone you love this week, but also share one with a stranger too! Bring some sunshine into their life; you just never know who may need it…besides, smiles are FREE so we should share them with everyone!!

Talk soon!!

Day late, Dollar Short ;)

Yeah, I am a day late in getting this up…I actually woke up this morning with my computer sitting in my lap. Woopsie! Anyway here goes! We’re hitting the Mom-life topic this time HAHA! I want all you moms and dads out there to comment below and tell me that it’s not just us over here dealing with this right now haha!!

So our Ry is a sweet natured, well-behaved, polite, energetic (not overly so) wonderful little boy…This week though? WAS IT A FULL MOON OR SOMETHING??????!?!?!?! It’s like there was a shift in the universe and he became a completely different being. Could NOT stop moving, was not behaving, in fact he was going out of his way to do naughty things… Things he KNOWS are naughty…. pulling the dogs tail, trying to poke the dogs butt with his tinker toys (I KNOW!*facepalm*), immediately doing the opposite of what he was asked, including running into the parking lot slipping his hand cleverly out of ours… don’t even get me started on the nail salon experience…my nail tech was the best though… he was so patient and understanding… I was at my absolute wits end last night… just as quickly and suddenly as the behavior started, it stopped. Back to the normal misbehaving, the naughtiness that comes out with hunger or when in need of nap time.

It is SO hard sometimes to have situations like this, you know? You’re in the grocery store, a restaurant, nail salon, EVERYWHERE and you feel like you have ZERO control of the situation and no matter how much you try to get them to listen to reason and guidance to direct them in the ways of proper “people-ing in public”, you just keep losing ground… If I could have stayed home it probably would have been easier, but there were too many things that needed done and only so much time to do it all… I kept having to remind myself that this will pass in a few days and that he’s only 2 1/2 years old, he is definitely NOT doing any of this from malice or spite or just to drive us crazy… he is simply reacting to whatever is going on like a typical 2 year old!

They have no idea how to process the how’s, why’s, what’s of life yet….and I have to remember that. Today was better, he had his moments, but I think we are getting back to the normal part again now haha! Tomorrow we go to the zoo with friends so it will be a good test to see where we are on the crazy scale LOL!

Do any of your kids (or did your kids) have certain times of the months/ years where they just go crazy!?! There’s no way I am the only parent going through this right?! LOL Help a momma out here guys!

Remember to smile, even when life sucks, because they are FREE, they can change the mood of someones day in an instant and they’re for everyone so share them with each person you see, every single day! ❤

The Time Rolls By…

A year ago. A YEAR ago tomorrow, I went into the Emergency again. The 40mg of prednisone wasn’t working…again. My GI doc told me on Friday, “if you don’t start feeling any better, in the next couple days, go to emergency and I will have xyz tests ordered and ready for you when you arrive.”

Our friends were having their annual summer backyard potluck and bonfire that day (June 2nd) and I SO wanted to go! We decided to see how I was feeling after Ryen’s nap. It only got worse, so after he woke up, we packed myself a bag, and Ryen too, and dropped him off at Grammie’s then off we went to emergency! We walked in, let them know what my doc had told us and they actually got us in pretty quickly. Thus began a 16 day adventure in the hospital…

The next week on Monday, June 11th, a new doctor came in to talk…he was the surgeon. He had looked at all of my scans from the weekend as well as my scans from the flare after Ry was born. He talked about how we have run to the end of medications controlling the inflammation… even though they increased the steroids and were now administering via IV, symptoms were still getting worse. Surgery. This was it. Honestly, this was the ONE thing I had been dreading ever since my first ostomy surgery… this…the permanence of it. He was so kind and understanding and told me he had an opening to schedule the surgery that Thursday, the 14th… Without processing too much I just said, “yes.” I knew I couldn’t spend too much time thinking, I would end up freaking myself out of it.

Mom had to work that day so I was just hanging out by myself after my surgeon left. My grandpa came up to visit me so he was the first person I talked to about it all…he was nervous and worried and so was I…but I knew it had to happen so I put my big girl panties on and bucked up! Later that day my surgeon’s nurse came in with the information about the surgery and what to expect, etc. She. Was. So. Kind. She reassured me that my surgeon was excellent, that when he begins care with a patient, he sees you through to the end to make sure to have the best recovery for his patients. She also told me that he had performed the EXACT same surgery on her and she now is able to live life again! I cried, first time since the surgery had been spoken about, but then I cried with her, scared, nervous, frustrated. She gave me her card, wrote her personal cell number on it and told me to call her any time I needed support or to talk to someone who understands.

There is another whole story about the next day where they attempted to discharge me…I won’t go into that here, but if you want to know more just let me know! Long story short on that is: On paper I looked stable and able to go home, in person I looked awful and couldn’t even make it to the bathroom 4 feet away…so they kept me there through surgery and recovery.

