Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts

Monday, April 20, 2015


*I decided this year I would add all my children's birth stories on or near their birthday.  My memory is great on some, and a little fuzzy on others but I'm going to do my best.*

During my pregnancy with Benjamin I walked daily on my treadmill.  I have taken hypertension medication since the birth of my 5th baby and during the end of pregnancy my blood pressure has a mind of its own.  It doesn't seem to listen to medication or laying down to rest etc..etc.. but, walking on the treadmill daily seemed to help it not creep up too high, too soon in the pregnancy.  I also have a blood clotting disorder which means I had to give myself daily injections (in the stomach) to control my blood's tendency to be more like jello (exact reference used by my hematologist) so the treadmill helped my circulation as well.

The week of Benjamin's birth I was letting the younger kids watch a movie on the tv in the basement while I did my morning walk.  (Having a basement was ideal for this set up).  I was near the end of my walk when I felt a stabbing pain in my uterus, and I got light headed.  I got off the treadmill, got some water and sat down.  I couldn't figure out what was going on, but I knew it wasn't good.  I didn't feel right at all.  I called my Dr.'s and the nurse assured me I had most likely over done it on the treadmill to just rest.  I doubt she actually had my file, or knew me because I do believe an insistence that I come in would have been the better answer.  Even though I doubted the whole 'rest' and all will be fine answer I got from the nurse, I trust my own instincts in these matters....  I took a little while to really decide if I was worried or not.  In the end, I decided I was worried, but that I could probably wait until my upcoming Dr.'s appointment to discuss....I didn't think I or the baby were in immediate danger.

The more children you have the earlier the false labor starts.  It isn't like Braxton Hicks either, it is the uterus working itself up for the big event.  It can be exhausting because you know it isn't 'real' but you also know it could become 'real' so you vacillate between letting your body do it's thing and also trying to figure out if that rhythm is getting steady enough to be concerned.  The treadmill event ramped up the false labor and my blood pressure began to climb, no amount of laying on my side or resting would help.

I finally had to go into the Dr. two days later.  It was decided that I was in labor and for me to go walk for a few hours at the Mall, and then head to the hospital.  So, that is what Pete and I did.  While at the Mall, my vision became blurry and I had a monster headache which is a sign that the blood pressure has hit a high so we went on to the hospital.  I was really struggling with all of this too, I absolutely detest that I'm doing everything within my power to control that hypertension and it just laughs in my face as it climbs, climbs, climbs.  When we got to Labor and Delivery, the nurses sort of freaked out.  My Dr. decided the best thing would be for me to rest overnight, hopefully bring the BP down and then begin an induction the next day.  The contractions seemed to just hang out in the 'early' stages of labor area and I was about 70% effaced and at 4 cm.  I knew I could be stuck there forever, so there wasn't any concern that Benjamin would arrive before an early morning induction.

I insisted Pete go home for the night.  I actually did sleep, which is rare for me when I knew my baby would be here soon.  I'm seriously like a kid at Christmas when I know I'm within hours of meeting my baby and I cannot sleep for the excitement.  That same excitement can make blood pressure climb so I was very deliberately trying to keep calm and breath deep.  I started to cry at one point because I had a sense that something was very, very wrong.  I prayed and prayed that night and finally fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning they began the induction by adding pitocin to my IV.  I had 2 previous c-sections but 6 VBACs so they kept the dose very low.  Pete arrived about the time I was getting uncomfortable (pitocin and I do not get along) so I asked for the epidural.  I know my body, I know me...once I relax and hit 5 cm the baby is born.  I was 90% effaced and still 4 cm when the induction began so the Dr.'s also broke my water.  In previous deliveries this combination would bring on baby quick.  I can take 15 hours to get to 5 cm, but once I get there I can go from 5 to complete within minutes.  We really expected Ben to be here by noon or at least early afternoon. Noon came and went, so did 3, 4, and then 5 pm.  I was just stuck.  Pete and I were having a good time though playing cards, visiting, watching reality tv and trash talking it.  Seriously, when you have 8 kids and the 9th is on its way you treasure every ounce of time you get to just be the two of you.

