31 days of a new normal {day 31} kind of crappy – a perfect ending

This post is the final post in a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.

Warning:  This post is not for the faint of heart, delicate-nosed, or weak-stomached.

This thought crossed my mind today:  Would it be wrong to stop feeding my family for a few days so I wouldn’t have to deal with any digestive by-products for a few days?

That was a joke.  Put your phone down.

What follows is not a joke.  I repeat, not a joke.  Stop laughing already.

It all started after lunch when I heard the visiting 3 year-old friend in the bathroom.  “Woah, buddy – I just noticed that toilet is clogged.  Let’s go to my bathroom.”   He’s in his Halloween costume, so I help him prepare to stink up my bathroom and leave.  I’m not sure how much privacy he needs.  It’s kinda weird when it’s not your kid, ya know?

This is taking too long.  “Hon, do you need help?”


That’s when I see half a roll or more of TP in the bowl.  It looks like he might have tried to flush once.  Oh, wow.  Tiny three year old bodies can produce the Stench of Death?

Within an hour and a half, both my toilets are clogged, I discover that I’m not particularly suave with the plunger, my middle son has pooped in his underwear and Halloween costume, I really need to go, and my youngest son has two stinky diapers.

The friend leaves.

I find out exactly where my son stood when he pooped as I step in a puddle of pee.

My commode decides to freak me out by unclogging itself and shortly thereafter flooding my bathroom floor.

…and then I put on my cleaning gloves.


Today is the final day of this challenge to blog during every day of October, and it’s the perfect day to do it.  I don’t have a diagnosis, so I’m still not entirely sure what my new normal looks like.  I know that it probably involves more naps, a need for flexibility, and likely medication.

Sometimes life (or a new normal) seems like you’re cleaning up one pile of crap after another, if that’s how you choose to look at it.  Yes, each little part of the story got my attention for a second, but then I could see it in context.  My toilet is clogged, because I finally made the day extra-special for my son by inviting his best buddy over.  Worth it.  I’m changing two stinky diapers in an hour, because I have a beautiful, healthy baby.  Worth it.  It’s all about perspective.

Do you know what happened at the end of my day?  This!!!

Fighting the good fight is worth it.  There’s joy to be found around every corner, and at the end of this life, I plan on enjoying the best celebration ev-ah.

Thanks to anyone who read during this challenge, and a special thanks to those who commented.  It’s really, really encouraging to hear from you.  Thank you, Nester, for providing the link-up.  I feel quite successful, even having missed 4 days!


31 days of a new normal {day 29} the long, boring one where i tell you what the doc said

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.

Today. was. FABULOUS.

  • I had the pleasure of taking the kids to school.
  • I enjoyed a whole day to myself.
  • I received quality care from a doctor and his staff.
  • I ate (gluten-free) chipotle salmon, rice, & steamed broccoli for lunch.
  • I  purchased birthday presents at the best big box store that ever was.  (Target.  Duh.)
  • I rifled through piano sheet music in a warehouse for a couple of hours and bought a huge stack for 70% off.  Some of it was even for me!
  • I had a peppermint hot chocolate.
  • I came home to a huge box marked “heavy.”
  • I attended a school book fair, and…

I didn’t hurt today!

Way back when, I set a limit of 200 words on each post for this series.  Then I spent more time editing than I did writing, so I upped the limit to 300 without even telling you.  So sneaky am I. Muah ha ha ha. Now I don’t even care about a limit, but here is the shortest worthwhile synopsis of the fascinating conversation I had with Neuro Doc #2…

ND2 explained the Lyme results to me, and I understood some of it.  He was glad to hear I will to be seeing an Infectious Diseases doctor but recommended I do my homework before I go.  He is glad to get me in ASAP with one he feels confident in if I don’t like my guy.  I asked him outright where he stood on the Lyme controversy, and he sidestepped the question a bit.  He worked with Lyme patients a good bit when he practiced in the Northeast and feels it’s very unlikely that I have it.  Simply put, “Lyme patients get worse, and you’ve gotten better in the last two weeks.”

He was quite interested in the skin sensitivity that I experienced for about two weeks and did a quick skin test.  I had no unusual sensitivity today, and he mentioned that shingles are a possible explanation.  Apparently they can affect the nerves without showing up in the skin.  It seemed to be a “I’m throwing this out there so you’ll know we’re covering the bases, but I’m not pursuing this one” kind of thing.

We talked again about my prior MRIs, and something in the way I described the symptom that prompted the neck MRI caught his attention, whereas last time it didn’t stand out.  We scheduled an MRI to look at the whole spine, because Multiple Sclerosis is still an option.  I’m finding that my obsession with word choice is an advantage in this journey if I allow it to be.

