A Day of Thanks

It has been a hot second since I have been on here, and that is all for good reason. I started substitute teaching for the biggest school district in Tennessee. It is also the most under funded school district it seems like. When I went to orientation for this they told us that 78% of the children pre-k through 12th grade were considered to have a learning disability. My mind was blown.

I have worked now off and on for two weeks. The first week I only worked two days. I had high school and elementary school. High school I didn’t really know what I was getting into. It is a school that is closest to us in mileage so I took it. I didn’t know that it was one of the worst schools in the district going in. I had freshman mostly with a few sophomores mixed in. Some of the freshmen still acted as if they were still in middle school, but they weren’t too bad for me. One class in particular stuck out to me.

The class that stuck out to me was the honors English class I had. One kid was leading a pretty in-depth conversation. He was talking about how because they are a predominately lower class school they were expected to become drug dealers, to use drugs, or just not do anything with their lives. Their mission was to break the cycle. They had dreams. They also got off on the subject of kids coming out of the closet, and that they knew people that wouldn’t because they needed their parents who they knew wouldn’t accept them anymore if they did “come out of the closet.”  The conversation ended with the same guy talking about how he was working on his relationship with his mother. She wanted him to become a doctor or a lawyer, but that wasn’t what he wanted to be. He had been working on putting together YouTube videos since he was 12 to build a portfolio for when he graduated to do something in that area. I was blown away by their conversation. There is adults that can’t carry on conversations and talk about topics like they were in an orderly manner even when some of them didn’t agree with the opinions they had.

The next day I got to go to an elementary school. When I was in elementary school we had less than 100 kids total in the entire school Kindergarten through 5th grade. This school had 60+ kids per grade that went there. This was also my first time having an aid in the classroom with me while subbing. This was the day that I learned that aids can be a great thing for a sub or they could be a subs worse nightmare. Elementary kids are cool because they still like to do their work. There maybe one kid out of twenty that doesn’t want to do their work, but hey there’s always one in every crowd. Until you get an aid in the classroom that is just as wild if not wilder than the children in the class. Not only are you having to take care of the children, but you are having to take care of the adult that is acting worse than the children. Thankfully that aid didn’t last that long in the class, and a new one came in.

I had an eye opening experience at this school too. I had a dad bring in cupcakes for his little girl. I asked her if it was her birthday, and she responded no. She then proceeded to tell me that he does things like this from time to time because he will be gone to rehab for a couple weeks ever so often, and it’s his way of making up for it. She was in the 4th grade. I realized that day that I still lived under a rock for the most part in my sheltered world. This wouldn’t be the first time this got pointed out to me.

The next week I ended up working 4 days. 4 days for an 8 month pregnant lady is a lot of work. Shout out to you ladies that work up until you deliver. You’re the real MVP. That Tuesday I was with high school again. It was by far the easiest I had and would have. I got lucky, and got one of my friend that used to work at the school his old classes. When I told them I was friends with him they were ready to bow down to me because they thought I could get him to come back and teach them. Sadly he isn’t coming back to them, and they have to deal with the teacher that they all loathe.

Wednesday I was at the middle school that fed into the high school I was at the previous day. I didn’t exactly know what class I had signed up for, but I quickly realized it was going to be a challenge. I had the special needs class. Luckily I didn’t have them by myself. There were two other people in their with me. If you know anyone that teaches special needs kids or helps out with them give them a hug, a high five, a shout-out, or something because they really are a gift from God. There are no words to explain how you handle almost 10 kids at one time that do not have the same disabilities. Structure is definitely key when it comes to teaching them, but with them the day is never the same. Needless to say I was mentally exhausted after being with them all day, and I didn’t even do a whole lot in my book.

Thursday and Friday I was a lot closer to home. I was also in middle school. I was the same teacher two days in a row, and I thought I knew what I was getting into. Middle school kids are the definition of cray cray, and also the definition of can’t listen. I learned that this school was in the bottom 5 of the district. The children were very interested in me being pregnant, and I even had one child ask me how I got pregnant. That question caused a very stern reaction from me when I said I wasn’t discussing that with her. I had one rule for them, and that was to go easy on the cussing. I got told that everyone cusses these days, and if you didn’t you weren’t from the 21st Century. I guess this meant I wasn’t from the 21st Century. These children worked my nerves. They couldn’t keep their hands to themselves, and some of them actually acted like animals – I wish I was kidding. They also liked to skip class. I ended up with a lot of extra children because they wanted to come hangout in my class instead of going to the class that they were supposed to be in.

Progress reports also went out while I was there. I didn’t know it was possible for someone to score less than a 30 in a subject until I saw some of these reports where it had less than a 10 in some classes. With being 8 months pregnant, and this being middle school I couldn’t just leave them and go to the bathroom. There has to be someone in the class at all times. I would have to wait for an admin to come to the classroom so I could go to the bathroom. They were more than understanding when it came to my bathroom breaks. When I left there I apologized for how crazy the kids were, and I was told that I actually had the most control over them then the other people that had subbed for them. If they were “good” for me I would hate to see how much worse it could get.