I should back up a bit.  The epidural didn't take, but I did get this weird case of restless legs.  I mean I could NOT keep my legs still and it was driving me up a wall (which did not help the whole relax, keep bp down, baby will come scenario).  I called the nurses a few times, which isn't like me - I prefer to be left alone.  They couldn't figure it out, and when the pain in my uterus was getting horrible, not contraction pain but stabbing pains and I was just miserable I called them again and asked them to please, PLEASE contact the anesthesiologist...something wasn't right and I shared about the stabbing pains.  As it turned out, the line from the epidural to the medicine had never been connected and the bag had drained out onto the floor under the bed, so when they checked the IV bag it looked like I was getting the pain medication - but I wasn't, and the puddle wasn't noticed.  So, they fixed the problem and I finally got relief.  

As we entered into the evening with no baby and progression going slower than a tortoise, Pete and I decided we could watch LOST.  We all felt that perhaps a slow labor was a good sign because it was easier on my uterus and I could still feel baby moving, the monitors showed all was well etc..  Suddenly a bunch of nurses rushed into my room, they had seen something on the monitors that shows baby is coming.  I had not felt anything (epidural) so the Dr. checked me.  I was completely effaced finally, and 9 cm.  Yep, baby is about to be here.  We waited another hour, and nothing and I was smelling a freshly lit cigarette.  This worried me.

The Dr. came back in close to midnight and checked me again.  I was feeling VERY weak, and had this horrible sinking blood pressure was actually going down.  She checked me and I had gone back down to 8 cm.  My cervix was swelling, and she asked if I'd been pushing.  No, I hadn't.  The Dr. had this look cross her face and she said in a doubtful voice "We are going to wait 15 more minutes to see if this corrects itself" and I knew, I KNEW this was wrong.  I still smelled cigarettes and I knew what this meant, so I said

"NO!  do a c-section now, something is wrong.  I KNOW something is wrong"...she didn't bat an eyelash she started shouting orders to the nurses and got my bed down to the OR faster than you can imagine.  

I was pretty out of it by the time the c-section was being performed.  I remember very vividly the Dr.'s talking though.  My uterus had ruptured, Ben was behind my spleen but it didn't appear he had taken a breath yet.  The placenta had abrupted and slid across the cervix, which is why I had not bled out but I had been bleeding internally.  The event that the nurses had seen alerting them that I was ready to deliver must have been when my placenta finally gave up and detached.  Benjamin was delivered and rushed out of the room, I insisted Pete go with him (Pete did not want to leave my side), my Dr. went which made him more comfortable that I was okay.  The anesthesiologist, the other dr. assisting and nurses were left with me.  They leaned over me and with great insistence and urgency they told me "No more babies"  "You cannot do this again"  "You will not survive another pregnancy"...apparently, I learned later, there had been some argument during the c-section about performing a hysterectomy but my Dr. had insisted no and she worked meticulously at repairing my uterus.  She told me later, that she knew I was not prepared psychologically for the hysterectomy and that she did her best to mend me up.  The Dr.'s were visibly afraid for me, and I could feel their concern.

I blacked out, probably drug induced or loss of blood - I don't know, but I slept and when I woke up I was in a room and Benjamin was in the nursery, still being watched.  I asked for him and the nurses brought him to me.  He was perfect, and beautiful I just held him and sobbed, and I felt so fortunate and blessed that we had not lost him during the delivery.. I knew how easily we could have.  I cannot explain how this knowledge imprinted on me a protection of him that was overwhelming.  I know now that protectiveness has helped me have a deeper reservoir of patience for him as we would later need it, a lot.

I shut everyone out.  I clung to Ben and Pete.  I felt like we had just narrowly survived something powerful.  I honestly, only cared that Ben and I were both here, and both alive.  I wanted to go home, go be with my other children and I wanted nothing to do with anyone else.  I was in this zone that isn't really depression, more like shock and it lasted a very long time.  I really did shut down in a lot of ways.  I wanted to talk about what happened and process it, but I also didn't want to - I was in a strange place.   They finally released Ben and I to go home.  We had been home just a few days when my head began pounding again and I went blind in my right eye.  Did I call the Dr.?  Did I say anything to Pete??  Oh no, I went to bed hoping I would wake up fine the next day....crazy, but true.  When I woke up the next day my vision was very fuzzy in that eye and my bp was climbing incredibly high.  I called my Dr.'s office to find out what I should do - they got me into a neurologist asap.  I think Pete was feeling quite in shock himself, it was all surreal.

I had a clot pass through the back of my eye, the Dr. could see where it had passed.  This event created a whole mess of tests and follow ups and everything I did not want, but had to go through to make sure I wasn't harboring any other clots any where.  I have never so much wanted to shut down and ignore it all.  I would have too if not for the 9 people I wanted to be here for, so I went through the motions of keeping myself well and followed Dr.'s orders to a T.   It was a very difficult and challenging time.  Ben on the other hand was a very easy going baby, and all the other children were smitten with him so I had lots of eager eyes and hands helping me with him.

