Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Love Worth Crafting For

I'm pretty good at avoiding the temptation of those little white bins that line the check out at Michael's because even though they may only be a $1, my bill is always at least 100 times that amount (if I'm lucky) but this particular time I saw something I couldn't resist. I already had a project in mind but wasn't sure on the colors I'd need, so I scooped up two of each pattern and off we went.
 
 
As it turns out, I needed something gray, not black, for my project but my sister looked at me and said, "They do match MY bedroom."  Big sister took the hint and my wheels started turning again for project ideas. The patterns were perfect for her black and white bedroom but I wanted to come up with something not so cheesy but personalized since her and my BIL don't really have anything personalized up on their walls.  Then it hit me... this year they would be celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary.  I could throw a little of the typical cheesy in for that occasion ;)

Marriage is such an amazing thing but anyone who has made that life-long commitment knows that it is work!!! I've heard people say that marriage shouldn't be work because work is hard and if you are with the right person, it shouldn't be hard.  Well, thank you for your opinion but I call bull on that one.  You don't have a houseplant, never water it, and wonder why it died.  You water and nurture it because you want it to grow and bloom.  When it starts to droop, you figure out why and adjust what you are doing.  It can be challenging at times and the work it takes is constant but it's a labor of love, just like marriage :)

So yesterday I sat down with a few hours on my hands to knock this project out.  Giving into the "cheesy", I selected the word LOVE and decided to personalize it with EST 2003 (the year they were married).  This is one of the reasons that I love having a Cricut and using the Cricut Craft Room.  I just searched through my cartridges until I found my perfect font and planned it all out where I could see what it would look like before I cut my paper.


 
Then I sent my images to the Cricut
 

 
Using some paper on paper Mod Podge, I glued my letters to their shadows.
 

 
... and let them dry.  Aren't they cute?!?!

 
Then I used Aleene's Platinum Bond 7800 All Purpose Adhesive to glue the letters to the glass tiles. Let it dry according to the directions and it's done!
 
 
The only thing left is to put on something to hang them with but I thought it would be a good idea to let my sister decide that part.
 
 
 
Until next time...
 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Trying to Come Out of Hiding

I've already messed up!!!

I said that I would blog every Thursday but I'm pretty sure I just skipped the last 4... Oops!!!  This is where I struggle in maintaining my blog.  I dislike ever feeling like I am complaining and sometimes Crohn's is just so difficult that I feel if I share everything that is going on with me, then it will sound like I am complaining.  I lead such a blessed life that I have a hard time letting others into my daily life with an autoimmune disease.  So bear with me if I disappear for a few weeks or so, I'm probably just trying to convince myself to come out of hiding.

With that being said... antibiotics, fistulas, abscesses, and drama SUCK!!!  There, I said it!  No long, drawn out explanation needed!  Moving on now...

This summer has been so chaotic for me.  It was a good chaos, the social kind, but still hard to juggle when your friends and family live 3 hours away and you have to travel alone because your husband works a ton (yes, I understand it's a blessing).  It seems like I was only ever home for a few days at a time.  I was seriously looking forward to fall coming for some down time until I looked at my calendar today to realize that I am booked out heavily until sometime in October... and then the holidays hit! Another plus to all the chaos is that it gives me lots to blog about so I shouldn't be disappearing anytime soon :)

Here are some ideas that I am tossing around:
  • The arrival of my niece Tegan (she's #10 in the niece/nephew department for us)
  • All of my craft projects I'm working on and the debate of opening an Etsy shop
  • My brainstorm of ideas to change the direction of my Crohn's treatment
  • My organization obsession and my household binder that I am updating since my last one drowned while camping
  • Anniversary Trip brainstorming
  • My holiday crafting plans
  • Crohn's Education
  • The life of a hunter's wife during hunting season
  • Our new truck (another thing my hard working husband was able to accomplish)
  • and some more surprises that I'll share when the timing is right ;)
I'll leave you with these thoughts that have been on my mind all week:

 
 

 
 
Until next time...

