Back from the Land of the Dead

I am happy to say I’m back from the dead.  Or at least it felt like I had died.  At least a dozen times.

A week ago yesterday I started the day stressed – alot of drama over The Beast (Jake’s car).  I was pretty much angry at everyone.  But noon, my skin on my neck and scalp started to tingle.  Then it started to burn.  It wasn’t just any burn.  It felt like a legion of fire ants marching under my skin x 10.  The muscles in my neck started to ache.  Then, as I tried to eat my lunch it took two swallows to get my yogurt down.

Thinking I was having an allergic reaction to something (even though I’m not allergic to anything), I made an immediate appointment to see my doctor.  By the time I got to the doctor I could add dizzy to the list of symptoms.  Fortunately it wasn’t an allergic reaction.

It was shingles.

I wouldn’t wish shingles on my worst enemy.

I was given three prescriptions – an antibiotic, meds for chicken pox (which shingles are but the adult version), and prednisone.  I nearly passed out at the store as I waited at the pharmacy for over an hour to get my medication.  Then it was home and off to bed…or at least as close to off to bed as a wife and mother of three gets.  I attempted to go to work the next day and was sent promptly home partially due to fear of catching what I had (I wasn’t contagious) – and partially because I looked something close to death warmed over.

At it’s worst I fought with chills and fever all at the same time.  My muscles ached.  I was constantly tired.  It took three days before I could swallow normal.  And until just a day or two ago it felt as if a low level electric current was running through my muscles.

 My family, who were  some of the causes of my stress, have been angels.  They’ve cooked, they’ve cleaned, they’ve given extra hugs and kisses and cuddles (even when it hurt to cuddle – but it’s the thought that counts!).  The hubby has gotten the car for me, taken chairs to track meets so I can rest and kept the house in line.  He’s been the best.

I still have muscle aches and am unnormally tired.  But it’s nice to feel alive again. 🙂

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Mouse

As I’ve stated before, it’s that time of year again.  But this is an entirely different time of year.  It’s the time of the year to address the white elephant in the room in our family.  For most of the year we go on as a normal All-American family with busy schedules for both the parents and kids.  But come about March we are always starkly reminded.

We have a sick Mouse.

Mouse was a nickname given to Alex when she was a baby.  She didn’t cry.  She squeaked.  And it was about that time we noticed something wasn’t completely right with our daughter.

She was always a spitty baby.  But at one she went from spitty to outright vomitting.  It would happen every three weeks like clockwork.  She would start out her cycle like a normal toddler for about two days.  Then she would become less energetic.  She would sit on the floor of the playroom at my mother-in-law’s daycare and watch the other kids play.  She didn’t have the energy to play with them.  It broke our hearts.

And at the end of three weeks all hell would break loose.  She’d start vomiting.  Then she would just lay there in her crib and stare into space for a few hours.  Then magically she would pop up and demand something to eat, usually mac and cheese.  And the whole three week cycle would start over – and over – and over.  She had to be hospitalized once for rehydration.

I argued alot with physicians.  If I didn’t like one, I’d find another.  Finally, a year and a half later I found a caring, wonderful doctor, Dr. Bishop at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, to look at her and run tests.  He diagnosed her.  Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.  The bad news – she was the youngest case he had ever heard of and didn’t know how to treat her.  He gave her medication but predicted it probably wouldn’t work for long.  He was right – it lasted three months.  However in the meantime I did research of my own and found that the foremost authority in CVS was in Chicago.  Dr. Bishop transfered her to Dr. Li in Chicago happily.

Dr. Li examined her and took her history.  It took three hours during which Alex happliy played “catch me if you can” with the giggling receptionists.  He confirmed the diagnosis and prescribed her meds.  They worked.  Within a couple weeks she was a normal child for the first time in her life.

Having CVS in our lives has been a roller coaster.  We have good stretches.  We have bad stretches.  Alex has been hospitalized six times.  It’s rough on the boys – it kills them to see their baby sister suffer.  They have become overly protective – more than standard brothers would be.

But if it did anything, it turned my baby girl into a fighter.  She makes no excuses for anything.  She tackles things head-on and makes the most of the opportunities she’s given.  And, other than a pill she has to take at night and a new regimine of aromatherapy to help her sleep, she is a completely normal nine-year-old.

This time it started with one specialist, the neurologist, cancelling our appointment and rescheduling it for the following week.  That call followed a long white knuckled fours hours praying that Dr. Li (who is now in Milwaukee) could squeeze us into a full schedule booked into September.  Thankfully prayers were answered.  We go to Milwaukee to see them both in June.

Then the entry forms for the CVS 5K run/walk for a cure arrived in my e-mail inbox.  We talked and started making plans to participate.  I even came up with a name for our “team” (the five of us in our family) – The “A” Team.  For Alex’s team.  Sort of hokey but it works…

And with the start of spring begins the storm season.  Violent storms are Alex’s primary trigger – the stress gets to her.  She weathered the first thunderstorm well with unusual spunk cracking one liners the entire time.  That’s my girl!

We will weather this time of year as we always do – as a family.

Betsey – meet Ali

Tuesday Ali went to the optometrist.  It seemed a pretty wise move after she completely flunked the eye test at the pediatrician (can you read line five??  Live four??  Line three??  Tell me you can read line two.  Line One??  Can you read Line One??)

And yep…she needed glasses.  So after meeting with the doctor we went out to look at frames.  Grandma Paula (Brian’s mom) works for the eye doctor so she met us to help us find a pair.  And since Grandma works there she became the center of attention. 

We tried dozens of pairs.  Alex was in seventh heaven.  But in the end only one pair stood out.

Betsey Johnsons.  A $225 pair of Betsey Johnsons.  For a nine-year-old.

They are super cute!

Today she got the call she has been waiting for – they arrived!  She couldn’t stop bouncing up and down until we arrived to pick them up.

She’s still getting used to them.  And she quickly learned, as we were all curled up on the couches sipping milkshakes and watching “Captain Amercia”, that taking them off doesn’t make the scary villians go away.  They are still there – just a little blurry.

So Betsey Johnson…meet Alex.  A nine-year-old with alot of style. ❤