Snakes On A Blog

Snakes.  This blog post contains snakes.  SNAKES SNAKES SNAKES!  Well…one snake.

You’ve been warned.

Oh.  And maybe some dead rats too.

Now you’ve been doubly warned.

Still here?  Okay, good.

So…we have a 10 foot long boa constrictor.  And by we, I mean Kyle.  And maybe it’s ‘only’ 8 feet…but does that really matter?  BECAUSE THERE IS A GIGANTIC BOA CONSTRICTOR LIVING IN MY LAUNDRY ROOM!

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I feel like she’s judging my dingy whites.

It all started out so innocently.  About 8 years ago, Kyle adopted this SMALL snake from another teacher at his school.  Small.  Key word here is small. He mumbled something about projected growth and lifespan but I was still in the throes of newlywedness where I thought that all of his ideas were adorable.

Oh foolish girl.  If I’ve learned anything in my 9 years of marriage it’s that you don’t let your husband bring home questionable pets.  Or pick out paint colors.

Back to the snake.

I was okay with it.  I’m not afraid of snakes.  It was going to live in Kyle’s classroom throughout the school year so it would only be an occasional visitor.  I even named it.  Apple.  Get it?  Garden of Eden.  Snake.  Apple.  I love naming animals.  That is why we have 2 newts named Fig and Sir Issac.  Fig ‘Newt’on and Sir Issac ‘Newt’on.  I don’t care what you say, that’s greatness.

Flash forward and I’ve now discovered that not only does she have a projected life span of 35 years but that because ‘it’ is a ‘she’, she will get even bigger. And Kyle is no longer a school teacher which means the snake now lives with us.  All. Of. The. Time.

YAAAAAAY!  Said no one ever about a gigantic, continually growing snake living in their laundry room.

And in case you’re interested in how you find out if your snake (that I hope you don’t have) is a boy or a girl…well you just take them over to your nearest snake specialist and have them sexed.  That’s right.  You sex up a snake.  I’d like to think there was some Barry White and a nice box of chilled chablis but APPARENTLY it involves a guy (who I am assuming resides in his parent’s basement) picking up the snake and SQUEEZING it in the genital regions until some thorns pop out.  Or don’t.  And that’s how you find out the sex of your darling, slithery baby.  Also, if I was the snake I’d be pretty pissed there was no wine involved.

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Ever since Kyle had the snake sexed, they’ve had a strange relationship.

“Hey Kyle.” says I. “Maybe we should think about donating our lovely friend Apple here to the rescue zoo.  They’ve just built a nice, new reptile house, she’s used to being around kids and there was one other thing…whaaaat waaas it?  Think think think…oh yes.  I DON’T WANT A SNAKE LIVING IN MY LAUNDRY ROOM FOR ANOTHER QUARTER OF A CENTURY!”

“Hmmmm…” he says. “I’ll think about it.”

Well think about this, Mr. Snakey Pants.  There is a good chance that at the reading of our will one day, the sentence ‘and the care of the boa constrictor goes to…’ and both boys will shout ‘NOT IT!’ at the same time.  And that’s not how I wanted the reading of our will to go.  I was thinking more along the lines of a dramatic video where we reveal to the boys that their loving father never read their loving mother’s blog.

And that’s a good thing.  Because now we can put my sneaky plan into play.  Which is…if you know Kyle then the next time you see him you should casually toss out something like, “Hey Kyle, did you know that it’s a proven fact that people with snakes are 50% more likely to cause the Cowboys to have a horrible season?” or “Hey Kyle, did you hear about the guy with the boa constrictor and no wife?”  I kid.  Sort of.  Also, if you know any Swedish supermodels be sure to have them casually run into Kyle and say something like, “Ooooh guys that donate their boa constrictors to rescue zoos are soooo sexy!”

Seriously.  I’m reaching.

Why.  Well let’s see.  As I type this I have 3 gigantic, dead rats residing in my freezer.  That’s right.  Have you ever reached into the freezer to pull out something for dinner, picked up a package thinking, “Hmmm what’s in here?” only to realize that you are holding the tiny, frozen claw of dead rat?  Have you??  Well I have.  And it’s skeevy.  Also…what if rats have ghosts??  What then??

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That’s a bagful of rats. Beside a package of blood worms for the newts. Where the hell is my wife of the year award??

And how would one thaw out a tasty rat for the snake’s dinner?  Why in a bucket, silly you!

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So let’s examine the facts:

1. We own a gigantic snake.

2. We have a dog that is 50% pit bull.

3. My husband drinks Natural Light from a can.

4. My kids run around in their underwear/diapers about 90% of the time.

5. We own a 25 year old pick up truck that occasionally emits a black cloud of smoke when started up.

6. I paint new toenail polish over my old toenail polish.  I have a layer of toenail polish that dates back to the Cretaceous age.

7. We have rats in our freezer.

All of those things on their own aren’t too bad (well, the toenail polish thing is pretty bad).  But add them all together and…

WE ARE ONE CAR ON BLOCKS AWAY FROM USING ALUMINUM FOIL AS CURTAINS!

