Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lost 10 pounds!

It's amazing what 2 weeks can do for a girl. Sparkpeople.com is really helping with the accountability factor and support. Love it.

sick kids

Well, DS11 is still sick. We've been battling this sinus infection since early December. We've been through waiting it out and 6 weeks of antibiotics--one of which nearly killed him. We finally got a referral for the ENT doc so we will go early on Friday morning.

Right now, the pediatrician said to just let him lay around and sleep. His system is just about shut down from all of the medicines. We are off all antibiotics until the new doc sees him. We're just on a massive decongestant.

I don't know what they can do about finding a medicine that can work. The pediatrician mentioned that he may need to be on IV meds to get it all cleared out.

No wonder the kid has been miserable lately.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I've been sparked!

After watching the E! Entertainment show on fad diets and seeing SparkPeople.com offered as a sane and rational alternative to the fads, I decided to check it out.

Turns out, it is a blend of support, accountability, and goal setting. There is a lot of motivational information there and I have already met some really nice people. The articles are great and I find that when I have to log in my choices and have them stare me in the face, that I have no room for selective memory about the choices that I am making.

I am loving this so far and I have lost 7 pounds this week. Okay, okay, I know that it is mostly water, but it feels pretty darn good to be able to much more easily button my jeans.

P.A.N.D.A.S. are not just fuzzy bears...

Okay, to be technical, pandas aren't bears at all, but are more closely related to racoons (hence the markings). But the P.A.N.D.A.S. that I am referring to is a pediatric neurological disorder that DS11 has been diagnosed with. It happens when the immune system makes way too many antibodies after being exposed to strep. Then the antibodies attack the part of the child's brain that regulates emotion. It brings out strong OCD symptoms. We're having a flare up. It has been a very wild week for us and I haven't had a chance to write anything up for the blog.

Unfortunately, because this flare up brought about different symptoms this time, I didn't see it for what it was at first. This time it was all about guilt and worry. Plus, he couldn't sleep because he was afraid that he would die in his sleep. Last year (the first time we saw it from PANDAS) it was very different. He saw disturbing images in his mind.

So our wonderful "shrink" has changed his medicine and we will know by Tuesday or Wednesday if it is helping. We also have Xanax to help with emergency melt downs. If this new cocktail of medication doesn't work, we may have to rely really heavily on the Xanax and risk making him a zombie for the 3-4 months that his antibodies will remain elevated.

Also, his sinus infection hasn't cleared up. The doctor is giving us another antibiotic to try and I will have to call the pediatrician to see about getting DS11's sinus cavity x-rayed.

We did have a wonderful, small snowfall this week with big, lovely flakes. I went out and took pics of hubby and kiddos. I will post them when I can. Since it was gone by morning (no snow day--boo hoo), I am glad that I got them when I did. It was a wonderful diversion from the OCD symptoms for DS11, a rare moment of total focus and clarity for him. Those moments are the memories that I will hold forever.

What can I say, when it comes to my kids, it's a love thing. A maddening, stressful, insane love thing.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friends, therapy, and adrenal glands

I always look forward to my little coffee klatches with my friend Kristin during our sons' group therapy sessions. And, despite the fact that the Dunkin Donuts coffee was really nasty today (usually not the case), it turned out to be an amazing thing.

In addition to the 3 million things that we try to cram into a conversation that is far too short, and giggling at her daughter's antics (she's a hoot!), we happened onto the topic of hormones, endocrine problems, etc.

First off, I should probably give some background for folks who don't know me well. Kristin and I both have Aspie kids. We both live it 24/7. She is my only friend who really, truly, GETS the mess that is my life, sometimes. I don't have to explain it to her, she just KNOWS what is in my head. And one of the things parents with kids on the Autistic Spectrum have to deal with is doing incredible amounts of research into alternative treatments, diets, neurology, studies that are being formed, studies that have been completed (far too few that are reliable), and the AMA's avoidance of actually having any reliable treatments or therapies for our kids. I have earned my own special brand of medical degree from having to find out answers for myself that the medical community (who should know and acknowledge much of this) refuses to admit even exists. Kristin is in the same boat. We share lots of information and data. We compare notes on doctors, therapies, digestive enzymes, and nutritional supplements.

I have been to a series of doctors through the years for problems that I have had relating to depression, inability to lose weight, significant hair loss that won't grow back (I have had to wear wigs for the last 5 years), and thyroid problems. Other than with helping me with the low thyroid, I can't find answers. Kristin mentioned that she had a discussion with her doctor about how hormones and adrenal function can affect metabolism. Kristin promised to send me some info, but since my email is mysteriously down, I can't receive anything.

I googled adrenal gland function and got a heck of an interesting read. I have many of the symptoms of adrenal failure and my hair loss could be explained by this. I can't wait to get more information. It finally might be something worth pursuing.

Then, I called my mom and mentioned this to her and she told me that my Grandmother had and my Aunt has a condition called ichthyosis. It is caused from adrenal dysfunction. So, I have a direct family history of adrenal problems and didn't even know it. Score another one for the self-made medical degree!

