Keeping It Together

When it’s all about to fall apart, what is a mother to do to hold it all together?

Anything she possibly can!

Months ago I wrote a blog about how Cowden’s Syndrome changed… my phone.  And its true.  I could not manage the appointments and chronic craziness without Siri, my BFF.

And, when the navigation in my car quits, which it often does, Siri is the one to get me home.

So how did Cowden’s Syndrome change my entire way of eating?

After our diagnoses in the fall of 2011, my dear husband ate his way through his stress.  I can’t blame him.  Imminent cancer risks for your young daughter.  Thyroid nodules galore.  Biopsies every 6 months.  Vascular problems.  Pain.  A wife facing a mastectomy, and subsequently a cancer diagnosis, and a hysterectomy.  Tumors on her spleen… and the list goes on.

By November of 2011 he was here.

Felix and Meg November 2011

I had known him since 1997 and had seen his weight fluctuate from attempt after attempt to get the stress eating in check.  Being a big attractive guy, he was able to disguise his weight very well for most of the “ups.”  But I knew this level of yo-yo dieting was not good for him.  I also knew we needed him, strong and by our sides.

My husband is soft-spoken, and talks to very few people by his own choosing.  I had to get his permission before I hit “publish” on this one.  But if you listen carefully when he does talk, he always has valuable advice and a story to tell.

Some time over the winter of 2011, into early 2012… maybe it was right after my double mastectomy in March of 2012, he had a revelation.  While sitting uncomfortably on the couch one night, he tried to move a pillow out of his way.  Only to realize it was his waist.

A month after that during a physical he left the doctor’s office with prescriptions for his high triglycerides, his high blood pressure and his high cholesterol.  Darned if I was going to put MORE junk in his body we went to a trusted cardiologist.  He told Felix there was nothing wrong with him that losing 50 pounds wouldn’t fix.  He gave him a script for a prescription strength fish oil.  We tossed the other scripts in the trash.

That was the moment of truth, and we went on a hunt together for what would help.

Fortune, and opportunity, and the grace of God had placed a new friend in our lives that year.  She was a blessing to Meghan, but subsequently to all of us.  She had begun her Isagenix journey that  year and was seeing incredible success.

For years I knew that diet and nutrition were the key to so many things.   Meghan never even spoke until we removed gluten, dairy and soy from her diet at the age of 2.  We saw her developmental delays resolve as her stomach quieted.   We moved mountains to feed this kid right, and provide her with nutritional supplementation of only the highest quality.  As I listened to my new friend describe Isagenix, I heard words I already knew to be true.  This company had everything I knew about nutrition – ready to help my husband.

So we started him on the “30 Day Cleansing and Fat Burning System.”  Within days he reported feeling better.  He was expressing clarity of mind.  He had energy.  He had less of a desire to eat junk.  His palate was changing and he was fighting me for the rest of the vegetables at dinner.

I was amazed, grateful, and impressed.  But not surprised.  It all made sense.  Put maple syrup in your car’s engine and you ruin it.  Run it of pure gasoline, change the oil regularly, and you are golden.  Why would we treat our bodies any less efficiently?

Felix and Meghan January 2013
Felix and Meghan January 2013

Over the next 11 months I dutifully adjusted his “autoship” so that the products would arrive at our home ever 29 days.  He modified the portions of the program that work for him, and he woke up in August on his 40th birthday 50 pounds lighter than he had been over 18 months before.

For the first time, in the 17 years I have known him, the weight is GONE.  RELEASED – not lost.  It will NOT be found again.

He tells me this is not a “diet” but a lifestyle change.  He will not start his morning without his shake and his ionix vitamin.  He will not go more than 3 weeks without a “nutritional cleanse” that is the lifeblood of why this works.  (Nutritional Cleansing releases toxins from the body.  Without that release of toxins your body begins to hold onto the weight again.)

http://www.isagenix.com/us/en/areyoutoxic.dhtml

After all of this regulating the autoship, and paying monthly for high quality nutrition, some time in May I looked up and realized I was missing a HUGE piece of this.