The only other time I have smelled a freshly lit cigarette was when Noah was born.   I know it is my Dad.  He died when I was 17, and he always smelled of cigarettes.  To do this day I love the smell of a freshly lit cigarette (not so much the cigarette smoke).  So when I smelled them at the hospital, it was a sign to me that things were bad, and they were.  Hokey, weird, stress induced mind tricks???...I don't care, to me it was commanding and I will always know my Dad was there with Ben and I.  I believe God is so good, He grants these rare moments.  If this makes me out to be a little bit 'out there' so be it, it was that smell that signaled to me we needed to deliver right now, and I will forever be glad we did.  I thank God everyday that Benjamin is here and a part of our lives...I know how easily it could have gone the other way.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What Meat Free Looks Like For Me

One year to the day, 2011-2012

One of the reasons I am successful with health when  I give up meat is that it entails so much more than just meat.  I don't know why I'm able to flip the switch and be successful once meat is off the plate, but it works for me for some reason so rather than question it, I just go with it. (at least for now)

If my family wants hamburgers and fries, do I just get a salad - depends?  If we are at a fast food restaurant I may just order a salad or I might (especially when traveling) see if a Starbucks is near by and get myself a Bistro pack to enjoy while they eat.  So. because I don't want the meat, I've by passed the bun, all the mayo, ketchup, french fries, possibly soda (not usually ,but sometimes) for a pack with a boiled egg, carrot sticks, humus, some apple slices, maybe a slice of cheese, a few almonds and a large iced unsweet green tea (have you tried Starbucks, it's minty and soo good).  You see the difference of taking meat off my plate.  Big change for that one meal.

Let's say they want bacon, eggs and biscuits for breakfast, or sausage biscuits.  I might enjoy the eggs but instead of bacon I'll enjoy a bowl of berries or a piece of Ezekiel bread toasted with honey.  They are welcome to enjoy this as well (but they always want the biscuit). Exchanging the Ezekiel bread for the biscuit is a big difference when it comes to usable energy instead of white flour/sugar for your body.  I also love to slather almond butter on my Ezekiel bread and let me just say if you want to be full all morning and not feel a single hunger pang, eat Ezekiel bread topped with Almond butter. Finish with some fresh veggies juice and you can go way past noon until you feel the slightest bit of hunger.

Removing meat causes me to switch the way I think about my meals.  I really consider what is on my plate.  I don't want to get hungry and I want 90% of what I eat to be usable energy to satisfy me for a long day.

So my day goes like this:

Ezekiel toast and an egg, small bowl of berries
Ezekiel toast with almond butter, small bowl of berries
steel cut oats cooked overnight in the crockpot topped with berries
Veggie Juice

Sprouts, black beans, and avocado salad.
Bubbies Sauerkraut salad and a Ezekiel bread sandwich of humus and cucumbers
carrot sticks

Snack if needed - almonds, apple slices, plum, orange, carrot sticks, humus, boiled egg

Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
Pesto Salad

French Country Salad with Saute'd mushrooms
Fish with steamed veggies

I'm just better able to be disciplined about it when meat is off my plate.  Meat opens so many doors to delicious meals that include food items I'd be better off without.  My hope is to get to a place where I let go of some of those ideas and rework how meat is in my diet, possibly Paleo but then again if I like this and I feel better I can see just sticking with it and randomly enjoying meat on a very limited basis.  Who knows, I'll figure it out though.  I do not have an ethical problem with eating meat (maybe with how the meat industry gets it to market) but I do know how my body thrives and I'm just taking this one day at a time to figure out what the best balance is for me.  It feels good to get back to a healthier lifestyle after such a long recovery where I just let some things go.  It never pays in the end to indulge too much for too long, but that veggie juice and those berries, lots of plant based foods - that pays off big time, in a beautiful way!

*This would be just an example of my meals.  They are varied and lots of fun not boring at all, and always full of color!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Turtle Shell Mode

When my days start to feel more like this...

and I identify more and more with this...

It is time to re-evaluate because this is what I want....

but lately we've had lots and lots of this....

We need more and more of this....

and I crave scenes like this...