So let’s all agree that we will continue to harass…errr…I mean we will make loving suggestions to Kyle that he should donate his boa constrictor to the rescue zoo.

And if you run into me and I’m wearing snake skin boots?

Well, don’t judge.

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Hmmm…that snakes look like woman’s size 8.5 shoe…

P.S.  If you are a snakey person, please don’t get your panties in a wad.  This is (mostly) a joke.  Just calm down and go have your mom make you a sandwich.

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Get That Zombie A Martini

Guess what tomorrow is?? My first appointment with my naturopathic doctor!

Guess what tomorrow might NOT be? My first appointment with my naturopathic doctor. Because this is sitting beside me right now:

"Look at me, Ma...I'm lousy with the bubonic plague."

“Look at me, Ma…I’m lousy with the bubonic plague.”

I knew it was bad when I woke up with this beside me:

"For my next trick...I shall remove your left kidney using only my little toenail!"

“For my next trick…I shall remove your left kidney using only my little toenail!”

Mom confession. I actively dislike sleeping with my kids. Before I had children I thought I would love it. And we co-slept for the first 10 months. But then it just all went downhill. Don’t get me wrong…I love those first 30 minutes when they first climb in with us. They are all warm and sleepy and snug and sweet. Then they fall asleep and start doing what I like to call, “The Rotating Starfish”. This move somehow allows them to shove a big toe up each one of your nostrils while simultaneously kicking you in the groin with that phantom sleep foot they grow. It’s an impressive trick but I’m not a fan. So we’re an ‘everyone in your own bed’ kind of family. EXCEPT during times of illness.

Anyway, that is a sad, sick, feverish boy. DOH. Ain’t that just the way. So I called and put a tentative hold on my appointment. Which makes me kind of sad and frustrated. But. It’s all good because…

Last night Bruce Lee told me to ‘be like the water’. What? Bruce Lee doesn’t talk to you in your sleep? Whatever, weirdo.

Well hello there Mr. Lee...hope you like your gals rashy...

How nice of you to join me, Mr. Lee…hope you like your gals rashy…

What actually happened was that I fell asleep on the couch last night.

(Side note: I hate falling asleep on the couch. Subtract couch sleep time from total night sleep time because it doesn’t count. And then by the time I get up and brush my teeth and put on my pjs, I’m wide eyed awake.)

So Kyle was watching…something…I saw the words MMA and immediately fell asleep. But I half woke up to very enthusiastic Bruce Lee talking about water.

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

That’s a good lesson for me this week. I’ve kind of been in a ‘when’ mindset. An ice cube, if you will. “When I get this autoimmune under control.” And that’s good. That’s better than an ‘if’. But it becomes so easy to focus on the far goal that I forget to embrace everything else that is happening during this process. I kind of think ‘just get HERE and everything will be better’.

Remember when our house burned down? Most of you know that. In 2011 we lost our house in the Texas wildfires. That’s not a boohoo-poor us statement because let’s be honest…we had a year of inconvenience and now we have a brand new house that kind of rocks my world. But the big statement from everyone after it happened was, “NEXT year will be your year. Just get through this and it will be all good.” When. When this is over then you will be somewhere else. But where?

I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

My knees stopped working this weekend. Damn. Then they started again. YAY! Then they stopped again. Damn Damn! (That’s one for each knee.)

I guess this is why they call it a connective tissue disease…because it affects your connective tissues. Ohhhhhhh…NOW I get it. It’s very frustrating. It doesn’t fit into my ‘when’.

The downside is that when they aren’t working, I look like I fool when I try to get up off of the floor. It’s a very dramatic, embarrassing roll over and grab onto something to pull myself off of the floor.

The upside? Well the upside for YOU is that if you friend me before the zombie apocalypse you are almost 100% guaranteed to outrun me. Thereby leaving me to be consumed by zombies. Not like you would, right? Right?! 😉 Meh…it’s okay. I’d probably ditch you too.

In case you can’t tell, we’ve been watching The Walking Dead. I fought it. I didn’t want to watch it but since we’ve canceled cable Kyle has been watching the first 2 seasons on Netflix. Every. Night. It was inevitable that I would be sucked in. What have I learned? Zombies don’t move especially fast but they can definitely move faster than me right now. Which is good for YOU. You’re welcome. Also…there is ALWAYS someone out there worse off than you. My knees might hurt but at least I’m not being chased by a zombie herd.

And isn’t that the truth.

Because you know what is better then the 2 hours of knee pain I had? The other 46 hours of the weekend.

This:

I don't even have anything funny to say...it just makes me happy.

I don’t even have anything funny to say…it just makes me happy.

I watched this:

Mmmm...chunky guy juice...

Mmmm…chunky guy juice…

…and it was inspiring to watch someone else get off of the steroids. But also humbling to see what a slow, patient process it is too. It’s a great movie though, I recommend it. And I’m down from 60 mg/day to 45 mg/day as of today! Yay!