Surgery day, bright and early in the morning…the team came in – my nurse the transport folks and my surgeon… He told me he would see me in the OR and off we went to the surgery prep. Mom stayed there until hubby arrived and we all hung out while I got the pre-meds and the ultra spacey looking blanket (it really looked like something an astronaut would wear haha!). Anyway, the whole team checks in, anesthesiologist, surgeons, nurses…then off we went once the OR was ready… It was COLD, but everyone in the room was warm and friendly, reassuring me that they were going to take care of me.

Recovery. Was. The. Worst. Waking up in the worst pain I have ever felt (worse than childbirth), is not something I ever want to have to do again. The pain was unrelenting and the pain meds didn’t seem to help much. Once back in my room they started the morphine pump and after a couple hours it was finally at a level that helped. My back hurt like nothing I’d felt before, likely due to the length of time I spent on the OR table…7 1/2 hours… I needed to get out of bed, but I couldn’t even roll over on my own. My nurse to the rescue! He got me up, I sat on the edge of the bed, I stood with a walker, he walked me around my room then the hallway…One lap around the unit! He was so impressed and said my surgeon would be SO HAPPY!

It wasn’t easy, it was probably the hardest thing I have ever done, but I did it. I knew I had to! I went home the Sunday after surgery and lived on my couch haha! I couldn’t get out of bed on my own, but the couch I could manage lol!

By the end of July I ended up in the hospital twice more, once because I ended up developing an infection in the incision in my belly button an abscess in my pelvis and also what’s called dead fat…yeah pretty picture huh? Anyway, they had to take me to CT to place a drain for the abscess then later that week back to CT to drain the dead fat that had also abscessed. The third time back in the hospital was for a blood clot! YAY ME! It was in my Superior Mesenteric Vein (SMV). Back in and on heparin and home again after a few days.

They determined that the infections were my body responding to lack of steroids in my body since I had been on them for so long. We had carefully tapered them off, but apparently my body didn’t think it was slow enough! Took until September-ish and I was able to stop those again finally too!

So yes, it’ been a year. It feels like it went much faster, but it also feels like it was forever ago…an odd feeling. I cannot thank my surgeon and team of doctors and nurses that cared for me enough. They were incredible! My family was incredible (that goes without saying of course lol!) I finally feel like a normal human again, like a mom, like I can go out and do things and have fun without worry…life is good!!

Thanks for bearing through that looooong read! 🙂 I love you all, drop any questions or comments below and I will respond as quick as I can.

Don’t Forget! Smiles are FREE and they are for EVERYONE! Share them with everyone you meet, because life is too short to not share happiness!

New, New and New!

Yup, 3 new things since last blog post! Not sure how to categorize them, should they go into the bad, good or neither? I have no idea haha, but I’ll fill y’all in anyway!

So Polly has been back for a little over a week now, she started out SUPER teensy, thought maybe it was a quick “have a cup of coffee” visit…Nah, she wants to move in again LOL! *facepalm* However, this time she was joined by a friend, Tiny Tim…He arrived a couple days after she did, but neither have left…So there’s new #1, a new “friend”….He’s minding his own business so far, not making himself at home quite yet. Maybe just seeing how welcome his presence is here; I don’t really know, but I appreciate his consideration for the skin surrounding his dwelling space!!

Because Polly has decided to show up unannounced, and is now bringing friends with her, our “new” #2 is Humira! I’ve been on a couple biologics before, Remicade and Entivyo, the main difference in those and Humira is the administration. The two I was on before required me to drive to an infusion clinic, have an IV placed and then sit in a chair over the course of usually 3 to 4 hours while my infusion and fluids ran. Plus observation time (to make sure there was no allergic reaction), and I also had to wait for the drug to be mixed in the compounding pharmacy when I checked in which usually took about 30 minutes. Humira is a quick, easy, basically painless, injection that I administer myself, at home!

The time it takes to begin noticing a relief in symptoms is usually about 12 weeks, which is also pretty common among the other meds too. So for now, I start my first injection is 2 pens (2 shots) and then in a week I do 2 more injections. After that I will do 1 injection every week for the remaining 12 weeks at which point we will re-evaluate symptom management and possibly change the injection schedule!

Number 3 “new” isn’t as exciting haha! I had my annual eye exam today, my astigmatism is worse, especially the left eye. It may have been worsened by the brand of contacts I was using, or it could just be my eyes. For now I have a new prescription and am now wearing contacts specially made to help make up for the odd shape of my eye. My contacts are actually thicker at the bottom then at the top!