It's nice to have hope that I can feel better. I can't imagine what I would do with hair that actually grows out of my own head. I'd like to find out.

Starghan revisited...

Well, after the first star that ended up being oddly amoeba-like. I started one with another similar pattern that had a different method of ending each round. This method seems to like me better. Above is a picture that I took on Wednesday.
After being very ill on Thursday, I resumed work on it today and this is what is looks like as of this evening. Each blade of the star is 16 inches from the center. I honestly don't know how big it will end up being. I have 3 different colors in each of the two bands and 3 more colors in the second band. I have 3 colors remaining that I haven't used. If I need additional bands, I guess I will take 1 color from each of the previous bands and repeat it in each subsequent band so that it is still unique. The colors aren't showing true in the pictures, but the first band is purple, lime green, and rust. The second band is mustard, medium rose, and dusty blue. The third band will be olive green, antique rose, and colonial blue.

The decrease lines are kind of crooked, but hey, it's actually star shaped this time and I am thrilled!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Starghan take 2

Okay, something about me and the first pattern I tried just didn't seem to understand each other. I ended up with a wonky mess and not a star. For the record, I don't think that it was the pattern, as I have seen several gorgeous examples on the web and blogs that used the same pattern and don't mention corrections.

So, while it was a bummer, I set off in search of another pattern that would perhaps, like me better. I think I have found one. If it works out, I will post a link.

The worst part is that I had actually made fair progress on the first one and I loved the colors together. It was also the first time I have used Caron's Super Soft yarn and it is unbelievably nice to work with and not too terribly expensive. For color, I am adding in random stripes (in groups of 3 is the plan) of Lion Brand Vanna's Choice yarn that I got on sale. I do love the colors of that yarn, if not the full retail price.

If it works, it will be absolutely gorgeous. I'd also like to do a round ripple afghan in the near future. I am loving this!

I have two colleagues that are getting married this summer (not to each other) and I'd love to make each of them a white or off-white throw to cuddle under. Remember back in the day when cuddling was a priority??? Ah, good times. Good times.

Plus, another colleague is leaving us to go to law school next year (full scholarship, no less--you GO girl!). I'd like to make her a prayer shawl or throw to take with her. I've really enjoyed getting to know her this year.

Plus, there are family gifts for next Christmas. Plus, there is always project Linus. One of my students asked me to teach her to crochet. I'm tickled about that one. Sounds like fun to me.

Additionally, my big extra-curricular project for this year is preparing students for the American Legion Oratorical Contest. However, my little contestants are dropping like flies (it's embarrasing, actually), so I may not have to continue with this much longer. Which will give me more time to crochet and work with my little crafty kids. Hmm. Maybe things will be picking up.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Oops! I forgot to add the pictures!

Sorry for not adding pictures earlier. I am really excited with these latest blankets. The first is a fluorescent number in various colors. It is about 38 inches square for a young niece.

Following is the afghan that I began on December 23rd. I used up a fair amount of my stash in making this one. Every other ripple is black and the others are various left overs from other projects. It makes for a pretty frugal project when it is largely made from scraps.

This is the entire piece with tassels on each point. Hubby asked for this one to use on the couch. I am tickled that he really seems to value the things that I make. I am blessed.

Hi ho, hi ho

it's back to school we go... We have dearly enjoyed taking a break from it all, even though we spent a fair portion of it sick. It definitely put the emphasis on the break back on home and family--as opposed to running and doing and going. I wasn't rushing to clean closets or anything else.

We rested. We talked. We watched lots of movies. We survived medical issues. It was good.

I don't really mind going back; I just know that I will have a very busy week and will be rushed to make sure that all is taken care of for the end of the semester. I will hit the ground running with lesson plans, reviews for finals, writing finals, grading finals, putting in grades, etc. It will feel great when I get this stuff done, but it's always a harried time until it is over.

As far as fun stuff, I finished another afghan. It's a gift for a niece (probably for next Christmas). I can't believe I am able to do these so quickly. It is also a nice bit of therapy at the end of one of those two steps forward, three steps back kind of days. I have enjoyed it.

I am amazed at how much faster I am with crochet than I am with knitting, especially since I have been knitting for a couple of years longer than I have been crocheting.

I did go to Michael's this weekend and stumbled into the end of a wonderful yarn sale. I am becoming such a "yarn ho!" I was able to pick up some nicer yarns to work with than I would normally not buy. It's almost overwhelming to try and pick out the "perfect" yarn to work with on a good day. On codeine cough syrup, I wanted to stand in the aisle and cry because I couldn't wrap my head around things well enough. Not to mention the stress that comes from two boys who think they are helping and a hubby that is frustrated with the boys and that I am coming apart over yarn selections.

But, oh well. I feel like a round ripple afghan is in my future. I can't wait.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Another ripple down

Well, since I am not up to doing much else these days, I was able to finish my scrap ripple couch throw. I will post pictures soon. It is 36 inches wide and 60 inches long with black tassels on each peak at both ends. I like it. It's nice and cheerful and I used up a fairly large chunk of yarn that I already had hanging around here.

