Dear Stress, Let’s Break Up…


Because truly I’m getting bored of you. I’d like try to spend some time with Serenity, or Sanity, or Relaxation, or maybe Peace.

I know I’m bad at ending relationships. I get attached even to things that are just wrong for me.

I make excuses. I have a hard time letting go.

And you, well you are relentless. You keep finding ways to get in my face.


Yesterday you played nasty. I had a simple appointment. Do I need the implant replaced or not? And somehow it turned into an insurance nightmare and a need to consult with a new plastic surgeon. The surgery will be. But at least it’s not urgent. Sheesh! I needed to fit in a consult with a NEW doctor?  You know how much I LOVE new doctors right?  AND EXTRA trips to the city.  My complete favorite.

And as I tried to reach Meghan’s doctor to get things scheduled I hit so many roadblocks it was like you were just taunting me with your tongue out. I get it. Long weekend. Except it’s TOO long if you’re waiting on things like this.  I cried.  I admit it.  You got to me.


But you know what Stress? You’re taking up too much energy. And once again my kid set me straight. She swam one heck of a practice tonight. She will swim her December meet. I owe it to HER to work around her passions.  We even chuckled, knowing the reality of what she COULD be facing, and the super importance of her swimming, and singing, and acting. No matter if the doctor understands. God help me no matter if it delays things a few days. (Breathe in breathe out…) cause we have to prioritize.

Stress you don’t like focus. You like chaos. You like drama. You like mayhem. I doubt you’re gone for good. But we are so over you.

Excuse me while Peace, Serenity and I dig out the Christmas tree.

I will release you with my mind. I will release you with my energy. I will release you using ADAPTOGENS.  I’m really not interested in you…

 
We’re too busy- BEATINGCOWDENS!

It’s following me….

Much like the Cowden’s Syndrome that will never go away, that will follow us for all our days, the pile stalks me.  I swear it mocks me.  Sometimes when I am not looking, and other times right in front of me.

In the pile are, well all the things you’d expect in a pile; bills that need paying, junk mail that needs sorting, statements that need shredding, or filing, problems that need phone calls, etc. etc.

The pile used to be in the basement.  But it was dingy down there so my husband bought me a laptop and the pile followed me upstairs.

Since it had no proper home on this floor, it could often be found on the dining room table, or on the counter, or any number of other places.

paper_pile_on_desk

My office has been finished.  A bonus to me after Meghan’s big move upstairs.  I have a big girl desk, and places to put all the things I need to manage our house, our doctors appointments, bills, authorizations, and complaints, and my quest to help others find the path we’ve begun walking towards better health and financial freedom.

Slowly I am beginning to decorate.  The curtains and blinds have arrived.  The printers are hooked up.  The electrician I love neatly hid the wires.

The photo albums from years and years of my continued obsession with printing photos even in this digital age, line the wall.

The closet stores years of teaching materials, too outdated to have in my classroom, but current enough that I need to keep them – just in case.

Leaning on the wall to my right is a photo I took from my Dad’s apartment, just sitting there waiting for me to decide what to do with it,  and as I type I sit in his chair.

And, just to my left, as I work diligently to ignore it, sits the pile.  It found its way right into the new blue room with the gray curtains and white furniture.

I don’t like piles.

Partly because they are messy and out-of-order, and as I have said before, far too much of life is messy and out-of-order for me to have piles on top of it all.

Partly, they worry me, as there has been known to be a bill sitting in one of those piles, or a newspaper with a message that needed reading, or this week’s surprise, notification of a car recall.

Despite how many hours I spend working on making it go away, I am at points close to losing hope.

There are times I feel pulled, and stretched in so many directions, that I am quite sure NONE of them is getting the best me.  Especially if they’ve sent notification of anything via mail – because it may just end up on the pile… and then – who knows?

If you’ve been reading for any stretch of time, hopefully by now you know I am not hopelessly out of touch with reality.