So, Pete and I are working through many tear (my tears) filled talks about what can we do, what can we change, what will help.  When I remove excess from my plate this time, it isn't because I want to step away from my commitments, it is because I have a larger one to my family.
A good friend recently shared that by saying 'no' to something, you are saying 'yes' to those moments you don't want to dismiss or overlook.  
We are going to put that into practice, but that is very hard for me because I can only imagine my letting others down.  
Slow down.

Recognizing limits, I think that will be the theme of 2015.

*Katie Daisy*

*Holly Hill Pond by Susan Wheeler are Bunny Photos*

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Deciding what is appropriate to share and what I want to remain private is hard.  If you met me, I'm an open person. Over the years that openness has bitten me more than once, so I tend to be a bit more guarded now.  On the other hand that openness has also provided the deepest of friendships and a circle of beautiful people in my life.  I have been very blessed by others.  So in that spirit, I will step out cautiously and share a little.

I had surgery on June 10th.  Surgery for a problem that has been my constant companion since Benjamin was born and I had a uteran rupture.  I've tried several different methods of resolving the problem but with each passing year, it became more challenging and began to affect my overall health.  I really felt betrayed by my body.  I got healthy, exercised regularly, ate right, etc..etc..  Still, my uterus and I remained on unfriendly terms.  I also have Factor V Leiden and Antiphsopholipid Antibody Syndrome or Hughes Syndrome which means I have sticky blood and that bear of extremely high blood pressure.  Yes, for any of you who know about the 2nd - it is a miracle I have 9 children since a common issue with that disorder is miscarriage.  I dealt with the other end of the disorder, I had toxemia/preeclampsia at the end of pregnancy and postpartum.  So...those genetic gifts complicated 'dealing' with an organ that just seemed to be broken.  

I am lucky, I've had wonderful pro-life Dr.'s who sincerely understood my beliefs as well, well in the OB/GYN dept.  My hematologists have not been quite so understanding but we've managed to find a way to get along anyway.  

Also, I knew my uterus was thin.  When my 6th was born the Dr. told me I could either leave the hospital without a uterus or with a tubal ligation, it was too dangerous for me to have another baby.

I had these 3 after the tubal ligation - 3 years after the tubal,  I had it reversed.  I KNEW I would be okay and I was.  I take the medical community very seriously but my heart knew we were not done. When Ben was born, I knew the womb had closed although, I wondered if God had other plans and wanted him to be in charge of that.  God is good, I know that with the deepest part of my soul.

So now, I'm not recovering in the way I was supposed to and I'm getting very discouraged and a little bit whiny about the whole thing.  I'm afraid I'm in danger of entering that horrible territory of "why me" - crazy.  My heart is a bit conflicted about it all and I've been silent more and more on the blog as my internal thoughts have been sorting through what surgery means/meant to me as it loomed closer and closer.  Also, I deeply believe the truth of our Catholic Church teachings regarding my body.  I had tremendous guilt over the tubal ligation and for a while blamed the Dr. for forcing it on me - but he didn't.  I let fear get in there and I let myself believe I didn't have a choice.  This is one of the reasons I feel so strongly about not letting fear guide decisions.  We didn't have much time to make our decision because it was all going down hill fast during the delivery of my 6th.  I just labored over the decision to have this surgery because I wanted a clear conscience regarding my body and my beliefs. 
In May, I was not given much more choice about whether or not I would have the surgery.  I began to hemorrhage and it forced a decision - right in the middle of all our graduations and Midsummer performances, ugh.  
Fast forward a few weeks and all in all, the kids are great and our Summer is at a slower pace (which I'm happy about) and time will heal all wounds.  I just am impatient for normal again and keep reminding myself that 'normal' is a fluid thing, ever changing and always adjusting.  
So, if I'm quiet around here and more present on Instagram - it is because it is so easy so capture a moment and add a few words rather than compose entire posts.  I do understand why I've been less present around 9peas since February, that is when all the problems leading up to surgery sort of went to that next level.  Instead of being a problem I knew I'd have to deal with at some point, it became a 'deal with me now' demanding kind of nag.  I don't know about you, but having my body not cooperate with my mind and heart is a very hard thing to wrap my emotions around.  My inner voice has been pre-occupied as my mind has worked through my heart.  
If you've made it this far, thank you for letting me share.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Well Fed & Well Rested - What Works For Us!

Leila posted a fantastic article about boys.  I love her no nonsense wisdom and her loving way to impart the practical.  Leila is my hero.  I tell people to throw out their multitude of parenting books and either find a family you admire that will let you hang out and ask dozens of questions (like I did many years ago) or if you can't find a good example just go read everything at Like Mother Like Daughter.  Even better, do both!