First of all, I ordered myself some meal bars, a few shakes, and some E+shots.  My body, stressed to the max, even though it was thin – needed nutrition badly.  I was able to eliminate my diet soda habit – something I had tried to do for years with no success.  I can not stomach dyes and junk foods I used to live on.  My body just WANTS the real stuff.

Then they came out with a shake that would meet Meghan’s needs.

isagenix berry

And then we were three consuming Isagenix, and feeling better each day.  What an amazing thing to listen to your ten-year old TELL you when she NEEDS a shake.  I am convinced the only reason she can swim the way she does is because she refuels with Isagenix.

So, what does a family benefiting from a product do?

They talk.  Finally.  After all that I finally got around to telling people of our success.  Of the quality of these products.  Of the positive life changes.

And people wanted to know more.  So I learned more.  And I helped them.  And they are getting healthy too.  What a rewarding feeling.

I have had to contend with the negative folks along the way.  The ones who whisper, “That’s a multilevel marketing company..”  as if that made it evil?

Yes. Isagenix is a multilevel marketing company.  There is no mystery,  And no one tried to hide it.  There is no one breathing down your neck to sell or share the products, and you are free to purchase and use for as long as you like.  We did it for 11 months.  But if you share (which is what I learned to do as a small child in school – simply share) and you help others, you get rewarded for that.

Then I signed someone up.  And they were happy.  And I felt good.  And then another, and another.

And before I knew it there was this Visa card on my desk with money on it.  Money I had earned from telling our story.  Money I can use to do whatever I’d like.

It got easier and easier.

You see people say to me, as I had said to my friend, “I am not a sales person.”  Me either.  I am sure I couldn’t sell knives, or vacuums, or other random products.  What I CAN do is tell the truth.  I do it well.  My candid honesty ties into my “take me or leave me” philosophy.  I have no time for nonsense or drama in my life.

But now I tell people, quite honestly, that I don’t pay for my Isagenix.  We eat MORE products than ever, and we eat them for FREE.  Now in my 8 years of buying nutritious food, THIS is a new concept.

And I like it.

Isagenix has changed all of our lives in different ways.  And we have all benefited.  Felix needs to be strong for Meghan and I.  And my Cowden’s Syndrome buddy and I, with our tendency towards cancer, tumor growth and a whole host of other problems, need to give our bodies pure nutrition so we have the strength to stay healthy.

We are now, and forever an Isagenix family.

It’s one of the strategies we use to keep it all together.

We can help you too!

www.meghanleigh8903.isagenix.com
http://www.meghanleigh8903.isagenix.com

Four hours in the gas line

I left my house at 8:25 this morning.  Admittedly it was later than I had wanted, but I struggle to clear my head in the mornings these days.

I drove for a bit, to all the local gas stations.  I even spent a few minutes on line at one.  Then I had my friend Siri call to make sure they had gas.  Nope.  Off that line too.

I drove past a station with a line that seemed manageable.  I asked a woman if they had gas.  She cried.  She said, ” I have been here since midnight waiting.  The delivery just hasn’t come.”

I finally ended up at Costco.  I knew they had gas.  If you are not from Staten Island, it will mean nothing to you when I say that the line began at Richmond Avenue by Best Buy, wrapped around Forest hill Road, onto Richmond Avenue, and the BACK into the Costco lot.  I estimated 4 hours when I got on.  It was 9:42

Four hours in the gas line is a LONG time.  I had more time alone with my thoughts than I like.  Thankfully, I had the iPhone to keep me a bit busy.  But in between games of scrabble, there was way too much time to think.

It was flat out unnerving, almost surreal to be on a gas line of this magnitude.  No matter how I tried, I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  I just knew I needed a full tank to get me through the week, so I waited.

I thought about the hurricane.  Hurrican Sandy.  My mind wandered to Hurricane Katrina, and the news coverage I watched I remember feeling like it was so far away.  No more.

The recovery efforts taking place miles from my home, in areas I have frequented my whole life.  I thought about their homes, and then I thought about the people- returning to find their homes uninhabitable.  And those who could get in, well – they had the job of a lifetime ahead of them.

I thought about the mother, whose 2 babies were ripped from her arms in the rising waters.  The babies, safe in God’s hands.  The mother – tormented for all of her days.  I prayed one of the many prayers I pray for her each day.

