Category Archives: Lupus

Vanity over Sanity

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It is officially 2020 and it seems that everywhere you look it is about weight lifting or weight loss…getting thin or getting bigger…going to the gym or going to the grave….everyone has an opinion. Something I have learned from being married to a man that seems to also be married to the gym is that the better they look…the more insecurity there seems to be. I am not saying everybody, but surprisingly more people than I thought struggle with this idea of getting older, getting fat or getting behind. Some go to shortcuts to create an edge through shots or surgery or pills etc. All of that leads to a quick fix for the moment, but if the mind is not right the self doubts will always come back. In short, it seems some choose vanity over sanity and the issue does not seem to be disappearing anytime soon.

My husband and I argue about this a lot because with Lupus, I need to work out, but I always feel so tired. I always feel like if I had an extra hour in my day it would be for anything else than the gym. However, what I am finding is I actually do feel better whenever I get in there. I am not like my husband with the discipline to go at whatever cost, but I have found myself trying to make it more than I ever had previously. Something about the pre-workout, the right music, the right protein shake and being by myself in the gym excites me. There are all kinds of workouts, but I am still a good old fashion gym rat through and through. (Just do not check my attendance please!) Here lately my go to has been nutrition shakes that cost half my salary, but make me feel like I am putting forth effort to have that beach body by July.

If you saw me you would likely roll your eyes that I am even writing about weight loss as I am a small girl, but my issue is to turn fat into muscle and not look like the wind could kick my a@#. It is true…my arms are weak, but my mind makes up for it. I pray at some point that we can all get to a place of appreciation, of self check when we need to get it together rather than others opinions deciding for us, a place where vanity and sanity can coexist and aging will be just as sexy as Carrie Underwood’s legs. But until then my plan of action is to tell myself and others they are beautiful and worthy and enough. To stay healthy for life, to stay emotionally and mentally grounded for the good of your well being and be okay with the person God created whatever phase of life you are in. 2020 will be the best year yet!

5 Things I Learned from Lupus

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I feel like I am a success story with Lupus. One big reason is that the good Lord gave me mild symptoms and for that I am grateful, but another big reason is I have learned to live with it and know my place with this autoimmune disease. So here are the top five things I have learned after being in tune with my autoimmune:

1. What you eat matters!

This took me a while to accept but it is true. Certain foods (mostly processed) will send me into achy overdrive. It does not mean that I cannot or do not eat those delicious cheese fries, Cheetos or fried anything…but it does mean I know I will pay the price and honestly it is not always worth it.

2.Have less fear if the liquid is clear.

I had read somewhere that the darker the liquid, the more things added to it. No clue if it is true, but I have found the clear liquids do not send my body fighting as much as the dark. Coke, beer, sweet tea (why, God, why?) get me achy and fatigued, but if I stay with Vodka, Sprite or of course water then I can usually keep the party going.

3. Say yes to the mattress!

Who would say no to a good nap?? I immediately get sick when I live a lifestyle of less than 8 hours of sleep. Now life is busy so this is not always possible, but our bodies are made to need rest and we need to choose to listen.

4.Say NO to stress!!

As a teacher, stress is inevitable. A quote I read says “Teachers make more minute by minute decisions than a surgeon.” I believe this…so stress will happen, but I can choose to avoid stress whenever possible and I do. One way is I stopped watching reality shows or any show that is fighting just to fight…trust me this was hard…but Real Housewives or Mobwives just had to go. FB drama had to go too…I refuse to click on the video with the fight or add comments to the political posts going nowhere. In my marriage, when things get heated…I go to the word and prayer instead. Life in general is lived more peacefully when you know God is in control and has a purpose for you. Now, I am not quite at the place where yoga is more calming than painful, but I am sure I will get there.

5. FINALLY..Exercise helps.

This is tricky because overdoing it wears me out. Also, when I have already worked all day the last thing I have energy to do is go to the gym, but it helps. I will admit that. Probably helps with the stress and mind part of things, too. But I used to refuse to work out and now I make time for it. In the beginning, it is exhausting, but as you build stamina it gets better. 

Now I am sure you are all reading and thinking duh! Even people without Lupus know eat right, get exercise, and rest will help the body…but here is the question: do you do it? Likely, a little but not all the way. I have learned I have to do it or I have no energy, run a fever and experience joint pain. No fun, right? So everything is a choice but my choice is made loud and clear with my body. I have learned to (finally) listen to my Lupus for a happier life!