I conquered my first batch of homemade yogurt. Then I completely 100% ruined my second batch. I mean…I KILLED it. I boiled that milk to the point of oblivion. Apparently putting milk on the stove to boil and then meandering outside to sit and rock for awhile is a ‘bad idea’.

I absolutely stuffed my body with healthy, nourishing food. When I told Kyle that I had made him a delicious dinner last night, he gave me an enthusiastic, “Awesome!”. And when I told him that dinner didn’t involve lentils, he paused and said, “Oh that is SUPER AWESOME!” The point is that 24 hours of the day I’m married to a lovely man who supports me 1000%. Even if he does suck at diaper sizes.

And last but not least I read my medical records that I picked up for my naturopathic doctor. If you want fascinating reading, I suggest picking up your medical rec-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Holy boring. I don’t know what I expected?

“Patient has a sparkling wit and great taste in earrings. I’d prefer if she’d wear underwear to her appointments.”

I'd like to eat your liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti...

This is how I show up in his office every week. Adorable, no?

Or…”Patient appears to be used by her children as a jungle gym…perhaps suggest she uses my beach house for a week of relaxation. After all, she is paying for it.”

"Wheeeeeee...vasculitis slide!"

“Wheeeeeee…vasculitis slide!”

Instead it was mostly stuff like, “Patient has vasculitis.” “Patient still has vasculitis.” “Patient is being a pain in the ass and continues to show up in my office with this vasculitis.”

Like Deepak said during my 43.2 seconds of successful mediation…my health is like a snapshot. It will never be the same from one moment to the next. I just need to embrace the moments of feeling good. And also embrace the moments of feeling crummy but then discard them and move on. At least I think that’s what he said…I had a child sitting inside each of my ears.

So I will TRY to be water. If my knees hurt, that’s the shape I’ll take. If I wake up covered in rashes and vasculitis…then that will be my shape for that moment. But just for that moment. Until I’m ready to pour myself into another vessel.

Just don’t judge me if it’s a martini glass. 😉

Making Out With Scrooge McDuck Would Probably Be Weird. Maybe.

Money sucks, right?  Not having money sucks because you don’t have any.  (Don’t freak out…I know some people really don’t have ANY money.  I’m talking about the ‘more month than money’ type of broke.)

Having money?  I guess that could suck too because you might just THINK about it all of the time.  Will you always have it?  Is it being mismanaged?  Is someone going to take it from you?

Or maybe you’d just worry about which bathing costume to wear while you swim in your vault of gold coins…

Scrooge McDuck

This is totally what rich people do, right?

Can you tell we’ve been working on our budget?  We’ve talked about it forever.  I had a lot of big ideas involving poster boards and fun markers (Teal! Coral! Heliotrope!).  Every few weeks we’d say, “TONIGHT we’re doing the budget!  Right?  Right!”

Insert dinner/clean up/bath/pjs/teeth/books/bed/more clean up/few loads of laundry.

“Want to watch a Breaking Bad?”

“Okay.  We’ll do the budget TOMORROW.  Right?”

“Right!”

(That’s actually a lie…HE watches Breaking Bad.  I couldn’t make it past the episode with the bathtub scene…shudder…)

But whatever…you see the pattern.  We are an excellent couple but we have the horrible, horrible ability to talk each other out of anything.

However.  The doctors don’t want me working.  I had started waiting tables a few times a week.  It was great.  Out of the house.  Kyle watched the boys so no daycare.  Brought in just enough extra.  I loved where I worked.  And no matter how needy a customer was…I never had to change their diaper.  Except for that one time…(insert 1ooo yard stare).  But that’s on hold for awhile.  And Scrooge McDuck isn’t returning my phone calls. (I had pictured an Indecent Proposal situation but apparently it’s a no go. Maybe he has erectile ducksfunction…heh heh… My apologies. That was awful. Even for me.)

We. Had. To. Budget.

Have you done it?  It’s scary at first.  We accounted for every single dollar we had spent from December until April.  Guess what?  We spent a lot.  On food (oh so much on food).  On ‘entertainment’.  On…stuff.  Oh stuff…you’ll be the end of me.  I hated that first night.  What WAS that $50 at Target??  Shouldn’t I be able to look around and see $50 worth of Target goods?  I just wanted to bury my head under my West Elm Spring Ikat pillow.  But burying my head under that pillow is what got us into this mess.  And also makes me realize that I really need to wash the sheets.

But something else happened too.  Those numbers started to lose their power.  I went from feeling sick to feeling empowered to change things.  It’s not like we spend a ton of money, I was just able to see the areas that we could change.  Small changes.  One tiny baby step at a time.  Because that’s the problem, isn’t it?  You start thinking ‘CHANGES!’ (or at least I do) and then it’s all so big that you just…don’t.

