Why I Blog…..

This week marked an anniversary of sorts for me. It was one year ago this week that I quit my job. As you recall I worked in child care in less than favorable conditions towards the end. Through prayer and discussion with my husband, it was finally decided that I’d put in my two weeks notice. Scariest email I’ve ever written. I had no back up job to take. But I knew it was time for me to move on.¬†

And so a year later, I reflect. I still don’t have a “regular” job-one that takes me out of the house on a daily basis from morning till evening. But I am working pretty regularly for folks needing child care. And I love it. The people I work for are amazing and I’ve never once felt under appreciated. Working in a positive environment does wonders for ones mental health. And I can now put “change diapers” to my skills acquired on my resume. ūüėȬ†

I’ve taken on more of a role at home. Since my husband works crazy hours, he’s unable to do much housework,¬†and since I no longer work a regular job, the housework has fallen to me. While I’m not exactly a domestic goddess, I do what I can. I’ve also taken on the role of chief scheduler and coffee maker. The latter is quite important as my husband single-handedly keeps the coffee market afloat. Seriously.¬†¬†

What? You didn't believe me?? :-D

What? You didn’t believe me?? ūüėÄ

And I started this blog. For years several people have been chiding me to “write more” and I guess I finally decided it was a good idea. Actually on a more personal note, there is another reason this blog was started. Several months ago a man from my church, who had struggled with poor mental health, took his own life. It was devastating for those of us that knew he was struggling, but felt powerless. After his death, I wanted to do something. So I prayed. And the Lord showed me that it was time to start a blog. This blog would be on anxiety and other mental health issues that I’ve struggled with in my life. But more importantly my blog would serve as a place of encouragement and hope for those that are struggling. With each post I write, I want you to understand how loved you are and how much your life matters. If you need some help walking through this life, you can call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). If you are outside the US, go to¬†http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html and pick your country. This page will also direct you to the number to call if you are military or LGBT.¬†

Know that you are loved, you matter, and you are NOT EVER alone. 

Cheers! 

How to Cope with Hospital Anxiety (For Kids and Adults)

Living with a disability comes with several constants. Hospital stays and dr.’s visits are two of these constants. Only those of us that have gone through it understand¬†the frustration of traveling several hours for a once a year check up, that lasts all of 10 minutes. My mom tried to make these visits more enjoyable by bringing my grandparents along. Afterwards we’d go out for ice cream. Because these trips were so far out-of-town, I’d get the day off school. No school, ice cream and grandparents was a pretty good trade in exchange for a little X-ray or cat scan.

However, hospitals can be scary places, especially if you are a kid that needs surgery. So today on the blog, I thought I’d give you my tips for helping kids (and adults) go through a hospital stay.¬†

1. Make it Fun: A doctor’s appointment that includes blood draws and shots can be stressful. That’s why making it as fun as possible can alleviate your child’s stress. Take a favorite relative¬†or friend with you. When I was a kid my grandparents would accompany my mom and I on these trips. My grandma also packed a bag of fun things for me to do in the car. A deck of cards, fake jewelry to play dress up, and other little trinkets helped to brighten the day and pass the time in the car and waiting room.

2. Write down a favorite Bible verse or inspirational quote and bring it with you into the operating room: For small children, consider a favorite stuffed animal. Of course these will be removed once you are asleep, but it’ll help with anxiety before you go under. My go to verse has been Ps. 56:3-4: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.¬†In God, whose word I praise-¬†in God I trust and am not afraid.¬†What can mere mortals do to me?”¬†

3. Search the hospital for the HOTTEST anesthesiologist and see if they are scheduled for your surgery: Ok, this one is a bit out there. But I included it because I remember the last time I had surgery, in high school, many MANY years before I met my husband, I had an anesthesiologist that was very easy on the eyes. This did make surgery a bit more bearable.
ūüėȬ†

These next tips are things to consider post operation: 

4. When they change the medicine in your IV, it can sting something awful: Ringing the nurse and asking for a warm or cool compress can give much-needed relief. 

5. Healing can suck when you are in the hospital: One thing that my grandma did was make sure I had some of her “medicine” to make me feel better. After surgery, when I was back in my room, every hour I’d reach into this box that my grandma had brought with her. Inside were small gifts to help me pass the time. Cross word puzzle books, coloring books, a container of bubbles…ect…These can be small, inexpensive gifts but will help make any kid feel better faster.