I always find it amazing how much better I see after having my prescription change. Every time I feel like I’m looking around going, “Oh YEAH! THAT’S what leaves on trees look like again!” “HEY, there’s the GRASS again!!” HAHAHA Sad, but true!

I don’t know how to categorize any of those things, I suppose Polly and friends could classify as “not so great” along with the worsening astigmatism…Humira I want to classify as a “good” thing, it can help control Polly and Friends, help prevent further Crohn’s flares, and also potentially help with my skin irritation in general!

I have a hard time classifying any of them as “bad”, “awful”, or “terrible” things, because in reality they really aren’t THAT horrible! There was a phrase I heard on a video somewhere that said, “we grow through what we go through.” <— Can I get an AMEN!? I mean, seriously, how freakin’ true is that! When we go through crap we can either be destroyed by it, or we can RISE because of it!

NO ONE heads to the foothills of Mt Everest, expecting the climb to be a cake walk!! There may be moments where it feels easier in life, but sooner or later the oxygen gets thin! What do we do then? Do we just lay down and die? Give up when we can’t see through the fog and clouds? NOOOOO! Press on! Climb on! By ALL means, take rest when it’s needed, and don’t ever feel guilty for it. Everest isn’t climbed in a day, guys, it’s a journey and not an easy one at that.

Life, and everything it hands us, is all of our “Everests.” It’s an opportunity to “Grow through what we go through.” Remember we only control our response to what happens to us right? SO, we control how life’s challenges shape us in our Growth! You wanna sit in the cave 100 feet from the summit and complain about everything, fine, do it! BUT, keep in mind that the longer you sit in that cave, the more you will become the very complaint you’re complaining about. Change won’t happen if you stay in the same place, it’s dynamic! Move, LIVE, GROW! Embrace changes in life with love, focus and an urge to grow with it, through it.

Also, don’t climb your Everest alone. Find your person, your village, your tribe! Find someone who encourages you to grow and who wants to grow with you! New things are not always bad things. With the wrong attitude, however, ALL change can be perceived as something negative… I try to always be mindful of my thoughts, because they often lead to actions or words spoken that are hasty and not of sound (or kind) mind and spirit.

I feel like I may have begun to ramble a bit at the end, BUT I just want you to know, and remember, that we all have challenges in life, things that beat us down and try to keep us there. We also all have that something within us that needs challenges to grow us.

The Lodgepole Pine Tree has pinecones that are SO tightly closed, and the ONLY thing powerful enough to open them in order to spread the seeds is extremely HIGH temperatures, like forest fires. These trees can store their cones for years, waiting for the fire to blaze through. These trees literally grow by going through fire. The soil is rich in carbon after a fire moves through, which is also premium for their seeds to grow in! How beautiful that even in nature, it also utilizes this extreme change for good and for positive results!

Ok, I’ve rambled on long enough! I Love You All! Thank you again for sharing this space with me! Don’t forget to share a smile with someone, or many someones, this coming week. It’s Memorial Day weekend, let’s be so so thankful for the extreme adversity and tragedy that so many have gone through, so that you and I can live in comfort and peace in our homes!

LOVE You all, share a smile, they’re free and they are for everyone!! ❤ Talk soon!

NO Idea here AT ALL

I usually have a plan, an idea of what I’m going to write about here each week. However, right now I really have no idea where this is going (yikes!). So here it goes, and I guess we will find our way to the end together!

So I guess I’ll start with today and we can meander from there! Last night is actually where it begins, I suppose… Yesterday evening I had an itch on my tummy, on the opposite side from my ostomy. I scratched it, and bang, it hurt a bit! I checked it out and whammo, there in all it’s tiny glory, was a new hole…so I did what I always do, I quickly snapped a photo on my phone, then I put some of that magical crushed up prednisone on it and covered it just like I did Polly…Then I emailed my Dermatologist the photo and information. I asked her, “Pimple or Pyoderma?” (I thought it was a catchy new game show name huh?? LOL) She believes it IS another site of pyoderma, which may have started as a clogged pore or irritated hair follicle.

In other related news, we are just waiting on a couple lab results to come back before we can start the Humira. My Derm told me as soon as the results are back in they can get things going with Humira, so hopefully within this net week or so I can get started on it, since Polly is trying to move back in again too…

ANYWAY, let’s talk more fun things! I finally got my first cowboy hat today, from the kids department, after trying every adult size in two different stores. Apparently my head is even smaller than I thought! The hat is awesome! It’s this gorgeous pink coral color with coral stones along the front of the band…go check out my facebook and take a look! It’s so PERRTY!! Oh, I also scored a great deal on a new shirt! Ten bucks for this really lovely 3/4 sleeve length, man, go check out my facebook for that too haha!