Lupus Limits…But Does Not Stop

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I must admit I am one of the fortunate ones living with Lupus. My symptoms are mild, the meds I take are working, I was diagnosed quickly, my vital organs are unaffected; seriously, I am fortunate. My Lupus mostly involves my nervous system, my endocrine system and reproductive system. All those systems or words I would have never known before my diagnosis so basically my nerves, blood and ability to have babies. When I flare and I do weekly, I get fatigued due to chronic anemia, my joints ache like a 90 year old man, and my fingers turn white or purple. Right now my flare includes Pleurisy which means the lining of my lungs are inflamed…the sun is my enemy. Through it all I am grateful because my God has used it for good. This disease brought me a child through adoption that I would not have ever met, the sick days help me to appreciate the healthy days and my experience has helped me to encourage others going through similar things. To be in my low thirties with a chronic illness triggered by such common things as the sun and stress is intense, but I am alive and choosing to stay alive (there are some flares so bad I have felt like death) and choosing to live my life rather than let it live me.

Insert soccer.

When I was being diagnosed I told my doctor I played soccer. His response: not anymore. He went on to tell me that my blood levels showed low iron and chronic anemia so any major physical activity was dangerous. I took a few games off, but continued to play. The fatigue was intense after sunny games but we always had subs so it worked. However in the fall of 2016 I was in a major flare and for the first time in 15 seasons I had to say I could not play. It was defeating as I knew I was really sick to skip soccer. 

That was 2 years ago. I probably felt good enough to play again, but new players join and your team changes.  So I was not asked the next season and then I think the team took a season off so when I got the text to play I considered it. My biggest concern was that my lungs are inflamed right now which feels like a heart attack while resting and like an asthma attack when running-not too smart to say yes, but it will go away.  I also knew it would be hard after not playing two years so I had to speak to my hubs since he would be watching the kid and me if I get sick, but when he cheered me on I went for it.

Last night was the first game and it felt good. I was nervous all day, resting my body, drinking water, taking medicine…but it all felt good.  My biggest fear was my inflamed lungs and they were tight after long sprints, but two subs on the side could be called in at any time.  We won and I got some good touches, but most importantly I played. I was fearful two years ago that I never would again. So unsure if it was a good idea that I kept it a secret so no one could talk me out of it. But I feel okay the day after and since the games are at night, I think swimming will kill me before soccer ūü§™ 

Lupus does limit me, but it will not stop me. Soccer is what I do for myself. On the field I feel my sexiest and my mind is cleared.  I feel badass to be 38 and still playing. The best part is I challenge my mind and body and grow closer to the Lord as I praise him for the chance to show good sportsmanship and meet others with the same passion. Today I am grateful to be a soccer player living with Lupus again. My call of action to those without chronic diseases is to go out use your body. It is a beautiful thing of science and should not be wasted. Do not waste your health!

Urban to Rural…year one done!

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Last year, I made a big career move by switching from Mesquite ISD to Crandall ISD. Big move meaning less pay, less resources, went from 34 elementary schools in the district to 4, went from a support role with less stress to the classroom which meant more preparation…a lot of change! Now that the year is over I can say it was the right move, but I still miss Mesquite greatly; it was my home and still where I feel the most me.

But looking back here is a list of some of the biggest changes:

1. Resources- no printer in my room, a rough curriculum that was new, no chart paper readily available, one person was the go to for all the curriculum needs vs having department heads. All of this obviously due to size…this district is growing, but some of these perks are not needed yet.

2. Freedom- freedom to make your plans as you see fit, to try new ideas, to leave on time, to focus on teaching and not testing. Returning to the classroom could have only been done if I could reduce the stress and this district was the answer.

3. Respect-at my campus families still respect the profession. Behavior was awesome because parents would punish if not. Parent phone calls made a difference; the student behavior was to blame and not the teacher. The community valued the profession…lots of respect for this passion I pursue.

4. Pride- Mesquite has pride, but with so many schools that pride is spread out. So many great schools leads for lots of ways to shine which Mesquite often will, but this small town vibe sends all their students to one high school which leads to one big ball of CHS pride. I will love this in the future when I want to see former students and know where to find them.

5. Purpose- there is purpose at both but in Mesquite I knew mine daily. There you are more than a teacher..you are life. More is expected of you emotionally and spiritually. Your coworkers are your soldiers fighting the urban education battle of poverty with you. I was emotionally fatigued daily but I was needed, changing lives and doing the impossible daily. 