ND2 confirmed that fibro is on the table, but we’re not ready to label it as such because “it’s a diagnosis of exclusion.”  Yeah, me and all 4 of my readers know about this.

The gluten-free diet was of little interest to ND2.  Maybe it’s working, maybe it’s coincidental.

I’m so encouraged by today.  I’m a week away from an ID doc appointment and an MRI, and that’s two steps closer to an answer.

In other news, my mom is awesome.

That’s a lot of g-free, y’all.

31 days of a new normal {day 28} i think a change will do you good

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.

Leaving the pocketbook, forgetting the deadline, needing to have the dorm room re-keyed 3 times, losing the password, “OH!  Oh my gosh!…” These have all, unfortunately, been staples of my days.  If my mom could have put the word “focus” on repeat in my bedroom CD player while I cleaned up, she would have.

I am not naturally neat or organized, but I’ve come so far!  Ask my husband.  The only time I lose my keys anymore is if it takes extra-long to dig through the trash and receipts in my pocketbook to find them.  I really need you to believe that I’m not a hopeless case, because I’m about to dish more embarrassing dirt.

My bedroom most frequently looks like 10-year-old-me lives in it.  I know I’m not the only one out there, and I know 98.4% of those people want to change.  Here comes help:

We don’t have to do it all at once.

Ohhhhhh snap.  She just got profound and unbelievably original.

English: view into Grand Canyon from South Rim...

Over the phone I related to my sis, “I have to get rid of half my stuff.  Of course it’s messy when there’s not a place for it all!  The problem is, the times when I get energy and the times when I’m free haven’t collided yet.”  Can I tell you how lovely it was to hear my sweet sister say to me tonight, “Well, I’m going to call you out on this one in love, Lauren.”  [OH, MAN.  HERE IT COMES.  SHE’S GOING TO TELL ME I’M A SLOB.  I HATE MYSELF.]  “You don’t have to do it all tonight.  Just pick up 5 things off your floor and choose 2 to give away.”  [Oh, right.  I don’t hate myself.]

We all have our battles.  One of mine is fatigue.  Whatever yours is, be reminded of the tortoise and the hare.  Be reminded of Edison changing that filament out 1600 times.  Be reminded of the Grand Canyon.

My sister, butterflies, and even God Himself are into change over time.  It must be the way to go.

31 days of a new normal {day 26} from fast to frail

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.

I’m quite tired of talking about myself at this point in the series.  Really, that happened about a week ago.  Today, may I share the story of someone else’s new normal?

I have a friend who used to be a runner.  She could work an on-your-feet job for 10 hours, cook dinner for her child, mow the grass, and then go out and run 3 miles.  I don’t know too many people with that kind of stamina.  I forgot to mention that she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 12.

Runner - Brighton Marathon 2011I think it was around 40 that she was diagnosed with cancer.  By the mercy of God, she beat it.  Then a few years later, she had to have a aortic valve replacement.

Guess what?

She doesn’t have the stamina she used to have.  You’re not shocked?

I think my friend is still shocked several years later.  Major health events have taken their toll on her body in so many ways, and she struggles to accept her new normal.  While I hurt for her as she wrestles life and frustration in frail flesh, I admire the tenacity with which she clings to her dream of being healthy.  Most of us would have given up after what she’s experienced.  We would have stopped expecting ourselves to be able to do much, but she hasn’t.

There’s wisdom in recognizing your reality, and there’s beauty in the hope for change.  This is the dichotomy that we all have to live with, isn’t it?

31 days of a new normal {day 25} when bad news is good

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.  You know you want to.

Good news!  I tested positive for Lyme Disease!

That’s how a text message started that I sent to a few folks this afternoon.  I intended some humor behind it, but I am genuinely excited to have some new data to plug into the equation.

Only problem is, whichever test they did is quite unreliable.  Of course, I knew that when I requested to be tested for Lyme. Tomorrow I to am supposed start antibiotics, I guess for just-in-casies that the test is correct.  An appointment is being made with an infectious diseases doctor who will explain more to me, and if that is any time in the next few days, I think I’m going to wait on those antibiotics.  This has been going on since February as best I know.  I can wait a few more days. I’m not digging 3 weeks of antibiotics for no reason.

The blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis), the ...If you’re wondering how I could be bitten by a tick and completely miss the rash and flu-like symptoms… I think it’s possible.  The flu was in full swing in February.  Also, I have another lovely autoimmune disease called dermagraphia that causes hives from head to toe.  I could have been bitten on my scalp and missed it, too!  Still unlikely, but it could happen.  Are ticks even out in February?

If this can be diagnosed, will that rule out Fibromyalgia?  Probably not.  I am keeping my appointment with Neuro Doc #2 for this Monday.  We’ll have a grand time discussing symptoms that have popped up since I saw him last, gallons of bloodwork results, and maybe his son’s piano skills.

