Stage 3 Kidney Disease

health

After months of procrastinating, I was finally able to convince Abe to make a doctor’s appointment, just as a regular general check up, as one should generally do from time to time.  He has very mild asthma, and needs to keep an inhaler on hand,  the one he had was nearly empty.

Since we moved, it made sense to choose a doctor that was closer to us and one that offered convenient hours, due to our busy schedules.  A little research, and we found one close and decided to give her a try.

He went to his appointment and got the refill for his inhaler.  They took blood, which is normal, did a general check up, went over a brief history, and all seemed well.  He liked the doctor well enough for how little he would ever see her.

Overall, it was pretty uneventful.

Until about a week later when we got a letter in the mail.  I assumed it was thank you for visiting note that usually comes after visiting a new physician, and it was.  But it also included his blood work results, and a paragraph stating that Abe had stage 3 kidney disease.

Just like that.  A little sentence, hidden in the fluff of “thanks for coming” and the test results.  Not a call, not a suggestion for more tests to confirm this very serious diagnosis, just BOOM.

What do you think I did when I read that?

Did you guess “Google the heck up out of stage 3 kidney disease”?  Because that is exactly what I did.  And then I sobbed.  For hours.  I was a hysterical mess.  And Abe hadn’t even seen this diagnosis yet.

When Abe read the diagnosis, of course, he too was upset.  He was just told he had a serious illness in an informal letter.

Shouldn’t the doctor have called to discuss this major diagnosis?  Shouldn’t she have offered more testing and solutions instead of just dropping this major bomb on our family?

We sat in silence for a good while, and then we started brainstorming.  I had mentioned that in a renal diet plan, (yes, I went so far as to start looking up renal diets and supplements, and anything else I possibly could, I was desperate!  Abe is my world!) protein is greatly restricted.  He thought for a moment and then wondered out loud if the protein powder he had been supplementing with could have raised his creatine levels, giving a false “high” reading on the blood work.

Back to Google I went, and do you know what?  The protein powder he was using had a creatine boost in it!  Further research showed that it was common for these supplements to give false high levels in blood work.

A glimmer of hope!

He stopped using the protein powder immediately and began drinking more water to help flush his kidneys.  He also scheduled a repeat visit and requested a new blood test to recheck his levels.

I am very happy to say that his levels are completely NORMAL!!  The doctor took back her stage 3 kidney disease diagnosis.

But should she have even diagnosed that in the first place?!

There are specific tests that should have been ordered, steps taken to verify her findings before giving out the death sentence.  And perhaps a phone call was in order?

This whole ordeal caused a lot of stress and worry that was 100% avoidable.  It is just another reminder that you cannot blindly accept everything that is said to you, even by doctors.  You have to be an advocate for yourself and for your loved ones.  Do your research, ask questions, and when things don’t add up, demand new tests and see different doctors.

Your doctor works for you, so you should be able to trust them to try and care for you to the best of their ability.

Apparently this doctor never heard the phrase, “do no harm”.

Stay healthy, friends.  And I hope you never have this happen to you or your loved ones. What a terrifying experience, worrying about losing your soul mate!

TTC Arsenal

fertility meds

Guys, this is just a tiny slice of the mega supply of supplements I have right now, in my desperate attempt to overcome my infertility.  I thought it might be helpful to get an idea of what I am using and the effectiveness of the products I will share as I use them.  This is just what came in a recent Amazon delivery, to be added to my regular routine.

I think it will be easier if I break up my supply into several posts, because it’s a lot of stuff and a lot of info to take in.  I should mention that in addition to the supplements I am using, I am also following a healthy whole foods eating plan, and exercising 5+ days a week.  All of the supplements in the world won’t help you if you aren’t being proactive in all aspects of your life.  I should also mention, for those that don’t know, that I suffer from PCOS which is largely responsible for my secondary infertility.

Secondary infertility is described as the inability to achieve or maintain a healthy pregnancy following the birth of one or more biological children.  What I have come to learn, is that it is typical for PCOS to really take hold and cause infertility in your mid to late 20’s.  This is exactly what happened to me.  I had two children and then came the nightmare roller coaster of miscarriage and infertility.