I get that there are many demands on all of our lives that sometimes stand in the way of a neat and orderly home.  I really do get it.  And I am trying to find a place where I can live happily somewhere in between.

I am a happily married Mom of one, who, for the purposes of all after school activities, and weekly medical appointments, is single.  My husband works much farther from home than I do, and his day ends later.  End of story.  The afternoons are all mine.  And they work out just fine.  And unlike many couples, we share what we can, and he being a far better cook, prepares something for us to eat.  Quickly.   Before I head out to whatever has the night tied up.  Whether it’s a doctor’s appointment, or spending some quality time with a relative who isn’t well, or attending a meeting, at my school, or hers – more often than not there seems to be something on the schedule every blessed minute.

Which leaves precious little time for friends, and phone calls, and random get-togethers, and fun.  And well, it explains why the pile – although tame at times, never seems to go away.

Yesterday I listened to a 2 hour webinar for a grant I got for work.  But I didn’t have work.  Since it had to be after school anyway I scheduled it then to be sure I’d fit it in. Then I printed letters, and log-in cards for the computer program for the 32 kids across three classes that will be doing it.  And while I am excited to see their progress, I was not excited to be doing that.  Nope.  Not one bit.

And there was the grocery shopping, and the dusting, and the generalized dog fur removal.

And the list and the questions started going like mad in my head,

  1. The dermatologist – why can’t I get that woman on the phone for the appointment for the three of us?
  2. I better confirm the date for our Rare Disease Day brunch in February before we lose it.
  3. How can I figure out how to set up online payment for that?  I really have to check.
  4. Make the appointment about the car recall ( on a Saturday so I can sit for hours since we only have one car.)
  5. And the car needs an oil change and inspection.
  6. What about that car insurance lady who never called me back – got to get on her
  7. And the pictures from vacation – almost 2 months ago…
  8. The outside of the house needs a day all onto itself
  9. And the dogs need baths, badly
  10. What is the real reason Meghan’s foot X-ray looked like that?
  11. Why is one of her feet over 1/2 inch off in size from the other?
  12. What’s with the new knee pain?
  13. When do we have to bring the swollen knee to the attention of the AVM surgeon who said, “as long as she’s not symptomatic?”  Can she last swim season?
  14. Can she handle this schedule?  I mean without getting sick?  Cause she’s close, and there’s a lot going on, but I don’t want to say no to all this good stuff….
  15. And when, WHEN, WHEN….will I finally visit with some friends?
  16. STOP………

My husband sat down with me on the other chair in the office.  The panic was beginning to escalate.

Take a breath.  You need a break.

A BREAK? HOW CAN I TAKE A BREAK? DO YOU KNOW THERE IS LAUNDRY, AND MEDICINE, AND DUSTING, AND BILL PAYING, AND…..HAVE YOU SEEN THIS PILE?????????????????????????????????????????????????????

pile of paper

Sometimes I find the notion of NOT getting things done maddening.  But, if we are very fortunate, we have a spouse, or a soul mate who balances us perfectly.

He knows I need to step away.  He knows I need to visit some long-lost friends.  He also knows I need to spend lots of time with people who aren’t quite well.  And, he knows I need to spend time with MY family.

So today, we went pumpkin and apple picking.

photo 2

A nice farm, about 45 minutes from home.  Just our speed.  The pumpkins were kind of “placed”  off their vines, but nice all the same.  The apples were fantastic, and the walking was almost reasonable.  For about 20 minutes.

The the pain started to show in the eyes of that beautiful girl who just wants so badly to do what everyone else is doing.  Walking. Repetitive motion.  Fractured foot, bone chip, or something way deeper?   At that point all that mattered was saving the day.  And there was Daddy.  And his cape.  As he bent over and swooped his almost 5 foot 4, 11-year-old onto his 6 foot shoulders.  And they walked like that for an eternity.  Picking apples.  Chatting.  Laughing.

photo 4

 

photo 3

And she got down long enough for us to take a few pictures.

photo 5

Then, as we walked to the car the knee buckled and that was it.  Back up on the shoulders again.

