Man’s Best Friend

Dustin and I have been married for a little over 2 years now. When we were dating I decided to “gift” him with a kitten. A friend of mine had found some strays, and was giving them away. I thought it would be a great surprise for him. Well wild cats and apartment living doesn’t mix. Eventually after a couple of months Meow came to live with Dustin’s parents.

In the country animals roam free, and Meow was no exception. The downfall is that there are a lot of other animals that roam free. Meow only made it two weeks in the country life. We aren’t sure if he had been eaten by a coyote or if he just ran away.

Fast forward to when we moved across the street from Dustin’s parents. We had talked about getting a dog, and we both said we didn’t want an inside dog because a) the hair and b) the bathroom issues. If we did an outside dog though we would need to do a fence. We both said what kind of dogs that we would like to have. At this point I can’t remember what Dustin said, I know that I had always wanted a great pyrenees. Great pyrenees are known for being herders, and being great with children. That is why I wanted one.

We also had to discuss the fact we are not home a whole lot. Between our love for traveling, and always going to sporting events it wouldn’t be fair for us to have a dog. Or so we thought.

Dustin periodically goes across the street to see how his family is doing, and hangs out with them. One day when he went over there there was a new addition. Her name was Gizmo. She had been abandoned by her previous owner who couldn’t take care of her anymore. Dustin’s stepdad decided to take her in. Gizmo and Dustin hit it off. She would hug him and love on him whenever he came over.

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One day I got a text from Dustin that said he wanted me to meet Gizmo, and if we hit it off he wanted to keep her. When I first met her she did the same thing to me, hugged me and loved all over me. I had hesitations about her coming to live with us. I am pregnant and due in January, and what I hear about small dogs is they get jealous of babies. But how excited Dustin was about her, and the fact that she is 9 years old and is house broken made me cave in. We got her when we got back from vacation.

It has been an exciting month and a half since we have had Gizmo. To be more accurate one should spell her name D-I-V-A because she is a diva. She has taken over the couch and the love seat in the living room, is an excellent vacuum cleaner when it comes to the kitchen, and has officially taken over my bed. She is our little shadow. She is not a fan of the computer, but is a big fan of the baby bump.

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I didn’t realize how alone I was in the afternoons when Dustin was gone until we got her. She keeps me company, and is also my little space heater (not that I need one right now). I pray that she will be able to make the adjustment when little man comes. Otherwise she is gonna have to go.

 

Throwing the Towel In

Sunday, September 23rd was like any other Sunday – or it should have been.

The plans starting out for the day was to get up, and go to church like normal. The only thing out of the ordinary that we were going to do was go to a friend’s house to watch the Titans play the Jags since they were in Jacksonville.

I had been talking to myself and Dustin that I needed to text his aunt to see if there was going to be a baby shower thrown for me or if we were going to invite everyone to the one my family was hosting. Well being the pregnant person that I am I kept forgetting to text her. We had discussed it that morning that I would text her, and well oddly enough I received a text message from her.

She was checking in on me to see how I was doing. She likes to do this periodically. In return I checked in on her – her and her husband have had a time with cancer. The last time I had talked to her about it she said her doctor told her that his patients only have two outcomes: 1) they get better or 2) they die. Her and her husband have done neither. She let me know that the SUPER expensive medicine she had been taking for the past year hadn’t worked. Her numbers had come back higher than they should have, and she also was anemic now. The game plan was to go to the dr the next week, and figure out a new plan of action.

We go ahead and go to church. When we arrived we are given the bulletin with all the news that is going on in the congregation. I skim through it, and see if there is anything that pertains to me or people that I might know. We aren’t “members” there, but we visit there pretty frequently so I like to see the opportunities that they have coming up. Church starts and Dustin points out something to me in. One of his buddies from high school, his dad had his bladder cancer come back. This was bad news number 2 for the day.