I had a Clomid/rainbow baby, and then quickly became pregnant with my youngest soon after.  The combination of breastfeeding, weight loss and somewhat normalized hormones coupled with perfect timing helped me with that.  Since then, my PCOS has flared out of control.

So now, I have my battle gear on, and I am fighting to regain what should be rightfully mine.  I have grown tired of being betrayed by my own body and decided to take action.  Sometimes you just have to get mad to get serious, and this year, my friends, I got pissed off.

Pictured:

  • Premama Fertility Supplement:  This is a drink additive that includes 2000 mg of myo-inositol and 200 mcg of folic acid.  I know I have tried inositol supplementation before with zero results.  Call me crazy, but I decided to try this supplement anyway with a daily tea I will talk about soon.
  • NAC 600mg (n-acetyl-cysteine): This is touted as a miracle supplement by so many for PCOS and has been on my mind for years but I never tried it before.  Until now.  Some benefits reported include improving insulin sensitivity, lowering testosterone and free androgens, regulating cycles and improving regularity of ovulation, supporting egg quality, and higher progesterone levels.  This supplement is in the sulfur family, and let me tell you, the capsules smell awful.  But if it can help me, you know I’m willing to give it a try.
  • OPK Test Strips: Wishful thinking, but I would like to be able to use these puppies, and I know you go through a ton of them in a cycle so I stocked up with a 100 count box.  I will go into more detail on OPK’s for cysters, as they are a whole new game, but for now, I am just well stocked and hopeful.

Stay tuned for more arsenal info, and hopefully I will be able to update that the crazy cocktail of supplements offers me some benefits.  PCOS is tough to navigate and there are so many promised miracle cures out there, it’s hard to know what is even worth trying.  I do a lot of research on everything before I decide to try anything, and of course, none of this is meant as medical advice, it’s just me being open and sharing my journey.  As far as dosages, that can vary wildly, depending on what study or article you read.  I tend to follow the research studies for dosage amounts, rather than the label on the bottles.  It’s all trial and error, really.  I try to be tuned into my body and adjust accordingly.

Until next time, friends!

DIY Chalkboard

chalkboard

We made a fun chalkboard for the kids playroom last weekend and it was so simple and easy to make!

Have you been wanting a chalkboard for your kids, but didn’t want to pay the crazy high prices for the dinky pre made ones?  Same here, friends!  This board was so easy and inexpensive, it just doesn’t make sense to even bother with the high priced store bought ones.  Trust me, even a beginner DIYer could tackle this!

Materials needed:

  • Sheet of metal from plumbing department in hardware store (you could also use a board, but we used metal so it would also be magnetic for the kids to use their letter magnets and other fun magnets on)
  • Trim pieces (they can even cut them for you at the hardware store if you don’t have a saw!)
  • Blackboard paint
  • Screws

To start with, you will want to put several coats of blackboard paint on the metal sheet.  Let the coats dry in between.  We ended up doing about 4-5 coats.  If you want, paint the trim.  The trim pieces we grabbed were pre painted, how easy is that?  You can get fancy and do mitered corners and what not, but we went super simple and quick for our assembly.

When the chalkboard paint is dry, lay out the trim and attach.  Abe just used short screws and screwed them on from behind the board.

To attach to the wall, we used anchors and screws directly through the four corners of the chalkboard.

That is it, friends!

Before you throw the chalk at the kids and tell them to have at it, prime the board by taking the side of a piece of chalk and covering the whole board with a thin layer of chalk.  Then erase and let the kids go wild.

Our kiddos love the new addition to the playroom!  Everyday there is a new masterpiece created.  So fun!

Happy crafting, friends!

Shark Friends

I have been supersizing lots of patterns lately by using fun and fluffy mega yarns.  In the spirit of Shark Week, and because we love the misunderstood fish so much, I couldn’t help but whip up a few shark friends for the kids.

This little, or should I say big, guy grew from ping pong ball size to softball size, simply by changing the yarn.  And the chenille yarn is so fluffy and soft, it makes him extra fun to snuggle!