And even in pain as we got into the car after less than two hours, the proclamation that it was ,”FUN!”  Took some of the tension out of my shoulders.

So we stashed our big girl in the cart in Ikea, even as she told us we were breaking the rules.  And we looked at bedroom furniture for the grown ups, and headed back to drop some apples with the great grandparents.

I had a special place in mind for the 4th mum in a set I had bought at Costco, so after taking care of that, and another special visit, we even watched a TV show together.

And you know the best part of it?

The pile is still in exactly the same spot.  While it didn’t magically disappear, it also didn’t live up to my fears of having it take over the room.  I have to get in front of it to shift my focus to the things I enjoy, and I will get there…

Meghan had a nosebleed tonight.  A wicked one from the days of old.  And the knee never did bounce back.  She’s in our room.  Asleep with Felix.  There will be a spot for me once I have cleared my head.

My heart, as a mom, and especially as the mom of a chronically ill child, will never be a place of peace.  But with work, even with the obstacles, Cowden’s will constantly toss – we can be happy, productive citizens.  This Syndrome does NOT own us.  It takes one hell of a wicked set of stamina to stay in front of it, physically, mentally, emotionally, and in a practical sense too, but we’ve got this.

Thursday maybe the ENT will look down at that damaged esophagus and offer up some good news.

Until then, it is our hope that whatever your struggles, and we know you all have many in your hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits, that you are able to find comfort in those you love, and that even if only for a few hours, the “pile” seems a little less insurmountable.

photo 1

 

 

Finding my “Happy Thought”

It was a few months ago.  I can’t quite recall the date.  It wasn’t my finest hour. (or day, or days…)

I was grumpy.  Worried.  Angry about the struggles my girl was being forced to endure.  Twisted about a future of doctors appointments and surgeries.

I had noticed she seemed extra down, and I took it as my cue to worry harder.

At some point, I broke down, expecting a clear answer to the question, “What’s wrong?” so I could continue the business of worrying some more, and searching for answers.

But the answer wasn’t even close to what I expected.

“Mom, you need to find a “Happy Thought” because you being like this all the time is really affecting me.”

Neverland happy thoughts

Um, ouch.  Wow.  And she sure told me.

She wasn’t being disrespectful in the least.  We have worked on honest speech and clear language, for survival – and to help us prep for the teen years.  She was doing exactly what I asked of her.  She was telling me what she was thinking.  And she was right.

Years of parenting a chronically ill and allergic child have left me in a permanent hyper-vigilant state.  The “other shoe”  has been known to drop without warning, and there is a constant need to search, study, learn, and discover whatever I can about whatever is plaguing my girl.  I am her advocate.  I am her voice.  We have between us undergone at least 17 surgeries in the last 11 years.  That doesn’t include countless hospital stays, tests and procedures.  There is always a pile to contend with, whether its bills to fight or file, prescriptions to order, reports to hunt down or appointments to make.  Life is very busy.

Neverland-HOOK

There was a time I used to walk for fun.  Hours on end with my music in my ears.  I would walk for miles.  I would walk everywhere.  There was a time I would read for fun.  Not medical books.  Just leisurely reading.  I used to watch “Law and Order.”

Now between working full-time, parenting full-time, chauffeuring to appointments, trying to make swim practice, keeping food in the house, keeping some semblance of order, including clean laundry, clean curtains, and clean cabinets – it was easy to get swallowed up by obligation and forget the joy in my life.

To be quite honest with you, there isn’t much I would change.  Do I sometimes miss those long carefree walks?  Definitely.  But, would I for one second trade one bit of my beautiful, tenacious, funny, stubborn, intelligent little girl?  Not a chance.

Hook movie

We watched “Hook” a few months back.  It was a rare occasion when I sat to watch a movie.  It is one of my favorites.  And for those of you who might not be familiar, it’s a “Peter Pan” spin off where Peter ended up all grown up – a lawyer.  He forgot his magical youth, and the story takes him back to Neverland to find it again.