Cut out all processed food.  Make own detergent.  Make all household cleaners .  Hang clothes outside to dry (actually, according to some numbers we crunched if we hung out 7 loads a week it would save $600/year.  But are we really going to do it??).  Make own bread?  Juice! Take dog to doggy dentist.  Wait, take kid to kiddie dentist first.  Meditate.  Meditate without children.  Yoga?  Raise chickens?  Goats?  Sea monkeys?  See naturopathic doctor.  Join slow food movement.  Join slow clothes movement. Shop local.  Vote with my wallet.  Start a garden. More houseplants for better air quality.  Filter on shower head? Make own yogurt?  Get a pen pal.  Write everyday.  Exercise everyday.  Exercise every other day.  Bend over to pick up toys and count that as exercise.  Take an art class.  Take a creative writing class.  Look for freelance writing work.  Spend quality time with girlfriends once a week.  Once every 2 weeks.  Once a month.  Call girlfriends and tell them how much you miss them.

You get my point.

So I started easy.  With my pantry.  Remember?  I cleaned it out.  I cleaned it out real good.  Then I went shopping.  Then I came home and redid the pantry.  I didn’t want to but I DID!  BTW we have a plastic bag ban here now.  Which is awesome.  For people that actually ever remember their reusable bags.  And not awesome for people who don’t.  Guess which camp I fall into??

Our goal is $150/week on groceries.  But I’m thinking $200 will be more realistic.  What do you spend?  This is $152 in groceries.

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I like a bulky grocery shop…get it…lots of bulk items…ahhhh fuhget about it…

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Cooking instructions for my special jackwagon.

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This still needs work…so much work…and yes that is Splenda.  Because I have guests that use Splenda and that’s fine with me.  No need to torture everyone!

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And cold items in the icebox…

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MmmmHmmmm…I like them potatoers…

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You would have been disappointed in me if there hadn’t been a jar of Nutella, right? I did it for you! Yeah, YOU!

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“Hey Ma…I’ma gonna throw all of them potaters on the ground, ‘mkay?” And he did. The End.

It’s been a really great week since the pantry and fridge clean out.  First of all, we’re eating much better. It’s not like we ate Crisco off of a spoon before but we’d just gotten lazy on convenience foods.  I’ll post a blog with different recipes we’ve tried and loved.  Basically we’re just eating clean.  Our sweet neighbors gave us some Swiss chard from their garden…I’ve never had it and I loved it!  I roasted cabbage!  It was great!  The boys are eating almost everything.  Except for tonight…I fed the guys hotdogs after a week of quiona, lentils, greens and veggies.  They were giddy with excitement.  Everything in moderation 😉

But the big change?  We had food left at the end of the week.  I need to go to the store for some staples but I can actually go into the fridge and cabinet and still cook a meal.  The boys are eating more fruits and vegetables…instead of giving them crackers in the afternoon, I’m setting out some veggies.  And if they are really hungry then they’ll eat them.

But let me tell you what.  I am cooking like a pioneer women.

Not shown in photo...children chewing on ankles.

Not shown in photo…children chewing on ankles.

Seriously.  I need to figure out big batch cooking.  This is a family of big eaters so if I don’t double batch cook then there aren’t any leftovers.  And I start over again the next day.  I’m getting better at just boiling eggs or cooking a pot of rice or throwing potatoes in the oven even if I don’t know what I’m going to do with them.  That helps.  But it’s about to be hot, Hot, HOTTER here so I need to figure out a way to not crank my stove during the day and I’ve never had much luck with the crock pot.

So this is my first baby step.  I’m not going to lie…I kind of want to rip into a rib eye.  And I will.  And it will taste extra delicious.  But for right now this feels great.

Also, I get a abdomen CT scan on Thursday.  I feel pretty good about it.  What I don’t feel good about?  Drinking THREE bottles of BANANA FLAVORED BARIUM.  If anyone knows who came up with this flavor I’d like to arrange for a few minutes alone with them.  And a bag of nickels.

And lastly…the newest member of our fish tank family.  The kids call him Froggie.  I call him Creepy Soul Sucker.  I hate this frog.  He just floats there all dead like and I yell, “KYLE!  THE FROG IS DEAD!”  And he yells back, “NO IT ISN’T!!” And then the freaking frog jumps and scares the crap out of me.  Ick.

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Sweet Dreams…I’m probably going to come out and chew your face off while you’re sleeping but don’t worry about it.

Thanks For The Mascara, Tammy Faye.

There is a lady that works at our neighborhood grocery store.  She is perhaps…hmmm…160, maybe 170 years old.  Always with the smiling.  The English…ehhhh…iz noht so good.  But she is always there with that smile. And a kind word and fake grocery store money for the kids.  I’m pretty sure she stashes it in her bra but at least it’s nice and warm when they get it.  We call that ‘Meemaw Cash’.

I love her.

For her smile and words and all of that but what I REALLY love her for is her MAKE UP!  It. Is. Ah. Mazing.  And the hair…a swirling, sugary pile of color and light.  And more color.

Remember Mimi from The Drew Carey Show?

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MiiiiMiii…hand over the spray paint and no one gets hurt…

Yeah, she kind of makes Mimi look like an Amish nun. (Let me save you the Google…that’s not a real thing. But it should be.)

