Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ah, well....

Okay, I've been in a funk.  Not wanting to write here.  Not wanting to take photos.  Not wanting to eat healthy.  Nothing.  Not sure what I want.  I think it is this holiday week.  It completely messed me up.  Starting right now (not tomorrow or the next day, right NOW) I'm back on my meal plan.  2 servings of fruit, 1 grain (if that), lots of level 1 veggies, 5 servings of protein, some oils and nuts or beans.  I've been feeling better and better and I've slipped and I feel yucky.  It is NOT worth it!  I feel hungover and sickly.  Meaning, it's working to eat well!  The way I learned to eat in August is healthy and I need that.  I'm slowly getting there, I'm not going to mess this up!  So, tomorrow I'm going to pack up the junk food and send it with Joe to work.  The boys will want some stuff so I'll keep some gummies on hand.  That's it.  I don't care for them (gummies, not the boys!) anyway.

I've lost motivation to cook and bake.  That's part of my problem...I'm not sure if it's all the work to clean it up or what.  I'm burnt out.  Not in the way I was last year.  That was serious adrenal burn-out.  This is just lazy unhealthy burn-out.  Off my game.  Yuck.  I hate that!  I'm going to do my apple juice fast/cleanse.  I'm not sure it's the best cuz of all the sugar though.  But I do feel better afterwards.  Maybe I'll search for another kind of cleanse just to get me on the straight and narrow.  Feel free to share ideas if you know of one!

I say this with all seriousness, eating like that sounds hard but getting there is the biggest challenge.  Once deciding and being healthy occurs there is a great sense of accomplishment knowing that we can feel in control of how we treat our bodies.

I've had extra kids and extra things going on.  To be truthful, part of my funk lies in other things.  My beliefs and thoughts have undergone some challenges and I am pretty self-reflective.  During my reflection I've been wondering what is the truth.  What makes us who we are?  What if we're wrong?  What if my perception of reality is so very wrong?  What if I am truly missing something?

I have to be careful what I write.  I cannot just spew it all.  I want to, but the process of figuring things out needs to happen privately.  Then what?  I'm not sure.  I've been hurt pretty deeply lately.  It is very hurtful and makes me question myself.  I think I am a caring person.  Sure, I am a far cry from perfection, but so are the rest of us.  I find it very frustrating to think that people I thought I was close to do not know me.  Do not understand what my life consists of.  Nor, do they reach out and try to support me instead of just critique and judge.

Then, my funk continues.  I think about becoming a mother.  To 3 boys!  One boy with a disability!  I have been molded to fit my family.  We affect one another!  Why should I ever feel the need to justify and defend that?  I shouldn't.  I guess I notice as my beliefs and values have changed, so have my relationships.  Some people have become closer to me that I ever imagined.  Others, so far away I would just like to move on.

I am not trying to be dramatic, just matter of fact.  I do not need the stress.  I find that as my diet has changed, and my beliefs in being healthy, I have less patience for relationships that are so different.  What can we discuss and grow from?  I want to grow.  I am constantly climbing and searching for more knowledge and understanding.  I do not easily accept being asked to stay inside the box.  I do not believe the box is best.  I believe it is narrow and limiting and manipulative.  Does this make sense?  Take shoes for example.

Yes, shoes.  (Shoes is not exactly the level I speak of, but safe topic to use as an example) I do not believe the way shoes have been developed is the best for our feet, our legs, our backs, our spines.  I think God and natural science has made our bodies to not need arch support or things like that.  I am not this way to be rebellious.  Yes, I know things happen and people's bodies need help....I'm not narrow minded here...  Again, I think band-aid approaches do not solve problems.  I have started running in natural shoes.  Ones I never tie or untie.  Ones with flat bottoms and what appear to have very little support.  Guess what?  My body feels better than ever after running in them.  My calves are stronger.  My back does not ache.  My knees are good.  No shin issues.  Granted, I am not running more than 25 miles a week in them since last spring, but in the past I would likely have had an issue.  I am open-minded and willing to try new things is my point maybe.