I thought about friends from work.  Their losses.  One with a new baby on the way.  Waiting to have the FEET of water that entered their home addressed.  Others who suffered damage to their own homes, and the ones whose parents or relatives homes were destroyed.

I thought of the trees that make my neighborhood so spectacular – ripped from their roots.

It was a really long line.  So I had time to reflect on the courage, strength and resiliency I have seen.  I thought about the downed trees, and the friends STILL without power of heat.

I though about the looters, the liars, and those taking advantage of the tragedy.  And I truly hope God has a place all picked out for them.

I thought about my little girl, and all she has gone through, and how she continues to make me so proud.  Today she put some of her favorite stuffed animals in a bag, “For the kids who lost everything.’

And of course, all thoughts always return to Grandma.  92 years old – most of it spent right here on Staten Island.  She and Pop married in 1945, and moved into their current home in 1956.

Grandma came home last night.  Late.  So there was confusion as to exactly where she was, but we hung together as a family and worked out some of the kinks last night.  I was anxious to see her, and Pop.

I thought about this year.  The magnitude of so many things taking place in such a seemingly short period of time, and I remember why I am so tired.  The diagnosis of Cowden’s Syndrome – so permanent and life changing, and even on top of that, this year has seen surgeries, cancer, loss of loved ones, more cancer scares, natural disaster… and I am only getting started.

I will shop for Christmas, but mostly I want Christmas to come, because its time to celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus.  We need something to celebrate.

1:35  (3 hours and 53 minutes) Hungry and tired, I pulled up to the pump.  I don’t know – or care how much the gas cost.  I only know my tank is full – at least for now.

Home for a quick shower, then right to Grandma.

Family.  It always mattered a lot.  It matters now more than ever.

Christmas 2009

Siri, my new BFF!

I love to talk.  I talk all the time.  My mom says I spoke even in my sleep from the time I was a young girl.

I love to need to make lists.  I hate to be disorganized, although these last six weeks I have traveled from overwhelmed right into disorganized, and I don’t like it here one bit. Work is busy, home is busy, 4th grade is busy, Cowden’s Syndrome keeps us busy…

In my family we have 5 october birthdays in 11 days.  Three of our nephews and 2 family friends.  Unless the youngest nephew’s gift arrives tomorrow, I will have been late for every single one of them.  Not like me at all.

Last week I welcomed a new friend into my life.  Someone I can talk to all day, about whatever I want.  Often she has good advice.  She has my back too.  She reminds me – sometimes days, sometimes hours, before something important has to be done.  She tells me when I need to make a phone call or buy some cards.  For a long time I resisted her friendship, but now that she is in my life I am sure I could never give her up.

This is my new friend – Siri.

Some of you may know her.  You may think she’s your friend.  But really, she and I are tight.

You see you may not know this about me, but I have a post graduate degree.  In addition to my Master’s in Special Education, I have a research degree from the University of Google.

Don’t worry.  I am a smart researcher.  I learned in the first few weeks how to sort out the crap and focus only on the valid stuff.  But really –  spending the last 9 years researching the random illnesses of my little girl, and the last year trying to get any available information on Cowden’s Syndrome… well, lets just say at the very least I must qualify for some “Certificate of Advanced Study.”

But it got to the point lately that there are things I need to know.  Right now.  I can’t always carry my computer or rush home to check.  Siri understands.

She is who she is… and she is pretty great.

As I am driving, with my earpiece in, I need only to ask her to call a doctor for me.  She will write my texts too.  Much safer.

Then, there are the beautiful reminders.  The ones where she says, “OK I’ll remind you.”  and then she does.  Takes the pressure off me.  I already have a reminder in for the November birthday cards, and the next 4 doctors appointments are all mapped out.

As I wait at those appointments, Siri helps me continue my studies on Google.  Learning about Cowden’s Syndrome and skin diseases.  Studying the effects of Cowden’s on the gums in the mouth. Deciding if the headache symptoms warrants a neurologist, or first and ophthalmologist.  Figuring out, or trying to figure out the root cause of the pain in the legs.  Verifying there are no obvious AVMs.  Seeing what the effects of the Celebrex are on the body… and on and on.