Leaving church Dustin and I are just goofing off and talking on the way to our friends house. When we arrived I pulled my phone out, and saw I had missed a call from a friend. I thought it was odd because this is not a friend I talk to on the phone we just text normally. I called her back, but it went straight to voicemail. I sent her a text to make sure that she meant to call me. Roughly ten minutes later she called me back. I will never forget this call. She asked me what I was doing, and told me that I should be away from people when she told me what she had to tell me. I walked to a back room. She told me from the beginning it was bad, and the first thing I could think was our friend Gilda’s husband has had a heart attack or something along those lines. Those were not the words she spoke to me. She said, “Gilda has been killed in a head-on collision.” It took a minute for the words that she spoke to process through my brain. It felt as if I had been stabbed in the heart with those words. I lost all control of my emotions.

I am thankful that we were at a friends house so they could distract me from the news that was just given to me. We finished watching the game. I have no idea what happened in that game I just know the Titans won. And it was not pretty. We left and came home. When we arrived home I finally got on Facebook which I knew was going to be bad. It was. I don’t think I have cried that hard. Ever. After about an hour of sobbing I was able to get words together to make a post. To write the post it took another 30 minutes. It was rough.

Earlier in the day I told my mom the news already about Gilda, and she told me about someone else we knew had been moved out of CCU to a regular room because they couldn’t do anything else for him. Shortly after I had posted about Gilda I got a text from my mom saying that Joe had passed away. I had just seen Joe last month, and was talking and cutting up with him. It was one of the best conversations that I had had with him. When I had gotten that text saying he had passed I officially had thrown the towel in on the day. I couldn’t emotionally take it anymore.

First Trimester Woes

Let me tell ya something – I LOVE FOOD. I am a fat kid at heart, and I am not picky. Well that was until I got pregnant.

Thank goodness we went on the cruise before we got pregnant. While on the cruise I ate approximately 3000 calories a day if not more. Every day I would have a burger (or 3) from Guy’s Burger Joint. These are hands down the best I have ever had except for In-N-Out. Then for dinner I would have what you normally can’t get or that you may be too afraid to try, and it would end up being about 5 plates of food. That was the last of the “real” food for awhile.

May started out normal. Well minus the fact that I wanted grilled onions. It was about a 3 week phase I went through. We ended up going to watch the Vanderbilt baseball team play MTSU one night, and they had a stand that was grilling sausage and hot dogs. You could also get them loaded with peppers and onions. I was salivating  over the smell of the onions, so I had to get me some. When I got back to my seat with just grilled onions the people around us wanted to know what I had because it smelled so good. Those good people were gracious enough not to judge me, and my pregnant cravings at that moment.

Then comes June and July. These months were full of surprises in the food realm. I only wanted to eat xtra cheddar goldfish, shredded cheese on tortillas, fries, and plain cheeseburgers. The thought of eating anything else made me sick. I also couldn’t handle the smell of food. Which meant that I didn’t cook food anymore. We ate out all the time, and by we I just mean Dustin. The good news about not eating at the house meant we didn’t have any dishes to do, but if we did that was out of the question for me as well.

Thank goodness I am off of that terrible diet. I am starting to add a little more food to my list of things to eat. Steak is still not on that list of things that I like, but I am hoping that it will come back before too long. I can’t complain because I didn’t really have morning sickness, or any other hard times that other people have talked about having. The only time I would get it would be in the evenings, and 90% of that happened when I needed to make a stop on the way home. I have an hour plus commute home in the evenings, and I guess my body didn’t like that I was not getting home in a timely manner. Pregnancy truly is a journey, and those journeys are not all the same.

Awkward Wife of the Year

The hubs and I decided that we were ready to have a child. I randomly approached him one day, and started talking about when he thought would be a good time for us to start trying to get pregnant. We both agreed on April for two very different reasons. His was because it would be January when the child come, and my busy time of the year would be over at work. Mine was Titans football regular season would be over, and Vanderbilt’s men’s basketball SEC play would be starting up, but not until the middle of January. We can see where our priorities were.