I find it very hard to have relationships with people who are apposed to being open-minded and willing to try other things to stay healthy.  I realize it is my issue to a degree.  I try to meet people where they are at.  And maybe the topic itself is not the cause for concern, but the lack of connecting and having something to talk about.

We all want to be right and feel like we know what is best for ourselves.  It is just getting me in a funk.  Too much second guessing and feeling like I am not good enough in some people's eyes.  I suppose we all get like this.  I think of this as the devil.  I rebut these messages and will try to find peace and happiness no matter the circumstances.  After all, we are all special and unique and extremely valuable.  I pray I can feel peace and continue to have healthy relationships with those in my life :)  I will start with myself.  I will make choices that I know help me feel better about myself.  No more guilt ridden decisions.  I want to know I am doing the best I can for me, Joe, and my boys.  That is all I can do.  Right?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Update Central!

Wow, it has been a busy fall and winter for my new and growing photography business.  That is why I have not been here much.  I have been an editing, photographing maniac with parenthood and watching my nephew on top of it!!!  I resigned from my job 3 months ago.  My last day was mid-October.  I miss the people and sometimes wonder if I am making a difference in this world by spending my extra time taking photos. I know it is a silly question but I want to do what is 'right'.  In my heart and for God's people.  I do think this is the 'right' thing to be doing.  Last week as I fed Colten (my nephew whom I have 3 days a week) I realized it was 3 o'clock and thought about what I would be doing if I were still working at school.  Then before I figured it out I realized I had not had a single moment of that train of thought since being home.  Meaning I have not wished I was still there or missed it enough to regret my decision.  When I thought it through I moved on and thought about how much happier and more content I am where I am right now.  It is a sign that this is the 'right' thing.  Maybe not forever.  But who knows, maybe!  I love photography and all the people I get to interact with and give something to (photos of their loved ones).  That is a gift.
It speaks, also, to what has been happening lately.  I mentioned elsewhere (facebook) that a woman I met briefly last year on my way to bringing Calvin to Children's when he was so sick with brociolitis and pnemonia had another child whom passed away last week. (I did blog about meeting her last October) Her 4 year old boy was struck and killed by a vehicle operated by his dad.  It is so heartbreaking.  This is the same family who buried a child who was still-born spring of last year.  I asked God the question of how such things in life are possible?  I was reminded that He has plans for us to prosper.  Somehow, this family will persevere and by God's true grace still worship Him!  Amazing, God!
On top of it, as I ask myself if becoming a photographer is meaningful, I have no doubt that my photos will become more valuable over time and if something were to happen to the people in them, I will have provided something for their loved ones.  

With all of this, I have been working with someone to get my personal/profession website up and running how I would like.  I did find someone else to help me and I will be blogging on there, too.  Mostly professional stuff - presenting sessions, etc.  But I have been considering using that space to share photos of my family and a bit about us verses using this space/site.  It would be nothing too crazy personal as I have to balance that with professionalism.  But I think people want to know real people.  They want to know those in their lives are caring and connected and can even relate to them!  I want to present who I am so people feel connected to me and trust me to photograph their family/children/etc in a way that represents them and draws out emotion and art.  So, I am going to play around with blogging more on that site.  I will direct you readers there once I am ready and off to the races.  It will be a couple of weeks yet.  In the meantime, I will keep this space as it is meant to offer myself a place to come and vent or cry-out or share about life and struggles and gifts.  
Speaking of gifts: It is truly crazy how Calvin has been taking off.  He now signs puppy, kitty, elephant, horse, cow (those 2 look the same but he tries and does great!), eat, more, help, drink, drive, and some times please and go - have not done those much.  He is working on lion and makes a snorting sound when he see's photos of pigs and ducks!  He watches so intently as I teach him.  This boy is a smart one and I have no doubts he will have a fulfilling life.  And, I am having a lot of fun with him!  He loves books.  I often catch him 'reading' them and find a lot of joy in that.  

