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Winter in the morning, summer in the afternoon, autumn in the evening

October in Pennsylvania is an interesting month in terms of temperature fluctuations. The mornings are cold enough for frost to be on the windows and Ryan to make a beeline for the space heater we keep in the living room (even if I had propane in the tanks I wouldn’t dare burn any of it up so early in the fall-winter season), and the afternoons are warm enough to discard the hoodies and turn up the A/C. It’s annoying, really, because you don’t want to leave the house without a hoodie, yet you’ll often find yourself wriggling out of it at a red light because it’s too warm with it on and sweatmobiles1 don’t have air conditioning.

I just took the dog for a walk and brr. I’m glad to be back home. It’s rather quiet here for a Friday night. Alyssa is out with a friend and said friend’s family, and Ryan isn’t feeling well, so even with a friend of his here for a sleepover it’s still very quiet. I’ll probably make it through Jurassic World and some work, and then I’ll probably call it a night because I’m 31 years old physically and 74 mentally.

Speaking of old lady problems, I had an epiphany last night. Since my back problems started last winter, one question I’m continually asked and have been answering with a resounding “no” is, “do you feel pain or weakness in your left leg?” I’ve always said no, because I didn’t notice any pain or weakness in my left leg. Last night I realized I do indeed have pain in my left leg – it feels like it starts in my left buttock/hip and extends downward to the knee. For the longest time — the last 10+ years — I blamed my weird shift-weight-to-right-leg-with-right-hip-jutted-out stance on a leftover from my drivethru days. But in actuality, I think I adopted that stance and execute it so frequently in order to try and relieve sciatica pain in my left hip and thigh. So, fuck a duck. That just further drives home the diagnosis of nerve entrapment pain from my effed up lower spine. Dammit.

So this week was a busy one for the kids – school pictures on Wednesday, and an annual fundraising race today. Alyssa picked out a busy fall landscape scene for her portrait background, and Ryan selected a bright solid blue. I gave them both free reign over attire, with two conditions: hair must be neatly brushed and styled (Alyssa wore hers down), and shirts had to contrast nicely with the chosen photo backgrounds. Alyssa went with a light gray and pale yellow striped shirt, and Ryan grudgingly picked out the lesser of two evils from two polo shirts: a color-block (navy/royal blue/maroon) style that is a very soft cotton (the other is a rougher “patterned” texture). And they both ran today and brought home participation ribbons. My thoughts on giving every participant in a competition a ribbon or trophy aside, I’m proud of them both, because they did exactly as I encouraged: they gave it their best shot.

I think I’m about ready to call it a night. This is fine, actually, since I can get an early start on work tomorrow and have my to-dos done in time for us to get ready for going to Dan’s aunt’s annual Halloween bonfire tomorrow night. Alyssa is dressing up as a dragon this year (last year we found a decent set of black and gray foam wings at Target, and Dan made her a kick-ass tail), and Ryan simply wants to have a third eye (take photo of eye + print + tape = done). I think I’m just going to don a pair of cat ears and draw on some whiskers and call it a night. Meow.

  1. Dan’s 2005 Hyundai Sonata has issues with retaining fluids and fuses

Filed under General

Life lately

Three words to describe how I’ve felt lately: tired, hurting, overwhelmed.

There really is just so much to do and not enough time. I need three of me and days that are twice as long. There’s Daniel’s needs and wants. The kids’ needs and wants. The cats. The other pets. Work. The house. And somewhere in the mix, me. Fortunately, I realize I’m getting the short end of the stick, and that I need to do more for myself. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet tried to make any changes to give me a little more priority. Or at least a little more consideration/time.

Alyssa and Ryan have been back in school now for nearly two months. Ryan’s adjustment period was the usual two or so weeks – he would be anxious in the morning, then argumentative in the afternoon. Homework was always the biggest battle, followed by bedtime. We’ve had a lot of issues (read: screaming meltdowns) with a computer/iPad game called Ryan loves playing the game, but he also gets very easily frustrated, and it seems like this game has completely worn down his tolerance for frustration. It got to the point where I had to block the game altogether, change his iPad password so he couldn’t re-download the game, and change the pin on Alyssa’s iPad so he couldn’t simply grab her iPad to play the game on.
He’s doing better now, but that’s because he has settled into the school year routine, we’ve moved homework from after dinner to immediately after coming home from school in order to eliminate procrastination, and he’s been busy creating levels in Geometry Dash and Super Mario Maker. Dan and I play Super Mario Maker with him – Ryan likes us to challenge him by creating incredibly difficult levels. This is a double-edged sword, however: the same challenges that thrill him also frustrate him.