I am sure this is where she got her admonition for me to find my “happy thought,” as Peter needed his to remember how to fly in order to beat Captain Hook.

I thought and I thought, long after she had said the words.  I was tempted to compare myself to other adults, and justify my grumpiness.  But I resisted the urge.  These words weren’t spoken to another adult.  They were spoken to me.  And what a gift she had given me.

peter-pan-best-quotes-sayings-faith-trust-good

Transformations don’t happen over night, but I have forced myself to become aware of the things that give me pleasure.

I love to write.  And so I have been trying to give more attention to my blog.  Therapy on a keyboard.

I have taken my feet instead of the car wherever I can, and wherever time allows.  I can’t walk for hours, but I can appreciate the short walks and relish them more.

I am realizing that a happy Mom is some of the best help I can give.  I won’t know all the answers.  I can only give her the same honesty I ask of her, and I can only do my best.

And while we focus on being positive, and its something I ask of her all the time – it’s not fair to ask it and not model it.

So we are all a work in progress.

And when I really soul search for what makes me happy, my pleasure really lies in seeing other people happy.

My other passion, my other therapy, is my Isagenix.  I fell into this company 2 years ago when my husband was in need of fast, significant weight loss.  For a year I bought products for him diligently.  He maintained the 50 pound weight loss he attained in the first 3 months, and now, 2 years later is working on “the last 20.”

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

 

I watched him for the first time in our marriage lose weight to keep it off.  I watched him gain energy, and generally feel better.

And I did what any Mom would do.  I researched – for Meghan.

And as I read and read and looked at articles, and the science behind the program, I heard the familiar musings that my trusted alternative medicine doctor had been sharing with us for years.  The same ones that helped us transform Meghan from “sickly” to chronically ill.  Several major steps up.  Trust me.

And I started to give my girl shakes full of protein, and nutrients, and she felt better, and better.  And soon she was asking me for more.  Brain food.

But it wasn’t until May of last year, a full 11 months after I had been giving the products to the two people I love most in the whole world, that people started asking me.  And then I couldn’t stop talking about the amazing things I had seen in my house.  And soon I had 5 friends all feeling great as well.  I was giddy.

I was now making money for helping people eat well.  Amazing to me.  I started to attend training, and listen in on conference calls.  I was no longer scared of “Multi-Level Marketing.”  I became educated about the systems and the generous compensation.

And one day, as my family sometimes does, I got called out again.  This time it was my husband.

I had lost a lot of weight – mostly due to stress.  I had dropped several sizes and was scrounging for clothes.  “YOU look sick,” my husband said.  “Drink a shake.”  And I did.

www.meghanleigh8903.isagenix.com

And it all came together for me.  I am down another size since then.  I have begun walking more.  I weigh what I weighed junior year of High School and I don’t intend to ever look back.  I am able to endure more stress, with greater ease.  I have stopped all diet soda.  I drink green tea and water.  I don’t snack much.  I eat better than I ever have in my life, and it’s easier than ever before.  The nutrients I get between that AM shake and my lunch time bar are more than I was getting in days with my old lifestyle.

I get happy when other people are happy.  I get pleasure watching as people remember what it’s like to feel good again.  I enjoy sharing stories, and telling people about a company that I feel strongly “got it all right.”  And they pay me too!

I am constantly telling Meghan that Cowden’s Syndrome does not define us.  But, in fairness, actions speak louder than words.

It’s been months since I was told to find my “Happy Thought,” and I hope I never forget that day.  While we still have our ups and downs it serves as a reminder for me that I am no good to those I love unless I find happiness myself.

Meghan and Felix – they will always be my happiest thoughts.

But I love my family, and God, and exercise, and nutrition, and cool breezes and music, and flying birds, and summer…

I strongly encourage you to find your “Happy Thought.”  It’s tough to start looking when a 10-year-old calls you out.

Loving my heart - outside my body- my biggest happy thought.
Loving my heart – outside my body- my biggest happy thought.

