Thursday, May 07, 2015

Keep Calm and Focus on Remission

Spring and Summer have always been my best months. My healthiest months of the year. Sure, I get a rash from the sun sometimes. :) But I feel so much better inside and out. I feel like the grass and the flowers as they stretch themselves out towards the sun to warm themselves and grow into their beautiful potential. That is how I feel lately. I feel a fight within to shake off this terrible illness that holds me bound down and keeps me from sharing my best self with my family and the world around me.

Even if the disease just climbs in a hole somewhere and feeds off of itself instead of me, I've decided I'm okay with that. Even just a remission of this illness would be fine. But I want it with every fiber of my soul! So this is going to be within every prayer I pray and within all of my actions. I am praying from a remission of this Chronic Fatigue and Illness. My family needs me and my God needs me to shine forth more fully.

I know I have written about my coming to peace with being chronically ill before. And I am, if it must be. But I am also stubborn. I have rarely been able to just settle and wait for good things to come. I fight for them and think about them constantly. That is how I feel now. It's time. There is so much happening in our lives as a family and within me. I need to be fully alive.

Now, just as I write this I have a humbling. A reminder that All things are in His hands. No matter how much I Want this. I want His perfect plan to play out even more. I really do. In the end, when all is said and done, His plan always turns out to be the most brilliant.

And so with that said, I will do all that I can possibly do. Including a constant pleading unto Him for a Remission of this illness. And then I will lay it at His feet and continue to walk with Hope and Faith to my journey's end.

This morning I opened the scriptures and found comfort in the following verses. These remind us of our responsibility to ask and work. But they also remind us that Father in Heaven has a plan for us. And it is miraculous as it is. I will pray fervently for the grace of this remission. But I will also remember that He is the Miracle Worker.

Doctrine Covenants section 88:63-64 "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you;seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you"
Romans chapter 4:16-22 " 16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
 17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
 18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
 19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:
 20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dear Grandma, Today's Been a Cussing Kinda Day

Dear Grandma,

I swore twice today. Yep! Sorry. It reminds me when I heard you swear at Grandpa Don. You would call him a Jack**s when you were really mad at him. I love that you cussed sometimes too. :) Today Caleb was ridiculously... Ummm... well, just kinda "oh My H*ll!" like. I had to buckle him to his chair when he was sitting down for lunch. I had to pinch him to shake him out of his cacophony screaming when I was trying to get him to clean up the play dough mess; I mean, my face was right up to his face when I was giving him the directions! He jumped like he had no idea I had even been there. Grandma, Autism S**CKS!  Some days it steals the best of our child from us. These are hard days. And then there are days when the stars seem to align and the worst of Autism doesn't seem to exist. Just the fun parts.

Sorry, at the moment I'm drawing a blank on what those "fun parts" are. :) Let's change the subject a little. I exercised a little today. Yep! I went grocery shopping. :) Walked all 20 isles and the Pharmacy! LOL!! (Sorry, that means Laugh Out Loud. ;) Holy Cr*p though, I was so tired when I got home!! Thank Heavens for the Crock Pot meal that was waiting for us to eat when I got things put away. That has been such a blessing!!!! We have eaten SO much healthier since I took the time and energy to make those. And Smoothies for breakfast has been Awesome too!! I had more fruits and veggies in my cart today then other kinds of foods. It was Awesome!! This reminds me when we would come to your house and you would try to get us to drink your juice made from your juicer. :) :) I can still smell it! :) Carrots and Celery! Oh how you would love the blenders we have now!!!

Well, I just felt like sharing a little about our exciting day. I wonder what your life is like up there in Heaven. I imagine you're playing the organ. And humming along to the hymns. What a joy it would be to see and hear you play.

Love you Grandma,


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Dear Grandma, Big Changes Up Ahead

Dear Grandma, (This is the first letter in a new series I will be adding to my blog.)
Last night I lay trying to fall asleep (again). How can a body scream to sleep all day and then refuse to sleep at night? But then you kind of had this problem also, didn't you? Your body just insisted that you wake up at 3AM every morning. I sure miss our daily chats on the phone. Eight years has passed since you left; and I still wonder often what you would suggest, or how you would react to some of the things happening in my life.

