Sunday, September 30, 2012

An Update

I know a lot of people know bits and pieces of what's been going on the last few days through facebook and texts but I wanted to get an update up here because we've lost track of who knows what and this way we don't have to keep repeating ourselves. So hopefully this will get everybody up to speed. We really appreciate everybody's concern and feel loved by all of our friends and family and sorry if we haven't gotten back to you yet. It's just been a little crazy!

I went in for my procedures on Wednesday. Unfortunately my spinal fluid stopped flowing about a quarter of the way through and they had to do a second lumbar puncture a little lower on my spine. The doctors were really nice and professional and they tried to make the experience as comfortable for me as possible, but it's never good to be lying on your belly on a table with a needle in your back and hear doctors whisper things like I don't know... and maybe we should we try... and what if we did this? and other phrases of this nature back and forth. I knew something wasn't right but didn't know what exactly was going on and at one point I started bawling and had to collect myself before the full on hyperventilating began...which I did, because I didn't think it would be a good idea to hyperventilate with a needle in my back. Luckily the second puncture was more successful and they were able to get the rest of the fluid they needed. Overall the procedure wasn't too terribly painful. It was a lot of pressure and then there were moments where I felt electrical-like shocks shoot down my spine to my tailbone, and feeling the fluid drawing out was uncomfortable. I think it was definitely more of an emotional trauma more than anything. It took longer than normal since they had to puncture twice -- probably about an hour versus 20 minutes.

The MRI was next. Since you are supposed to lie flat for 5 hours after the spinal tap, they moved my appointment up so I wouldn't have to wait until 3:30. The technician told me it would be about a 30-40 minute scan. I was doing okay until my headache started. All of the beeps and hums and knocks made it a little worse and it felt like my head was vibrating. But I think the worst part was my frame of mind. It felt like I had been in there FOREVER. I started getting worked up and a little claustrophobic and was really close to pushing the panic button but I knew I would have to start over if I moved. FINALLY it was over. I asked how long it had been and no wonder I was starting to lose my mind because I was in there for AN HOUR AND A HALF.

Things just went downhill from there. I got to the car and couldn't even open my eyes because my head was throbbing so badly. My mom had to pull over so I could vomit. And that's pretty much how the next 48 hours went...excruciating pain if I moved my head and vomiting that came no matter what I did. I could get a little relief if I was lying completely flat and didn't turn my head but since I was so nauseated I would have to sit up to vomit and then it felt like a sledgehammer to the skull. Rick finally took me in to the ER Thursday night because I was in such bad shape and was getting really dehydrated. I only remember bits and pieces by this point because I was drifting in and out of consciousness. He had to carry me into the hospital because I couldn't stand and when they put me on the stretcher I remember my legs shaking violently and I couldn't stop them. I thought I was having a was the strangest sensation and has never happened to me before. I don't remember much about this point but he said that I was mixing up words and not making sense when I tried to talk. After pumping me full of fluids and morphine and zofran and who knows what else, my pain was finally tolerable again. They admitted me and tried to keep my pain in control until I could get in Friday morning to have a blood patch procedure.

Basically what had happened was the puncture wounds in my spine were allowing my spinal fluid to leak out and the lower pressure was what was causing the intense pain in my back and head. I think they told me that roughly 1 in 20 patients who get a spinal tap will encounter a spinal headache but most go away within 24 hours without intervention. For the unlucky rest (that would be me), an epidural blood patch can be done where another needle is placed in your spine and your own blood is injected into your spinal column to clot the holes where the fluid is leaking...essentially making a "patch."

So Friday morning I was back on the table. It was a terrible experience because being on my belly was extremely painful for my head and it took an hour. This procedure was a lot more painful than the first as well. They had a hard time finding the right location to inject the epidural and had to bring in the specialist (I guess I have a very complicated spine??). And then they injected my blood and told me to let them know when I "could no longer tolerate the pressure." So that was fun.