So I’ve always loved her, but now I ‘get’ her.  I just know that she wakes up every morning, feeds her cat, waters her African Violet (I can sense it…see owns an African Violet and it sits on a very starched doily) and then she marches into her bathroom and trowels on those layers because it makes her feel better and braver to face the world with a little armor.  And it works.  She just radiates happiness.

I’ve started ‘getting ready’ almost every day now.  Make up. Hair. Nice clothes.  EARRINGS!  That’s a big one for me.  If I’m wearing earrings, take that as an outward symbol that something is probably exploding inside of my body.

Like today.  Skirt. Boots. Nice jacket.  And a trip up to see the rheum again.  Biopsy results are in.  That weird rash on my arms?  Cooooome oooon dooown MORE vasculitis. (Say what you want about the ol’ sassculitis but he sure knows how to keep the romance fresh.)

So now they are pulling out the big guns.  Apparently I’m a bit of a mystery case…uhhh paging Dr. House!  I need a surly Englishman with a limp and a prescription drug addiction.

Here’s where we sit.  Weaning me off of the steroids…sloooooow like a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter.  I’m on 60mg/day and can come down 5mg every 5 days.  WHOA DOC!  SIMMER DOWN!  On the plus side we’ll be able to combine the the boys’ college graduation parties with my ‘No More ‘Roids’ party…

BUT.  Blub blub blub. I start Dapsone.  Okay, definitely don’t Google that.  Because that there is, uh, one of them drugs used to treat LEPROSY.  It’s not nearly as glamorous as it sounds…despite all of my begging and pleading, apparently I don’t get to down my pills while lounging in a hammock in the South Pacific.  In a leprosy colony but still…show me a mom that wouldn’t take THAT vacation.  And I’ll show you a liar.

It makes me feel better to think that she's missing her feet because she's a leper.

It makes me feel better to think that she’s missing her feet because she’s a leper.

Next up…he’s worried that this ‘very unusually resistant strain of vasculitis’ is being caused by something bad that is currently asymptomatic (holy cheddar that was a hard word to spell!).  So something is lurking in there that has yet to rear it’s purdy little head.  We need to ‘go on a witch hunt’.  His words.  (Maybe I need to dial down the eye makeup.)  Then he threw out words like, ‘lymphoma, CT scans, colonoscopy, mammogram, chest xray’ while I nodded very thoughtfully and tried to make out the brand name on the arm of his glasses.  (Calvin Klein in case you’re interested.)  I had a mammogram last summer (patting self on back), I just had a chest xray to rule out Wegeners Syndrome and I had a lymph node biopsied last fall that came back clean (probably the start of all of this mess but I didn’t realize it at the time).  So that leaves the abdomen as the last place that lymphoma can hide.  We’ll hold off on the colonoscopy until everything is back in.  That’s okay…it will give the doctor time to save up for the nice dinner I’m assuming he’ll be buying me first. I’ll be glowing with radiation by the time this is all over but keep in mind that I will be renting myself out to light up your next nighttime backyard soiree.

Then it was up on the table to check all of my lymph nodes.

“Just put this gown on.  You can leave on your underwear.”

Uhhh…except.  It’s laundry day and I may or may not be wearing underwear.  (Not.) And I HAVE to tell him this so he doesn’t get a shock and drop to the floor clutching his chest because I’ve gotta tell you…despite the Calvin Klein glasses, he’s old and I am NOT up to date on my CPR training.

Gah.  I put on my leggings this morning and thought, “Just wait for your clothes to finish drying and PUT ON UNDERWEAR!”  But you know how it is once you actually GET the leggings on. Then the other side of my brain (I call her Judy…like from the tiny hands Kristen Wiig skit), Judy says, “Naaaaah…who is ever going to know??”  Well JUDY…just you and me the the doctor who you just made blush.  Geez.

"Don't put on underwear!  Eat a squirrel!"

“Don’t put on underwear! Eat a squirrel!”

I tell you this story to illustrate to you that rarely a day goes by where I don’t somehow embarrass myself.  The earth may in fact stop spinning if I ever behaved like a normal civilized human.  So you’re welcome for the gravity and oxygen and all that.

Anyway…I’m all for finding out what is going on inside my body so test away.  And bring on the Dapsone.  Hit me with what you’ve got and then if nothing works (or even when it does), I’ll feel confident knowing I’ve exhausted all of my medical options.  So until May the 7th…I’m all yours, Doc.  (Errrrr…maybe not the best way to put it in light of recent non-underwearing incident.)

And also…next time you see that little old lady with the lipstick waaaay outside the lines of her mouth…tell her she looks nice.  Because she does.

I Love You Rocky Dennis.

Hey kids.  Did I ever tell you about the time I frightened the girl at the Time Warner Cable office with my misshapen face?  Probably not, since it just happened yesterday.

First things first.  We canceled cable.  Because we are enlightened people who yearn to play chess and hold spirited political conversations rather than melt our brains with television.

Naaaah.  It’s all part of Budgetopocolypse 2013.  I’d watch Snapped marathons until my eyeballs bled if it was up to me.  Fascinating.  And it keeps the husband in line.