Sometimes I forget

Sometimes-I-Forget

Sometimes I forget that Cowden’s Syndrome is not just Meghan’s – it’s mine. If I am to be precise, it is Meghan’s BECAUSE of me.  And I say that not out of guilt, but more as a point of fact. And I had plenty of time to think about THAT – and the rest of the week – in the MRI this morning. mri_machine Last summer when I saw the oncologist, and the surgeon about the 4 sizable vascular tumors on my spleen, they were unsettled.  I fought hard for my spleen.  I felt I owed in to my emptying insides, currently missing my uterus and ovaries.  I “won” a 9 month reprieve.  And not the sentence is up for review.

So as I arrived at the facility at 9AM, and by the stroke of those angels, found on street parking in NYC, I dutifully filled out the intake papers.  Papers that, well between Meghan I, I have lost count of the number of times I have completed.

Any chance you might be pregnant? Asks the male technician who brought me back.  Even though I had written the date of my hysterectomy on the intake papers, I dutifully replied, No.  Not that I ever WANTED to be pregnant again, but you know sometimes they could read…

Any implants in your body?  Metal, I asked?  No, ANY as he clutches the paper I spent 15 minutes completing – unread.  Yes, I have breast implants – a double mastectomy 2 years ago.  I gestured toward my purposely selected “NO, They’re not real – the real ones tried to kill me” shirt.  Not even a smile. no they aren't real Why are you having this exam?   By now I am ready to scream JUST READ!  But I know better.  I have played the game too often, and the man you yell at now could be the one inserting your IV in 10 minutes. Because there are 4 tumors on my spleen that are being monitored.

HOW DID YOU FIND THOSE?  asked the non- reader. Well, I have Cowden’s Syndrome – and we tend to grow tumors.  So they were found accidentally during another scan.

Oh.

That was the end of the medical talk.  Maybe the words “Cowden’s Syndrome” stumped him.  Just as well.  Directions on what to take off and what to leave on.  Locker key in hand, I was led up the stairs by the non-reader to the tiniest MRI machine I have ever seen.  (and I have seen quite a few.)  Meghan did some time in this machine during the 3 hour MRI debacle of her hand last summer.  I felt a wave of nausea and I am not typically too freaked by these.

“How did I end up in the tiny magnet?” The non-reader, still with me, grunted that I was the thinnest one in the waiting room.

 Not sure if that was a backwards compliment.  Thank you ISAGENIX – I think. isalean-bar-chocolate Grateful I had held my tongue it became apparent that the non-reader and I were in this together.  As he told me to lay down so he could start my IV.  I sat straight up.  My daughter gets a few things from me.  I sat up and had the IV placed so the toxic gadolinium could drip slowly though my body.  I laid down, closed my eyes and kept them closed the whole time.  I am pretty sure my nose would’ve been almost at the top.

And as I spent 30 minutes amid the noise and banging… “Breathe in… breathe out… stop breathing.  Breathe normal.” breathe stone My mind wandered.  I hadn’t given much thought to the MRI, or the reality that it COULD indicate growing tumors, and another surgery.  For so many reasons I have blocked the thought.  But, now its too late.  It’s like telling a secret.  The images have been shot.  The report will be read next week.  The reality that already is has been exposed, and I just get to wait and see.  Cowden’s Syndrome.  We grow things.  It’s what we do.

I am grateful maybe, for the insane pace of life.  For the full time job.  For the daughter who swims, and has PT and doctors galore.  For the car that won’t go into gear – the 1996 that has likely seen its last trip – but can’t be replaced right now.  For the paperwork that keeps me on my toes, and sometimes drowning a bit.  For the letters that need writing, and the never ending list of phone calls that need to be made. time struggle I am grateful even for the “calm” day, when we didn’t have much to do – until I noticed a bulge in the sidewall of the tire Thursday.  So I grumbled a bit, then thanked my angels and headed off to Costco, where they put on the donut and told me to come back Friday. I did, and the tire is new.  The car is safe.