The thing is, Calvin is a human being.  He is 'normal'.  He joins in the games and joys of our family.  He fits perfectly; a puzzle piece that has been connected even though I kept thinking it didn't quite fit and would turn it and turn it.  I just needed to give it time and look at the big picture.  The big picture is what used to scare me!  Not anymore.

I took Cal to the dentist again.  I need to get in his mouth and do more releases and get him used to fingers in there so the doctor can do that without such a melt down.  I'm afraid of how it will go, ouch!  Cal does not have his eye-teeth yet.  Dr. Laughlin says they are slow or may not come.  Crazy genetics!

Here are some photos I have taken recently.  The ones of Cal are with my new toy: Canon 5dmkiii.  I've hesitated to share that but I am very grateful for what God gives me.  He blesses me and I will honor him and respect the people and things in my life.  Yes, sometimes it is a struggle and I have to slow down, but here we go!  Have a very Merry Christmas!  I'll post more soon.  Thank you for reading! 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Journey with GI Issues, Part 2

The truth is, I am not certain how many parts there will be to this journey.  What I can tell you is that things seem to be going in the right direction.  I have had a few days in the past month where I felt pretty normal.  So, please keep reading!  I want nothing more than to help people suffering with GI (gastrointestinal) issues.  This experience has opened up a flood of empathy for everyone who cannot just pop into their mouth whatever their brains and tongues feel like!

Recap of Journey, Part 1:
I was a sick child.  I stress this because the point is, I had GI issues since then but just thought of my symptoms as the real/targeted issue.  Many ear infections, asthma, allergies, food intolerances (mainly bananas), sulfa allergy, acne.  Did I mention acne?  Talk about inflammation!!  As miserable as the other symptoms were, acne was emotionally miserable as well.  I strongly believe it has shaped a part of my personality and where I am at today.  I can say my husband saw past it and that speaks volumes to me :)  Joe is amazing.  

Back in the day (which was about 15 years ago) I went on antibiotic after antibiotic to treat acne.  Unfortunately this only fed into my issues.  I did also go through 2 rounds of Acutane - not sure if that is still on the market.  The thing I noticed helped the most was birth control.  I would never go on that again, though.

The doctor who discharged Evan and I when he was born did not prescribe it.  He said when teens or young adults go to the dr with an issue related to menstruation, birth control does not heal it.  It puts it on the back burner and the problems exist in years to come.  Perhaps even new ones.  I will never forget his comments.  His outlook in medicine shaped a part of who I am today.  Unfortunately he did not continue with general medicine (went to emergency) or I would have him to this day.  Okay, I digress.  

Digestion is like setting out to bake a cake.  You have to have all of the ingredients and proper equipment.  Ingredients include digestive juices released in the mouth, stomach, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. Saliva, stomach acid, pancreatic digestive enzymes, beneficial bacteria [I advise people to reconsider the claim that yogurt is a sufficient source of ben. bacteria.  It is not a complete truth and in fact the sugars (often times aspartame) will not help a person with digestion problems.  Plain, whole milk fat, organic yogurt is the best option - besides raw and making it yourself which I have not done, yet], and bile are all of the juices those organs need to make in order to assist us with getting the nutrients into our bodies and the excess/waste out of them.  

The equipment includes our organs.  How are they all important?  They are.  Our body is one unit, not a collection of individual mechanisms.  Each organ and process is vital to the next organ and process.  Also, did you know the GI tract is the number one organ in our immune system?!  It is responsible for 70% of our immune system (according to Joe about 5 days ago - Joe works in the scientific/medical field and is my go-to resource). 

So, for me, the thing Dr. Paulson suspected right away was Leaky Gut and a candida (yeast) overgrowth.  