I was inspired by her article to expand upon the concept of 'well fed and well rested'.  I agree wholeheartedly with her on the point that no parenting tactic or discipline strategies will work unless the children are well fed and well rested.  What does that look like though?

It does not look like this:
Cereal and pop tarts or some other convenience item for breakfast....wait, toddler is screaming and I barely finished cleaning up the mess.  Hand them fruit chews and buy myself 10 mins of peace - wait, that wasn't even 30 secs.  Schlep along until lunch where more 'easy' food fills their plate.  Pray they take a nap (and they might if they are in enough of a sugar coma).  They wake up from nap and since you are in better spirits thanks to the down time you offer them ice cream, little snack cakes or some other treat.  This leads you head long into the arsenic hour of trying to prepare dinner with babies and toddlers hanging off of you left and right screaming and snacking (for your sanity) until you all sit down at the table for dinner and suddenly the constantly hungry, cranky kiddos are picky eaters, hmmmm.

It does not have to be that way.  A warning though, even under the best of nutrition, calmest households, order and beauty that would make a Pinterest board swoon - children are going to be cranky, and challenging on many days.  I want to encourage young Mom's to prep themselves for success and most of all to leave off this notion that if you do everything perfectly you will get perfectly behaved children.
Free will doesn't work that way.
Illness doesn't either.  While I can attest to a diet with little prepackaged and prepared foods (convenience foods) helps children ward off many illness's - they still get sick.  Illness is not a pass or fail in parenting.

I know from experience. 
 I was the Mom who purchased all the convenience items because I'm a sucker for good packaging and cute 'eye catchers'.  I justified the basket of 'goodies' and enjoying of ease because I was either pregnant or nursing for many, many years.  I was perpetuating a cycle of disaster.  I met a Mom while living in Virginia who had a large family and would literally bring a loaf of homemade bread, apples and a huge block of cheese for their breakfast after daily Mass if we were heading straight to our co-op.  The kids drank milk or water (mine always had some cute little juice box).  I was intrigued.  These kids almost never got sick, all glowed with health, and also didn't seem to be prone to the melt downs my boys were having on an almost constant basis.  
I learned quite a bit from this Mom by simply observing, she was from a large family and had learned many good habits about raising children.  One thing she passed on to me was that convenience foods do not buy you time, they buy you trouble.  Those fruit by the foot - buy them apples instead.   Cute little boxes of raisins - buy a canister of raisins/craisins and teach them to share and divide.  Corn dogs/chicken nuggets/fish sticks/ boxed mac & cheese - her kids really had no idea how often other families ate this stuff.  She fed REAL food all the time and insisted on LOTS of outdoor play and work.
I began to switch our diet and my kids learned to let go of thinking everything should come served in an individual style container.  It was a revelation to me.  My mornings went (over time) to the first version I shared to this:

Wake up and prepare scrambled eggs, sausage, and grits or steel cut oats or some other protein & fruit strong breakfast.  After all my kids were over 5, I let go of serving a morning snack.  Lunch consists of leftovers from dinner, or soup & sandwiches or a big hearty salad loaded with protein.  Just read through my recipe links to see how I feed them.  Afternoon snacks are more often than not cheese and crackers, veggies with homemade buttermilk dressing,  Take one day to prep many days worth of vegetables.  Go ahead and get all the fruit washed and ready to go.  It isn't that we don't enjoy treats, but they are few and far between.   Dinner is very often prepared at breakfast and placed in the crockpot.  I worked hard to reduce the difficult moments between the hours of 4 pm and bedtime.  The whiny, cranky, frazzled kids and worn out Mom all did much better when the real food and keeping us all well fed and hydrated became my focus.  

As to well rested.  
Do not ever give up nap time!
Guess what, my oldest is about to turn 22 (in 3 days) and my youngest is 7 - we still have quiet time after lunch EVERY.SINGLE.DAY that we are home.  The kids actually would sleep up until age 4 with a few stinkers who didn't think they needed it (but still had to stay in their room quietly).  Around the age of 12, my older kids came to look forward to this down time every day.  No electronics are allowed.  I set the timer, kids go to their beds (except the adult children) and read or rest or draw.  Everyone is quiet.  It is renewing to the whole family.