6. Connection..this will be the last reflection, but the smaller district gets you connected quicker.  We meet as a whole district to cheer each other on, parades and pep rallies are attended by the town, Friday night lights is a thing, the admin knows you by name and make sure to address your concerns…the lack of Title One money means there is not as much stuff, but the relationship of knowing who you are is powerful.

The purpose one often has me question if I will return to Mesquite or at least a campus in this district that is more needy..maybe even middle school someday, but for now I am trying to remember I did my 14 years in the trenches and it is now time to see a different side. Still tough, still needed, still so much work but with some benefits so I do not get burnt out. 

I am especially excited because my son comes to school with me next year!

Hard to believe this baby is now five!

If you are thinking about switching districts, my advice is think about the location, money and then your health. Decide what you can balance.  I am fortunate we could take the pay cut. The new location limits us since my family and our activities are in Mesquite plus Crandall is limited on food and shopping. We drive a lot, but at least not in the morning like I used to do for two years commuting to work. Being in the classroom is long hours, but adding driving time means you are away from home even more.  For me, it came down to health. Even when I was crying because I missed my support system and school where I was known and loved…I knew I was healthier because I was less stressed and had help when I needed it. Lupus is a disease triggered by stress and I need the less stress possible. Being in the classroom filled my passion, but it also brought back work only a classroom teacher could know. 

Health won.

I encourage you to pray to God about where he can use you and then obey. When it is all happening then you will have peace if you are in his will. Even during the tough times then you will know God led you here and He is with you. 

You Take the Good with the Bad

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We are on Facebook Fast Day 10 and I think I am slowly getting used to life without it.¬† I don’t find myself missing it as much since I have not been on it for ten days.¬† I do catch myself wondering about certain people’s posts about various topics or feelings about world events that I know would have something to say, but I enjoy being separated from the drama.¬† A coworker will ask me if I saw so and so’s post etc., but I can honestly say no and I have no idea what is going on.¬† I do feel isolated from current events or from social happenings around the community; the main reason I joined is because a friend was moving to Australia and a different one got engaged and I had no idea because they thought I knew through Facebook.¬† People don’t call each other to share news or even email…they just post it on Facebook, so I feel I am missing out on that, but you have to take the good with the bad.

I went for my semi-annual Lupus check up today.¬† It is only on these days that¬†I remember I have a chronic disease that is in constant need of monitoring.¬† Only on days like today where I see how bad my disease could be that I appreciate the mildness of it all even if it is inconvenient.¬† For the first time ever, I got a bone density scan to measure if my bones were deteriorating due to the steroids I take daily.¬† I did surprise the machine guy with my scoliosis.¬† He thought I was sitting straight at first, but then realized it was my back and calmed down.¬† Thankfully the test had positive results.¬† We took my usually two vials of blood to monitor that the levels stayed the same and then did my normal check up.¬† This time I had a¬†concern because my scalp has developed these lesions that are causing my hair to thin in areas and I am not having that hair loss!¬† He recommended a visit to the Dermatologist but assured me it was an effect of the disease and the hair will likely grow back.¬† I can tell that I am in a flare or about to be because of my extreme weight loss.¬† I am down five pounds, but eating more or as normal.¬† I like the natural weight loss, but will not tolerate hair loss…I guess you got to take the good with the bad!

Finally, my son is in the Terrible Twos in full swing.¬† The amount of “mine” “no” “I don’t want to” and pure break downs when things do not go his way are intense.¬† We call him bipolar Callen because one minute he is on top of the world and the next he is sprawled out on the floor.¬† We are trying to balance the thought that he is learning these bad behaviors to get our attention¬†with this is just the age and we must push through it.¬† We are constantly reinforcing him to use his words and express his feelings while punishing using time out when necessary.¬† The good thing is our caretakers report he does well for them and the meltdowns are non-existent or minimal, but not sure why we get all the good stuff.¬† Hoping we are not encouraging the bad behaviors without knowing it, but we have no idea are just trying to do our best.¬† As I am fussing at him for taking out the chicken hammer, spilling the bubbles, putting his sock in the water and carrying the laundry basket into the shower…I thought I was about to reach my breaking point.¬† In my mind, I was thinking “we are not going to make it out of the twos” and then my mind went back to the mother that lost her 17 month old girl on Thursday and I know she would give anything to have the terrible twos.¬† I know she would sell all she owned to have one more day of spills, tears, messes and meltdowns.¬† I appreciate that I am blessed to have these moments with him…the good ones and the bad.