If you are facing a surgery or know of someone who is, feel free to pass this list along to them. Remember you are not alone.

Cheers!  

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Cartoon depicting the importance of teamwork appears courtesy of Pinterest 

Money Well Spent….Viva la Gerbils!!

Hey guys, you might wanna sit down for this one. A small miracle happened at our house last evening. If you recall, I’ve written several times about how our trashcan has been stolen for unspecified reasons. The last incident happened just last week. I called the local waste management and ordered another can. Being a holiday weekend, I wasn’t expecting it to arrive until today. Just to be sure, I had my husband go out back and see if the new one arrived. It took a bit longer than just a quick peek, so I assumed the new one had arrived and he was pulling it to the safety of our back yard.¬†

So when he came through the door and stood in our kitchen, I was unprepared for what he told me. “So our new trashcan was delivered?” I happily asked. “Nope.” He replied. “You aren’t gonna believe this, but the original trashcan is BACK!” More specifically, my husband announced that the last can that went missing, mysteriously found its way home.¬†

Now the question we are trying to answer is how. I called the waste management service and they said a replacement can had yet to be delivered. So there’s just one explanation for this benevolent turn of events…..it had to be the gerbils. Those Nicaraguan Attack Gerbils we purchased at our local farm implement store last week have proven their worth. And now they’ll rest in our basement, being fed a steady diet of licorice, chocolate and Red Bull,¬†while¬†patrolling our backyard at night for any signs of hooliganism and deviant squirrels.¬†

Cheers!

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Literal Red Bull selling wings courtesy of: http://www.memecenter.com

Bumper Stickers and Regret

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. About two and a half years ago, I visited a small town family business with an unfortunate name. Despite being a small town business, they’d developed quite a following and had a section in their store advertising their unusual name. Merchandise included mugs, t-shirts, tote bags, and bumper stickers. All these items¬†proudly¬†proclaimed, “I¬†‚ô• **insert unfortunately named small town business here**”¬†

I had heard about this business and was excited to visit. I saw all this merchandise and couldn’t help but pick up a bumper sticker for our¬†car. See, we have a few humorous tags on the back and I wanted to add to it. One series of stickers has all the names that were involved in the last presidential election. Yep, we like to make people laugh¬†and confuse them. So we were excited to add this sticker to our collection.¬†

But two and a half years later, most of our other stickers have faded but this one¬†still boldly proclaims, “I¬†‚ô• **insert unfortunately named small town business here**” And its made me start thinking. Thinking about where we take our car on a daily basis. And knowing that this sticker is prominently displayed. When we go grocery shopping. When we go to church. And when we go to work. As much as we’d like to think differently, the outside of our car is a representation of ourselves. It would be different if we lived in the same small town as the unfortunately named business. Then it’d be seen as an homage to a successful family run business. But drive out of the small town bubble and that same bumper sticker will elicit confused stares and double takes, and not because it’s funny. They may see us as a kind of medical anomaly in need of….never mind.¬†

So the time has come for this particular bumper sticker to take its leave. But there’s one problem. It won’t come off. Granted, we haven’t tried everything yet, but I’m a bit nervous after I discovered that removal wouldn’t be as simple as tearing it off with my bare hands. That little bugger is really holdin’ on. Our next attempt will probably involve some sort of solvent. So, until we can successfully remove this sticker, if you see us out in the world, please refer to this post and the video below as an explanation.


If you’ve had second thoughts on a bumper sticker on your car, and have tried unsuccessfully to remove it, take heart. You are not alone. When you go to the store to buy that bottle of
Goo-Gone, tell them it’s on me.¬†

Cheers! 

*Rhett & Link and Butt Drugs appear courtesy of Youtube

Learn more about their history here: http://www.buttdrugs.com

Star Wars Reimagined…….

In this version, the characters wear all black,¬†the light sabers are yard-long ears of corn, Princess Leia just returned from rumspringa, and Chewbacca speaks Pennsylvania Dutch. Oh, and Yoda’s Amish cousin fills in his role…….¬†

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I hope this made you smile. Have a great weekend! ūüėÄ

Cheers!