 

20170728_083209

This fun hammer head shark turned out even bigger than I anticipated!  Noah claimed him right away.  Notice his shark themed pjs!  Hehe!  He is super cuddly and soft, and I think he will go nicely with his shark snuggle sack!

Get the pattern for the Hammerhead Shark by visiting Jillian over at Spin A Yarn Crochet or click HERE.

I hope you have had an awesome Shark Week!

Fish Stick Snack!

goldfish

Guys!  How cute are these “fish sticks”?!

I saw this adorable idea on Pinterest and made them for a recent playdate we had.  They are so incredibly simple to make and they are so impressive looking when they are finished!  And not to mention what a hit they are with the kids!

To make these is pretty self explanatory.  It’s just pretzel rods dipped in melting chocolate and then decorated with Goldfish Crackers and sprinkles.  I used the little mini pearls for the bubbles, and mixed pink and blue colored sugar for the aquarium gravel.

This would be a great Shark Week snack!  Sure, they aren’t Great Whites, but they are awfully cute and it’s an underwater theme, so that counts, right?

Happy snacking, friends!

Happy Shark Week!

IMG_6303 (2)

Are you huge fans of Shark Week like my family is?  We just love it, even if all the shows make the ocean a wee bit scary!  *cue Jaws theme*

I made this fun snuggle sack for Noah last summer, it was the perfect project for summer time, and it kept him warm all fall and winter.  It is made with Bernat Blanket yarn, so it is super plush and cuddly!

Every night when I tuck him in, I tell him to “Feed the shark!”  He giggles and then climbs right in.

You can find the pattern for the Shark Snuggle Sack from Yarnspirations by clicking HERE.

Enjoy Shark Week, and don’t feed the sharks!  Unless they are made with fluffy yarn!  😉

 

Thankful Thursday 7/13/17

sunset

I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed by life and forget to appreciate the small things we have in our lives that are true blessings.  Sometimes, just being mindful of what you have can help you to take a breath and reset your entire way of thinking.  With that said, I thought I would share a few things that I am thankful for today.

1. Air Conditioning.  It is hot, friends.  Over 100 degrees with heat index well above that.  I am so lucky to have a home with air conditioning, and the ability to pay the electric bill to run it.  I won’t lie.  There have been times in my past when I had air conditioning and simply couldn’t afford to run it.  I have also had a broken air conditioner with a house full of pets and babies that suffered from the sweltering heat.  Today I sit in a beautiful home with a brand new air conditioner and I feel very blessed.

2. Tomatoes.  This year, being back in our home, we were able to plant tomatoes again!  What a luxury, being able to step outside and pick fresh fruit to eat!  And how delicious they are!  So flavorful and sweet!  And the accomplishment of growing them ourselves, well, that is pretty awesome too.

3. Summer Vacation.  I love having my kids home for the summer.  The school year is so busy with dance and sports and scouts, you name it.  To have them home, without having anywhere to rush to, is simply lovely.  We do crafts and read books and even do workbooks to be ready for the new school year, but we are all together.  We can wear jammies all day, play outside and make sand castles all morning and stay up late playing board games.  It is relaxed and precious to me.  And it goes by too quickly!

I hope you all have a fabulous day, and that you can take some time to reflect on the things you have to be thankful for.  Until next time, my friends!

DripJoy Coffee Subscription Review!!

dripjoy

I love, love, love coffee!!  The look, the smell, the taste….anything coffee is pretty much amazing to me.  I enjoy it hot or iced, black or flavored, any way you serve it, coffee make this girl happy!

In our home, we have a Mr Coffee brewer for making full pots, and our Keurig Brewer for the convenience of single servings.  I really love the convenience of grabbing a pod, throwing it in the machine, and having an instantly fresh, hot cup of coffee.  But, finding a really good quality coffee pod is not so easy!

I have taste tested many, many different brands of coffee pods for the Keurig, and very few deliver truly delicious cups of coffee.  They are often too weak, or just oddly flavored.  We have also purchased the reusable pods, where you can brew with your own coffee of choice.  Meh.  I don’t know why, but the magic promised with those gadgets just does not deliver.

