Thursday, June 23, 2016

Big Boys and Dental Tools

I grew up hating the dentist.  HATING.  The smell of the dentist's office made my stomach hurt.  I would dread going to his office, and would be in pain and sick to my stomach the rest of the day after we went there.  I always just figured that was the way it was, and everybody felt that way.  My last dentist appointment with him was the week before I got married, at a very young 19 years old.  I had cavities I needed to get filled, and I was losing my dental insurance when I got married.  I was pregnant, sick, miserable, and for some reason the anesthesia didn't work on me so he filled two cavities with me not numb.  I had more to get done, but I never went back.

It took ten years for me to go back to a dentist, and the only reason I went is because my sister (who felt the same way I did) swore up and down that she had found a dentist that didn't hurt, and she didn't mind going to.  I decided to give it a shot, went to him, and absolutely loved him.  He finished up all my dental work that I had neglected for that ten years, and when Cory and I started dating, he started going there too.

The kids went to a pediatric dentist my sister started them out with.  I figured with him being a kids' dentist he would be the best suited to work with Phillip and his special needs.  He was the one who did the crowns on Lexie's baby teeth (twice), and I figured the routine was good for Phillip.  Every time we took him, he would scream, cry, and fight us.  The dentist would have me hold him down and he would put in a bite guard and hold his head so he could examine his teeth.  It was horrible.  I dreaded it.  But, again, I figured routine was good, and Phillip would get used to it.

After a horrible fallout over a billing issue with Lexie's crowns, I decided I was done with him.  I pulled the kids records, and took them to the dentist Cory and I were going to.  I figured if he was going to hate the dentist, he could hate any dentist, and this would be easier having us all in one place.

The first time we took him, he fought us getting back in to the room, would not even come close to sitting in the chair, sat on my lap and huddled in to my shoulder, but after some sweet talking and loves from one of the amazing hygienists, opened his mouth willingly and let them look a little bit at his teeth.  The dentist said that was good for the day, and they'd keep working on him, and we scheduled another appointment.  Not horrible, but not great.

Six months later, we took him back, and he threw a fit going in to the room, sat on my lap in the corner, and whimpered for a little bit.  We had messed up the appointments, and I had an appointment at the same time they were doing his.  I left Cory in charge of him, and they took me in to the adjoining room, separated only by the x ray machine.  I could hear everything that was going on.  I heard Cory coaxing him in to the chair, I heard the hygienist talking him through all of the tools that they use, and letting him play with them, and then I heard them using the tools.  I could hear from what they were saying that he was letting them clean his teeth.  I laid there in my dentist chair, bawling, while they cleaned my teeth.  He whimpered a little bit, and wasn't extremely happy, but he let them clean, floss, and examine his teeth.  It was amazing.

Yesterday was his third visit.  He was fine waiting in the waiting room.  He was a little agitated walking down the hall to the room.  This time, Cory immediately got him to sit in the dentist chair, and with a little bit of coaxing and reminding, they got him to lay back and open his mouth.  He played a little bit with the tools, and had no issues letting the hygienist clean his teeth.  He was humming, singing, talking, and smiling the whole time.  He let her floss his teeth, and then took the floss away and flossed them himself, before giving it back to her to let her finish the job.  He let her examine them, and then took the mirror from her and stuck it in his own mouth.

I was completely blown away with the changes that have happened in just three visits.  This time, the only tears were from the amazing hygienist who had to excuse herself and pull herself back together when she was done cleaning his teeth.  I am so grateful for her and all the effort she has put in with him, making him comfortable and letting him take the lead.  She never pushes his boundaries, and she is amazing at her job.  She is so gentle and caring with him.  I am so grateful we switched dentists, and I am so proud of my boy.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Girls' Camp - Take One

Lexie has started going to Young Womens' in our new ward, and has really been enjoying it.  They invited her to go to camp this year, and she was so excited about it I couldn't say no.  I had my reservations, because, you know, it's me.  We have only been eating gluten free since January, and I wouldn't be there to make sure the food was safe for her.  This would be her first trip without family.  She had only been camping once before, and it was with Cory and I.  They would be CAMPING.  I am not a huge fan of bugs, bears, or the outdoors in general.

As we got closer to her going, I met with the young women leaders who would be in charge of her.  They decided in order to not worry about her getting sick, they were doing gluten free for the whole ward.  We got together a few times to talk about menus and ideas, and it seemed like they really knew what they were doing.  She went to the activities before camp where they did their first aid training, and talked about all the things she would need to know.  She got her packing list, and we went shopping to make sure she'd have everything she needed.  Just to be safe, I packed her a whole extra bag of food she could eat, and gluten blockers in case she got sick.