Bedtime is also a big deal around our home and always has been.  I read a study in my pre-internet parenting days (the early 90's) about how little sleep we get here in America and how it is affecting our health and our children.  When Pete and I had young children we craved that time in the evenings to have for each other.  We stuck strong to the whole 8 pm bedtime.  Once older, they boys got to stay up until 10 pm.  Unless it is a weekend or special occasion, this house shuts down at 10 pm.  I have adult children living at home right now, I do not insist on quiet time or bed time only that they respect what is happening in the house.  They may still be up at 11 pm, but they are quiet and do not wake anyone up.  Since the internet shuts down when Pete and I go to bed, they are usually up reading.
Small children need lots of rest to be at their best, but so do teenagers!!!!  Teens are growing at such a rapid rate and have so many changes taking place within them, adequate sleep is imperative.  I honestly believe that many a surly teenager would be less surly if they were not exhausted too.  Just a thought!

Trust me, well fed and well rested will help you take your family from this stage of the game
to this one, 

with less stress and better attitudes all around!

*a disclaimer - I came to understand the concept of well fed and well rested because I've truly done everything backwards or wrong first.  My poor family.  I've been blessed by learning a lot from older, wiser Mom's who let me ask, observe, and learn.*

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Since Simon was a toddler, I've suspected something.  I remember reading an article about toddlers getting cranky because they have such a fast metabolism their blood sugar can dip dramatically.  Simon was the moodiest of babies, genuinely sweet and smiley then swinging dramatically to full on screaming and miserable.  It was not the typical "I want my own way" tantrums either, he was truly undone.  I started carrying high protein snacks and cheese sticks with me because there was a real cause and effect relationship between frequent snacks and Simon being more himself and not so cranky.  I brought this up to our pediatrician at various well child visits and he agreed that Simon may have a greater need for more frequent snacks.  He was always underweight and over tall for his age, so there could be no doubting that high powered metabolism he was born with.  

Simon was also the only child I ever had who would put himself down for a nap, and sometimes more than once a day.  I wish I could have associated the frequent naps with when we had ice cream or some other sugary treat.  I just didn't really put the two together.  I was always amazed at what a great napper /sleeper he was and chalked it up to, he is growing and burns up all that energy so fast so of course he needs to nap a lot etc..etc..etc..  I should have paid closer attention, it was a real clue that his blood sugar was off and we are really lucky that thanks to those frequent high protein snacks, we never had a real crisis.

Two years ago in the Summer time, it was Simon's job to mow the yard.  The Summer's in Texas are HOT and the heat turns up quick during the day.  I was working at the time, and I had told him at 7 am to get out and mow quick before the heat of the day was too much, the yard was getting overgrown and fast.  I went to work and thought nothing else of it.  Several hours later, the church secretary was at my job and she was frantic.  The phones had been down at work that day, and there was an emergency with Simon.  She came to my office to get me because no one could reach me by phone.  Simon was in the emergency room.
*I love my church family*
Apparently, Simon had a doughnut and orange juice for breakfast and then set out to mow a bit late.  The heat was already blistering hot.  Somehow he wandered from our home, all the way to our Parish.   Our priest saw him trying to open the doors to the church to go inside.  He could tell Simon wasn't walking right and when he got to him, Simon's eyes revealed that he wasn't there.  He wasn't talking coherently and it was very frightening to our Priest to discover him in this state.  Luckily (God is good) Simon's uncle was at the church, so he took Simon directly to the emergency room and the secretary set out to get a hold of me, even going to my job to find me so that I could be there with Simon.  It was very scary.  I'm still in awe that in this state of disorientation, Simon went to our church.  This speaks volumes to my heart.
The diagnosis was heat exhaustion, when I arrived they had already begun IV fluid and so there was no way the glucose test could be done to check if he was having a low blood sugar episode.  The diagnostics of this episode were unfortunately slanted in the direction of possible drug use.  Simon had a really good friend whose father was going through a rough time and there had been rumors of his using.  I never had reason to worry about this friendship (still don't) and yet when this was brought to my attention all my guilt of working, Pete being gone, and the fear that we may have created a situation ripe for Simon taking a wrong path, eclipsed my ability to think rationally during this crisis.  We ordered EVERY drug test, they ALL came back negative and I have spent a very long time feeling guilty over not going with my gut and insisting we follow up on possible hypoglycemia.  This is why I really preach 
"Do not parent from a place of fear or guilt"
 Nothing good comes from that place. 
 It is not Christ centered and is not leaning on your own understanding of your child.  A very hard lesson learned.  Simon spent two more years with hypoglycemia not being diagnosed. 

