Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Supportive Spouse

I've never doubted that God brought Tim into my life for a purpose.  Much like our feet connect in just the right spot while sleeping, we fit together.  Where I lack a skill, he possesses it and where he needs strength in an area, I have it.  We are a puzzle of two pieces.

Yet, just because I know he has gifts that I may not, it doesn't excuse me from wanting to do and be better.  Very often, his strength in an area helps me see where I need to up my game.  Or rather, it helps convict me of something I should work to improve.

Previous posts have shared his selflessness.  It's perhaps one of my favorite and most admired traits of Tim.  Recently, in dealing with the news of my tick disease diagnosis, I've realized how little he complains.  Or maybe how much I do.

Sometimes I don't think of it as a complaint, just conversation.  But it dawned on me the other day, as he caught the brunt of my venting, he rarely does this with me. 

Now, I can tell by a quick glance how he's feeling, even if he doesn't share.  For the past week, he's had a kink in his neck but has not muttered one negative word about it.  Catching him readjust or grimacing silently, without asking, I'll begin applying oils to help ease his pain.  And if I feel something is emotionally bothering him, I'll bug him enough that he'll either share or get aggravated by the multiple questions.

I, on the other hand, give a detailed listing of anything bothering me at any given moment.  At least to Tim.  He really never has to guess about how I'm feeling -unless he's made me mad and I am giving him the silent treatment!

Saturday he planned a date night, sensing I needed some pampering from my stressful week.  It wasn't anything elaborate but quality time always fills my love tank.  After an evening of seafood and shoe shopping, I was one joyful girl. 

And though I may not always show it or thank him for the many ways he shows me he cares, I do count my blessings daily for God giving me this man.

When I come home to an empty sink or laundry basket.  As a text comes through with a sweet note from him, just because.  When he comes up behind me with a hug and a kiss.  Because he stops on the side of the road to pick my favorite flower.  When he listens to my grumbling without saying a word or even a sigh.  On the weekends, as he fixes my coffee first.  Every time he rubs my feet, willingly and lovingly.  As I go to bed to find it neatly made before he left for work. 

And a dozen other simple ways he says "I love you" every single day.  I am truly grateful to have him in my life!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Dinner is Un-done

Having dinner together has always been a value for our family.  Some of my best memories growing up were around the table.

Mom, without fail, had a hot meal ready for us as we arrived home from school.  She would sit and listen to us about our days as we ate.  With both sets of grandparents, the best conversations and some of my favorite recipes came from being gathered at the table.  When I became a wife and mom, cooking for my family was a daily joy.

Meals have changed through the years, both in ingredients and timing.  With a working teen, having family dinner is few and far between but I can normally count on at least one or two meals a week.  And even though my husband and I work different shifts, the constant in our day is that we eat together in the one point we're home at the same time.

Over the past year, I've altered most of our recipes, as I'm following a Keto lifestyle. It's been an adjustment but we were finally at a place where it was easy, normal, expected.  I'd mastered recreations of our favorite meals and was excited about finding and trying new ones.  My picky husband and chefy son actually requested some of the Keto dishes and I converted them both to liking cauliflower.  And best of all, Keto was working.  Despite an inactive thyroid and PCOS, I was losing weight!

Even though I was feeling better in many ways, there were some symptoms starting to cause me stress.  In the beginning, we thought it was due to quitting sugar.  Keto rash is a legitimate thing so I expected this was what I experienced.  My doctor gave me a cream to help with the itching and since it somewhat helped, it was Keto-On

Along the way other irritating issues came and went but I shrugged them off to the laundry list of possible causes.  Watery eyes, headaches and sinuses - assumed allergies.  Numbness in my leg and toes - previous injury from a wreck.  Fatigue - wonky thyroid.  Itchy skin - winter weather, PCOS.  Stomach problems - diverticulitis/GERD.  I had a reason for every symptom so there was no need to assume it was anything else.  Until they got worse.

Looking back, I'm not sure why I wasn't listening to my body better.  It isn't normal to feel nauseous every day or go to bed with a back scratcher because you itch so much.  When you've lived with chronic pain and issues for years though, you tend to excuse things I guess.

Over Christmas break, I came down with the flu and it hit me hard.  Towards the end, my lips started hurting and I figured they were chapped from being dehydrated.  But no matter what I tried, there was no relief.  At my yearly physical I mentioned them to my doctor, yet when all my labs came back normal we weren't sure of the cause.  Doubling my vitamin C and being a test dummy for every lip product out there, I carried on hoping for the best.

Then one Sunday afternoon a couple weeks ago my lips felt like they were on fire.  Or a jellyfish attacked my lower face.  It hurt to even drink water.  Something was definitely wrong.  Another trip to the doctor and more detailed labs later would find the culprit.


Alpha-what?  is what most people say at this point.  Despite the disease being around over a decade, not a lot know about it.  Ironically, the week I was educating families about it, I would be bitten. 

Alpha-Gal is one of many diseases carried by ticks.  The infection causes your body to become allergic to meat, specifically mammals.  In many cases, the person will also begin to reject any form of dairy.  Reactions can vary from mild stomach discomfort to rashes, to anaphylactic shock.

In my home visits the summer of 2016, I taught families how to prevent ticks, safely remove, and create a "tick kit" if they were bitten, as well as the potential dangers they posed. 

On the way to visit Grandma one evening, my leg began to itch.  I'm a mosquito magnet, so I figured one bit me as I walked to the car.  But the itching persisted, so much so that by the time I arrived, I immediately went to the bathroom to check it out.  On the back of my knee, I felt it.  I tiny fleck that wouldn't move.  This is my injured knee/leg so I couldn't bend it to remove and came out asking my aunt for help.  Having a sample tick kit still in my purse, I plopped it in the bag and carried on with my visit.

Once home, I cleaned the area, added essential oils and took a Benadryl for the itching.  For weeks, the itching continued and knowing what I do about ticks, it worried me.  But a doctor ran blood tests for multiple tick diseases and it came back negative, so I guessed it was just due to me being allergy-prone.  And the itching became so expected, I don't even remember when it stopped - at least behind the knee.  In the months later, the entire leg would itch continuously.  But again, it was my bad leg, which has permanent nerve damage and prone to lymphatic swelling so I brushed it off as yet another pain from the wreck.

While it is comforting to finally have answers to all the symptoms, the solution is not one I'm in love with.  Avoid all mammal meat and dairy.  Though I adore a juicy ribeye now and then, the meat isn't the biggest hurdle.  Most of the recipes and dishes my family enjoys contain some form of dairy.  Everything I normally cook will have to be altered yet again. 

When you've already eliminated all sugar, high carbs, anything processed, and now have to exclude most of the items in my frig and freezer, it narrows choices down to a boring few.  For the time being, I'm on a mental block at how to move forward and living off eggs and chicken broth.  Meanwhile, family dinner is tearful and not something I look forward to or enjoy.

I apologize for maybe the most lengthy post ever but #1, momma needed to vent.  And if this can help one other person get diagnosed -or better yet prevent it from happening, it was worth the share.

Bug season is upon us people.  They may be tiny but these ticks pack a powerful punch!

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