So I logged onto my online bill pay to see what had cleared and got the shock of my life as the zero balance hopped off the page.  Phone in hand immediately calling my bank.  Apparently it only took someone a day to extract $2000 from my life, and start a cycle of more unending paperwork.

Two hours at the bank yesterday, an hour at the Police Station. My only wish for the dimwit who decided to pay his credit card bills with my money is that if he REALLY wants to be me – he takes the whole deal. The doctors, the tests, the tumors, the bills, the anxiety, the WHOLE thing. wind After all, its’s only fair… if you want to take someone’s identity – you should knwo what you are getting into. Sometimes I forget I have Cowden’s Syndrome.  I am always sure Cowden’s Syndrome doesn’t have me.  There are too many other things vying for my attention. breathe As the non-reader said, “Breathe in… Breathe out…. Stop Breathing.  Breathe Normal.  OK your test is finished.” HA!  If only he knew…

What if every day was a snow day?

Now before you jump through the page – hear me out.

The kid in you may be cheering.  “SNOW!  FUN!  PLAY! ”

And the grown up in you may be growling.  “TIRED OF SHOVELING AND GETTING STUCK AND BEING COLD.”

But actually, neither is exactly what I meant.

2314snow

I got a message around noon that my daughter was hurting.  The pain has been bad again.  The weather doesn’t help.  I fought through a wicked virus last week, and there is always the possibility of it eating at her.  Her nerves are shot.  The thyroid consult is Thursday.  Consciously or not – she is worried.  I’d be shocked if she wasn’t.  I am too.

And between the weather, and the stress, there is the pain.  It started a few weeks ago in the shoulder.  It found its way to the ankle.  Physical therapy in between.  Swim practice ends up being haphazard and inconsistent.  My heart breaks.  I am distracted.  Most of the time.

But this afternoon, when we left school together, and there were 8 inches of snow on the ground where it hadn’t been a few hours earlier – no one we were about to meet would have had any real idea of what I wrote in the last 2 paragraphs.

After settling Meghan into the warming car I set about clearing it off.  Its a decent car, but a sedan,not an SUV, and while it can handle 2 or 3 inches, it is NOT designed to drive in 8 inches of anything.  I ended up on my bottom twice as I finally got the windows and roof clear enough to be safe and legal.

Then, I decided to pull out.  Well I went through all the motions anyway.  There was lots of spinning and not much moving.

Then there were people all around my car.  Some I knew, others I don’t think I ever met.  And for a moment getting my car out of the spot was the most important thing on their agenda.  They guided me as I behaved like a ditsy distracted woman.  They had no idea how full my head was, and they passed no judgement.  They were patient.  I got free.

I kept driving, ready to make the first right when a woman waved me away.  Someone was stuck.

I proceeded straight slowly, and when I tried to move slightly to the left to be sure I cleared someone in the road, I quickly ended up on the curb.

Fortunately no cars were in the way.  But I was not moving.

And then… there were people.  New people.  Surrounding my car.  Strategizing.  Thoughts of Thursdays appointment still waffling around in my head, I desperately tried to focus.  They worked at it.  I did as they said.  And in a few moments, I was free again.

I kept to the main roads for as much of the rest of the trip as I could manage.  And I was doing well until I had to stop to let a car pass at the service road.  Stuck again.  This time I had the wherewithal to free the car on my own.  And as I turned down my block, there was a sense of relief.

So I pulled up alongside our other car to quickly shovel out the spot in front of our house.  Then I got in the car to back it up.  Spinning wheels.  Sliding.

Then there was a neighbor.  Then another.  People I have lived near for 13 years, but I am embarrassed to say I formally met for the first time today.

They aren't actually touching - but it's 2 inches at best.

This time the predicament was a bit more dicey.  My new car was literally inches from the old one.  A slide in the wrong direction was going to cost me the front corner panel of one, OR BOTH, of my cars.