The blood patch works in 98% of patients. Most experience immediate relief and then the rest have relief within an hour. I was not in either of those categories, unfortunately. I spent the next 12 hours in even more pain than before. Back pain, abdominal pain, head pain, nausea, you name it. I seriously thought I was dying...I didn't know from what (West Nile, encephalitis, insert any disorder that causes a painful death), but I was sure from something. Luckily, I'm not a doctor and my melodramatic diagnosis of impending death was not accurate. :) I was finally able to drift off to sleep and when I woke up I felt a little bit better. And by morning I was able to keep food down and sit up and holy cow, get up to use the restroom!!!!! (btw, my mom totally gets the Awesome Momma Award for emptying my bedpan and rubbing my head and taking way better care of me than the nurses) 

I was discharged yesterday around lunch time and have been resting. They told me not to lift or cough or do anything that could cause the blood clot to come dislodged. It's been hard not to pick up my babies but I'm definitely listening to the doctors' orders because I am NOT going through any of that again! I still have a backache and headache but it's nothing compared to how I was feeling a couple of days ago. I think one of the most frustrating things about all of this is I still don't have any answers. I just want to know what in the heck is going on with me. I meet with the infectious disease doctor Tuesday so hopefully he will have some of my test results. Until then I am just SO extremely grateful to be feeling better...I told Rick I will never be in a bad mood again because I will never again take for granted good health. To which we both got a good laugh about (the no bad mood part). In fact he's already started coining the phrase so did you lose your sense of humor with all of that spinal fluid?? Gotta love him! :)

Thank you all for your continued prayers. I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

West Nile Virus in da house!

I promise this is not turning into some kind of medical blog where all I do is chronicle my family's illnesses. But now that I've had some time to process what's happened in the last couple of days I wanted to share some of it. It's almost comical, really. Except that it's kind of not. But my coping mechanism is to find humor in situations where I would otherwise want to cry. So I'm choosing to laugh!

I got a call yesterday from my neurologist. It totally caught me off guard because a) she called me personally and b) she called me from her house. She called to tell me I tested positive for West Nile Virus and Parvovirus and that she was arranging for me to get in with an infectious disease doctor asap. She also told me that I needed to have a spinal tap to see if the WN Virus is active or not and MRI of the spine to look for any lesions that would indicate MS.

Umm, what?? Come again?

To give a little background here: I've been having some neurological symptoms for the last 9 months or so...mainly numbness and tingling in my legs and feet and a few other sensory issues. Based on my symptoms and pattern of symptoms (they get worse when my body is trying to fight something off) she suspects something autoimmune. The problem is, there are over 100 different autoimmune diseases and they aren't all easy to diagnose. The labwork she ordered is what caught the West Nile. Apparently the virus can cause neurological symptoms in the more severe cases, which would mean that I would have contracted it months ago and hopefully the virus is now dormant in my body. From what I understand, the only way to know if it is dormant or active is to test my spinal fluid, hence the fun little procedure in my very near future.

As for the MRI...I was a little confused as to why she is looking for any kind of MS lesions if she has a confirmed diagnosis of something viral. I called to ask the nurse a few questions and the analogy she used was "we started digging a little hole and we discovered a little nugget of gold. But now we're going to dig deeper because we think we might be about to strike oil." Well okay then. Thanks for clearing that up for me in such a FUNNY way! 

Basically, there are just some red flags that could indicate a more serious underlying issue and my doctor is just being really thorough and trying to rule things out. Which I totally appreciate and respect, but I can't lie and say all of this information has not been a little overwhelming and scary. But thankfully over the last 2 years I'm finally learning to let go of needing to know every single answer to every single hypothetical scenario. I'm learning to take one day at a time and to trust that God is in control. What a concept, right? :)

My mom took the day off to take me to the hospital tomorrow for my procedures and my MIL is keeping the kids. The spinal tap is at 8:30 and the MRI is at 3:30. I would be so thankful if you would say a prayer for my anxiety and for negative results!