The episode of heat exhaustion did make me more alert to Simon's frequent naps and mood swings though.  Pete and I began discussing possible hypoglycemia even more.  He was growing so fast, that ravenous appetite and constant sleeping could also just be  symptom of growth - and he had always been moody.  Teenage years really muddy the water of trying to figure this out.  God placed a good friend in my life this past year, her husband has hypoglycemia.  I was able to bounce a lot of what I was seeing in Simon off of her and she encouraged me to get him tested.
On the day his class celebrated Valentines Day, I picked him up from school and during the 5-10 minute drive home he passed out in the van.  He had been dozing on the way home from school during the year, but this was like he was completely out of it - much like what I suspect Father Jeremy saw when Simon was at the church.  I called the Dr. and made an appointment.  

The results were very conclusive.  He had hypoglycemia, and once we had the diagnosis, everything clicked into place.  My friend's husband who was about Simon's age when he was diagnosed met with Simon and really went over how to live with this.  Simon has taken it all very much to heart and I'm impressed with his discipline to avoid the sugars and simple carbs.  The hardest part is school and work.  He has to have frequent high protein snacks, and he can't enjoy the treats that are provided to the class.  His French teacher is wonderful though, she always brings a whole grain treat for Simon if the class is enjoying some delicious French pastry.  I am still learning and adjusting.  The diet is really how we should be living anyway, you don't really appreciate how much sugar you allow in your kids diet until you have a child that cannot eat it - at all.  It is a growth process for me, I love to bake and serve up treats to my kids.  We are all learning.
Those mood swings have almost faded out of his day to day life - it was sugar all along.
I asked him after his diagnosis if he had ever had some of the symptoms that happen in the night.  Reading up on hypoglycemia I learned that when you live with it you can get VERY shaky and especially when you sleep  your sugar levels can dip dangerously low.  He told me that it would happen everytime we had a poker night.  I still shudder at the thought, we always played using M & M's instead of money, Simon has a particular gift for poker and is almost always the winner.  *big sigh* God is so good, he took care of this boy when his parents were very slow to catch on to what could have been dangerous, even placing people in my life to point me in the direction of that mysterious something.
  I made sure to share with our priest when we finally had an answer, the answer we should have gotten when Simon had the heat exhaustion.  Our priest shared that he kept Simon in his prayers because he had noticed on more than one occasion that Simon looked grey and about ready to pass out often when helping as an altar server.  You can be sure I appreciate those prayers.
I love this guy so much and really appreciate all the people God placed in our life to help us figure out the hypoglycemia.  I reinforce to Simon how loved by God he is because the Holy Spirit really placed the clues out there for us to find, and even though it took us a while but we did finally figure it out.

Simon does not view this as a cross, he sees it more as a challenge and he absolutely feels the difference in his own body now that he is eating in a way that accommodates the hypoglycemia.  He also feels the love that has been shown him through this entire diagnosis, for a teenager to know he is loved in such a tangible way - wow, God really is so good!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Juicing - Why I Love It!

In June 2011 the hospital my husband worked for closed it's doors without warning.  Our world turned upside down, no paycheck, no job and lots of fears.  God took care of us through the entire journey.  I had to learn a lot during the process of letting go and trusting God, one of the most important things I learned was how to better take care of myself.  I took a job with the Grayson County Clerk's Office in August and Pete was able to go back to work for a previous employer in September  We say many prayers of thanksgiving for that.  We found out the new job would involve travel so he began to travel full time.  In October of the same year I went to a health fair with my employer.  My blood pressure was sky rocketing fast, and I felt awful too.  The stress of the last few years of economic downturn + the job loss took its toll on me.  It really hit me hard that if I had a stroke or heart attack, my kids would have even more heaped on their shoulders.  I had an enormous amount of guilt over what they already were dealing with.  We had just gone through a cross country move and job change the year before, a job loss, my going to work for the first time and their Dad being away.  It was too much for my health to give them another sucker punch, and my blood pressure was getting way out of control.  

I first saw Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead during this time.  I then watched Hungry For Change.  I started to read anything I could about lowering blood pressure and getting healthy.