I already dove in to that (here)

The truth is, I should have done a stool sample/test right away.  That would have indicated yeast, parasites, healthy and unhealthy gut flora.  I did do such a test about 3 weeks ago and it came back normal.

However, I did treat for yeast/candida before the test.  These are the supplements I started out with:
My first few months consisted of nutritional and supplemental support to heal my intestinal wall.  If you would like more details I can sure share.  As you can see, it was a lot.  But I had the support of a doctor who told me what to do.  She helped me problem solve along the way.

If you have health concerns, find a doctor to guide you.  Do not let my posts do so.  We are all too unique and my symptoms are likely not exactly like anyone else's.  I would no recommend a general practitioner, though!  Find either a Naturopathic or Integrative Medical doctor.  And, call them ahead of time.  Ask them if they can help you.  If they have helped someone with similar symptoms.  Advocate for yourself.

If you do not advocate for yourself you will suffer.  No one will step up and push it for you.  If you do not take care of yourself, you will not be taken care of.  This is what I have learned.  It has been worth the hundreds+ dollars I have spent because Dr. Paulson is good and is responsive to me, my needs, and my concerns.  Do not settle for less with a doctor.  Do not.

If there is anything more I can help anyone with, I am very open to talking more through email or on the phone :)  I would love it if my suffering was worth more than just taking care of myself.

Since this photo (which was back in September - 3 months ago) I have added and subtracted supplements.  I am now only taking about 8 different ones every day.  Still a lot, but not that much!  I do not think I will post more about this journey for another month or so.  I will say I did start menstruating, finally!  I know this is probably too much information but in my opinion it is a sign that everything I have been doing is working and my body is getting back on tract.  More testament that all of this treatment has been worth it!  GI issues are not normal.  They should not be accepted.  People with them deserve a lot of support.  I hope I have encouraged that.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Melt my heart LOVE

I am so sorry for not getting the GI post up yet.  I started it.  Last week.  It has been a tough week - very busy and such.  No big deal, just the reason for the delays.  In the meantime - heart melting:  
My boys love each other.  Nolan says, "I love my daddy, my mommy, my big brother, and Calvie".

Monday, November 19, 2012

grain free waffles

As a part of my GI work (2nd post coming next) I am learning a lot more about grains and our health.  My new lifestyle of eating has reduced my 8-10 servings of grains per day down to 1, maybe 2.  This was a huge stressor.  I love grains, gluten free or filled.  The good news is there are ways to enjoy foods that usually are made of unhealthy grains.

These waffles are perfect because I feel like I am not giving up so much, and, it is healthier, so I feel good about what I am eating and what I am feeding my family.  Calvin loves them plain, like I do.  Sometimes we add a nut butter (which I will post a recipe for in the nearest of futures).  The boys do request butter and syrup.  So, I plan to work on maintaining organic dairy in the house for them along with low carb alternatives to the usual high sugar filled foods, like syrup.  Baby steps people!  Change is not easy and to make it successful, slow down.  One thing at a time, including the process of learning!

Maria's books are great.  I also have Wheat Belly I plan to read shortly.  In there I will find out how much wheat has changed over the last 5 decades and why it is causing so many problems.  It makes me think about the field work going on outside my home.  I am surrounded by tractors discing in corn stalks to help them break down.  Genetically modified corn stalks.  Those do not break down as quickly as ones that are not modified.  Let me ask, what do you think your body does with all that genetically modified corn syrup in most foods?  I'm not sure either, but the decrease in mental, emotional, and physical health makes a person wonder...ignorance about what we are eating is not blissful.

On a very positive note, I am feeling slightly better than I did a week ago.  My doctor said it will take months to heal, this is how homeopathy and natural medicine differ from the medical model of symptom management.

Here is my grain-free waffle recipe, adapted from Maria Emmerich

 Click on the photos to make them larger.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nummy Chicken Nuggets; Healthy Too!