The morning they left, she was driving me nuts she was so excited.  I was working from home, and had a couple meetings I needed to take care of before we left.  She kept coming to check on me every five minutes to see if I was done yet.  Finally, it was time to go.  We packed all her stuff in to the car, headed to the church.. and no one was there.  We were a few minutes early, so we waited.  While we were waiting, I started thinking about her going, and how little she was, and I started crying.  I am THAT mom.  I cry over everything.  Lexie looked at me, kind of rolled her eyes, and said "Mom, why are you crying.. I'm going to be FINE."  I pulled myself together, waited until it was past time for everyone to be there, and texted one of her leaders.  She said they were on their way, just running a little late.  They showed up about five minutes later.. with five of the other six girls who would be going to camp with Lexie.

When I went to girls camp, I think there were about 30 to 40 girls just for our ward.  It was huge.  This was what I pictured when I pictured Lexie at camp.  Her getting lost in this sea of girls, and not knowing anyone and being scared and alone.  There was a total of nine girls going to camp, and two of them weren't going up until the next day.  Six of the girls going were in beehives with her.  She knew everyone.

They loaded everything up in to the trailers, read a scripture and said a prayer, took a picture of all the girls, and then said it was time to load up.  Lexie came over and gave me one more hug, and I held it together until she went to get in the car.  I started crying again, so I quickly got in my car so I didn't embarrass her.  And then they were gone.  I drove back home, and let myself in to my completely quiet house.  I missed her like crazy.

She came home on Friday, sunburned, dirty, and smiling ear to ear.  She had a blast.  They had a zipline, archery, they went on a hike, slept in a tent without a leader, played in the dirt.. She absolutely loved it.  She was able to eat all the food, and didn't get sick.  First thing she said when she got home was that she really wanted to take a shower.  She spent the rest of the day doing her hair and makeup, painting her nails, and trying on different outfits.  It's good to know some things never change.

Monday, June 6, 2016

First Time Babysitting

Cory and I have been talking for a few months about how responsible Lexie has been getting, and how she is probably getting to the point where she can be in charge for a little bit.  I have huge reservations about leaving her in charge of Phillip.  He's almost the same size as her, and super strong for his age.  If he decides he wants to do something (or doesn't want to do something) or that he wants to hurt someone, there is very little anyone can do to stop him.  But, we figured we could give it a try, and waited to find the right opportunity.

Friday, Cory needed to get some work done on the car.  He took the car down to the dealership, and they brought him home in a shuttle while Lexie and I took Phillip over to my parents' house to catch the bus for the last day of school.  We both worked from home that day, and when Phillip was done with school Lexie and I went back over and picked him up.  About an hour later, the dealership called and said the car was done, but it would be a couple of hours before the shuttle could come get Cory and take him back to get the car.  We talked about it for a few minutes, and decided this was the perfect opportunity to see how she would do.  The dealership is only about fifteen minutes away, so she would be in charge for about half an hour.  Phillip was watching a movie, and was pretty content.  I went downstairs and told Lexie that we were leaving and she was in charge.  We talked about the rules and what was expected of her, and Cory and I left.

I panicked pretty much all the way to the dealership and back, thinking of all the things that could go wrong.  I imagined Phillip getting out of the front door while Lexie was in her room listening to music.  I imagined someone breaking in and hurting them.  I imagined the house catching on fire.  By the time I got home, I had worked myself in to a pretty little ball of nerves.  I unlocked the door, walked in, and the house was totally quiet.

I walked down the stairs, turned the corner to go to Lexie's room, and there she is, standing in the doorway as big and tall as she can make herself... holding a gun.  My face dropped, and I apparently looked pretty dang scared, because she looked at me and smiled, and said "good, your reaction showed me that this is good enough to scare anyone who breaks in."  She turns to the side, and I see the orange tip that she had been hiding behind her leg.  She had gone and gotten one of Cory's airsoft guns and took it and Phillip in to her room so that she could protect him.  I stood there for another second, trying to put my heart back in my chest, and then she realized that she may be in trouble.  She puts it down, turns to me, and says "I followed procedure... it was pointed at the ground and my finger was off the trigger.  It isn't even loaded.. I checked.  I just wanted to be able to scare whoever was breaking in so I could get Phillip out."