Pearls!  Lipstick on a napkin! A lit match!  Those are all signs of quality television show, amiright??

Pearls! Lipstick on a napkin! A lit match! Those are all signs of a quality television show, amiright??

So.  I woke up yesterday with the usual 38lbs of drooling toddler chunk sitting on my chest.  The additional 48lbs wandered in a few minutes later and the day began.  Except.  I noticed my face felt kind of weird when I talked.  I didn’t really think too much about it, what with the 86lbs of children earrings I was wearing into the kitchen to make breakfast but eventually (after milk milk cereal cereal smoothie smoothie I wanted the bulldozer spoon NO MINE NO MINE MOOOOOOOOOOM!) I made it to a mirror.

And. Oh. Em. Gee.

I was lumpy.  Lumpy like Rocky Dennis. Remember him?  The kid from Mask.

Awwww…that’s awful.  Of course I didn’t REALLY look like Rocky Dennis.  Just like I don’t REALLY have jowls like Winston Churchill.  I just FEEL like I do.

Also…I loved Rocky Dennis.  Remember the hot rock for the color red and the icy rock for the color blue?  So sweet.

But I digress.  Back to my face.  Or what used to resemble my face.  Lumpy.  Like, big weird lumps under my skin.  Forehead, chin, the bridge of my nose was swollen.  My cheeks felt like they had 2 square inches of hard pads underneath them.  I looked like one of those women who thought it would be a golly-gee-swell idea to get $50 collagen injections from a ‘doctor’ in a ‘clinic’ in South America.  Only to be shocked later on to find out he had used donkey urine.  I looked like Priscilla Presley…and not the Elvis Priscilla…

But wait…there’s more!  Order your weird misshapen face right now and we’ll throw in a new mystery rash!

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Anybody got a needle and thread? Cause I’m ripped.  Seriously…check out those guns!

Gross, right?  I know I publish a lot of weird pics but that’s mostly for anyone else ever looking for answers.  And the occasional vasculitisophile (hey, I ain’t judging).

I call my rheum and explain the symptoms to his nurse.  She calls me back and tells me that the doctor wants to see me the next day to check out my vasculitis (check it out, Doc…it’s STILL there!).  As for the lumps and arm rash?  He thinks it sounds like steroid induced acne and that I need to see my dermatologist as soon as possible to make sure.

Uh…no.

First of all, ANOTHER gross side effect??  Second of all, it’s NOT acne.  I had a wildly overactive sebaceous gland through my 20s so I know from acne.  And this ain’t it.

"Leave Mommy alone...she's finding her happy place in here."

“Leave Mommy alone…she’s finding her happy place in here.”

Now if it was up to me I would have hidden in the house all day.  It was that bad.  But as you may have guessed…I miiight…just maaaaybe have a little problem with procrastination.  And I MAY have put off returning the cable equipment until the last day.  Of the 14 day return period.  Oooof.  AND we were out of milk.  Double oooof.  I had to lump it up and leave the house.  No problem though, Time Warner has a big equipment return box right outside the office…I don’t even need to go in!

Except they don’t anymore. Which means me and Lumpy (I consider my face to be its own entity by this point) have to get both kids and all of the equipment out of the car, into the office and past the ‘Take A Number’ machine.  It’s a machine that pops out tickets.  It may as well be a chocolate covered clown juggling puppies.

I herd them into some chairs and YAY I’m the next number.  Phew. I luck out a second time and get the world’s most uninterested ‘customer service’ girl who doesn’t even look up at me.  Score.  I heave the bag with all my equipment up onto the counter.  She sighs a sigh that lets me know I’m perhaps the stupidest person that ever lived and informs me that I need to take everything out of the bag myself.  No problem, lady, just keep staring at your nails…do not look at my face.  I start to pull out the equipment.  Modem…other computer thingy…dvr…remotes…oh, did I forget to mention that my other half had been kind enough to unhook and pack everything up for me the night before?  Did I forget to mention that he didn’t dust or wipe off one thing so as I’m pulling out the equipment, herds of dust bunnies are stampeding and swirling through the air.  Through. The. Air.  Some of my hair is mixed in there.  It’s pretty gross and embarrassing (hey…it’s been living under the desk behind a box!).  This startles her.  She looks up at my face. I see her eyes widen.  I see her glance at the rash on my arms where my sleeves have fallen back because I’m literally trying to catch dust bunnies in the air.  I’m half laughing and half apologizing and mumbling something about killing my husband.  I look like a rashy fool.  But an apologetic rashy fool.  And what does she do?  She reaches for her hand sanitizer.  Twice.  That girl stared at all of my weird crap and then she sanitized herself.

Now part of me doesn’t blame her.  I’m obviously a mess.  But the other part of me is pissed.  So I stopped apologizing.  I signed my receipt.  Then I licked the side of her face and left.

Nooooo.  But I wanted to.

Flash forward to this morning.  I wake up and my face is back to normal!  Yay!  But my arms still look like I thought it was a good idea to reach into a fire. Booo.  I drop the kids at school and head up to see the doctor.