We love a good cruise so we decided to take one in April before their “busy” season started. It was tons of fun as usual to get away from the real world, and not hear the negativity that is always present every single day. We also had the best waiter for our dinners who talked to us about what true sacrifice was. He was from the Caribbean, and worked on a cruise ship 8 months out of the year. His wife stayed at home. She was a nurse and took care of their children. Michael made sure to tell us about how life and marriage are supposed to work.

When we got back home Dustin told me that we were pregnant. I told him there was no way, no one gets pregnant on their first try. For a month we went back and forth, and I told him how crazy he was. I will be the first to admit that I LOVE trying to prove Dustin wrong. So when the day came that I was able to take a pregnancy test I went and got one.

It was a Wednesday night. Both of us will never forget how this went down. There are two tests that come in a box. I took the first one, and waited. It was a faint cross. I didn’t believe it so I took the other one. And once again another faint cross appeared. I was in disbelief. This wasn’t supposed to happen, this NEVER happens. I go into the living room were Dustin is sitting on the couch, and I sit next to him. I told him I needed to talk to him – normally when I say these words it is never a good thing. He said OK…. I didn’t exactly say words – I just handed him both tests. He looked at them, and said kinda shocked “You’re pregnant?” My response was not that great, “I guess so”.

Previously I had been thinking about when we did get pregnant how I would tell Dustin. On Pinterest there is all these cute ways to announce to your spouse that you are pregnant, and I wanted to do something similar. But in my stupor I couldn’t think straight, and just ran straight to him. I still didn’t think it was true so the next morning I got another test and took it at work. This time it was the one that says the words pregnant or not pregnant. Well that sealed the deal, in big bold letters it said PREGNANT.

We still get a big laugh about how awkward I was in telling him that we were expecting. When we talk about the baby this conversation almost always comes up. The good news is too that there will be more of these moments that happen in my life. 🙂

Specialists aka the Doctors

When you have a significant life change in your health you try to find the right people to help you get answers. Well let me tell ya something, that is easier said then done.

When we started out in the hospital I was assigned a neurologist. You think at a hospital they would have the best of the best….well that wasn’t the case for me. He ordered me to be on 3000mg of Keppra a day. Seizure medicine is made to slow your brain down, and being on 3000mg a day my brain was going about as fast as a turtle runs. When I went to my first appointment at his office we noticed that everyone had this look on their face of not being able to register what was going on and people were falling asleep – a true sign of being on way too much medication. After that first visit I never went back.

I was referred to a primary care dr (the one that ran the entire blood panel on me), and he referred me to a new neurologist to see if he could help get things going in the right direction. When I met with Chris (the neurologist) he was in shock I was on as much Keppra as I was. He quickly knocked me down to 300mg a day. This was a game changer. I could carry on a conversation with someone instead of it being a one sided conversation where I just stared at them. Chris was able to give some insight to my seizures, but there is so little research that there wasn’t much more he could give me.

Last year I became a regular with the hospital. I ended up having a seizure in February, March, May, and October. In April I ended up with a kidney stone which is also something that is common with someone that has epilepsy. The seizure that was in October actually happened on a cruise ship. (Side note: if you ever get sick on a cruise ship those people treat you like you are royalty.) When I went into the hospital for the seizure in May the people in the ER actually said “oh I remember you”. Not what you really want to be known for. When all of these were happening that is when the drs started to believe that I had catamenial seizures. It was a fantastic day to know we were all on the same page…finally!

There had also been talk about my thyroid being out of whack, and helping wreck havoc on my health. My sister had told me about a dr that her mother-in-law was going to for her thyroid, and how much she enjoyed going to him. So I went to see him to see if my thyroid was also another cause of the seizures. Come to find out I only had a few nodules, but it wasn’t anything to worry about. We ended up talking a little bit longer, and he referred me to a new gynecologist.