*Yoda’s Amish cousin appears courtesy of Facebook. Shhh….don’t tell his bishop! ūüėÄ

Fortune Cookies, Cat Parent Guilt, and How to Spell Gross Words

Well, unlike Garrison Keillor, it has NOT been a quiet week here in….yeah, I don’t live in Lake Wobegon. But even if I did, it wouldn’t change how crazy our week has been cat wise. On Monday the youngest one surprised me by “marking”¬†a pile of laundry. Some of which was clean. Today I went through and made sure they came out of the laundry smelling fresh¬†and, lets just say I’ll need to run another load¬†tonight.¬†

And all this week our oldest cat, whom we have affectionately christened “Princess Fussy Butt” has been grumpier than a certain¬†famous internet feline. ¬†It’s normal for her to try to attack the youngest, but not more than once a week, and definitely not more than once a day. We were at our wits end when we arrived at the vet’s office this afternoon. Our cat wasn’t doing much better. She was already grumpy and hates riding in the car in her carrier, so to make the trip a bit easier, we put her favorite small plush pig and a bit of cat nip inside the carrier. It did make transport a bit more calm, but by the time we hit the parking lot, a certain smell filled our car. You’ve never seen a truly angry cat until they have to be shampooed off in the vets office. Long story short we now have to replace a favorite plush toy, and replenish our supply of cat nip. And maybe include the cat in our will. As¬†sole heir.¬†

After the vet examined her, she was diagnosed with dental abscesses. I’ve written that word WAY too many times today. Abscesses. Defined by google as, “a swollen area within body tissue containing an accumulation of pus.” Pus is also a gross word, but I haven’t written or heard it as often today.¬†

The only way this can be fixed is surgically. After we came home today I did some research on dental abscesses in cats, including symptoms. That’s when the guilt set in. I realized our cat has been exhibiting symptoms of dental abscess for a while. She was grouchy because she was in pain. I felt like the worst cat parent ever. I’m the one that’s home the most. I should know what’s normal and what’s not.

Not only do I feel guilt, but going through this process of treating an injury for an animal that you consider your child, that requires surgery, is a bit delicate. No one thinks twice about doing everything possible to treat a child that needs a tooth extraction–the same procedure needed for our cat. But swap the tiny human out for a cat, and some people will think you are wasting money. But for those of us that won’t have human children, this is it. These are our kids. And I think I’ve handled this as though she was human. I put her on prayer chain lists at church, called friends and asked them to pray. And I’ve worried. Worried about how much this will cost. Worried that things won’t heal properly. Worried that our other cat will display the same symptoms. But you know what? Ever since we came back from the vet this afternoon, I’ve been on the internet doing research. And I’ve been on social media. And in my newsfeed, time and time again today, there have popped up memes of inspirational quotes. Messages of how things are gonna work out, how we need to count our blessings….ect…And then there was the fortune cookie.¬†

My husband frequents a local chinese restaurant during the week for lunch. Each time he goes, a fortune cookie finds its way home with him. ¬†But he never eats them. I usually fish them out of his work bag and eat them. And read the fortune. Years ago I started collecting fortune cookie fortunes-at least the good ones. My fortune today? One that I¬†am claiming in the name of Jesus? “Business and health matters will improve around you.”¬†

Our cat is gonna be fine. If you are in the same boat, I pray healing over your precious furbaby. Remember you are not alone.

Cheers!

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*image appears courtesy of Facebook

Awkward Phone Calls and the Midwest’s Finest Nicaraguan Attack Gerbils……

Argh! I just hung up the phone after having to make an awkward phone call. So, awhile back you may recall I talked about our city’s problem with trash can thieves. I thought it would be good to put a counter on my blog to track the number of days we’ve gone without having our can stolen. Well, as of last night that counter would have to go back down to zero. Yep, those danged oversized squirrels have struck again! After a month of vacation–destination unknown, but most likely some place¬†sandy¬†with umbrella drinks–they struck our neighborhood once again.¬†

And so this afternoon I was forced to place a call to our local waste collection center and essentially greeted the operator by saying, “hey, it’s us again!” I did feel slightly relieved when, after she looked at our record, she noted that this will only be our 3rd trash can. Although part of me is wondering if they throw out records after so many cans are replaced on one account. 3 seems like such a low number.¬†