31 days of a new normal {day 24} gf update

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.

I had been in China for a week when I spotted an American-style deli.  I ate a sub with cheese, and I cried real, salty tears over a dairy product.  Sheesh.

Today I stood in aisle #79 at my local (small town) Walmart and had a similar experience.  I didn’t cry, but I did start talking and moving very rapidly. My son asked even asked me what was wrong. It’s been less than 2 weeks since I started the gluten-free diet, and I have been DYING over Cheez-Its.  (Wow.  Dramatic, Me?)  This is what I brought home, plus some rice and white corn tortillas.


Finding things for me to eat hasn’t been too hard.  Re-thinking meals for my family is harder.  For exapmle, I’ve wanted to make chicken tenders for the kids, but I can’t use the boxes of Panko or Italian bread crumbs that I normally do if I’m going to eat some.  (I don’t recall my mom being a short-order cook for any of us, and I don’t want to go down that road, either.)

Is the diet worth it?  I reserve the right to withdraw this statement, but I think so.  My pain has just about been non-existent with the exception of night time.  I’m not sure about any change in the fatigue.

I don’t intend to throw hissy fits if I can’t eat gluten-free every meal.  We had to attend a meeting at a pizza joint during the dinner hour.  I ate a salad and just one slice of pizza, and that’s okay with me.  In fact, I think occasional exceptions help keep me from pouting.

At bedtime, our daughter prayed,

And God, thank you for Father John’s Pizza.  I mean, Father God’s Pizza.  I mean, yeah.  That’s it.


31 days of a new normal {day 22} compassionate kids

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here. I love this picture of my two oldest kids.  They seem like best buddies here.  Sometimes they are!  Sometimes.

It’s too easy to think of how Mom feeling tired all the time might affect them in negative ways.  No parent ever wants her kids to feel shortchanged because of her own shortcomings, and yet, we all know it happens.  That’s why our kids are at (or very near) the top of my list every day for reasons to do the things that feel hard.

But I see something good developing in my kids because of how I’m feeling – not in spite of it!   My son covered me with a blanket and gave me a kiss the other night while I lay on the couch.  No one asked him to help me.  He just thought Mom needed to be cared for.  My daughter randomly rubs my back when she thinks I’m tired and prays for me to feel better at bedtime.

I pray that compassion blooms into a defining character trait for each of them.  This is how our God works:  He takes what seems ugly and uses it to make beautiful things.

31 days of a new normal {day 21} just bust a move

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.

Q:  How do you know when to take a cookie to the doctor?

A:  When it’s feeling crumby.

(Thanks to my 6 year old for putting me on to that one.)

A few weeks ago, I joined a Facebook group for people with chronic illnesses.  It’s pretty neat, because the women in the group really do a great job encouraging each other. I think they need each other, because each of us need to know that someone really, truly gets it.

I haven’t “introduced” myself to the group yet, though.  There I sit in a folding chair under the ceiling-suspended basketball goal, trying to decide if I’m going to get up for a fourth glass of punch.  It’s not that I don’t like the people.  I’m just not sure if I belong.

I’m glad I committed to write this series, because it’s making me deal with what’s happening.  I finally understood tonight that I’m really uncomfortable with being labeled with a chronic illness, but I don’t even know why yet.

Writing this post is kind of like not wanting to walk out onto the dance floor and instead choosing to bust a move on the stage.  That sounds like me.

English: Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate...

31 days of a new normal {day 20} thick skin

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.

Shout out to all the peeps with thick skin.  Mad props, ’cause you go hard.

Ahem.  Back to my other voice.

I had two interesting experiences today when sharing with friends about my new normal this year with symptoms and doctors and search for help.

“Oh, yeah. *sniff*  Fibromyalgia. That’s a catch-all for when they don’t know what’s wrong with you.”   Well, that does seem to be true in some cases, but why does it feel that someone is writing me off personally when they’re only dismissing a diagnosis?  I’m certain my friend wasn’t saying that she didn’t believe that I hurt or am fatigued or randomly feel like my skin is on fire…  Heck, I don’t even know if that’s the right diagnosis for me, but maybe I was offended for people who are actually being helped by fibro treatments.  Still processing.

The Holistic Approach of Alternative Medicine ...

The other reaction was a bit more helpful, perhaps because she didn’t make it about me at all.  She simply shared about her own story of chasing doctors with conflicting opinions and finally landing on a chiropractor who practices holistic medicine.  Most of me is “all in” with the theories that she spoke of, and yet a tiny part of me is a bit skeptical, never having experienced it.  I hope she didn’t feel judged in the least by my response, like I did with the above reaction.  I hope she felt appreciated for sharing something that might help me.