Thursday, May 14, 2015

Happy Mother's Day: May 14, 2015

Best Mother's Day Ever!

This peaceful tableau was our morning.  Months ago, when asked to describe a perfect day I said that it would be one where nobody fights and I never have to ask anyone to do something more than once.  Craig sighed and told me that I was going to have to lower my standards.  Mother's Day was pretty close to perfect, though.  For the most part, there was peace.  Hours of play.  Easy meals.  Lots of sitting around.  Bliss!
I also got quite the mom's day haul!  The centerpiece was Devon's preschool effort, safely concealed in his backpack until Sunday morning.  So great was his restraint that it took ten minutes to convince him that today was, indeed, Sunday and therefore it was the RIGHT day for him to take it out and give it to Mommy. 

On the back was an original interview that is too cute to just summarize:

What is your mom's name?


What do you call her?


What does she do for her job?

Oh, just cleaning up the kitchen.  That's all, I guess.

What does Daddy call her?


How old is she?

15, I guess

What is her favorite color?

Pink, because girls just love pink.

What is her favorite food?


What does she like to do for fun?

Just have silly time with us

How tall is she?

2 feet

How much does she weigh?

15 pounds

What color is her hair?


What color are her eyes?

My guess is black

What is her favorite thing to do when she is by herself?

Just buy new things for us

What is your favorite thing to do with your mom?

Just sit with her

What does your Dad love most about your mom?


Why did your Dad marry your mom?

Because they wanted to have children like me

Why did God make mommies?

So they could have children

What kind of girl was your mom when she was little?

I think she was nice and 0 years old

How did God make moms?

He put them together
Devon really outdid himself this Mother's Day.  Daddy coached him on an original note to me, which ended up being a picture of me patting the girls on the head.  He signed his name, another encouraging sign of a growing interest in letters and writing. 
This was the card he made at MOPS.  Also a wonderful effort.  We're going to have this guy ready for kindergarten yet!  Just give him four months to practice his letters, hopefully in the presence of his Uncle Tim and his Auntie Amy, two important people in his life who can show him that it's great to be a lefty (if that's what he wants, and Mommy thinks he does even though he's using right more now too).
His cognitive skills are obviously right where they need to be.  He's a perceptive guy with his finger on the pulse of everything going on with me.  He had Grammy and Grandpa in fits of giggles with his insistence that my union with Daddy was primarily for the production of children "like me".  He's also right about my primary job being cleaning up the kitchen.  I'd like to submit a few more things that also take up the bulk of my time, just to be thorough.

Taking the kids places so I don't have to clean the kitchen.  My latest obsession is signing up for birthday clubs so that our grocery days for this month have lots of free treat coupons.  The girls have been introduced to the Sonic Fruit Slush, Cinnabon, and lots of other yummy things.  And, of course, our favorite Chick-fil-A is always giving survey coupons and discounts.  So we're having fun on our outing days, although Mommy makes sure that we follow up with lots of healthy food.

Figuring out what stinks in the mudroom.  Welcome spring, with temperatures that make all the smells come out of hiding and a few pesky ants linger around anything fragrantly edible.  It's the season where the laundry smells like cheese if you don't do it every other day, when muddy shoes get sweaty and stinky, and the cat closet starts to attract notice.  I spend a lot of time saying "what IS that smell" and then wandering around in there sniffing things so I find the culprit.  Or just shrugging and tossing things in the washer hoping it'll help.  

Finding all the lost things.  The shoes.  The hair bows.  The third bathing suit, and hurry because they're all already naked in the yard and we do live in the country but not in Sweden and NOBODY is going to suit up if the other two don't have to as well.
Carrie and Melina were also coached by Daddy into making a picture for me, and colored signs in MOPS.
I'm pretty sure that every Mother's Day church service I've been to has given out a flower to all the moms, but mine made it home for the first time ever!  Previous years saw me passing them by because I didn't have an extra hand, sticking them face down in my purse because I was running after somebody, or even just getting home and having no idea what happened to my flower because I don't know where it is.  It joined my lilacs on the kitchen island.
My last present was a selfie, but I'm more of a note-and-small-token kind of a girl.  I'm perfectly happy getting things for myself according to my own likes, and I needed one of these Shutterfly mugs for "the special Mommy coffee".  I wish I could send one to all the moms, or even just give them a day as nice as mine.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The In's and Out's: May 7, 2015

Greetings from the big girl bed!  It's been heaven to curl up there to nap with the girls, or to extend bedtime songs curled up at their feet instead of on the floor.  It's what we've been doing lately.  Resting, staying quiet, soaking up each others' company.

Yeah, the pictures don't lie.  I've had a bad month of health symptoms, so if you're thinking my puffy October face is back, you're right.  So are the red, sleepy eyes, the bad skin, and lots of other things that were gradually going away.  Sigh....

 I've often said that the past year has been like living one of those diagnostic medical dramas.  This would be the part when everyone's high-fiving and the patient is being wheeled out in perfect health but you know it can't be over because you're only twenty minutes in to the episode.  Then all the old things go wrong again and maybe some new things and everyone scrambles to see what they might have missed...

I've got another round of specialist visits coming up in the next few weeks.  I'm on emergency standby lists. In the meantime, there is nothing I can do but rest and take impeccable care of myself.
It's been frustrating and discouraging to have a relapse.  I'm still apparently very susceptible to cortisol level fluctuation caused by pain or illness.  It started last month with a bout of stomach flu.  For three days I ate practically nothing and my meds and vitamins weren't absorbing correctly.  That brought my levels out of range.  Cue sleep symptoms and a sudden five pound weight gain.  Yeah, an illness that should have put me back in even more of my clothes put me back in my fat jeans.  That put more stress on my body and brought on my second bout of shingles in six months.