So, as we are back to square one, I am being forced to take more drastic measures. Last night¬†we visited¬†our local farm implement store and purchased 4 of their biggest, fiercest Nicaraguan Attack Gerbils–we would have sprung for the Combat Trained variety, but you have to make sacrifices when you are poor. They will be placed outside our garage after our new can arrives, and take turns making sure our trash can stays put. In the likely event that a thief, of any species, is caught trying to steal the can, the Gerbil on duty will automatically take the offender down, sit on them and blow three sharp blasts on their attack whistles-these are thrown in free of charge at the register-summoning the appropriate authorities. Your move, squirrels! ¬†ūüėõ

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*Jorge the Nicaraguan Attack Gerbil appears courtesy of Youtube.com and google search

Leave a Message at the Beep…..Please!

To the random person that called me this morning: 

I’m sorry I missed your call. See, I have an old cat that has been quite needy lately. So needy in fact that she insisted on sleeping with her body¬†attached to my skull. My phone was on the other side of her and in order to answer it I had to wake up, make sure to reach¬†over the cat, and then engaged in a sort of blind game of “Where Is It” where my hand randomly smashed down onto my nightstand as I desperately attempted to locate my phone. Then I had to push my hair out of my eyes so I could¬†see, then push the button on the phone to answer. After all of this, I’m sorry you gave up and hung up on me. If you were to call back and I don’t answer right away, please leave a message after the beep. Thanks!¬†

Oh, and word to the wise; don’t let your cat borrow your phone to make a quick call. You’ll regret it. ūüėÄ
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*Irresponsible cat appears courtesy of: pinterest.com

To the Two Gentlemen in the Taxi Wearing a Collective Four Bottles of Cologne…….

Ok, I think I understand your logic. You are thinking you want to smell nice for the ladies. After all, scent is part of making a good first impression. But if my eyes, as a fellow passenger, start burning from the scent within a few blocks of you¬†getting into the cab, I venture to guess that you may return home D & D; dateless and disappointed. Not only that but you’ll return home confused as to why. The ladies¬†at the bar may not¬†tell you, so I’m here to clue you in–you’re wearing too much cologne. But there is hope. After taking an informal social media poll, I have some tips to help you¬†pass the “sniff test.”

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I know what you’re thinking…”But the bottles are so small I need several. At once.” Unless you are trying to cover up 2 weeks of not showering¬†after long hours spent at your job in the fish market, less is more. Oh, and the previous scenario is no excuse. Take the time to shower, thoroughly, with as mildly scented a soap as possible, and then apply only a¬†few spritzes¬†to your neck and wrists. After applying have a friend, preferably one who does not wear cologne and has been sequestered in another room with a plug over their nose, enter¬†the room and tell you if you are wearing too much. And yes, this only works if your friend doesn’t suffer from anosmia. So choose wisely. Some cologne pack more of a punch than others, so even more than one spritz can be too much for some brands. Make sure to also apply deodorant. Again, men’s deodorant can itself be heavily scented, so keep that in mind when choosing a cologne.¬†

Also, keep in mind that you’ll be interacting with many different types of people, in a small, sweaty place. Some of these people have sensitivities to too much cologne. This is why it is extremely important that if you normally wear a heavily scented deodorant, it might be in your best interest to skip the cologne all together or apply with a very light hand.¬†

Going clubbing with your friends in hopes of finding a nice girl to go out with can be tricky. With the right level of scent and a great personality, you’ll be one step closer to finding her. Just put down that second bottle and walk away.¬†

Cheers!

*Phoebe Buffay and Rachel Greene appear courtesy of: http://www.behindgreeneyes.com/2014/09/20-years-of-friends-its-friend-versary.html

To the Teenaged Girl With Spina Bifida: Hang In There-It Gets Better…..