One of the key things that stuck with me was the concept that God made our bodies to crave sugar and fats when we are starving for nutrition.  The diet I was consuming was not nutrient dense.  What if I began to eat lots of nutrients, would that turn off those craving for the junk food?  I decided to start juicing.  I NEVER meal replaced and made sure to focus mostly veggies, not fruit.  I do juice citrus, but I don't juice apples (I'd rather eat that fiber).  I just wanted to pack as much nutrition into those juices as I could.
A typical morning will have kale, cucumber, grapefruit, celery, carrots, ginger, beets, herbs and peppers.
I can jam a lot of nutrition into my morning juice and with the live enzymes it really fills my body up with lots of vitamins and minerals.

I use a Champion Juicer (that we purchased in the 90's)
The little bowl usually fills up a few times as I go, I pour it through the strainer in the yellow pitcher.  My Champion strains really well, but there is always foam and I detest the foam, so I strain that off.

*blek* Foam

Very little pulp is left, great for gardening!

Some mornings we add Chia seeds to our juice.
Linus ALWAYS drinks a little and when Noah is home he does too.  Sometimes all of them want some and sometimes they don't.  I never push it on them, it is up to them.

My little juice guy!

A before photo, this is one of my oldest and dearest friends.  We grew up together at First Baptist Church Longview and try to meet up with Lynne (not in photo, this is Ben) and her husband once a year.  This was the best 'before' shot I have.  This is right before I began juicing.

My 40th birthday party a year later, and over 70 lbs lighter, healthier and blood pressure back in a normal range.  I do still take one pill a day for my blood pressure, but I was on 3 different ones when it was at it's worst.  I feel better than when I was in my 20's.  My brother is next to me in this photo, he flew in for my big day when Pete couldn't be there.  Our next get together, Pete will finally get to come - I am so HAPPY!

Now Pete has decided to join me on this journey, which is good because this Winter I got so busy I forgot the habits that help me feel my best.  Starting over with Pete is really a boost to both of our health.
I also like that we are showing our kids that we can make changes to improve our health so that we can be there for them.  

I never did a juice cleanse.
I never meal replaced.
I did try to eliminate sugar.
I do my best to fill up on veggies and fruit before any thing else.
I do not believe in cheat days, or cheats.  If I want something sweet, I enjoy it within moderation.  A small bite is just as good as a whole plate of pie.  If I filled up on salad first, I don't even really want too much pie.
Crowd out bad foods by eating good foods first.
Anything that begins with "I deserve this" is usually a bad idea in the long run.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Get Well Soon

One of the hard things about being the 8th child is that Mom knows a thing or two about when you are sick and when you are 'crying wolf'.  #8 has had a year of 'crying wolf' and I have had a year of being a Mean Mom in that regard.  Usually, kids get wise to the fact that Mom won't fall for it and finally give up the whole 'crying wolf' escapade 
(unless your #2, who is Tom Sawyer and got dubbed a frequent flyer by the nurse at school one year).  
So, on Tuesday after school when #8 asked me to take his temperature I did the usual routine of feeling his head and declaring him well.
He was not well though.
When I went to check on each of the kids one more time before bed I could tell something was wrong.  I knelt down to feel his forehead and he was burning up and his breathing was off.  I took his temperature and discovered he was very hot with a fever, he was given some medicine, some 7 up and tucked back in again.  He slept soundly, I hoped it was just a slight bug.  
He woke up the next morning a little chipper but still running a fever, so no school.
 At 11:30 he ate some broth, and crackers for lunch but his cough (which he had all week) was getting worse and within the span of 30 minutes his temp was climbing fast and he was throwing up with coughing.  There was also now the complaint of stomach pains (could be from such hard coughing though).  When a cool bath still didn't bring his fever down and the situation going downhill fast this Mama who rarely steps foot through her pediatrician's office called them for the soonest appointment they had available.
(Grandma brought by a new book and stuffed animal to match)
Bronchitis was the official diagnosis but I saw this type of illness only one time before in #1 and it was pneumonia.  We are heading back in to the Dr this morning to check my little guy out.  
Mean mommy has been completely replaced by Worried Mommy.

Lots of rest, and a younger brother who is 'sympathy sick' eager to get the same perks.
Perks like Ginger ale, crackers, jello and gifts from Grandma.

Thankfully, my kids don't get sick very often but when they do they seem to follow our family motto:

Go Big or Go Home

*update - he woke up this morning fever free (finally) but Friday night was running 104.7.  Today is his last day of the antibiotics and I have a cautious faith that we are actually 'all better'.  I'm in wait and see mode, he is in great spirits and feeling fit as a fiddle today - so I really do hope he is in the clear*

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