 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Self Induced Chaos

It's taken me all day to decide what to write for well, two reasons.  One, because I am always inspired by the title and two, well, I am a procrastinator (I can admit it).  When I was younger, I was your typical procrastinator, to the extreme that I waited until the night before my science project was due to tell my parents about it (and that I was supposed to be doing it with a friend and we needed to go to the craft store... it was the best one in class though)!!!  Today, I'm not your typical procrastinator in the sense that I love to stay busy and love be useful at all times but I just do not have the energy!  I know, you're probably saying "yeah, yeah, yeah, join the club."  Truth is though, it's something that you just can't understand unless your have an autoimmune disease or something else that literally is causing your body to fight and harm itself (cancer, etc.).  It is the craziest thing and definitely one of the most difficult things about having Crohn's!!! I feel like I could fall asleep at any moment, I yawn ALL day long, never truly wake up (even though I never really sleep well either), and decide how I can do everything sitting down so I won't get too tired... I haven't stood up to shave my legs in the shower in years (no joke)!!! I've tried juicing and other drinks like it, Spark, and caffeine to no avail.  It's ridiculous, seriously!!! But anyway, this whole random run on really wasn't my point.

Self Induced Chaos... or Crohn's Induced Chaos, haven't really decided which yet or if it's both or if there is a difference at the moment. 

I always keep a long TO DO list in my household binder and my goal is to check one big thing off it a week in addition to my daily lists.  For example, it could be: a craft project, an organization project, getting my concealed weapons permit (crossed off), gutting and taking stuff to the Goodwill, taking our glass bottles to the recycling center (since the company refuses to pick them up even though the drop off location is their facility), or this week's... re-applying or renewing mine and my husband's passports.  I was done with my husband's and halfway through my form when I got online to do some research about a question I had and I realized that we both qualified for a renewal, even though both our passports had expired after we got married and that I could fill out the form online and print them off to mail.  Easy enough right?!?!  Nope, Self Induced Chaos!!!  Dang, there is something about having to fill out a government form that causes automatic stress and no one likes to have to do the same thing over again multiple times because you made a mistake.  I totally thought I was in the clear until I got to the whole name change part.  In the state I live in, there is no legal form to change your name once you get married and our marriage certificate makes no assumptions that you will be changing your last name.  So I go searching online for help, BIG MISTAKE, it's exactly like why you should never go to WebMD when you are not feeling good and self diagnose yourself... your cold or flu like symptoms start to look like cancer by the time you are done!  Everyone was saying different things but again, my state doesn't give you actual proof you change your name unless you court petition it, so I guess I'll send my marriage certificate in and see what happens.

Crohn's Induced Chaos... my house is a disaster!!! Okay well probably not really a disaster but definitely by my standards (and probably my husband's as well). Again, how do messy houses have to do with Crohn's, well, it probably has a lot to do with my earlier rambling about lack of energy and motivation.  That, and the fact that my surgeon put me on antibiotics for the next 3 months and they are making me "sick as a dog," for lack of a better analogy. I've only twice in my entire life been able to take antibiotics without having to stop due to them making me sick.  I'm trying to stick it out because it's a course we haven't be able to try before but if the extreme nausea and headaches do not go away soon, I am definitely pulling the plug on this attempt also!!! 

Ugh, next time I'll have something better to share!!! So, I'll leave you with these few thoughts and a good thing about my week.

 

Always true!!!
 


We all have struggles and also the ability to make others' loads lighter!!!
 
 
... and my highlight of the week!!! Harvesting some of our garden with my husband!!!

Friday, August 2, 2013

I'm Truly a Work in Progress

I have been meaning to get back to blogging for a while now (obviously, considering my last post was 11 months ago).  My computer has many unpublished and unfinished drafts but nothing I felt was complete enough to hit the "publish" button.  It's been the story of my life.  It's amazing how life passes us by when we accept the cards life deals us instead of trying to make something out of them.  It took me way to long to say "no more."  Don't get me wrong, I'm human and that doesn't mean that I won't go wandering that direction again but I refuse to sit there.

Not much has changed, but again, I guess that is what happens when you become complacent.  There are days when I say "let's do this" and then the next day I feel fortunate enough to get out of bed.  It's a crazy way to live life but I am grateful to have each day be a new day!!!  It is all about taking life day by day anyway... right?!?!

So here's the plan (that I told myself I would start 3 months ago)... I will be blogging at least every Thursday.  I set myself up a weekly schedule and my blog is the only thing that I am ignoring.  I think that for now until I get into a routine that I am going to be letting you all into my personal life a little more so that I get myself on a schedule and not just wait until I have something Crohn's related to share.  As I have said before, my disease is a part of me, but NOT who I am!!!