The good news is I feel completely fine, other than trying to fight off this respiratory/sinus junk. I don't have any of the West Nile symptoms you hear about on those scary stories on the news, so to me I will take that to mean that the virus is dormant and I am not, in fact, going to be dropping dead anytime soon. Even though that's what I feel like people are thinking when they hear the news that I'm "infected." Ha!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Heart

Yesterday was kind of a rough day. We are all sick again. Harrison is getting over an ear infection and Harper and I are wheezing and coughing and I don't know about her, but my throat feels like it's on fire. I'm willing to bet by her level of crankiness that she feels the same way. I was not in the best of moods and was not very "slow to anger" even though I'm trying really hard to work on that virtue. And Harrison was not very cooperative or nice (at one point he even called me "ugly" and when I asked him if he even knew what that meant he said, "it means not pretty. You are not pretty, Mommy." Ouch. I didn't know it was possible to have your feelings hurt by a 2 year old but obviously I need to get thicker skin.). The littlest things became battles of wills and I struggle so hard with knowing which ones to let go and which ones to hold my ground for the sake of principle. I want to raise him to be obedient and respectful, but MAN, I hate fighting with him all day long. It was just one of those days. One of those days with lots of spankings and timeouts and yelling even though I always swore I wouldn't yell at my children.  One of those days where I question myself and my confidence as a mother. One of those days that produced lots of tears from both of us. I sure do hate those kinds of days.

But I love how God gives us a fresh start every day. I got the kids up and dressed and asked them what they wanted for breakfast. Harrison of course shouted, "Whataburger!!!!" like he always does, even though we rarely eat there and I have no idea why he's obsessed with that particular "eating store." :) I was tempted to just throw some waffles in the toaster but I felt like the three of us could use a special "treat." The weather outside was gorgeous. We were all in great moods. Harper had on her diva sunglasses that she insists on wearing and Harrison was carrying around his space shuttle rocket and both of them were sporting huge smiles. In the middle of breakfast Harrison looked up at me with egg all over his face and said, "I love you soooo much, Mommy. You make my heart happy." and leaned over and gave me a big kiss. The sunlight was streaming through the window and shining on these two beautiful blessings I call mine and the tears just started coming. God sends us encouragement in the simplest and yet most extraordinary ways. I'm sure I looked like quite the nut sitting in Whataburger alone with two kids and crying but it is a sweet moment that I will always remember. Motherhood is the toughest job I've ever been faced with but is so incredibly rewarding.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Second Home: A Makeover Story

I guess you wouldn't call a room within your house a "second home" since it's technically a part of your first home, but whatever. I'm going with it. Like most mommas, I spend an insane amount of time in my laundry room. It was on my bucket list last year to give it a makeover and unlike most items on my list of goals I! ACTUALLY! DID! IT! And I actually did it like, I don't know, a year ago or so, but I-totally-suck-at-blogging-these-days-and-it's-better-late-than-never. I mean, I know you are dying to hear all about my laundry room and all, so please accept my sincere apologies for not posting about it sooner. It's quite riveting as you are about to find out. :)

So, without further ado* I present to you The Room In Which The Laundry Magic Happens aka My Second Home:


View from inside the house. Blah.

Such lame, open storage.

Don't be jealous of my ratty ironing board cover.

And After:
View from inside the house

We tore out the existing shelves and replaced it with these cabinets from either Lowes or Home Depot, I don't remember at this point. We actually refurbished the shelves that we tore out to connect the two cabinets and added inexpensive trim for a more finished look. I am SO happy to have more storage...especially concealed storage! The letters are from Hobby Lobby and I just spray painted them red. I painted the walls with leftover paint from our bedroom so all in all it was a pretty inexpensive remodel.

View coming in from the garage

At last, all the bags have a place!!!!

Amazing the difference a $9 cover can make.

The basket holds dust rags and the apothecary jars hold clothespins, detergent, and oxiclean.

I already had these books (collecting dust -- oh, the irony. ha!) and I made this printable in Word. I love this scripture and when I find myself grumbling over things like endless laundry I meditate on this and it gets my attitude back in check :) If you can't read it, it says, "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you are working for the Lord rather than people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the master you are serving is Christ." Colossians 3:23-24

I wish I could say the makeover made me love doing laundry but sadly, no it has not. But it is nice to have a pretty and welcoming space that doesn't stress me out at the sight of all the clutter. This project also gave me an itch to do some other things around the house as well. I finally finished the play room and we've made a lot of other changes I'll be sharing soon next year. Stay tuned...I know you will be on the edge of your seat until then. Ha!

*Ado vs. adieu: I was very conflicted** as to which was the proper use as I've seen it written both ways. After thorough internet research I am happy to report that "ado" is in fact the correct term. You are quite welcome for this critical PSA. 