Shingles is NOT what you want to get when you are getting over Cushing's.  It's very painful, and pain increases cortisol.  Cortisol increases mean a return of all my symptoms: bad skin, upper body puffiness/weight gain, hypoglycemia, high resting heart rate, and high blood pressure.  Thankfully, I caught it super early because I've had it before, and was on antivirals mere hours later.  I didn't really even break out this time.  The nerve pain has been pretty significant, though, and being in pain makes my heart race, my hands and feet tremble, my blood sugar dip low, and my body scream for the sugar binge I refuse to give it because it would just bring on another crash.

The last few weeks have been pretty surreal.  I've been strongly cautioned to control my pain and not tough it out like I did last time.  My life is a schedule: the hours when I can take my pain meds, the hours I can't to make sure I'm safe to drive, the timer ringing telling me it's time to eat to keep my blood sugar stable.  I finish my lunch of raw vegetables, lean meat, and fat free dressing and my eye catches my reflection on a shiny kitchen surface.  I grimace in frustration and feel like throwing my fork at the wall. 
Two years in to this mysterious illness, I still expect to see this person, the one I remember from an era I am coming to refer to in my mind as "when I was still pretty."
 I'd like to look that way again, or at least closer to it than I do now with my puffy face and neck.  I'm thankful that this time I've at least been spared another round of dramatic hair loss and my regrowth is holding steady. I'd just like to look as happy as I feel.  I'm hopeful because I've been in a good place recently and therefore I should be able to get there again.  But the last month has not been fun.

So, I make myself a cup of coffee (half milk, small creamer) and do my Rhoda Janzen.

Today I am happy and grateful that I know why these upsetting things are happening to me.  It's not fun to be sick, but in the fall I was even worse and didn't even know it.  When low blood sugar drove me starving out of my bed to eat breakfast at 5 am I'd look at my rounding face in the mirror and call myself a pig.  When an early afternoon bout of fatigue made my body crave a nap I'd call myself lazy.  When my pain level would rise in the late afternoon and make me wince every time my children's joyful exuberance made them crash into my body that was already hurting I'd pray for more patience and call myself a bad mom.  It's so comforting to know that these are all lies I was believing and I don't have to waste my time on them any more.  I don't look in the mirror anymore and see tired and sad.  I see strong and brave and trying harder than I have ever tried at anything in my life.  Or even better, I don't look in the mirror at all.
Today I am happy and grateful for a support network here that knows what's going on with me and ready to help more if I get worse.  So far, my meals are prepped, my house is clean, my kids are coping well with Mommy's drug-induced naptimes thanks to the warm spring weather and the company of friends on playdates, and the lovely Miss Maddie and Miss Morgan step in and provide a welcome outlet for energy and games. My illness is proving to be a rather minor disruption in our lives.
Today I am happy and grateful for health.  Mommy isn't the only one who's in and out of the doctor recently.  The girls met with their new pediatrician, Dr. Sanchez, this week.  I've never had so much fun at the doctor.  The girls wanted their ears tickled, their bellies tickled, their tongues tickled.  They wanted to hold the lights, the stethoscope, the roll of exam paper.  Whew!
They're in perfect health, so strong and beautiful that it takes my breath away.  I'm so, so lucky.
Devon followed up a week later, and the visit was just as positive.  For him, the doctor was a very serious business.   Perfect health as well. 
 The after-party was when he could lighten up a little.
Today I am happy and grateful for friends.  What helps me most right now is to never feel like I have to do life alone.  And guess what? I don't!  It was much harder for me last year to reach out and try to make friends even though I was really struggling and felt like I didn't have much to offer anyone.  Thankfully, wonderful people have found me and are willing to tolerate the Cushings personality quirks because they know I am sick.  I have someone to talk to during the post-preschool pickup energy explosion. Friends come over for dinner and don't remark on my brain fog and late afternoon jitters.
I have a kind, thoughtful husband who steps in and fields the post-bedtime pleas for water, potty, fresh band-aids, and other necessaries that would bring me out of my chair about a hundred more times each night.  I even have another adult along on shopping day, just because it's more fun to go with someone.
Today I am happy and grateful that Devon and I can manage my illness together.  Devon is so, so sensitive to changes in my health.  When he can tell that Mommy is having a flare, he copes by giving me what helps him when he feels bad.  He spends every waking moment attached to my side, checking in with me constantly, asking for constant interaction, and giving me lots of rough touch and tickling.  Problem is, this can be overwhelming for someone moving slowly and struggling with chronic pain. 
This time we've been able to manage better, though there have been some bumps in the road.  My early morning waking habits have even given us time to work alone on our kindergarten prep skills.  Four a.m. last week saw Devon rising from the bed he was sent early to the previous evening.  This would be a problem, except that I was already up to eat and take a pain pill.  Grateful for the company, we sit companionably at the table and Devon traces letters for a Mother's Day card to send to Grammy.  He then signs his name. 

Devon: Huh-huh-H.  Eh-eh-E.  Ull-ull-L.  Hello!

Devon sounds out his first word in my presence.  We celebrate and wish Grammy a very fond hello. 
Today I am happy and grateful for life.  It really is sweet, despite the difficulties.  My pain is just pain.  I'm managing it.  I'm praying for others whose pain is real, a beautiful little boy that just had open heart surgery and a strong, sweet girl that just had back surgery.  My pain reminds me of them, especially because it's mainly in those two places: my rib cage and lower back.  It also meant that I was awake in their most critical hours during and after their surgeries.  I'd like to think I was taking some of their pain myself, and giving them some of my strength.  Not because I have it, but because they need it, too.