Ugh! As if growing up and puberty weren’t hard enough-with the acne, growing two feet in a week and sweaty palms. Add to that leg braces, a wheelchair, and bowels and bladder that don’t work properly, and you’ve taken the awkwardness of puberty and kicked it into overdrive. Especially if your parents continually bought you only knee high¬†socks to wear with your braces. Yep, I’ve been there, and I wanted to let you know, it gets better. Fortunately for you, ankle socks are more available now then they were when I was a kid, so you’ll be able to dodge that bullet. ūüėČ

Then there is the question of boys. My mom tried to make me feel better by saying boys were maybe intimidated by my chair and braces and that’s why none ever asked me out. While this makes sense, it wasn’t all that helpful to me at the time. Seeing my friends pair off and start dating made me feel like an outsider. It sucked. I felt like I was an outsider and everyone else was a part of this great club that I could only dream of joining. But you know what you avoid when you aren’t dating in high school? Drama. It gets so much better after high school when the guys have grown up a bit and realize you aren’t all that scary.¬†

Then there is the issue of what to do about your lesion scar. I know you’ve been eyeing that cute¬†bikini at Target. I also know the first thing that comes to your mind….your scar will show. Frankly this is true in any bathing suit, but especially a bikini. My advice? Don’t be afraid to ROCK IT, GIRL!! When you have a disability and are out in the world, the biggest tool you have at your disposal is confidence. It disarms the stares of those around you. Some¬†may still stare, but it will be because they are in awe of your confidence. ūüėČ Besides, you can’t control the actions of others, you can only control what your response will be. Choose confidence and you will win¬†every time. It gets better.

But your biggest obstacle being a teenaged girl with spina bifida? Likely your #1 best kept secret. A secret that if it’d leak out (pardon the pun), would humiliate you till what seems like forever: learning how to handle bowel and bladder accidents. This stuff isn’t supposed to happen past the age of 8. The number one tip I can give you? Know your triggers, such as diet, and avoid those things that turn your bowels and bladder into an overflowing faucet. For me it was avoiding caffeine.

Weather can also be a factor. I know, it sounds insane. But temperature extremes can trigger your bladder to gush forth much like Old Faithful–except your bladder is not as¬†reliable. Let me explain; say it is the middle of summer, hotter than blitz and you go out with friends to the mall. You are using crutches to walk and you reach the inside of the first store. The AC is on full blast. ¬†For some reason, if you don’t have an empty bladder, this drop in temperature can trigger a flow that’ll leave you with a puddle on the floor. The same thing happens in winter when you go from cold to hot suddenly. While you can’t completely prevent this from happening, there are ways to lessen your embarrassment. First, catheterize before you leave the house. And if you still are a little unsure, don’t rely on walking, take¬†your wheelchair. That way, if you do have an accident, it’s more hidden. When you are in the car going on your outing, sit on the cushion of your chair. If taking your chair is not possible, you can still get by with using crutches. Just make sure to wear a disposable pair of underwear over your actual panties. I know it sounds super lame and uncool, but I promise you won’t look like a granny. And you’ll cease to worry about having an accident in front of that cute boy from art class. Nowadays these protective pants come in slim but absorbent forms that are comfortable and won’t leak through. These were a life saver for me in college. You can normally find these at your local pharmacy or places online such as www.hdis.com

Finally¬†make sure when you go out you have plenty of catheters. I remember once when my grandparents and I took my parents to the airport. The trip took longer than we thought and they missed their flight. So we had to take them on to their next destination–a two-hour¬†drive. Guess who forgot to take extras with her? Yep. I’ve lived and learned, and now I pass my tips onto you.¬†

But even with a vigilant diet and making sure to catheterize at regular intervals, accidents happen. That’s why they call them accidents. So what do you do? One way I’ve handled the unexpected accident is to try to pass it off as your period. This actually works better than you’d expect. Lessens the embarrassment for you, and it makes sense to the other person who¬†expects this anyway based on your stage of life. When all else fails, use humor. Here, feel free to practice using these phrases:

1. “Hey, who put that water balloon on my chair??” (carrying around a deflated balloon with a hole in it adds authenticity)

2. “Yeah, when I sit too long, my butt gets really nervous and starts sweating profusely. My dermatologist says it’s a glandular issue”

3. “So I was running late and didn’t have time to dry off completely from the shower I took, so I just came here and stood under the hand dryer and I must have forgotten to dry off my backside.”

Puberty is tough. Going through puberty when you have a disability is even tougher. But I’ve been there and I promise, you can get through it. After all, it does eventually get better. I promise.

Cheers!

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*image appears courtesy of Pinterest