Tuesday, July 7, 2015

It's Not All Bad

Today I am going to take a minute and count some blessings.  In light of my recent diagnosis (read about that here), I have been so focused on what is going wrong, I need to take a minute and focus on what is good. 

1.  Jared.  I am so thankful for a sweet sympathetic spouse who thinks I am the best ever.  He reminds me constantly of the beauty he sees when he looks at me.  He reminds me of the good in our lives when I'm struggling and just see the pain.  He is a wonderful father who takes time with his kids to talk about what matters as well as being fun and playful.  We have been together since we were 15 and he knows me better than I know myself.  I am so very thankful for my Jared.

2.  Our Children.  I am thankful that this diagnosis came after we were done having children.  If this had come 10 years sooner our family would look very different.  I can't have children on these medications due to dangers of severe birth defects.  If this disease had to come, I am thankful it came after all 5 children are already here and old enough to be self sufficient. 

3.  Our Church.  The outpouring of love and support from our church family has been such an encouragement.  I am thankful for the cards, prayers, hugs, and phone calls.  Ministry can be so hard at times but this season has been a reminder of how wonderful life in the ministry can be.  I am so thankful for the family God has granted through this church.

4.  Worship.  I have always enjoyed singing.  When I sing I feel closer to God.  Being a part of worship during this has been times of reprieve.  Moments when my focus is taken off of self and put where it belongs.  I don't think about anything but the words and the music.  I absolutely love being a part of this ministry and I'm thankful I have been able to continue.

5.  Friends.  When Jared and I were looking for a church 15 years ago I prayed that wherever we went I would be able to find friends, to have community.  The most common complaints from those in full time ministry is loneliness and isolation.  I love my friends and feel I have people in my life that fit all kinds of roles.  Thank you for loving me when I'm unlovely.  Being patient with me when I'm self focused and emotional.  Thank you for reminding me of the good and admonishing me when I need it.  Thank you for being my community, for being an answer to my prayer from all those years ago. 

6.  Family.  I am thankful for family on both sides that have called and text and shown love and concern.  I have called on you for prayers and sympathy.  Thank you for not tiring of me when I need to talk through the same thing for the 100th time.  Thank you for letting me talk about all the gory details and offering support and love in return.  

7.  Modern Medicine.  I currently have 9 prescriptions in addition to vitamins I take daily.  If you do some research you will see that it wasn't that long ago that people diagnosed with auto-immune arthritis' were doomed to a life of pain and deformity.  The medications that are available may have side affects but not taking them cripples the body ensures severe chronic pain.  I am so thankful to live in this time, in this country, so I have access to the medications I need to be able to function and  live a long life.

8.  Our home.  Everything I need is on one floor.  When I have an achy painful day I have everything I need without any stairs.  We have a big bath tub in our bathroom and I have a huge bag of Epson salts.  Soaking in that tub has been wonderful and brings relief.  Obviously these are not necessities, but they sure make it all a lot more tolerable. 

God is good regardless of my circumstances.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pain in The Neck

It's obvious from the date of my last post I don't write super often.  There's lots of reasons really, but one thing I really appreciate about this blog is that writing is cathartic.  There's been a lot happening over here and writing about it may help the process :)

Starting back in January my left hip (the sacroiliac joint) began hurting.  It was a severe pain that would leave me unable to walk or sit.  Laying flat on my back was the only relief.  I have had the same pain in the past but only on the right side and only during pregnancies.  Since I wasn't pregnant we were slightly befuddled.  The pain continued for months so I made an appointment with my general practice doctor.

My appointment was April 1st and she ordered labs and x-rays.  She thought I may have a type of auto-immune arthritis that causes your joints to fuse together.  She told us we probably wouldn't be able to see much on the x-rays unless the damage was severe.  The x-rays showed damage in my sacroiliac joints.

She referred me to a Rheumatologist.  I had to wait for 6 weeks to get into her.  During that time more joints began to be affected.  By the time I finally saw the new doc I was having pain in my hands, feet, neck, both S.I. joints, knees, elbow and my left eye would turn bright red and swell.

Dr. Warner is my Rheumatologist and she is just amazing.  She diagnosed me with Psoriatic Arthritis and Spondilitis. PsA is akin to Rheumatoid arthritis.  It affects ligaments, tendons,  heart, lungs, eyes, skin, nails, stomach, as well as joints.   

I have been on medication for 5 weeks.  It has been really hard because the symptoms of the disease were still affecting me (it takes weeks for the meds to take effect) and I was suffering from the side effects of the medication (methotrexate, which is a low dose chemotherapy). 

During this transition I have been so blessed with friends and family that have similar diagnosis' and understand the emotional impact a chronic illness and diagnosis has.  Their love and empathy have been priceless.