As we talked about it more, she told me that she had heard some noises and got scared, so she got Phillip and locked him in her room, and checked the entire house to make sure no one was in there before coming back down to her room and getting the gun so she could protect him.  While she was in there waiting for us to get home, she came up with a plan on how she was going to get both of them out of the house without anyone seeing them so they could be safe.  She thought about where the best place in the house was to be if anyone was breaking in, and how to barricade them so they had time to get out.  She had thought of everything that she could to make sure they were both safe.

I was amazed.  I had no idea this little girl had turned in to such a responsible person.  She had listened to absolutely everything we had been telling her for years about what you should do in certain situations, and how to take care of yourself.  She had listened to every rule Cory had given her each time they had gone shooting, and made sure she followed every single one.  She was calm, she was clear, she was everything I wish I could be in situations like that.  I am so proud of her.

When Cory got home with the car about half an hour later, I had Lexie come upstairs and tell him the story.  She got the gun and showed him how she'd been holding it, how she checked to see if it was loaded, how she had checked the house, and what her plan was to get Phillip out.  He beamed the entire time.  When she was done, he picked her up and gave her a hug, and said "That's my girl!!" I agree.  This whole situation is 100% Cory.  She definitely didn't get any of this from me.

Monday, February 1, 2016

...And What It Led To

Celiac disease is the body's inability to break down and process gluten.  It is not a food allergy.  It is genetic - meaning you are born with it - but it doesn't exhibit itself until it is triggered.  It can be triggered by a variety of things, and once it is triggered it is irreversible.  With a gluten free diet, it can be managed and damage can be reversed, but it requires very strict adherence to a gluten free diet.  It is not something you can "catch".  It can cause immediate and severe symptoms, which can be quite painful and debilitating, but the real damage is what happens to your body's digestive system when you eat food with gluten in it.  With prolonged exposure, it can actually stop your body from being able to absorb any nutrients from your food, which leads to malnutrition and even possibly death.  You can literally starve to death, even though you are eating normal and "healthy" meals because your body isn't absorbing anything from them.

These are all the things I learned from my GI specialist as he was telling me how important it would be to stick to a gluten free diet.  There were times as I was thinking about it that my mind would just shut down as I was thinking about how huge of a change this was going to be.  I had watched my sisters go through it.  I had watched them check ingredients on every item they ate, google everything, and bring their own food to family functions.  I knew that they had limited places they could eat, and they had to plan ahead for everything.  My mind would spin as I thought about everything that I had to do.

We decided to start with what we knew.  We went through our entire house, and purged everything that had gluten in it.  I searched for recipes that were naturally gluten free that were easy and quick enough that I could make them after work, or throw them in a crockpot.  We brought breakfast and lunch to work because we had no idea what to do when it came to eating out.  I was isolated.  I was scared.  I had no idea what to do and the idea of branching out scared me to death.  And I came from a family who had plenty of experience.  I had support.  I had options.  I can't even imagine going through this with absolutely no knowledge of it.

Things got easier.  We went grocery shopping and found some great options that made it possible for us to eat the food that we were used to.  We went out to dinner with my sisters and they showed us what to look out for and what places would be careful and understanding.  We fell in to a routine, and had options and learned what was ok and what wasn't.  We are still learning new and delicious places that are gluten free, and finding ways to satisfy our cravings for foods that we can no longer eat.

There were hurdles.  Our first trip out of town scared the heck out of me.  I had no idea if there would be places we could eat, or what to do if I got gluten and had a reaction.  I packed enough food for us to eat the whole time we were there so we wouldn't have to rely on being able to find food.  I remember thinking that I had no symptoms before I got sick, so my reactions wouldn't be that bad and I wouldn't get sick.  I didn't realize that the longer your body goes without gluten and the more it heals, the more it effects you when you get gluten and the more crappy you feel.  I learned how to tell early on if food had gluten in it, and to stop eating so the reactions wouldn't be as severe.

As long as I stuck to my diet, I was amazed at how much better I felt.  I learned that even though I thought I wasn't having symptoms, I was.  They had come on so slowly and were so "normal" for me, that I didn't even realize they were there.  The feeling of not being able to focus on anything and feeling so spacey I couldn't get anything done - brain fog is a symptom.  Being tired and bloated after going out for pasta for lunch - symptom.  Horrible cramps in the middle of the night after eating chinese food for dinner - symptom.  Aching joints and muscles for absolutely no reason and not wanting to move because everything hurts - symptom.  About two days after starting to eat gluten free, I was AMAZED at the changes I was seeing.  I think my coworkers got sick of hearing about how much of a difference I was seeing.  I was sure that it was all in my head, and I was just convincing myself I felt better.  Then I got gluten on accident for lunch one day.  All of my symptoms came back.  My body felt horrible.  My head was pounding, my stomach hurt, my joints hurt, I couldn't focus, and all I wanted to do was lay down and go to sleep.