When I was asked to test and review DripJoy Single Serve Coffee pods, I was excited, because coffee, but wasn’t expecting anything different than what I am used to.  I was very pleasantly surprised!

First, lets talk about what exactly DripJoy is.

DripJoy was started with the frustration of single cup brewers.  Realizing there is no need to sacrifice quality for convenience, DripJoy started with constructing a brand new brewer, a machine that is available directly through them, that solves many of the frustrations of clogged and faulty brewers.   But they also chose not to chance just any coffee with their newly designed brewer, and went straight to the source, working with farmers across the world to get the freshest, highest quality coffee for their pods.

These awesome, high quality JoyPods work with Keurig machines, but you can also sign up for a greatly discounted Premium Brewer when you sign up for a subscription.  In the higher tiered subscriptions, you even get the brewer for free!  The website walks you through your order, helping you to decide what monthly plan works best for you.  You tell them whether it is for home or business, how many coffee drinkers you have in the home, how much coffee you drink, etc, and they come up with a plan best suited for you.

dripjoy2

Plans start as low as $14.99 a month, which is billed and shipped every other month, so one charge of $29.98 for two months of premium coffee shipped directly to you.  The price per cup goes down as you choose larger plans, but even at the lowest tier, it’s only $0.62 per cup!  Way less than a cup from the local coffee shop, more convenient and quicker than brewing a whole pot, and the coffee tastes amazing!!!  You can even try out a sampler pack for just $1.00, which includes a mix of  the different varieties so you can see how great the quality is and also taste the amazing brews!

There are seven different roasts to choose from: Morning Joy, Dark Bean Daydream, Colombian Cheer, French Elation, Vanilla Jubilee, Happy Hazelnut, and Delightful Decaf.  I chose Dark Bean Daydream and Colombian Cheer for my review, and I could not be more happy!

First of all, the package is designed to fit perfectly in your cabinet, unlike many other packages from other brands.  I love this!  And the cups have a happy little face on them, preparing you for the bliss you are about to experience.

As soon as the cup began brewing, my entire kitchen was filled with the amazing aroma of the rich, dark, intoxicating loveliness.  It even smells better than those other coffee pods!!  But the real test was in the taste, and let me tell you, DripJoy passes with flying colors!  I haven’t brewed coffee this good in ages!  Certainly not from a coffee pod!  It is strong and rich, but not bitter at all.  I enjoyed it hot and fresh and even as a nice refreshing iced drink.  Of all of the coffees I have used in my iced drinks, this is by far superior.  It is truly coffee house quality, in the comfort and convenience of you own home!

20170418_090455

I am a huge fan of DripJoy, and can’t wait to try even more of their yummy varieties.  This is a company that not only cares about giving you a delicious, convenient cup of coffee, but they do it sustainably,  harvesting only at the ripest moment, ensuring maximum yield and the most robust flavor.  Only the highest quality beans are used, which guarantees the best cup of coffee every single time.

With your subscription, you can change your roast preferences at any time online.  If you get their brewer, they guarantee it!  If it should ever break, they will replace it for free!  Your subscription will automatically renew, so you never have to worry about forgetting to pick up or order more pods.  They also send you an email before they renew your subscription.

Shipping for DripJoy is just $9.99 per order in the contiguous U.S.  But they also have a program called Shipping+, which entitles you to free shipping when you commit to subscribe for one full year.  This saves you over $115 a year, and makes it all an even better value!  There is a fee if you decide to cancel before your 365 days are up, but when would you ever not want to get amazing coffee delivered for free right to your doorstep?

Click HERE to check out the DripJoy website and customize your very own yummy coffee subscription!

Click HERE to check out and follow DripJoy on Twitter!

Click HERE to check out and “like” the DripJoy Facebook page! dripjoy3

The awesome folks at DripJoy provided me with free product for review purposes only and I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own, and I really do love their products!

My Big Fat Fabulous Lie

Have you all seen the TLC show, My Big Fat Fabulous Life?  When it first came out, and it was revealed that the main character had PCOS, I was instantly interested to hear more.  So many women suffer from the disorder, and yet so much is still unknown about it all.