I am starting to feel better more each day.  The fog of pain is lifting and I can actually identify specific areas that hurt verses just everything hurts. 

The hardest part of this has been the emotional toll.  I have always been a very productive person and I feel of most value when I can create and do.  Spending large swaths of my day in bed has been a significant change for me.  I was having a really good day this past Saturday.  Low pain and I was able to be very productive and spent the afternoon with a friend and the evening swimming with the kids.  I was happy and feeling healthy.  That evening I sat down on my bed and realized I had lost a toe nail (a symptom of the disease).  All the good of the day drained away and I was left with the reality of what is happening to my body.

It is my goal to be an example to those around me, my family, our church.  To be strong and rely on the Hope we have as believers.  To trust in God's plan for my life even when I don't understand.  I know that up until now I have struggled but I am coming out of the fog.  I can manage this with God's grace and my precious family.

I am so thankful for a very patient and loving husband who has been more than willing to help with the kids and to lessen my burden. 

This scripture has become a lifeline for me.  Thank you Lord for your promises.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Shannon's 8 Favorite Things

Typically around this time of year I like to write a blog about different things I came across over the past year that I just loved.  There are several products that I have been super stoked about so I thought why not do it again?!  So here we go...

-I was a nail biter all of my childhood and off and on throughout adulthood.  I have been nail biting free for a few years but never had much in the way of growth until I went gluten free due to my health.  Now that I'm absorbing nutrients my nails grow beautifully and I want to paint them!  The problem was nothing stays on my nails.  Any kind of polish chips and peals away almost instantly.  My friend Jenny suggested I try Revlon Color Stay Gel Envy (no light required).  I bought one and tried it and had color last for two days.  Better but not awesome, so I tried wiping down my nail bed with rubbing alcohol first then painted and it stayed for 3-4 days before chipping.  Then I bought the top coat that goes with the polish and got 5 days and changed the polish because I wanted a new color not because it chipped off!  Success!!!!  Found at Wal-Mart and Target
There are so many colors, I must have them ALL
-While on the topic of all things girlie...Since getting my braces I have felt a new found confidence in my smile.  I never wore any kind of lipstick or lip gloss.   I didn't really want to draw attention to a source of insecurity.  Now I can't get enough and I love love love to wear lipstick.  My friend Jenny (the beauty source:)) introduced me to a new idea called lip stain.  There are several different brands but the one I have found that stays on literally for 24 hours is Covergirl Outlast All Day Lip Color.  This stuff does not come off unless you use makeup remover.  It comes with a moisture stick and when you need to freshen up just apply the moisture stick and you're good as new!  Ob-sessed...  Found at Wal-Mart and Target.

-I have teenage boys.  Teenage boys are gross.  Teenage boys have acne.  My teenage boys have painful acne on their backs.  No worries, I found the best product for just such an issue.  Acne Free Body Clearing Spray.  It's a little pricey (IMO) at $10 a bottle but it works and my boys were really thankful when I brought it home.  It works much like continuous spray sunscreen.  Just shower, spray on, let dry and viola! I purchased ours at Target.

-I have never been shy of my love for coffee.  This last year I have been enjoying KC Roasterie beans.  I absolutely love it and I can buys 2.5lbs of it at Sams for $16.  I buy a bag a month and I literally look forward to drinking it in my French Press every single morning.  I could go downtown and get it directly from the Roasterie but Sams is a mile away and a cheaper.  Deliciousness

-I love hair products.  Especially stuff that smells amazing and makes my hair soft.  I was wandering Home Goods with Alisa while she was looking at hand lotion.  I came across this brand I had never heard of, Theorie.  I have some Argan Oil that I use as a leave in conditioner and this has argan oil in it so I took off the lid to have a sniff.  OH MY WORD.  I am madly in love.  Every shower is like aromatherapy and my hair is so soft.  I use the orange which is the Ultimate Hair Reform.  I have been able to find this at T J Max and Home Goods. 

-My sister, Heather, came to visit in October.  She has red hair to her waist.  I had my hair uber long for a decade but cut it a couple years ago due to health issues.  Even though my hair has recovered and is super healthy, I hadn't let it grow back out.  After spending a week with her and her long red locks the desire to grow mine back out has returned.  I started doing some research on vitamins and found rave reviews for Ultra Hair Nourish from GNC.  I purchased a bottle and within two weeks I started noticing new hair growth.  After a month my hair had grown two inches and was significantly thicker due to all the new growth.  I told Jenny and she is having the same response.  If you want to add thickness or length to your hair (it also has a huge impact on my nails) I highly recommend.  I purchased at GNC at the Legends but is available online through Amazon. 