I am still learning.  I'm getting better at checking things.  There have been many more exposures, and I learn new things every time.  We have found restaurants that are our favorites.  I no longer feel like everyone is staring at me when I ask for a gluten free menu.  The first few times I felt ashamed and embarrassed, like they all thought I was just trying to be "trendy" and follow the latest fad.  I am feeling better every day.  I hadn't realized how much it was taking out of me before, and I love feeling my body return to what it should feel like.  I am not at all grateful for the diagnosis and knowing that I have to live this way forever, but I am extremely grateful that I was inspired to have my doctor run the test before I had severe enough symptoms that they were causing issues.  At least if nothing else, my life is never boring.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Diagnosis...

Let's just say.. I am not the healthiest person out there.  I don't think I am the LEAST healthy, but I am definitely not healthy.  Seeing as how I am pretty happy with life and would like it to go on for awhile, I've started making some changes to be a little healthier.  One of those changes was going to see my doctor for my yearly physical.  I have missed this for a few years (like, all of them) so I was really worried she was going to tell me that I had some super horrible disease and that I'd be dead in, like, a week.  My overall visit went really well, and she didn't tell me anything I wasn't expecting.  She told me she was going to request some blood work, and we'd see how that all came back just to make sure I was good.  I had a thought pop in to my head, and before I really thought it through, I asked her if she could throw in a test for Celiac's disease while she was at it.  She stopped for a sec, and asked me if I was showing any symptoms I hadn't told her about.  Nope, I had absolutely no reason for requesting the test.  So why did I feel like I needed it?

Celiac's disease runs rampant in my family.  I have quite a few sisters who have it, nieces and nephews who have it, and my son has it.  Aunts and uncles also, but I wasn't as worried about them.  I told her that in all of their cases, they didn't know they had it until it had already started causing health issues and other problems, and then their bodies had to work to recover from the damage that the disease had done.  I figured if I had it, I wanted to know before it caused issues so I could start eating the way I needed to and hopefully prevent any issues from happening.  She asked me if I thought it was an issue, why I didn't just start eating gluten free as a preventative.  Well, you see, I like food.  And I especially like gluteny foods.  Bagels, bread, pasta, cake, cupcakes, cookies.. yeah.. I love it all.  I didn't want to have to give it up foods I loved if there wasn't an issue.  I know it would be healthier, but.. food..

So, she ordered the Celiac test as part of my blood work, and we waited.  I convinced myself that I was stupid for asking, and if there was an issue I would be showing symptoms.  I had NO symptoms.  I felt just fine.  She called me about a week later, and told me my abnormal cell count that is caused by Celiac's disease was about six times the normal level.  There was no doubt.. I had Celiac's disease.  She told me the next step was to meet with a GI specialist, and not to change anything in my diet until I had a chance to meet with him.

I met with him a week later, and he explained to me a whole bunch of stuff about Celiac's disease, and what it's effects are and the long term damage it can do to your body when you don't follow a gluten free diet.  He said before we did anything else, he needed to do an endoscopy and some more thorough blood work to get a read on how much damage had already been done.  He told me not to eat gluten free until after the endoscopy so they could really see what it was doing to my body, and then he wanted to talk to me after the endoscopy about what the plan was.

Cory and I set out to eat everything gluteny we could get our hands on.  Everything we were going to miss when we started eating gluten free.  My sister had talked to us about how I could get gluten through him if he wasn't eating gluten free, so he was going gluten free to support me.  We ate our way through everything we could think of.  We decided we would go gluten free after the holidays were over, and after the first of the year.  I had my endoscopy at the end of the year, and the doctor said that for someone with Celiac's disease, it actually looked really good.  There was almost no damage, just a few areas where he could tell it was starting to do damage.  That was relieving to hear.

So.. now we had a diagnosis.  I started to regret asking for the stupid test now that I realized what it meant we'd have to do.  I told Cory I was so sorry that I was putting us through this change, and that this was something we were going to have to deal with for the rest of my life.  He told me that he didn't understand why I had asked for it in the first place, but that didn't change the fact that I had it.  It was a change we were going to need to make anyway, and he was glad we caught it before it did any damage.  He was amazingly understanding, as always.  We had the why.. now we just needed to figure out the how.