Here’s the good news.  I got taken off of 2 of my meds today.  Wooot!  I asked to be taken off of the Colcrys (the gout medicine).  First of all, what is it really doing?? Second of all…it costs $225.  A month.  He agreed that we could stop it.  He looked at my arms and immediately expressed concern that I was having an allergic reaction to the Plaquenal, so that is out too.  Happy dance!  Then we had a nice talk about steroid side effects.  He restated that although this wasn’t steroid induced acne, it was a future possibility but I assured him that I was holding out for enough facial hair to grow a hipster mustache that I could diabolically twirl while tying young girls to railroad tracks.  I also informed him that my face was getting fat to which he replied, “I know.”  That’s it…I’m bringing the kids with me on the next visit.  That’ll learn him.

"Now I shall untie you and make you babysit my children!  MWAHAHAHAHAAAA!"

“Now I shall untie you and make you babysit my children! MWAHAHAHAHAAAA!”

Then it’s downstairs for more bloodwork and upstairs to my derm for skin biopsy #5…I’m getting pretty scar-o-licious.  Don’t be jealous.

(Have I mentioned that I think my dermatologist might be 14 years old?  The first time I had to stand in front of him in my underwear I half expected his mom to bust into the room and yell at me to put my clothes back on.)

Aaaaaanyway…I ask the him if this could be sun related??  We all laid on the grass on Sunday and looked for cloud pictures for a long time and even though I stayed in the shade, I have been reading that people with autoimmunes can be sun sensitive.  He thinks it might be something called polymorphis light eruption.  Basically women with ‘rheumatogical issues’ (oh I’ve got issues all right) have this problem in the spring when the sun is higher and hotter.  Weird, right?  It should stop happening by summer but he recommended some good sunscreens.  But we’ll still wait for the biopsies for final results because it could still be a drug reaction.  “We’re seeing more of that with Plaquenal users lately…it might be a manufacturing change.”  Well that’s just fantastic.

Anyway, to make a loooong blog post even longer, something happened today that made me think of you guys.  I had the sweetest Thai phlebotomist with an accent so thick I could barely understand her.  Right as she was getting ready to take my blood another tech stuck her head into the room and asked her for help with a ‘difficult patient’ (of course I’m immediately picturing blood spraying everywhere).  My tech started to take my blood but I told her to go help the other lady first.  When she came back she gave me a hug and said, “You were so sweet to share, you were just so sweet to share.  Thank you.”  I thought that was a funny way to phrase it but then I thought about it and I realized she meant that she was thanking me for sharing my time.  And that’s when I thought of you guys.  The love and support I’ve received from this blog already have been overwhelming.  I’m blown away with I see the number of people who have visited this page.  You choose to take time out of your day to read this and I want you to know what that means to me. So thank you. You are so sweet to share.

xo Danielle

P.S.  I have my first appointment with a naturopathic doctor on May 7th!  Yay!!  It’s a 3 hour appointment and she sounds amazeballs!

P.P.S.  I didn’t want to do my pantry today but I DID!!!!  However I’ll blog about that tomorrow since this one got a little long-winded.  But here is a quick pic:

Oooh it's purdy!

Oooh it’s purdy!

Today I Woke Up With A Fat Face

Is that politically correct?  Probably not.  Did I care when I stared at my puffy cheeks this morning?  Nope. Was I crying all night?  Had I finally realized that my 2 small children were never going to stop wiping questionable fluids on my pants?  Nah…I cried about that 2 nights ago.

It. Was. The. Stupid. Steroids.  I’m getting the dreaded steroid moon face.  Plus a nice 10lb weight gain.

What's worse...the number of pills per day or the fact that I keep them in a Max & Ruby bag??

What’s worse…the number of pills per day or the fact that I keep them in a Max & Ruby bag??

60 mg of them a day.  For over a month.  And they aren’t working.  The Prednisone (steroids) are in addition to the Plaquenil (an autoimmune drug).  And the Colycrys (a drug used to treat gout…which I do not have). And the huge doses of calcium, vitamin D and Prevacid to reverse all of the damage that long-term steroid use can cause.  Oops…don’t forget Zyrtec and Allegra for the hives.  What’s all of this for?  “The kissing cousin to lupus.” A little (lot) of vasculitis.  And some hives that would make you slap a puppy.  (Sorry puppies…just kidding…) Within the last 6 weeks I’ve found myself thrust (unwillingly) into the bizarre world of a undiagnosable autoimmune disease.  What started as a bad case of the hives and some tiny bruises on my legs quickly spiraled into a visit to the internist…which led to the allergist…which led to the dermatologist (and some nice biopsies) which landed me straight into the lap of a rheumatologist.  Well, not LITERALLY into his lap…although that would explain my multiple appointments…hmmmm…

Yup.  That's exploding blood vessels.

Yup. That’s exploding blood vessels.

Seriously. Itchy.

Baby Got Back…hives…

Baby Got Front Hives Too.

Baby Got Front Hives Too.

See...I couldn't slap a puppy with that hand even if I wanted to so just calm down!