Click on the pictures to see them a bit larger.

 I feel soooo blessed to have 3 boys with hearty appetites.  Evan is the easiest to please with food.  Nolan is a bit tougher but not bad and Calvin is mostly attitude, not physical about his food.  Meaning, he does not seem to mind various textures, etc.  I am very very grateful for this because I know not all kids with Down syndrome are this way.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Happy "Heart Day"!

It has been 2 years since the following post was published.  Amazing how fast it has gone by!
We arrived for surgery around 10am. Calvin was such a trooper on only 2 ounces of milk since 9pm last night. We talked and he listened and talked back. He napped on and off. He did not fuss much, which made it sooo much easier on me. I felt bad that he didn't get to eat and had this day ahead of him. Well, it's behind him now and he is doing well. I am home and going to get a good night's sleep to go back in the morning.

There was some pre-op stuff to do with him and the anesthesiologist and surgeon came and spoke with us around 11:30. Then a fill-in pastor from our church came to say a prayer. He was a nice surprise! The anesthesiologist came to get Calvin and a few of the medical staff said they would take good care of him. That was very nice to hear.

Surgery started around 1:20pm. Dr. Sutton, who was supposed to be in St Paul all week - so a nice surprise, stopped in and said that things were started and looking good but that the surgeon, Dr. Overman, was concerned about the mitral valve. Dr. Sutton said he wasn't but Dr. Overman was. Well, I thought I'd rather hear it the other way around, but my brother Craig had a good point that it is Dr. O's job to be worried about it! That made me feel better. So, at about 3:30 or so, Dr. Sutton came in and said Calvin's heart was beating on it's own and they were working on getting him situated for the ICU. Dr. Overman came in after that and explained some things about what was found during surgery.

Calvin's left ventricle was/is small. It is small due to thick and extra tissue. Therefore, they left a small (2-3mm) opening in between the left and right atrium in order to get the blood pressure they wanted. So, he has a lower blood O2 saturation level. Yours and mine is 100% (should be) and his might be more like 85. That is a bummer for me, but I am holding on to lots of hope that God can improve that if it is his will. Calvin's heart could begin to have an easier time pumping, would thin out that tissue, and the ASD (atrial septal defect) would no longer be needed - so to speak. Also, that ASD could close up in time as well.

We came home to a home full of laughter and food! Thank you Beth, Kristi, Doop, Katie, and Grandma for all of the goodies! I think I ate more than my share of cookies! Less treadmill, more cookies...this week anyways!

God, if it is your will, please help Calvin's heart continue to improve and heal quickly. Thank you for the wonderful team of people whom we placed in Calvin's care today. Amen

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's So Typical, 1st Edition

GI Journey Part II is being put on hold for this special, 1st edition of "It's So Typical". And, tomorrow is a special post a'comin.

Often times I catch Calvin doing something that gives me butterflies, because it is just so typical (last year was the discovery of pulling off his own socks whenever the opportunity presented itself).  I know these things are no big deal and perhaps even unnerving, but there is something so joyous in it with Calvin.

Exhibit A) The case of the kleenex

"Maybe if I act thirsty or read a book she won't notice the mess I've made."   

"Better yet, clean with them."

I take care of my 5 month old nephew a few days a week, which leads to Exhibit B) Playing with his 'chew'; A.K.A. pacifier

Exhibit C) Bonding with brothers, especially Nolan (as has always been with these two).  Today Nolan declared liking being home because Calvie misses him...

When Cal sticks out his tongue like the pic above, he is humming as his motor noise.

A blurry one below because I couldn't decide if I should take a picture of this unexpected lone rider or run and catch him...he did perfect!

 More bonding:

Exhibit D) Getting in to cupboards.  Uncle David will be installing new handles that will serve as vessels to locking this boy out of the cereal cupboard!  Here he comes to beg!