Anyway, back to last night. My mind was sorting through choices last night. Choices that Leif and I had to make about what our next step was going to be in our journey. His nursing scholarship contract is up in August and it opens up the whole world of nursing careers to us. So where do we go? What do we do? We had narrowed it down to 4 choices that we had been flip flopping around for the last couple of months. Our focus had mainly landed on the opportunity to do Travel Nursing as a family and HomeSchool the kids.

But Caleb has struggled so intensely in school this year; and it all really hit the fan this last week. We were doubting our ability to meet his needs and requirements through homeschooling. So we were considering moving back to Carthage and enrolling him in a school where we knew without a doubt he would have excellent help. And Leif would work as a Strike Nurse. But this would take him away from home for up to two weeks out of the month on some months. ... And that only explains two of the choices out of the four we have been working through.

As my mind became a little more foggy with sleep, I suddenly pictured Alice in Wonderland and the Cheshire Cat as she asked her famous question: "Which road do I take?" And then he goes on to explain that if you don't know where you want to go, then it doesn't really matter which road you take. I then realized that we didn't really have a certain Place that we wanted to go. We mostly just had a Way we wanted things to be. We want to take the path that will give us the most time with each other as a family.

Today at church Leif didn't end up having to teach or do anything other then ponder and participate in the Spirit of the meetings. He came to me in between my Sharing Time lessons and showed me that he had written out all of our choices and lay it all out on paper for himself. It was no coincidence that we happened to have a whole hour to ourselves to just sit and talk and weigh it all out and discuss which options brought us feelings of light against the ones that didn't. And last night's whispering of what we Really want: To be together, brought the answer to us sure and clear. We will move back to Arizona and use The Barn as our home base, Travel Nurse, and Home school.

I wonder what you would say about this Grandma. I think you would think it was neat. You did love to travel the country on road trips with Grandpa Don. You might be concerned about the kids schooling. But so are we. But in the end, I think you would cheer me on. I sure miss you! I often tell Leif I wish I had someone I could bring along with us when we go who can help me on my bad days. You would have been a fun choice. I wish my kids had the chance to get to know you. But maybe by "writing you" these letters it will give them an idea of how much your friendship meant to me and still means to me.

So Grandma, there's changes up ahead for us. But you probably already knew that. I think you're closer to us than we realize most of the time. I'll keep that in mind when times get confusing or hard. I love you. Goodnight for now.

Love, Lena

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Maybe It's... Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar II Disorder.  Yes, it seems very likely that we have FINALLY after months (really, years) of trying to document and figure out the "cycle" of my struggles, illness(s), and moods, that much of the symptoms have been narrowed down to Bipolar II Disorder. It was comforting for me in a way to have the doctor be the one who brought up the need for a mood stabilizing medication for a Bipolar Disorder. So often, in the past I was the one who went to the doctor and "told" him what was wrong. At this point, I had to bring Leif to my last several appointments because I couldn't remember or get the symptoms of the problems straight and he had to tell it all like it was. And the doctor listened through these visits and really helped us work things out to know what we were dealing with. It's comforting.

I am not convinced this will solve All of my problems in one day, or ever. But I am hopeful that our life will soon be better because of this diagnoses and medication. I will start taking Depakote tonight. And we will see how the journey plays out.