Now, I will start a giant granny for my youngest niece. I'll probably hold it until next Christmas. Wow! I am ready to start my first gift of 2008 and it's not even mid-January yet. Feels pretty good.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Never a dull moment...

Tonight has been interesting. Oldest son started the antibiotic and decongestant that the doctor prescribed earlier today. It was to be given at bedtime, so I gave him all of his medicine at 9 pm. We were watching a movie, but that is the normal bedtime schedule around here and will work as we finish up the medicine next week when school is back in session. Or at least that was the plan.

About an hour after he took the medicine, he began to scratch himself. In and of itself, that's not too unusual for an aspie, sometimes they do odd things and pick at themselves, etc. But, it continued to get worse. When hubby and I took him in front of bright lights and checked him, he was beginning to be covered in some of the worst hives that I have ever seen--and I've seen some doozies!

So, I call the pediatrician's voicemail and wait for the on-call nurse to call me back. The whole while, we are sitting him in a cool tub with baking soda and trying to monitor him closely. Fortunately, we knew he was breathing, because he was so agitated that we couldn't have actually been able to pay him to be quiet.

It seemed to take forever for the phone to ring. We were helpless, watching his skin turn pink, then get grainy looking just under the surface, then changing to red with half dollar sized swollen welts. Then it just kept getting redder and angrier looking as it kept spreading. It went up the back of his neck and over his head. Hubby was helping him and by this time, I was reading the patient leaflet that came with his new meds and checking the internet for any additional information that I may need. Because of the medicine he normally takes and the new decongestant, I couldn't just dose him up with benadryl because he was already taking 2 products with antihistamines in them. I was also intermittently praying that he would not go into full blown anaphylactic shock and be unable to breathe.

After what wasn't very long (but seemed like an eternity) the nurse called back and walked me through an exam. Then the doctor called to give us a safe dosing amount of benadryl that could be taken with the other medicines. We will change meds tomorrow.

The scariest part is that I realize that hubby and I made a conscious effort to live off of the beaten path and we enjoy that. However, we can't just run to the nearest hospital quickly. The two closest ones are both in other counties and 25 minutes (or more) away at best case scenario. A broken arm can handle it. A kid that can't breathe is another issue. Plus, what if I had been home alone with the kiddos? I am on a heavy narcotic cough medicine currently. I am afraid that I am a special kind of road hazard right now. Waiting for an ambulance to even find us could put that hospital run into the hour or more range. Scary.

This is why we keep benadryl on hand. This is also why we have our own nebulizer for asthma meds. Younger son needs preventative treatments daily, but we also can deliver treatments quickly. If the attack is severe enough, a good treatment at home can buy us time to get to the hospital.

Being prepared is one thing. By the time we were able to dose with benadryl tonight, my kid was completely swollen and covered with hives--except, get this, his nose, mouth, and windpipe. Prayers are answered. Imagine what could have happened without prayers and the fact that he received the offending medication without being accompanied by TWO, count 'em two antihistamines. I feel like I should learn to do a home trachaeotomy, just in case.

I just checked on him. He is sleeping fitfully, totally zonked from the benadryl. It looks like the swelling is all gone and the hives have abated. He is breathing clearly.

It's 1:45 am. I am way too scared to sleep. Sigh--it's Mommy time.

Sinus Infections, Bronchitis, and Crud, oh my!

Well, happy 2008 to us! I went to the walk in hours at my doctor's office this morning (apparently, everyone else did as well) and after waiting for 2 hours total, I finally found out why I can't kick this cold and cough that I have been battling for over 2 weeks. I have a sinus infection that is working its way into my ears and "a touch" of bronchitis. Oh joy. At least I have some good antibiotics and massive narcotic cough syrup. When I took it last year, my students referred to it as "happy juice" because I was a little (ahem) loopy when I took it.

Since I had reported that my lungs were feeling really heavy when outside in the weather (it was a tropical 28 degrees at the time), the doctor feels that I may have developed a mild case of bronchitis induced asthma. Her orders were to go home, take medicine, go to bed, absolutely stay out of the cold air. Sounds simple, right?

Well, I was running an errand to Verizon while the pharmacy (who was slammed) filled my prescriptions when my Mom let me know that my oldest was running a fever. So much for doctor's orders. Off to the pediatrician we went. He has a sinus infection (the same one that he just finished antibiotics for last week) that didn't go away. So, he is on heavier duty antibiotics and a major decongestant.

At least we have a few more days out of school and we can rest up before we have to get back to the ol' routine. One bright spot in my week is that John's behavioral group will meet on Friday and since we won't be contagious anymore, I can go and see Kristin and her cutie pie daughter for coffee. When you're an Aspie Mom, this is as close to respite as it gets!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy 2008! It's always wonderful to have a clean slate as we enter a New Year. Eldest son managed to stay awake until 11:58 pm and then totally flaked out and refused to stay awake any longer. Younger son didn't make it past 11 pm.

But, I loved having a quiet couple of minutes to ring in the new year with hubby.

My prayer is that this year is full of blessings for all of our family and friends!