So here are a few pictures to get started:

I turned 32 this year and celebrated it with the love of my life!

We very casually celebrated our 4th year of marriage and 15 years of being together!

We started home brewing (for the hubby of course)!

Got in a much needed Girls' Weekend with my old co-workers!
Spending every last minute I can with my cutie pie nephew Jonah!

Had these cuties up to our house for a week!
... and like the crazy Auntie I am, I took them all to the zoo!
 
 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Imuran (azathioprine)

Here's some reading material on the new drug that my Doctor has put me on.  I highlighted a few areas of concern that I have. I have been fighting taking this medication for almost a year now but I just want to be healthy and live a "normal" life like everyone else.  I don't know what the future holds and this isn't the direction that I wanted to go... but I'm trusting that there is a reason for all of this and that everything I am going through has a purpose.

Warnings:

Azathioprine may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer, especially skin cancer and lymphoma (cancer that begins in the cells that fight infection). If you have had a kidney transplant, there may be a higher risk that you will develop cancer even if you do not take azathioprine. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had cancer and if you are taking or have ever taken alkylating agents such as chlorambucil (Leukeran), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), or melphalan (Alkeran) for cancer. To decrease the risk that you will develop skin cancer, avoid prolonged or unnecessary exposure to sunlight and wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Tell your doctor immediately if you notice any changes in your skin or any lumps or masses anywhere in your body.

Some teenage and young adult males who took azathioprine alone or with another medication called a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker to treat Crohn's disease (a condition in which the body attacks the lining of the digestive tract causing pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and fever) or ulcerative colitis (condition in which sores develop in the intestines causing pain and diarrhea) developed hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma (HSTCL). HSTCL is a very serious type of cancer that often causes death within a short period of time. Azathioprine has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, but doctors may sometimes prescribe azathioprine to treat these conditions. If you develop any of these symptoms during your treatment, call your doctor immediately: stomach pain; fever; unexplained weight loss; night sweats or easy bruising or bleeding.

Azathioprine can cause a decrease in the number of blood cells in your bone marrow, which may cause serious or life-threatening infections. The risk that the number of blood cells that you have will decrease is highest if you have a genetic (inherited) risk factor. Your doctor may order a test to see if you have this risk factor before or during your treatment. Taking certain medications may also increase the risk that your blood cells will decrease, so tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following: angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as benazepril (Lotensin), captopril, enalapril (Vasotec), fosinopril, lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), moexipril (Univasc), perindopril (Aceon), quinapril (Accupril), Ramipril (Altace), or trandolapril (Mavik); trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra); and ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetol, Virazole). If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: unusual bleeding or bruising; excessive tiredness; pale skin; headache; confusion; dizziness; fast heartbeat; difficulty sleeping; weakness; shortness of breath; and sore throat, fever, chills, and other signs of infection. Your doctor will order tests before, during, and after your treatment to see if your blood cells are affected by this medication.


 
What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking azathioprine,
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to azathioprine, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in azathioprine tablets. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention the medications mentioned in the IMPORTANT WARNING section and any of the following: allopurinol (Zyloprim); aminosalicylates such as mesalamine (Apriso, Asacol, Pentasa, others), olsalazine (Dipentum), and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine); and anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have any type of infection, or if you have or have ever had kidney disease.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. You should use birth control to be sure you or your partner will not become pregnant while you are taking this medication. Call your doctor if you or your partner become pregnant while you are taking azathioprine. Azathioprine may harm the fetus.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking azathioprine.
  • do not have any vaccinations during or after your treatment without talking to your doctor.
  •  
What side effects can this medication cause?

Azathioprine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately.
  • rash
  • fever
  • weakness
  • muscle pain