**Yes, I am a nerd.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My little big kids.

Harrison & Harper started preschool on Friday. It felt so strange to be packing two lunches and two backpacks. For some reason my heart doesn't register that my doll baby is not a baby anymore! But sadly, the proof is in the pictures:

Such a gentleman.

Off they go.

Look Mommy! We're big kids now!

Such a good big brother. He loves "his baby."

Seriously. When did she grow up on me?

Outta my way, Mom. I've got things to do!

Too cool for school

He accessorized his outfit with this big shiner on his forehead. Apparently 2-yr old boys think it's fun to dive headfirst onto hard metal objects.

Ready for school!

Next thing you know she'll be moving out.

It was really strange to be childless. I seriously got more errands taken care of in those few hours of free time than I normally do in an entire week! I was hesitant to put Harper in preschool this early because she's only 16 months and a big momma's girl, but I'm taking on more responsibilities with the business and need to devote some time to being at the office. I can't lie and say I'm not really excited about it. I LOVE being a mommy but I'm ready to have 6 glorious hours a week in the adult world where I get to use my brain for all those nerdy financial things that I spent 4 years going to college for. And ride in the car in silence. And finish complete thoughts. And pee alone!!!!!! Although it should be interesting to see how it is to work with a spouse...wish us luck :)

The first day went great. Both kids walked right into their classrooms and had no separation anxiety at all. Harrison told his teachers all kinds of stories about trucks and tractors. I about died laughing when they asked me if his great-grandma was a truck driver. Umm, huh?  Apparently he kept telling them all about his "mamaw's mom" (such a Harrisonism to describe a person in terms of their relationship to others) and how she has an HEB delivery truck at her house. He talks about this truck all the time and I finally learned that it is just a toy that she has at her house that obviously made quite an impression on him. Ha! And Harper? Harper had a GREAT time. Her teachers went on and on about how she rules the roost and smiles and all the time and is just so happy to be there. I never even thought about the fact that this is her first experience getting to play with kids without an older brother dominating and controlling the distribution of toys. She even took an HOUR nap there. Which made me completely jealous but also very glad that had fun playing until she wore herself out.

Speaking of naps, here are a few pictures of the nap mat I made for Harper. Again, I got sucked into the whole that-looks-so-easy-to-make-and-would-be-way-cheaper-if-I-did-it-myself projects I usually end up kicking myself for. I followed this tutorial with a couple of modifications. I think it turned out pretty cute and it wasn't really hard, but boy did it take some time. Especially when I could only work on it after the kids were in bed...let's just say that there were several wee-hours-of-the-night nights for me last week!

 But I had to make her one because I made one for her brother last year and everybody knows you have to do the same things for the second child as you did for the first. Because she totally cares if her nap mat is hand made by her mom. Totally.

Too bad he never actually took a nap on his. Ha!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Well hello there.

Hey! It's me! Yep, I'm still alive. And I totally know you were worried that I wasn't so I'm glad I could clear that up for you. I've been meaning to update but I can't seem to stay caught up with life right now. It might also have something to do with the fact that we spent the entire month of August hacking up our lungs and Harper is carrying the torch into September. poor baby girl. She seriously needs an immunity bubble. Just like her mama. What is with all this summer sickness, anyway?? 

But as my best friend jokingly said earlier tonight, enough with the excuses.  She left me a bossy voicemail that I need to start blogging more than once every 12 years and trust me, my bossy best friend gets what my bossy best friend demands. Her "sassy assertiveness" is just one of the bajillion things I respect about her. Ha! Love ya, Tienna! :)

So here's some of what we've been up to over the last month:

The Hubster had a birthday. Would you just look at all those candles.

I feel compelled to point out that he is now closer to 40 than he is to 30. Oh, snap!