See…I couldn’t slap a puppy with that hand even if I wanted to so just calm down!

And everyone just thought I was a dainty little walker!  Blush!

And everyone just thought I was a dainty little walker! Blush! (And yeah, yeah, yeah…I need to puts the lotion on the skin…)

Scattered in there were more blood draws than I can count (one visit consisted of a nice but mildly sadistic Thai phlebotomist and her 13 glass vials waiting to be filled…you need a cookie after a visit like that…), a chest x-ray to rule out Wegener’s Disease, a steroid prescription, a stronger steroid prescription, a stronger steroid prescription and finally…a refill of that strongest steroid prescription.  And let me tell you, those things suck.  But more on that later.

So I says to my doctor, I says, “Doc.  Give it to me straight.  Are you telling me there are no answers?”

To which he replies, “Of course there are answers.  You definitely have an connective tissue disease.  But you don’t fit the symptoms enough to know which one it is.”

So that’s an answer.  But it’s a sucky one.

My ANA panels show me as having Sjogren’s Syndrome.  Sadly, this is not a Bjork like condition that causes you to fling dead swans around your neck.  It’s more of a ‘all of your glands that produce tears and saliva are destroyed’ kind of thing.  Venus Williams has it.  Very glam.  So I settled into that, did too much reading on WebMD, freaked myself out and then soothed myself with the knowledge that Venus and I would become very close friends and I would in fact receive valuable tennis lessons from her and finally nail that back swing.

Sorry Venus.  Put away those tennis whites and dry those tears (ooooh…too soon?).  Looks like you can come up positive on a blood test for an autoimmune but if you don’t have the symptoms (which I don’t) then they don’t call it that.  And as blinky and dry eyed as I felt when I read about Sjogren’s, I have to say that I don’t have the symptoms.  If anything I error on the side of spraying it when I’m saying it.  So that leaves me with the ‘kissing cousin to lupus’ diagnosis.  Great.  I got the inbred disease.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not whining.  Well…I’m whining a little.  But please understand that I get how lucky I am.  I have and have had friends with way worse things.  I was diagnosed early on, before kidney or liver damage.  Most people search for years before they get answers. I’m not dying (well, not in the RIGHT NOW sense…I mean, we’re all dying…yada yada yada).  I actually feel fine.  If I avoid gluten then I don’t get sore joints.  All of my other blood work comes back great. I was actually lucky to have such intensely visible signs to let me know that something inside my body wasn’t working.  Well, was actually overworking.  I’m just frustrated.  Because nothing is working!  My immune system is like Honey Boo Boo on a rampage for pig skins and the doctors canNOT make it stop.  They are stumped.  Both of my rheums (let’s just call them rheums because I’m lazy) can’t figure out why my vasculitis won’t go away.  I’m on huge amounts of steroids in addition to the extra doses they jab me in the boohiney with every time I enter their office.  The last time I was there they were talking about adding ANOTHER new prescription to the mix.  But I can’t.  I just can’t.  They will throw you anything you ask for.  Sleeping aid? (Steroids MESS up your sleep).  Antidepressants? (Steroids make you a little…edgy.  I kicked a wall.  Bonus points for not kicking a human, right?)  Luckily for me I can manage to sleep 6 hours a night (BUT IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY DO NOT WAKE ME UP IN THE NIGHT!) and my usual vibe hovers around chill so edgy and irritable is pretty manageable.

But here is the deal.  I feel like my body is giving me a gift.  It’s literally screaming at me to let me know that something is horribly wrong in there.  My first instinct is to just lift this heavy burden off of my lap, hand it to a doctor and say, “Here. You. Fix this.  Fix Me.”  After all, I’m busy.  I chase kids and clean up enormous messes and rewash the same load of clothes 3 times (that’s just a damn commitment to procrastination) and never, ever, ever feel caught up.  So please.  Fix me.

But what happens when they can’t?  Or what happens when I realize that my health is up to me?  That I will have to make big, big, bigger changes to the way I shop and eat and think.  I’m not shunning western medicine.  I think there is a place for it.  But I think there is another way too.  A way to stop fighting my body and start listening to it instead.  To work with it. We honestly take more care into the fuel we put into our cars then what we put into our bodies.  I’m just as guilty of it as anyone.  I’m the one that was eating Cheetos with my head stuck in the pantry tonight.  I’d call myself a lazy hippie.  I know most of the facts…I’m just too tired to use them half of the time.

This blog will be my journal of my journey.  Journey Journal?  Ugh…do NOT say that 5 times fast.  Of course I’ll ramble on about other stuff too…I can’t help but make fun of my kids on occasion.

I mean, they live in their Underoos and dip their bacon in butter...who wouldn't make fun of that every once in a while??

I mean, they live in their Underoos and dip their bacon in butter…who wouldn’t make fun of that every once in a while??

And of course there will be food and book talk (gluten free…sorry ’bout that).  But I thought this experience would be interesting to share and I’ll try to do it with humor.  And no more creepy skin shots.  (Fingers crossed).

xo Danielle