Azathioprine or 6‐mercaptopurine for maintenance of remission in Crohn's disease
 
Azathioprine (1.0 to 2.5 mg/kg/day) used among patients with non‐active Crohn's disease is effective for reducing the risk of disease recurrence over a 6 month to 2 year period. Higher doses of azathioprine (2.5 mg/kg/day) are more effective than lower doses (1.0 or 2.0 mg/kg/day) for preventing disease recurrence. There is also evidence that azathioprine may reduce the need for steroid treatment which could help reduce steroid related side effects.  Azathioprine appears to be more effective than 6‐mercaptopurine but this may be due to the relatively low dose of 6‐mercaptopurine (50 mg/day) used in the one study assessing this drug.  The long‐term effectiveness of azathioprine and 6‐mercaptopurine is unclear due to the short duration of the studies (6 months to 2 years). Azathioprine and 6‐mercaptopurine appear to be slow acting drugs. They are associated with some uncommon but serious side effects. These include suppression of the body's ability to produce white blood cells (which fight infection) and platelets (which allow blood clotting to occur), inflammation of the pancreas and an increased risk of lymphoma. Patients who may benefit from this therapy include those whose Crohn's disease is chronically active or flares frequently. Azathioprine or 6‐mercaptopurine may also benefit patients who are dependent on steroids but have experienced steroid side effects, or for whom steroids no longer work. The choice to use azathioprine or 6‐mercaptopurine should be made after careful consideration of the risks and benefits of using these drugs.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Has It Already Been a Year?!?!

It's crazy to think that it's been over a year since my last post!!!  There are SO many changes in my life since my last post that I'll try and sum it up as quickly as possible so I can move on to life as I know it today... there still so much going on!

2011

* Had setons removed because my body seemed to be healing.
* Aug 15th, I was admitted to the hospital for yet another abscess drainage and spent my mother's birthday having surgery.  As a result, we stopped the Humira injections because they were obviously not working to stop the fistulas and abscesses.
* Returned to the hospital again on October 25th and spent my sister's birthday having surgery for ANOTHER fistula and abscess drainage.
* Less than a month later on November 16th, I was back for my 3rd surgery in 4 months and my fourth for 2011... and again for the same reasons.

I returned back to work after each surgery as soon as I thought I could... but definitely didn't take the time that I should have.  Call it being stubborn, a Taurus, my mother's child... I am all of the aforementioned. I mostly did it because I felt like I was a burden to my co-workers.  My body was exhausted and was not getting enough time to heal in between attacks even without returning to work. It was a ROUGH and EMOTIONAL time for me!!!

My husband, doctors, and I decided that we should give the Humira another try but decided that this time we would change my injections to once a week instead of two injections every two weeks.  Same amount of medication but more frequent injections.

2012

* January/February - Said "See you later" to some of my best friends from work due to position eliminations, retirements, and new jobs.  The hubby also moved 3 hours away from me to take a new job.
* March - Humira seemed to stop working as well again.  By the end of the month I was having full blown reactions to the injections (it looked as if baseballs were trying to come out of my skin!!!).  That was the end of my Humira injections.
* April - Started the month off right by taking a week off to spend up north with my husband, celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary and 14 years of being together.  Much needed!!! The day before I returned to work we started the loading doses for Remicade and I started packing to move out of our apartment to parts unknown.  By the end of the month it was clear that I needed to focus on myself and be close to my husband.  The day that I decided to give my notice, I was actually called into the office to be told that my position was eliminated.  That night I turned in my keys to our apartment and closed the chapter of our lives in Vancouver.
* May - Moved 3 hours away from my family to join my husband in the 2 family home he was renting with his brother and his family but returning every few weeks for my iron infusions and Remicade doses.
* June - Was blessed with the birth of a new nephew but also lost my grandmother to cancer.  Her passing was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to endure... even through my Crohn's battles.  My grandfather told me at her graveside service that she left me all of her strength to help me get through this and trust me, when I am down, I remember those words!!!
* July - Enjoying life but my health is not getting better.  Spent most of the month in A LOT of pain.  Finished my loading doses for the Remicade but already not seeing the results that we'd hoped for.

And here we are all the way to August...  I welcomed another nephew, this one from my own sister :)  Also, visited my GI doctor who agreed that our results are not what she'd hoped for as well and would like to run tests to see if I have enough Remicade running through my system.  She also started me on another medication called Imuran along with the Remicade to see if we can hit this harder.  I took my first dose tonight... but that's a whole other post that I'll have to save for tomorrow :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Blessed Beyond Measure

Getting up this morning I didn't particularly feel as if today was going to be a good day.  It's been a struggle for the past month to stay positive as I feel like I've got attacks coming from all sides.  Peace has been hard for me to find and the places that I usually ran to felt so far away.  I've felt secluded and unable to share what's going on with me because I don't want to remind people that I'm the "sick" one (as I heard myself being called by someone this month) or to become a topic of conversation in one of the little gossip circles around me that I want absolutely nothing to do with (I'd rather not know what's being said behind my back as is).  To put it simply, I'm drained.  I'd taken a few extra days off last week to clear my head but my plans fell through and I ended up stuck exactly where I was trying to get away from. By Sunday night I thought I was going to lose it... mentally or physically, whatever "flew off the handle" first.  All day Monday, I started planning my escape even if for no other reason that to bring myself sanity. 