My boys (Little Miss was already in bed, because...wait for it...she was sick.)
Mom & Tim
Mmmmm, cake!
OH NO! I ate all of my frosting and it is THE END OF THE WORLD! Must throw a tantrum because I. AM. OUT. OF. FROSTING!!!!
Ohhh Yeeeaah! My grandma's a SUCKA!
The gift that Harrison picked out for his daddy all on his own. *chuckle*
 I have to stop here to add a little back story. For whatever reason, our son is fascinated with clocks. He talks about them constantly, points them out wherever we go, asks to listen to them tick-tock, and is generally obsessed. But like I've mentioned before, the little dude can't pronounce his "L"s. And because Rick and I apparently have the humor of 8th grade boys, we have never laughed so hard in all of our lives. It just doesn't get old hearing a sweet toddler innocently say things like Daddy, can I play with your clock? and I'm putting the clock on my ear! and Ooh! There's a big clock over there! I know. I KNOW. We are terrible. But until you hear it for yourself, please don't judge because I'm telling ya, it's freakin' hilarious! :)

A kid-less birthday dinner celebration with great friends
And I figured I'd try to give my aging hubby a heart attack with a nice practical joke. I told him that since I found out I was pregnant with Harrison on MY birthday he deserved a gift-wrapped pregnancy test on HIS birthday. Of course under the bow are three very important letters in front of the word "pregnant": N-O-T.

In other happenings, we took the kids to NASA. And now every five minutes we hear things like 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 PAST OFF!!!!!! and I'm gonna take a trip to outer pace today!!! and May I pease ride on a rocket ship? and watch countless videos of shuttle launches on YouTube. :) Love it.

I always have good ideas to go places and run errands "real quick" and I think I'm just a complete idiot sometimes. Because at these ages my kids usually last a max of 5 minutes before I'm ready to run back to the car in tears. I'm really having to adjust to staying at the house and being more idle. I'm not very good at it. But I think I'd rather go insane at home than out in public. Ha!

Alright, Bubba. Let's cue the meltdowns in 3-2-1...
This particular shopping experience my daughter had The Silent Diaper Explosion of Epic Proportions and I was walking around the store completely unaware of the fact that I was covered in her poop for who knows how long. AWESOME! Of course I had packed her a change of clothes but not me. DOUBLE AWESOME!
We've watched Toy Story a minimum of 1,365,844 times and Harper made it her mission to destroy any sense of organization or tidiness approximately every 45 seconds.
We've played tractors and trucks every day and read endless library books on construction and farm equipment. Thanks to my curious toddler I now get excited when I see construction sites and can point out all of the technical names of the  pieces of equipment. I'm pretty sure I'm now qualified to be a construction worker of some sort..Just give me a hard hat and the keys to an excavator.

 We did venture out with friends for a couple of play dates. Kemah was a hit with the kids.

Harrison and Brody

Riding the choo-choo train

 Then there was the day I was fed up with Harrison's shaggy hair. He has the most stubborn cowlick ever and I got the sudden impulse to chop it all off.


And so I did. 

After. Meet my BIG boy.

Another small little detail that went down this month? This girl got married!

Two of my favorite people
The wedding was in Port Aransas and the kids and I took a 6 day vacation for the festivities. Rick had to work but met us there the day before the wedding and stayed the weekend. Everything was beautiful, especially the bride!

view from the resort

Harrison was a "free-spirited" ring bearer and didn't feel like walking with the other 2.

But his daddy was able to reign him back in...for about 2 seconds.

This picture melts my heart. One day (too soon) he will be walking her down the isle at her own wedding.

Saying the I Do's

Woo hoo!

I met Ashley at a high school homecoming dance after-party. We initially didn't like each other because of typical high school drama rumors we'd heard about one another. And then we exchanged a couple of sentences and the rest was history. 14 years and LOTS of shared life experiences later, it was a privilege to stand by her side as her matron of honor...all dolled up in fancy dresses like the night we first met :)

 One of those that-would-be-SOOO-easy-and-inexpensive-to-make projects I made for one of her wedding gifts. $40 and 20 hours later and it was done. Ha!

Her new monogram

Speaking of best friends, Tienna had a birthday this month as well. She has joined me in the 29 club. We may be clinging to our twenties, but hey, we are still in our twenties. (Even though our bodies apparently didn't get the memo and we are both falling apart - ha) It totally sucks that we live so far away and I never get to spend her birthday with her. But we wished her happy birthday sentiments from afar and Harrison asked if he could make her a "concert video," so I obliged. I think a music career is most definitely in his future! Or not. Hey, at least he has the passion. :)

Did I mention that we've been playing? Like, a lot?

Sometimes we play nicely...

And sometimes, not so much...

But more often than not, being a fly on the wall is pretty darn priceless.
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