I Loved this description of Bipolar II Disorder I found online. It is written completely by
Bipolar-II is a common type of depression.  Exact rates are not clear, but it probably affects between 2-3 in 100 people. Unfortunately there is little public awareness of this condition, which borrows its name from the more well-knownbipolar-I disorder. This similarity in names is confusing, since the word bipolar brings to mind a more extreme state called mania or manic-depression. 
People with bipolar-II never have mania; instead, they suffer from depressions that alternate with states of nervous excitation called hypomania.  Hypomania can make people feel anxious, impulsive, hyperactive, irritable and, sometimes, happy and confident. Hypomania may feel good or may feel uncomfortable, but unlike mania it never causes people to completely lose control.  
Mood swings and depression
“I was silly and giddy one minute, bursting with rage the next; running around excitedly in the afternoon but impossible to rouse out of bed in the morning.”
Gogo Lidz  (click to read her personal description of bipolar-II).
Bipolar-II affects everyone differently, but a common theme is that it causes mood to shift up and down throughout life.  The first symptoms usually appear during adolescence, and these early mood swings often shift very rapidly as in the quote above.  As people age, these shifts in mood usually slow down.  Over time, depressions tend to occur more often and the ups (or hypomanias) may fade away. 
Depression is so common in bipolar-II that it is often misdiagnosed as “major depression.”  In fact, 1 in 3 people diagnosed with major depression actually have bipolar-II. Identifying the correct diagnosis is crucial since bipolar-II may worsen with antidepressant medication.  The chart below details the differences between major depression, bipolar-I and bipolar-II:

Unipolar Major Depressive disorder
Bipolar-II disorder
Bipolar-I disorder



Because they may be rare or mild, it can be difficult to identify the times of hypomania which distinguish bipolar-II from major depression. There are other clues which can alert people with depression to look carefully for bipolar-II. Most importantly, if anyone in your family has bipolar or manic-depression it is more likely that your depression is a bipolar-II type. Depressions that come on early in life, such as before age 20, are more likely to be bipolar-II, as are those which keep returning throughout life. Depressions that come on after pregnancy (called post-partum depression) are also a sign of bipolar-II.  Sometimes people with bipolar-II find that antidepressants work at first and then wear off, leading to frequent medication changes.
Lastly, people with bipolar-II often have a highly reactive mood, and may experience mood swings even when depressed. This mood reactivity makes people feel easily hurt, rejected or irritated by others, and overwhelmed by or sensitive to stress. During depression, they may also have significant fatigue or over-eating.  Their mood may change with the seasons, with depressions in the Winter and hypomania in the Spring (read more about Light therapyfor seasonal mood changes).  