Then it hit me... that first sense of peace. 

It wasn't the heavens opening up and it may sound silly to someone else but it was my first little bit of the healing that I so desperately needed.  I was standing in the kitchen after just getting home from waiting in my car for over two hours for my husband to get out of a meeting that should have been over two hours prior (while my groceries were sitting in the backseat).  The meeting didn't go very well (something that I'd been praying for different results for a long time) so needless to say it wasn't a fun car ride home.  Anyway, like I said, I was standing in the kitchen trying to get dinner done as quickly as possible just as I do every night in between the short few hours after I get home from work and my husband goes to bed.  Nothing out of the ordinary, the same job I do every night because according to someone, like it or not, it's my job.  Then the peace... my husband walks into the kitchen and says, "thanks for coming to get me today and for making dinner," then leans down and kisses me.  It wasn't much but it was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.  Those simple words stopped me in my tracks and brought tears to my eyes.  I felt loved... the greatest of all gifts.

Today came the second blessing.  Like I said in the beginning.  I woke up this morning a little sassy.  There were still a lot of things weighing on me.  Yesterday was NOT a good day and I'd driven myself to pure silliness last night just to make it through.  Not things that I can go into because they are not my stories to share but all hurt me the same as if they were my own.  With that being said, I had a doctor's appointment this afternoon and due to my insanity lately, I hadn't gotten my blood drawn.  There was the issue of time but also that fact that I had two doctors requiring the same tests and then two different ones but from different clinics so I didn't know how I was going to manage to accomplish this without having to pay for one set out of pocket because of the duplicate test so I decided to just wait until I could figure it out.  Normally not such a big deal but today's appointment was with my hematologist... the blood doctor ;)  But Dr. L is a blessing on her own.  I wish she could be my doctor for everything.  She walks in the room today and asks me how I'm doing and I blurt out, "I didn't get my blood drawn."  She laughs and says, "Is that your big confession?"  Did I mention that I love her?!?!  Any other doctor in her profession would say, well what's the point of this appointment if I don't have blood to look at... but not Dr L.  She sits down and says, "now how are you really doing?"  This woman does not ask just to be nice, she expects me to tell her.  So I do.  All of the things that I have been holding back from everyone else in my life because she knows and understands what this horrible disease is doing to me on the inside and how all of the things on the outside truly make it worse.  She passes no judgement (she also counsels cancer patients after work and has told me that I'm welcome any time) because she knows that I am not looking for sympathy or to have my feelings held against me.  Then she tells me even though I'm not sure that the Humira is actually working that I look healthy for the first time in a long time and she's not worried that I'm going to collapse on her.  It means more than I can express and it gives me hope.  It's doctors like her that make living with a chronic illness bearable!!!

 Peace and hope... what more could one ask for :)  But wait, there's more!!!

Blessing #3 came this evening when I saw my husband walk through the door.  He was carrying 2 new sets of tools that he won today at work.  He was happy, I could tell, and that in itself is an unusual sight when work is involved.  As he sets down the tools he says, "I got a call from X today."  I immediately stop and give him my full attention knowing that this conversation could go only one of two ways... especially after the not so good meeting from Monday.  But as I look up, I see that my husband has a huge smile on his face and I know what he's going to say but I let him tell me anyway.  "Starting Monday I'm finally going to be a Journeyman,"  is all he says.  I'm still speechless, it's what I have been praying about for the last 2 years.  We don't know how it happened because this guy has been the #1 person stopping this from happening this entire time but it's finally happening.  I couldn't be more happy for him.  I give him double high-fives and a huge hug.  "So today's been a good day," I say to him.  "Today has been a great day," he replies.  That statement alone is almost another blessing in itself.

Peace, hope, and security.  What can I say, I'm blessed beyond measure!!!  In our darkest hour we learn that we are never forgotten, never forsaken, never alone. Take that grain of sand no matter how small and run with it, nurture it, watch it become beautiful again.

Well that's it for me tonight... it's injection time!!!