-We have 5 kids, 2 cats, and a dog.  4 of those kids are stinky boys.  I found these Glade Automatic Air fresheners and I put several of them throughout the house.  We have one at the front door, one in our bedroom, one each of the boys' bedrooms and one in the living room downstairs.  They take a generic sized aerosol can that comes in a variety of scents.  I tend to grab refills at Sams because they're the most affordable.  Right now our fresheners are sporting Air Wick's Enchanted Holiday.  I typically have some sort of clean laundry scent.  They send a puff of goodness out into the air at timed intervals.  Ours can be set for every 9, 18, or 36 minutes.  This keeps our house smelling lovely and less like a herd of people and animals live here ;)

-My husband is a nerd.  He loves to research things.  When he got his truck a couple years ago he set out to find the perfect phone mount.  He wanted something to hold his phone that would stay put and didn't look like he made it in craft class.  After much research he decided on ProClip.  They are custom made to your make and model of vehicle.  They snap into place and match the dash board so it looks as though it is meant to be there.  He has had his for a couple years but this year insisted I get one for my suburban since I now have the massive iPhone 6+.  I was hesitant, just didn't see the necessity but now that I've had it a week or so I absolutely love it.  This makes navigation amazing and no phones slipping around the car during turns.  These have to be ordered online from Po-Clip USA.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's The Little Things

Growing up, one of my very favorite memories is sitting around a fire with my Dad.

I spent time with him in the summers but even in the July heat he would start a fire in his fire pit and we would sit a comfortable distance and gaze into it while eat Pizza Hut pizza on a Friday night.

We would always have a fire when we would camp.  In fact, he started a fire in order to cook my very first rainbow trout.  It was the only fish we caught but he cleaned it and prepared it just for me.

I have always desired a fireplace and when we moved into this house I was giddy to finally have one.  The problem is, it's a gas fireplace meant for aesthetics only.  Our utilities here are so high already, I couldn't justify running it just for looks.

My friend Katie R. suggested we install a blower because they had and really enjoy it.

So I set out to find more information.  I watched a YouTube video and read up on our specific fireplace.  It is compatible with a blower and even has a plug in for power.  YAY!

I shopped a little and found a great deal in an eBay store.  $60 delivered. 

It came today.
I wasn't expecting to have to wire it.  Fortunately it wasn't too terribly difficult and only took and extra 10-15 minutes. 
I took the front off the fireplace in order to clean the glass.  It needed it and looks so much better.  The blower actually installs underneath.  I had my coffee and my laptop, tools of the trade.
It's really surprising how dusty/dirty this whole process was.  That dark pile near on the carpet near the fireplace was insulation that had dropped onto the logs at some point.  It was burnt but not burned up.  Bizarre. 
Everything installed and put back together.  Now for the wait.  The blower has a heat sensor that doesn't allow the blower to start until the fireplace is 120 degrees.  That felt like an eternity!!  I was desperate to know if I had done it all right.  Within about 10 minutes there was a faint hum and warm air began flowing from the top vent.  I was so excited I welled up.  YAYAYAYAY!!!  A functional fireplace with purpose. 
The kids are as excited as I am.  Anneliese came and sat down to enjoy the warmth so Brennan decided to sit on her lap and tell her all he wanted for Christmas.  We were all cackling.  The only thing I heard on his list was a potato. 

I am so thankful.  Such a small thing, but so meaningful to me.  Makes my heart warm on this cool morning.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Aunt Heather!

My sister, Heather, came to visit us for the first time in our adult lives! It was epic! We spent an entire week together! Here is a photo montage of our week :)
Fresh from Kansas City Airport on Saturday

A little Ren Fest Action on Sunday

Some yummy Mexican food on Monday

Painted some serious fingers and toes on Tuesday

Ate Sushi on Thursday at Kona Grill!
Shopped in Weston on Friday

A little Red Barn Farm Weston, Mo

Liesey feeding goats

Weston, Mo

Family Pic Red Barn Farm

MOM! These feel like real stuffed animals!

Dinner with the Altics and a red head pic Friday night
We tried to fit in everything we could possibly think of.  We even had a list and checked things off as we went.  We did sisterly stuff like painting nails, braiding hair, and trading jeans.  The kids had so much fun getting to know and love Aunt Heather.  As an engaged professional woman I'm pretty sure our crazy brood was a bit of a culture shock but she was great and held her own. 

Thank you so much for taking a week to come share in our life.  We love you.

Few More Pics Fall 2014

Those eyes, so handsome

best friends

A rose between two weird thorns

Photo bomb expert

This Dog...



Love them

She kept giggling

I love everything about this pic

Fall Photos 2014


Brennan Conner 14
Tanner Riley 12

Elijah Jude 10
Graham Ryker 8
Anneliese Keegan 5
Team Altic