Other symptoms of bipolar-II
Mood impacts our thoughts as much as our emotions. People with bipolar-II are often misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) because of the difficulties it causes in concentration. During hypomania, people are easily distracted and their thoughts race quickly from topic to topic. They may wander in daydreams while engaged in unrelated tasks, or their mind may be crowded with multiple streams of thought. 
These shifting thoughts make it difficult to set priorities. They may neglect important responsibilities while they hyperfocus on a single task, or may shift from task to task in a disorganized way.  Thoughts can be experienced very powerfully, which can be a source of inspiration or frustration.  Hypomania can make people easily annoyed and quick to react.  It becomes very hard not to “sweat the small stuff”, and conflict with other people frequently erupts.
Energy is usually elevated in hypomania.  Sometimes this heightens creativity and productivity.  Other times the surge in energy makes people feel edgy and restless, and they may use alcohol or drugs to settle down.  People in this state tend to sleep less.  They may welcome this change or lie awake in an anxious state of insomnia.
Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms of hypomania. This may be felt physically as a restless nervousness or as an uncomfortable feeling of dread, as if something bad may happen at any moment.  Usually the person cannot identify what they are afraid of.  Often the anxiety intensifies in social settings, and the intentions of other people may be seen as hostile or mean-spirited.  At its most extreme, full panic attacks occur.
Sometimes the person with hypomania is not bothered by it at all and it is their relatives who are concerned.  Usually it is the impulsive and hyperactive symptoms that worry them.  These symptoms can cause people to spend too much money, jump into new relationships or start projects they can’t finish.
Hypomania also has a positive side, but I have emphasized the unpleasant aspects of it here because those are what lead people to seek help. In its sunny-side, hypomania can make people friendly, confident and outgoing. They can be very happy, or euphoric, in a way that lifts the spirits of those around them. Other people see them as inspiring, spontaneous, funny and generous.  Indeed, hypomania is often a strength!    
How is the diagnosis made?
Bipolar II can only be diagnosed by an interview with a trained professional such as a psychiatrist. There is no test for bipolar-II, although research is underway to develop genetic and brain-imaging tests to aid in the diagnosis. You can help your doctor clarify the diagnosis by describing how your mood has changed throughout your whole life. 
There are also a several screening tests for bipolar available.
How is bipolar-II disorder treated?
Bipolar-II is usually treated with a combination of mood stabilizers and antidepressants. Although antidepressants help in the short-term, there is currently not enough research to know if they cause long term worsening of mood swings in bipolar-II. Antidepressants are much safer when used with mood stabilizers, which help prevent mood swings for the long term.  Some mood stabilizers actually enhance the growth of brain cells and protect brain cells from damage.
Examples of mood stabilizers include:
Lamotrigine (lamictal), Lithium (lithobid, eskalith), Depakote (valproate), Tegretol (carbamazepine), Trileptal (oxcarbazepine).
Atypicals (aripiprazole, abilify, zyprexa, olanzapine, risperdal, risperidone, seroquel, quetiapine, geodon, ziprasidone).
One of the most important mood stabilizers for bipolar-II is Lamictal. This medicine has been used to treat seizures since the early 1990’s and was approved by the FDA for bipolar disorder in 2003. It is a major advance because it is the only mood stabilizer which treats depression more effectively than mania. Lamictal is particularly effective at preventing depression for the long-term, an important benefit for bipolar-II where the depressions can be chronic and frequent if untreated.
Although its preventive effects can change people’s lives, Lamictal may not work right away because the dose has to be raised slowly over 1-2 months to prevent a rare but serious allergic skin reaction called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. Fortunately, once Lamictal is raised to an effective dose it is well tolerated and does not cause weight gain or drowsiness.
It is important to understand that very few medicines have been studied exclusively in bipolar-II, and most of what we know comes from studies of bipolar-I. Lamictal is one medicine that was studied in both groups.  Seroquel (quetiapine) and Mirapex (pramipexole) are two other medicines that have been studied in bipolar-II.
Psychotherapy is also very helpful for this condition, both to cope with the effects it has on your life as well as to reduce the mood swings themselves.
How long should treatment last?
Having bipolar-II means that you are at risk for depression, particularly with stressful events.  Actually, up to 30% of the general population will get depression some time in their lives, so just being human puts you at risk for depression. Since medication works not just to treat but also to prevent depression, how long you take it will be a personal decision that is best made with an understanding of your own risk factors. 
If you are thinking about stopping a medication, talk to your doctor about what the risk would be for your symptoms returning and what the safest way is to come off the medication.  Lifestyle changes (see below) will be especially important if you are not taking medicine.
What can else can I do to help bipolar-II?
Click “Recovery Guide” at right to learn how to live more effectively with bipolar II.
Avoiding recreational drugs and moderating alcohol use is also very important. Most recreational drugs, including marijuana, XTC, mushrooms, steroids, stimulants or speed, and cocaine, will make bipolar-II worse, particularly with long-term use. Drug use can also cause mania, converting bipolar-II into bipolar-I.
Even legal drugs can cause problems. Reducing caffeine can significantly improve sleep quality and mood swings (you should lower your caffeine intake slowly to prevent withdrawal headaches).  Caffeine is concentrated not just in coffee, sodas and tea but also in chocolate. While people sometimes use alcohol to induce sleep or relieve mood swings, continued use can fragment sleep and worsen bipolar. The same is true for nicotine: the immediate effects of a cigarette may lift mood and improve concentration, but long term use causes more depression. -

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Stop Licking The Cart

Poor Leif walked in from work after a very long day with a six patient-load minimum and I welcomed him with the wild and crazy idea that we should do our grocery shopping tonight instead of tomorrow so he and the boys had more time to play on his day off. The amazing guy agreed to the crazy idea.

Truthfully, it's nice shopping late. The crazies are out. We fit right in with the crazies. I mean just imagine walking past the cereal aisle and finding a mother prying her son away from the shopping cart for the umpteenth time and overhearing her say, "Do you want to end up in the hospital!? Just keep licking that cart and you'll end up in the hospital. That cart is covered in millions of germs and you are licking them all up! You Have To STOP LICKING THE CART!!" 

Like I said, we fit right in!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts