Hi there!

Warning: If you are here to check out adorable pictures of my kids, this post is not that post.

If you are here to check out adorable pictures of other people’s kids, this post is not that post either.  Sorry to disappoint, but please come back another day.  It’s about to get a little ugly.

In fact, this post will be a post of gritty reality.  Not for the faint at heart.  Heck, I’m not even sure how I’ll get through it.  That being said, I believe in the power of transparency and truth.  It doesn’t work for some.  In fact, it doesn’t work for most.  But, it works for me, and being this is my blog, I’m going for it.

As you may have noticed, I’ve been a bit absent.  I have been taking some personal time.  Time to pray and reflect on the last few months.

In October, I was diagnosed with SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus).  I wasn’t super surprised by the diagnosis, or perhaps that’s what I told myself at the time.  Not sure.

After I was diagnosed, the doctor prescribed Plaquenil to help with the everyday symptoms, and Prednisone to help with the flares.  I take Naproxen two times a day to help with swelling and pain, and I still take my Synthroid to help my thyroid out for the damage caused by my Hashimotos.

My biggest flares are caused by stress, but the sun is also a trigger.

I want to pause there for just a minute.  Hearing those words makes it sound like there’s just a couple of things that cause flares, so avoid those things, and no flares, right?  Let’s go over some things that I am commonly asked:

How do you avoid stress? 

I haven’t figured that out yet.  The biggest stressor in our lives is my mother-in-law.  No one wants me to come out and say it, but sadly, it’s true.  She says horrendous things both behind my back and to my face, and up until recently, my husband believed it happened innocently.  Thanks to hundreds of dollars, and hours in counseling, we have been able to reduce the stress.  Our last conversations with her were very revealing, and I think my husband finally had no choice but to accept the fact that she hates me, and has never forgiven anyone for anything. Always has been that way, and it’s looking like she always will.  I think unless we move out of state, the stress will always be underlying.

Of course we still have stressful things here and there such as money, teachers we don’t like, etc.  Since we are pretty united on those things as a family, the stress level on those is pretty low for me.

How do you avoid the sun? 

This means I can’t sit in my living room with the curtains open in the morning because the sun is too direct.  I can’t get out of my car to pick up my kiddo from school because the 15 minutes in the sun could cause a flare.  I can’t drive for a long period of time during the day because my hands will flare from the sun creeping in from the windshield.  This means for the last couple of summers I had to give up gardening.

It’s been life changing, but I have a better handle on this than the stress.  Now I just dress like a 60 year old woman, completely covered in sunblock and UPF clothing, gloves, a huge hat and huge sunglasses in order to spend some time with my kiddos in our garden.  It’s not ideal, but for now, it’s what I can do.  They don’t seem to mind what I look like.

What happens when I flare?

This varies.  It can mean that my face swells up to the point that I can barely see out of my swollen eyes.  My ears also swell, and it’s very, very painful.  We call this moon face.  For the frienemy who messaged me and told me I shouldn’t call people moon face, here’s a news flash: I wasn’t.  I was calling my own crazy swollen flare up a funny name.  It’s how I’ve been able to cope.

Sometimes I get a rash.  Usually just bumps on my arms, but I have been covered head to toe, as my sweet friend Amy can verify … and her poor daughter.  She probably still has nightmares.  This type of flare doesn’t happen often for me, but I should add that it always happens if I eat the brand Great Value from Walmart.  We aren’t WalMart shoppers any more (in part because of that!), but I added that so you could think about choices you are making for your family.  I know I didn’t always think about those things, or I believed that it was the best I could do due to our finances.  I’ve now learned if I diligently coupon and watch for sales, I can avoid the junk and pinch pennies.

A flare up always means I have to rest.  Not ‘take a nap’ rest, but I can sleep for about 20 hours in a day.  The hours that I am awake, I am so fatigued that it’s exhausting to change my son’s diaper.  Luckily, he’s potty trained now. 😉

This means I will flake out on play dates, book club, even picking up the phone to return messages from friends.  Showering zaps my energy and I have to lay down for at least an hour after.  I go into a complete funk and I literally just have to ride it out. People think I’m being rude because I don’t stop to talk.  I no longer volunteer at the school (except for Girl Scouts) and people assume there’s drama attached.  Nope.  Just need to rest.  I get brain fog and repeat the same things over and over to friends because I’ve simply forgotten that I’ve already told them.  My short term memory goes kaput.