While I had been trying to get as many jobs I could get, I forgot that my immune system was not prepared for children. Especially children that want to touch you all the time, that always have a runny nose, that sneeze on you, or cough on you without even thinking twice about it. I started to feel a little bad so I started taking over the counter items that I can take due to pregnancy. You are limited in what you can take when you are pregnant, and a lot of things they offer over the counter do not work for me at all. I thought I could fight it with shoveling OTC’s into my system, but that was wishful thinking.

I was hanging on pretty good until Saturday hit, and I lost my voice. It randomly hit out of nowhere. I already had the runny nose, a sore throat, and a little cough. I knew what was coming next, a full blown sinus infection. Monday of this week I broke down and went to the Dr to get antibiotics which is the only thing that will ever help. I was told previously by the baby Dr that while in your third trimester your immune system goes down for yourself, but it takes care of your baby because that is it’s first priority. It took forever for me to get some drugs that would work for pregnancy and also not interact with my seizures.

The antibiotics are finally starting to knock out the snot, but not doing a whole lot for my voice and my cough I still have. I have finally cut back on the amount of tissues I am using. I did try Robitussin last night to see if that would help with the cough – it took my entire voice away. At maximum volume for me it was barely a whisper you could hear when I was talking, and I don’t whisper! I decided to not go that route, and hopefully between hot tea and cough drops the voice and cough will get better.

Today is Thanksgiving, and I have had two weeks to be ultra thankful for all the good that I have in my life. These last two weeks have also brought about some eye-opening experiences as well as a lot of prayers for children that I probably will never see again. I hope that some of these children do find their own path and march to the beat of their own drum instead of following in the steps of those before them. Little man has also made his presence more known this week, and is starting to get super active where you can see it if I am just sitting down. It really does look like an alien is in my stomach! I hope you guys got to enjoy some time with your loved ones, and put your “Thanksgiving pants” on and feasted like Kings and Queens!! Until next time 🙂

The Best of the Best Flea Market Edition

When I was younger my parents would take me to various flea markets, and I hated it. Nothing interested me, but since I was along for the ride I couldn’t complain. I remember being in middle school and we went to one. We came home with guineas. Not the pigs, but the fowls (birds). The idea was that these birds were going to help with the tick population that we had in our yard. They didn’t last long at our house – the other wildlife we had decided they were good to feast on. And the ticks prevailed.

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During my early twenties I moved out of the house to live with a friend that needed help with bills, and I needed to get out. She was the one that first introduced me to the flea market in Nashville. Prior to this I don’t think I had ever gone to the state fairgrounds. She decided to take me to the “big one in October.” It was a group of us, and it was tons of fun. I got all of my Christmas shopping done on that trip to the flea market. I am one of those that LOVES to get my Christmas shopping done before November 1st if I can help it. Currently I have accomplished that except for Dustin’s immediate family – we get theirs on Black Friday.

This year at seven months pregnant I decided to go again. This has been dubbed the best one to go to if you are going to go to the flea market. There has to be over 500 vendors at this one with them being inside and outside. They pack the grounds. Brittany decided so that we wouldn’t have to walk far up the hill that we would get there when it opened. We got off the interstate around 6:45 AM, and once we got closer it was already backed up a little bit with people trying to get in to park.

Going in I didn’t know what I was looking for or if I was looking for anything at all. Dustin had given me a budget of what I could spend. When we arrived we went to the first set of vendors that were closest to us, it was at that point my bladder decided to stop working for the day. The good news is that Brittany knows where all the bathrooms are located so it wasn’t too terrible.

We make our way through all of the buildings. Brittany had to get some cups made that they do on the spot, but she has it down to a science as to what time she needs to hit them up so the cups will be ready when we leave. 5 hours later we are ready to hit the road. 5 hours later and this pregnant lady was exhausted.

I ended up getting items for dirty Santa that we do with one side of the family. I go back and forth every year with nice house items and funny gifts. This year was the nice house items. One of the ladies I purchased from was super sweet. She was talking to me about the nursery and what I had planned to do with it. We are doing baseball and American flags because well baseball is America’s favorite past time, and we love baseball. She said that when she was able to move into a house she was going to use her late husband’s fireman’s gear and memorabilia to set up a room for her grandsons. (Insert a few waterworks) It’s people like this that make going to the flea market also fun. I love talking to people that are personal, but then again I am super extroverted. Below is what I got for dirty Santa. I may play my cards where I get the TriStar to hang up in our home 🙂

The other things that I purchased was some items to be used for little man’s newborn photography session. I have been going to Pinterest to get some ideas of what I liked. The ones I like use an old coke crate, and I was able to score one of those for fairly cheap. The best purchase of the day was a blanket that we will use for newborn pictures, and also use it as one of his blankets. It has all the old school NFL logos on it, including the Titans who were the Houston Oilers back in the day.

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I made it out of the flea market with a dollar to spare. There are some items I didn’t get pictures of, and the food that I purchased. When we left the amount of people that were there was about the same as the amount of people that were waiting in line on the interstate to go. There is three entrances to get in, and they were all crazy backed up. I am thankful that we got there when we did.

I probably won’t make it back to another flea market until next October. I have basically made this flea market my one and only time to go. The new fairgrounds are undecided since we are getting a MLS stadium at this location, but if you are ever in Nashville when it is time for the “big one in October” I highly recommend going to it. Just remember to get there early.

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.