While I went in, hoping to see more light shed on the subject, it turned out to be much more of the typical unreal “reality show” circus.  Heavily scripted and just ridiculous, with the star of the show blaming everything on PCOS, making people who are really suffering look foolish.

The last few episodes were so ridiculous and over the top, it was sad.

It is insanely rare to get a false positive pregnancy test period, PCOS or not.  Further more, to get a positive pregnancy test, the body has to be secreting HCG (human chrorionic gonadotropin).  This hormone is produced by a growing embryo, and later the placenta.  Nothing else can create or mimic this hormone except for extremely rare types of tumors.

False ovulation test positives?  Yes.  Very common in PCOS, but that is a completely different hormone.  Ovulation tests react to LH (luteinizing hormone), or more specifically a surge in LH.  Because ovulation is so erratic in women with PCOS, the tests can pick up false surges, when the body is trying to ovulate, but ultimately does not do so.

There are so many women suffering from infertility, specifically tied to PCOS, it really sucks to play out a fake story line on a fake reality tv show for ratings.  In fact, it’s insulting.

Fans of the show, I don’t judge you for watching, but please don’t assume anything is real.  Enjoy it for the writing and the acting, but don’t take notes on any “facts” they sprinkle in for drama.

To my fellow cysters, yes, my eyes hurt from rolling so hard as well.  Fight on and be strong!

PCOS Series: Breakthrough Bleeding

calander

One of the most common symptoms of PCOS is a wonky period schedule.  I know for myself, I have never in my life had a predictable cycle.  Sometimes they were 28 days, sometimes 34 days, and more often than not, any random number of days, meaning I could go months and months with no sign of a period at all.

Awesome if you aren’t trying to conceive, because who wants a period anyway, right?  But there is science behind why that happens, and it’s important to understand how your body is working so you can try to combat irregular symptoms, of which there are many in PCOS!

Some women with PCOS think they are continuing to have “regular” cycles because they bleed every month, but in fact what is often happening is called estrogen breakthrough bleeding or anovulatory bleeding.  This happens when there is no ovulation, which means no progesterone is produced.  Without progesterone to balance out the estrogen, the endometrial wall is constantly thickening, unable to shed because it is lacking the necessary hormonal messages.

A period that occurs during an anovulatory cycle can be irregularly heavy, due to the increased thickening.  Sometimes, however, the bleeding can be lighter.  Or you may notice blood clots, some of which can be alarmingly large.  Trust me, friends, I speak from experience.  In general, the advice is to notify your doctor if the clots you are passing are larger than an egg.  Larger than an egg!   Fun times.

It is helpful to know what is normal for you, so you can judge each cycle and note the differences.  Because of all the huge hormonal fluctuations in women with PCOS, periods can be very different even cycle to cycle.  I myself have had a cycle last for over 3 weeks with insanely heavy bleeding, flooding, clots, etc that had me nearly housebound.  If you find yourself in this position, talk to your doctor!  There are medications your doctor can give you to help stop the bleeding, not to mention, there are several ways to help manage PCOS symptoms.

Know what is your normal, keep a journal, mark your calendars, keep yourself informed.  Knowledge is power, my friends, and the more you know about yourself and how your body works, the better equipped you are to treat it and take care of it.  It is also super helpful for sharing the information with your doctor, who can then help you to come up with a game plan for treatment.

Speaking of doctors, if your doctor is not helpful with helping you treat your PCOS symptoms, or infertility, or anything for that matter, if they are quick to simply blame your being overweight for your health problems, RUN AWAY!!  That is a lazy cop out, and you deserve a doctor who cares and who will treat you fairly and with respect.

Also, women with PCOS aren’t always overweight!  There are lots of thin cysters out there, having the same problems, minus the weight issues that are often common with the disorder.

There is no cure for PCOS, only treatment.  This is why I am so passionate about learning everything that I can about it and sharing it with you.  There is still so much to be learned about it all, but understanding what is happening is a huge step in the right direction.

Stay tuned for lots more in this series, and be well my friends!