My husband applied for intermittent Family Medical Leave so he could work from home more often without penalty.  When I am flaring, I need help.  As the kids get older, they do get easier, but we aren’t quite ready for them to be running the show.  His boss has been amazing.  His boss’ boss has also been so supportive.  We are so thankful.

Seeing the diagnosis on paper for the leave request was hard.  It seemed so permanent.  Kinda sucked for both of us, and neither one of us wanted to admit it to the other one.  In black and white, the ‘lifetime’ box was checked off by the doctor.  One quick flick of his pen without another thought, and reality creeped in.

Ouch.

All of that to say, it’s time to dig in and figure things out.  I haven’t done things right, and I may not be able to make them right, but I believe I can make them better.  I was ignorant about so many things relating to food, diet, medications, etc.  It’s as though I’ve been going through life just eating what I thought was normal, taking the meds when the doctors told me to, and assuming it would all work out.  Well it hasn’t.  Not yet, anyway.

We have been watching documentary’s on our Amazon Prime account, starting with Food, Inc.  Can I just say it was really eye opening?  If you haven’t seen it yet, get it.  After viewing it, we transitioned to completely organic.  We have been buying our organic, pasture-fed beef locally, so pink slime has not been a factor for us, but eggs, chickens etc.  Can I just say, ‘Ew!’?

I know we’ll never be a vegan family, but cutting down is in our future.  Especially now that we’ve discovered pasture-fed chicken eggs are $6+ a dozen.  Sorry farmers, I can pay more for what I believe in, but I’m also planning to simply eat less.

Next, we watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.  This one hit home for me because the main character has an auto-immune disease with flare ups similar to mine AND because the medications they show in the movie are the exact same meds that I currently cannot function with out.

It was one of those moments where the pastor was speaking directly to me.  Ever had one of those moments?  Last time I felt this strongly that a message was being sent directly from God, I quit my job to be a stay at home mom with no safety net in our bank account, and no back up plan.  I quickly learned His direct messages should not be challenged.

So, I’m not challenging this one.

I’m going to start juicing (well blending) starting April 1.  I’ve set my goal for 10 days, but ultimately I’d like to go for 60.

This means I’ll be completely organic vegetarian, but drinking it instead of eating it so I can take in more.  I plan on drinking 10-16 oz/6 times a day.

My goal is simply to feel better long term.  I’m guessing I’ll lose some weight (which I haven’t done since Monkey was born!), but really that will be icing on the liquified kale and cucumber-apple cake.

Do I think this will be hard … especially over Easter?

Yes and no.  I don’t think it will be a walk in the park.  Nothing life-changing is.  That being said, my body is so messed up right now that it literally rejects most food.  I don’t vomit, but I do spend a lot of time in the bathroom.  In addition, certain foods give me foodcolepsy.  That’s our silly word for narcolepsy-like sleep induced by eating.  There are foods that put me to sleep (oftentimes sitting up!) about 10 minutes after I eat them.  It’s very clear my body has reached the point of not liking anything I put in it.  Even with our ‘clean eating’ habits, everything is out of whack.

Do I have food allergies or a gluten sensitivity?

No.  I’ve been extensively tested for food allergies and they were all negative.  I cut gluten out of my life for about a year, and while I felt better for a couple of weeks, I returned to the same patterns.

I’ll be tracking everything here, including my kick off and progress, so be sure and come back and visit me.  Everything I’ve heard and read says that I’ll be pretty down the first few days as my body adjusts.  I find that comical, because I’m down so many days … will I even know if changes are happening?  We shall see!

Please leave me tips, tricks, comments, criticisms … whatever you have for me.  It’s going to be an interesting ride and your comments will add to the adventure!

I think I’ve covered all of the questions y’all have sent me.  If I missed one, leave me a comment – I’m happy to share!

Love you all more than my luggage.