I feel bad that so much of this blog entry thus far has been dedicated to discussing Ryan – because after all, I do have another child. But Alyssa continues to be Alyssa: brilliant, awesomely creative, sweet, strong-willed, and all-around awesome. Alyssa has never presented us with the difficulties that come with a special-needs child. And as she gets older, the need to respect her privacy increases. I’ve been accused of not loving / being attuned to my kids because I don’t post about them seven times an hour, but that’s simply because a) I’m busy BEING with my kids or DOING STUFF for my kids; and b) I am more than a mother – I’m also me.

It’s hard to believe that Alyssa’s 11th birthday is next Tuesday!

We kept Ryan’s birthday pretty low-key this year, and we’ll do the same with Alyssa’s birthday. We already have gifts for her (Mom Points for being On The Ball), Dan is going to create a Minecraft cake, and her birthday dinner will consist of her requests: Dan’s homemade breaded chicken strips, and sides to be determined.

As for Dan, well, I’m currently writing this from a hospital room, if that’s any indicator of how he’s doing. Back in 2012, after several years of seeing doctors and specialists and undergoing all sorts of tests, he was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, as it was the only thing that made “sense” in terms of his unexplained and chronic widespread pain and fatigue. But even that diagnosis didn’t quite fit. Last year we began exploring the possibility of Cushing’s disease or another type of pituitary tumor. When that hit a dead end, we took another look at consistencies with all of Dan’s blood work results: elevated ANAs, ALTs, and ASTs. Elevated ANAs indicate the body is making antibodies to attack itself (aka auto-immune). Elevated ALTs and ASTs indicate liver damage. Add a fatty liver, and unexplained pain and fatigue and you get auto-immune. I never thought I would be one to hope for a diagnosis like auto-immune Hepatitis A or Lupus, but we’re both hoping for such a diagnosis because at least then we’d have answers and a targeted treatment plan – not just a case of throwing a bunch of spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. I’ve watched him get worse and worse – more pain, more anxiety, more depression, more overall unhappiness and a sense of hopelessness – and it has been heartbreaking. As I write this he is undergoing a liver biopsy, so answers may very well be just a few days away.

As for me, I’m just dealing with my new life of chronic back and shoulder pain. There’s hope that surgery will remedy the shoulder pain – after all, it’s acute pain caused by an injury that I can pinpoint down to the very day, hour, and minute. But as for my back…the pain started as a twinge in late December and then morphed into the full-blown swollen, tight, aching, searing, and burning pain I am now living with day in and day out. I start each day dreading the physical movement required to get out of bed. I both prolong it and hasten it – prolonging because I dread the pain. Hastening because getting up and getting moving means loosening muscles and staying relatively flexible and pliant. I’m unfortunately taking multiple doses of narcotic and muscle relaxant medications every day. I start and end my day with Tylenol, Flexeril, and Oxycodone, and depending on how I’m doing during the day I may take one to two more doses of all three. I also heavily use Lidocaine patches, a moist heating pad (its settings are off and first degree burn), and a TENS unit. I walk and do stretches, and Dan gives me massages and tries to work out tight muscles when he is able to. PT (heavier exercise + weight training) is off-limits until I’m cleared by my bariatric surgeon to resume “normal activities” (AKA lifting more than ten pounds – with the exception of Felix because he’s my baby), and clearing won’t happen until after my November 25th EGD. They want to make absolutely certain that the residual infected/ulcer-laden tissue they left behind in the surgery is fully healed. If not, there’s a chance I might need have another surgery to wrap things up.

Pet-wise, everyone is doing well: Leah is her usual anxious self, all eight(!) cats get along, the hamster has finally wisened up and is staying in her cage, and we’ve had no escaping reptiles or suicidal fish. Odin is huge in comparison to when Alyssa found him, even though he is just 11 weeks old. He’s still short enough that he can literally walk under Felix – he did just that this morning and I must have laughed for five minutes straight.

Well, I just wrapped up a really awesome (!!!) phone call and Dan is being wheeled back into the room, so CIAO!

Filed under General

When Can Alarm Monitoring Help You?