The good news is: Facebook Fast, Lupus and infamous two year old behaviors–I am blessed with the good and the bad.¬† Humbled tonight in so many ways especially knowing that the sweet parent tonight endured her child’s viewing.¬† I know God is good and He loves us.¬† I know God is faithful and His promises are true, but this one has rocked me.¬† Why give that good and perfect gift to later take it away?¬† I know she is in a better place, but my heart hurts at the thought.¬† Her story has rocked me today.¬† I know she will get up and breathe and take it day by day and hour by hour…I know she will find the strength, but I wish she did not have to.

Edens Garden Oil Mama!

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I have several friends that swear by Young Living oils. I wanted to try them, but after looking at the price became disinterested. While shopping at Vitamin World, I found a collection of oils in the aisle. I tried the big ones: Lavender, Peppermint, Tea Tree and Eucalyptus. I became addicted! I am a scent girl (think wax warmers in four rooms) and began to hunt for more. Eventually I stumbled upon Edens Garden and now I am hooked for life.

I use Lavender and Thieves to calm my sleepy baby and protect from illness. I used Clove during teething and Lemon for his allergies. I use peppermint for his belly aches and Tea Tree for cuts and scrapes.

I am more a blend girl for myself. Stay Alert is put on my pulse points at lunch to keep me going. Good Night is my sleeping blend, Calm and Peace is diffused for anxiety and Stress Relief is for those hectic testing times at school. There is even an Age Defy for wrinkles…trying to delay Botox. PMS blend calms my monthly visits and there is even a blend for those in the mood moments. Too far? Sorry.

Finally, I have recently begun trying blends to keep my Lupus in check. Copaiba, Renew and Frankinsence (sp?) is good for the immune system and Muscle Relief calms my aching joints.

I have recently bought a set for my parents to try as they were asking how I kept from getting sick (so far) this winter. I feel like things you love you should share ūüôā

Obviously, I continue my Plaquenil and Prednisone but these added to the mix keep the doses low and the flares at bay. I have no idea how they work…it may be all mental, but I tell people it does not hurt to try it. I write this post not to anger or argue with Young Living reps, do what works for you (do not get me started on Scentsy vs Home and Garden wax) I just want to share an often not discussed option for those as freaked out as me over a forty dollar bottle of oil.

The good news is: God is the ultimate healer and oils do not replace a doctor. I am a believer in modern medicine, too, but these smell great and are all natural so why not?

MY Times

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I have seen these End of the Year Facebook movies and MY times pop up in my Facebook feed lately. They basically take your most popular posts of the year and make one huge compilation or collage. Although, I enjoy glancing at them as I scroll down I have no intention to create one of my own. Although I am curious, I know the posts that I created this year for Facebook do not accurately show my year for two reasons.

#1 I have learned that what my friends like to see most is cute pics of my son. I probably over post him to the point I am likely hid from some people which is fine with me. He will not be this cute forever, his birth parents soak it up and really he is the majority of my life right now. I am kinda afraid if I make one it will confirm that my social life is wrapped up in a two year old or at least that is what people see.

#2 the second and real reason I do not check mine out is it would not be accurate. Facebook to me has a specific audience intended for a specific purpose. It is about living the life you want people to see. I am not fake on it, but I refuse to post drama and to be honest my life has had it even though it never made my newsfeed. Not major drama (praise God), but the truth is my husband and I have fought this year…big arguments that I questioned our direction. We have made some financial decisions that have changed our spending. My kid was sick once.¬† I have had my fair share of Lupus flares.¬† In one right now…have this red, itchy, flaky scalp that will not go¬†away ( a new¬†symptom). ¬†I struggled with my walk with God. I have abandoned some unhealthy friendships. I have grieved infertility as we learn contentment with one and¬†have grown¬†to be fine with God’s plan. I have questioned my career path and the reality of my parent’s mortality. I have had some crazy wild girls’ nights and racy husband wife vacations….none of this would be in MY times because I did not share it publicly. I could have, but chose not to, but these things define my year as much or more than the funny stories or nostalgic moments that I posted. My title of the Facebook creation would be “My Times as I chose for you to see it”.

Saying all that I love Facebook for so many reasons. I am almost addicted because I love writing and reading and it has both. I am a fan because it gives you a way to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. People that hate on it do not appreciate that if you are my friend then I should rejoice for your success or hurt for your loss. Otherwise, we are not friends. So as we head into 2015 I choose to look forward and not back even though 2014 has been very good to me…I know the best is yet to come and I pray it is for you, too!