Let me tell you, I hit the lottery when it came to this gynecologist. I got to meet her in January, and when I told her I had catamenial seizures she said the magical words I had longed to hear, “I know all about those. I have 5 or 6 patients that have those same types of seizures.” I could have hugged her (and I’m not a hugger). She was the one that told me that everyone has a seizure threshold, and when my hormones decide to go a little haywire I slip under that threshold and it produces a seizure. Due to her knowing the side of hormones she has been very helpful, and has answered every crazy question I have had when it comes to pregnancy and seizures. She has been a true blessing.

I have been to countless doctors to get answers, and I have finally gotten to my core group of doctors that I trust. I still don’t have a primary care doctor, but the doctors that I do have take really good care of me.

 

Catamenial, say what?

After my first three grand-mal seizures it wasn’t clear what type of seizures that I had. There are a ton of different seizures, and I am still learning all the different types myself. If you want to check out the different types check out the Epilepsy Foundation

What we did learn in the first few months was that I had been having pedi mal seizures my entire life. I would periodically have my eyes flutter while I was talking or while someone else was talking and I had no idea what was being said. My pedi mal seizures would last roughly 2-3 seconds, but they would happen fairly often. My family and I never really thought anything about them.

Shortly after I had my first shoulder surgery I went to a primary care doctor that ran an entire blood panel on me. When we got the results back my vitamins and minerals were at rock bottom, but that wasn’t the shocking part. The shocking part was that my testosterone and estrogen levels were super low. My testosterone was at a 23 when it needed to be at a 75, and my estrogen was a 47 when it needed to be 150. As my best friend said, “I was not a woman or a man at that point.”

Knowing these numbers helped the neurologist to figure out what kind of seizures I had – catamenial seizures. Catamenial seizures are only present in women, and the statistic I was given was less than 10% of women have this type of seizures in the world. With catamenial seizures they are present before, during, or after ones menstrual cycle. What happens is ones hormones change drastically which causes one to go below the seizure threshold and induces a seizure. Mine happen to occur before my menstrual cycle begins.

It has taken me some time to be able to get to figure out what works for me so that I don’t have another seizure. Medicine helps for day to day, but does not come close to controlling them. The week leading up to my menstrual cycle I make sure I get plenty of sleep, drink A LOT of water, and just take it easy. People think that I am crazy because normal days I get between 9-10 hours of sleep, but during that week I average about 11 hours of sleep. I have also added Pedialyte to my morning routine that way if I have lost any electrolytes I can add them back in.

I still have my pedi mal seizures from time to time, and when those occur I get sent straight to bed. That is a sure sign that I am exhausted, but I am too stubborn to admit that I am tired. So far it’s been 11 months since my last grand mal seizure, but I have also been pregnant for 6 of those months. The body protects itself when one is pregnant, and the numbers are pretty slim when it comes to one having seizures while pregnant.

 

 

I’ll Take Two New Shoulders

After round one of grand mal seizures I was in the hospital for a week. I would like to tell you that it was a great stay, and that it went smooth sailing – but it didn’t. It was a circus to say the least. I will spare the details, and pray that it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

When I got back home the first thing that happened is we had to schedule an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. The ortho dr. in the hospital didn’t want to touch me when he heard that I had two previous shoulder surgeries a few years earlier due to wear and tear and a good accident prone story. I didn’t get to see my dr. since we called that morning, but they worked me in to see a NP that was told to “give me whatever I asked for”. All I wanted was a different pain killer since the one I was on wasn’t cutting the pain.

Shortly after that first appointment my dr. got all of my scans, and got me an appointment to sit down and talk to him. When I walked back there the first thing he wanted to do was give me a hug, but he didn’t touch me because well I was fragile. We came up with a game plan that day. I would have a total of three shoulder surgeries. We would start with the left one since it had the most damage – a stripped muscle, and a pretty large break. The right one was left to heal on it’s own and then he would go in and get all the scar tissue out. Then it was back to the left shoulder to get the scar tissue out of that one.

I ended up having surgeries in July, September, and November that year. The dates were scheduled around Vanderbilt football games so I wouldn’t miss any home games – I had priorities hah!