Alarm system monitoring can help to keep your home or business safe through many different emergency situations. If you are thinking about professional monitoring services, you should be sure to choose a reputable company that will be able to keep an eye on your property 24-hours a day. If the slightest problem occurs, the monitoring company will make sure that the proper authorities are notified.

When someone tries to forcibly enter your property, you want the authorities to be alerted in a timely manner. When your alarm system is monitored by a trustworthy company, you can be sure that they will call the police department working with your community so that they can respond to your location. An alarm system can also scare away possible intruders before they get inside of your home as well. If you are looking for a way to possibly prevent break-ins, be sure to have your system monitored by the right company.

If your home catches on fire, you can be sure that help will be on the way if your property is being monitored. Since a fire can start quickly, a fast response time is important. Firefighters can quickly work to save your home if they are alerted at the first sign of smoke.

Air Conditioning Loss
When your air conditioning stops working, you can be notified right away. A good company can also monitor this service so that you can get it fixed right away. If you are away from your property, it can be very helpful to get a notification telling you that your air conditioning unit is not working the way that it is supposed to work. Since hot weather can cause serious health risks relating to being overheated, you want to make sure that your unit is repaired or replaced right away. Your home or business needs to stay at its optimal temperature.

When you have an emergency at your commercial property or home, alarm monitoring can be a great solution. You can be sure that your property is going to be safer when you hire a top-quality monitoring company that can work with almost any alarm system in place.

Filed under Articles

There’s no dialysis for livers

We’re still actively seeking definitive answers (diagnosis + treatment) for what has thus far been unexplained widespread muscle and joint pain, muscle tightness, hair loss, weight gain, and overall fatigue, anxiety, and depression. To say Dan’s a hot mess is putting it lightly. Last winter we explored the possibility of a pituitary tumor, but exhausted that option. Even though it seemed like a perfect fit, it wasn’t.

Now we’re back to auto-immune. I write “back to” because back in 2011 – 2012, the rheumatologist Dan had been seeing suggested and ordered lab work for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and Lupus. But because some of the tests came back just borderline for any of those, and then we derailed things when I broke Dan’s neck, and then derailed things for the next four years, during which I kept both of us plenty busy with my various surgeries and surgery-related issues (and now, of course, my chronic back pain and pain from an unhealed shoulder injury).

Auto-immune really is a good fit, even with just a quick peek at some of Dan’s lab work from the past couple of years and from just as recent as a few weeks ago. His ALT and AST levels are continually significantly elevated, and he has now had two ANAs that were really, really, REALLY high (example: a normal ANA titer is considered high at 80; Dan’s last ANA was 640).

So with these ideas and lab work results in mind, along with the confirmation of a fatty liver, Dan is going in for a liver biopsy this Thursday morning. Please wish him luck and send good vibes our way.

Filed under General

Function, Fashion, or Both? How to Hack a Prom Dress for Comfort.

Everyone knows Prom Night is the night where young adults can step up the social ladder and walk into the spotlight. After years of working through the social construct that is High School, it’s been a tough run for even the most adaptable personalities. Prom Night is the reward for all the years of challenges you’ve faced –so it is important to look great without it being painful.

beautiful girls in beautiful dresses for prom night

And, everyone knows that it’s pretty normal for high society fashions to be painful to wear. Why else do those runway models never smile?! They’re probably in agony! From shoes that are painful to wear to dresses that rub your body the wrong way, Prom Night can be an ordeal if you do not take steps to ensure you’re comfortable.

Designer prom dresses 2016 collection is chock full of great looks, albeit not all of them are the most comfortable. With this in mind we’ve compiled a list of prom fashion hacks that are sure to make the night a comfortable one, so you can focus on having a good time without wishing you could just go home and put on comfortable PJs and call it a night.

Prom Fashion Hacks from the Ground Up


We’ve got a number of prom shoe hacks here, so choose one or choose them all. Whatever gives you happy feet!
Reducing friction from your footwear will make your night blister free. In order to achieve this, here are a few prom night shoe hacks;

Strapless Dresses
You can have plenty of choices when you shop online for gorgeous prom dresses. You can opt for strapless dresses as you’re sure to look great with it, but sometimes they can fall down a little bit too easily! Tube dresses don’t often provide much support up top, so consider these prom dress hacks to keep things in place.

Other Prom Night Hacks

Comfort isn’t just physical; it’s also knowing how to handle Prom Night tragedies!

Apply these tips a few weeks before Prom night and you are guaranteed to have one of the best fun and worry-free nights in your life.

Filed under Articles