Oh boy, it’s late, I am tired, we spent the day running around town to Dollar Tree, Wilco, Coastal, WinCo and even stopped at BurgerVille for lunch! BTW did you know that they are closing the teeny tiny Beaverton Burgerville mid-June this year??? SAD! That place has been around as long as I can remember!! – Sorry squirrel moment, got carried away haha! Suffice it to say, I am tired, don’t want to bore you all, and I will come up with an ACTUAL topic to write about next week lol!

Love you all for coming back each week and reading my crazy thoughts! Don’t forget: Smiles are Free, and Smiles are for Everyone so share them as often as you can!

See ya next week!!!

What IS Normal Anyway??

Hey Friends! Happy weekend once again, and thank you, THANK YOU from my whole heart (why do people say “bottom of my heart anyways?) for coming back this week to listen/ read my musings!

What IS normal anymore?? I used to have this idea, confirmed by my primary care doctors, that I was a very healthy person! My labs were all “Normal” “within normal limits”, there was nothing to worry about, come back next year and we will check it all again…

Then I started having symptoms that were not quite so normal anymore…frequent and urgent trips to the bathroom and boy were they lengthy sometimes…My doctors kept insisting that I simply had “gastroenteritis” basically a stomach bug causing inflammation and lots of potty trips. After running labs, even though my WBC were quite elevated, they still were convinced it was simply a stomach bug. I had no pain, therefore, there was no real chance that I had an actual illness…

In walks our next guest…you guessed it, Pain. He didn’t come suddenly or angrily. He sort of sneaked in the the door when no one was looking, and quietly made himself comfortable in my belly, while I was being forced to allow him in. That morning, I called in sick to work and got yet another appointment with my doc… My husband came home from work and drove me in.

NOW we have an answer, appendicitis, she concluded! In spite of the family history I’d readily given to her, in spite of all the symptoms that I had been dealing with for a month. Appendicitis. Off to the ER we went, thankfully it is close enough to walk there. They checked me in, made me pee in a cup, finally started an IV and got fluids on board (I was very dehydrated at that point) and carted me off to CT.

After being back in my room a bit, and also giving them a lovely stool sample to rule out C-Diff, the doctor came in, shocked to see me smiling because the inflammation in my large descending colon was so bad. He asked if I would like some morphine for the pain. Morphine?! I mean, Yeah, I was hurting, but geeze man, it wasn’t THAT bad?! They admitted me upstairs, scheduled me for a colonoscopy and made me drink “Go-Lightly” (HAH if that isn’t the WORST name for a product EVER, that’s another story though.) I made it about 1/8 of the way through and I begged my nurse to not make me drink the rest. Didn’t see the point when the only stuff coming out of me was blood and water…

Anyhow, that was the last of my “normal” lab results, my new normal would be 5+ more years of elevated WBC, elevated C-RP’s, low iron levels, high liver levels and so on. Even if one number would start looking good, another would have an issue. So then my normal changed.

A few years later my son was born, off to the hospital, new, beautiful baby boy!! Home after a few days, then a few days more and I was back in with another flare, this was a bad one (which I will detail more another time). This new flare brought with it some of it’s own friends, Fistula and Stoma. Stoma wasn’t so bad, though she takes some getting used to being around. Fistula was a real butt-nugget…(pardon the visual), she doesn’t play well with others, everything is always about her, and you literally cannot go ANYWHERE without her and she makes sure to be a TOTAL a** the whole time… Enter yet another “new normal”.

That was my next “normal”, never going out where there wasn’t a bathroom was something I was pretty much already used to, but having to wear granny pads all the time because little friend Fistula couldn’t keep herself together, that was a whole new thang…

So what is the real meaning of “normal” anymore? Is there an actual meaning for it? Is it something we just say to get ourselves through challenging times? I don’t really know. What I do know is this, without science to guide us through our labs and tests and procedures, we have no baseline to see what to aim for, to see where that “normal” starting line begins. Maybe we are all on a journey to find our way back to where normal lies, waiting for us to find her.

I am grateful for the skilled, brilliant doctors I have the absolute privilege to have caring for me. Who always catch those number when they’re just not quite right, and who help me choose the right path to treat whatever it is that is going haywire.

I am also grateful that my most recent labs, which were drawn about a week and a half ago, have all come back NORMAL, WITHIN NORMAL LIMITS. All. At. The. Same. Time. My incredibly talented physicians surgically removed my entire large intestine along with a few other things, and repaired Ms Fistula, who has since vacated the premises, and that has allowed me to have my life back, to be my real normal again. I couldn’t be more grateful.

What is your normal? Has it changed? Are you rolling with the changes? Today, I spent the day with my son, and then had dinner when hubby came home. All like a “normal” family. Some people want extraordinary, I am SO content with plain ol’ Normal.