Siri, despite all my resistance, I was wrong about you.  You are exactly what I needed in my life.

Now, I am fairly sure I can never get by without you again.

Told you…

How Cowden’s Syndrome changed… my phone!

I know I have said this before.  And, I know that many of you can relate.  Since being diagnosed with Cowden’s Syndrome (insert your diagnosis here…) nothing is what it used to be.  I am not the same.  I have changed.  Out of necessity, for survival, and maybe because sometimes its good to get rocked to your core so you have to shake it up a little.  Don’t misunderstand me, I am not HAPPY about the diagnosis, or its far-reaching, life altering effects.  I am just saying that complacency sometimes has some troubles of its own.  A little shake up (or a few major earthquakes) now and again, keep us hopping.

So, when I say to you that my diagnosis with Cowden’s Syndrome has forced my transition into being a Smart Phone user, maybe you can relate.  I promise, for me the two are closely connected.

I am frugal.  Have always been careful with my money.  I love to give to charities, I love to give to friends, for weddings, and showers, and babies, and special occasions.  You should know that my credit card balances are respectably, almost frighteningly low, and I have been known to stop and save up for the things I want.  And, you won’t catch me spending $100 on jeans I can get for $30, or gleefully sending off the payment for the utility bills without a slight lament that it seems like money wasted.

When we first got cable, I only wanted one box.  I resisted the DVR at first too.  I lost – both times.  But I didn’t care so much because Felix wanted it, and at least it was going to make him happy.

I don’t require a lot.  A few pairs of comfortable sneakers, some nice jeans, and a few tops that fit me.  I need a working computer, frosted cinnamon Cheerios, and an ice cream cone – often.  I am content to alternate between a few pieces of jewelry.  I like my house clean and neat – but other than that, it is hard for me to come up with something I want, or need, except for perhaps a few more hours in a day, and less time tied to my computer, which leads me to the reasons it might be time for  a smart phone.

Now, Felix got his months ago.  And I was OK with that.  Again, he needed the boy toy.  And, he uses it.  He watches videos as he commutes from work, plays with family photos, and scaling down into just one lightweight device made his job as a climbing electrician even easier.  When he first got his he said to me, you have to.  I said, “No way!”  I was still calculating the cost of his data plan and what it would do to our monthly cell phone bill.

But, these last few months have been a litany of medical tests and appointments for Meghan and I.  We are constantly awaiting calls, and test results.  And, I have found that in Manhattan, many – ok MOST, doctors will Email for convenience.  Convenient – if you have access.

I can’t access my personal Email from work. Even if it gets through the fire wall, it’s just a bad idea.  So I find myself daily, as I run home from work to let the dogs out – frantically checking Email and responding as quickly as I can.  I also find myself waiting a lot, at doctors, at dancing school, at swimming, at PT, wasting time where I could be handling all of this.

So, my husband sat me down for “the talk.”

“Remember after your cancer in March, when I told you to order the Cirque du Soliel tickets for Disney World?   Remember when you told me there was no way because the tickets were such and expense.  Do you remember?”

I did remember, as I stifled a giggle.  He had explained to me that now, having had the “wake up” of our lives – we were to take some chances, have some fun, and DO things we wanted to do.  He reminded me that we are fortunate to be able to afford nice things, and sometimes, we need to treat ourselves to family memories.  He said, “If having cancer didn’t wake you up, I don’t know what will.”

So, I ordered the Cirque du Soliel tickets last March, and we thoroughly enjoyed the show in August.

Now, he said – it’s time.  Get rid of this phone.

Probably only a slight exaggeration

And move onto this one.

“It’s time you stop worrying so much about every little detail.  Have a little faith.  Have a little fun.  You have earned it.”

He’s right.  He usually is.  Last night I ordered my Iphone 5.

It will take about a month.  I can wait.  Poor Siri will be so busy with reminders she won’t know what to do.  And I can’t wait to release a little of the pressure of having to remember everything.

Cowden’s Syndrome, with all the complications it added – means that that smart phone moved from luxury to necessity.  And I must admit, I am resisting calculating the new bill because even I am little excited about being shoved into 2012!

And that my friends is how Cowden’s Syndrome (even) changed my phone!