Hesitant I called my parents house.  I knew my Dad would make it down and help me make sense of it.  I frantically shoveled until I could see the blacktop of the street, looking over my shoulder and holding my breath as a few cars sporadically made their way down the street.  Our other neighbor, a former bus driver, came over and strategized a bit.  Before I knew it the two of them were moving my Saturn out of the way.  As my stepdad’s familiar smile greeted my from the window of his truck – my neighbors had safely parked both of my cars – without them ever touching!

Relieved.  Grateful.  Exhausted.  I gleefully accepted my Dad’s news that he’d be using the snow blower on the back of our property and I busily got to work on the front.  Street to street property is nice… most of the time.

Guess we should have taken the flower pot in?

Some time close to five – a few minutes before my husband got home, I walked my sore back into the house to greet the face of my wiped out “I’ve totally had it.” kid.

Close to two hours after I had left my job, I had to stop for a minute and reflect.  The chaos of my mind was still swirling about my head.

I chatted with “The Captain” for about 15 minutes in awe of exactly how many angels had crossed my path today.  By my count at least 15 people had in some way “paid it forward” to me and my girl.

And I work less than a mile from my house.

So what if every day was a snow day?  Well we may have lots more chances to find out.  But, more importantly, what if we TREATED each other, EVERY day, as if it was a snow day.  What a wonderful world it would be.

PAYING IT FORWARD LOGO

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

Worn

“Worn”

I’m tired
I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That You can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m wornI know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have leftLet me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That You can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn….

This has been the summer that… well…

It has definitely been a few extra stressful weeks, and not at all the relaxation we had so desperately hoped for and needed in June.

But, like it or not time marches on, and here we are in the middle of Labor Day weekend.

When we started the summer my daughter had 2 basic requests.

1. Go to the beach.

2. Go to Philadelphia.

Not so hard right?

And then we looked at the calendar about to change to September and realized between appointments, procedures, tests and surgery – we never got either one done.

Stress is very individual in how it affects each of us.  We all have stress.  We all deal with it differently.  But I think that the reality that stress can, and does manifest in real physical illness is often lost on us.  Especially lost is the harsh reality that stress can make our CHILDREN sick – until it smacks you in the face.

Stress1

It became clear this week that the stress is weighing heavily on Meghan.  She is one tough chick, but there is only so much the mind and body of a really cute, smart, well behaved 10-year-old should have to endure.  It is now the top priority of her father and I to actively work on lowering her stress level.

We started today.

Months ago we purchased tickets to see the Contemporary Christian band, “Tenth Avenue North” in concert in Ocean Grove New Jersey on August 31st.  We decided to make a day out of it – or a half day at least!

We let Meghan sleep as late as her body needed.  (Falling asleep has become terribly hard again.)  Then she got to watch some TV.  I ran a few errands, and around 3 with a cooler full of cold cuts for “dinner” we set out to surprise her with a trip to the beach.

We never told Meghan our plan, although it was obvious she was secretly hoping for the beach.  We just know too many factors can get in the way on a moment’s notice.  So, it wasn’t until we were looking for parking that we even told her.

By then it was 4:15.  The perfect time to take a kid who is not really sure she likes the beach, to the beach.

Crowds were waning, and as we set up our blanket she had some time to adjust to the seagulls, and the sand between her toes.

Forever my texture phobic kid, truth be told the sand in the toes was the reason I stopped really bringing her to the beach years ago.  But today there was a mission to put her toes in the water and collect shells with Mom and Dad.

beach day 3

She walked with Mom.  Then she walked with Dad.  And for a few glorious minutes I laid my head on the towel and remembered my childhood days in Ocean City,NJ.  I listened to the waves, felt the sand between my toes, and felt such PEACE!

Don't hate my polka dots - my husband did them for me! :-)
Don’t hate my polka dots – my husband did them for me! 🙂

We have a small bag with some beautiful shells.

We even played some with her Nerf frisbee.  There was laughing, and smiling, and a good deal of stating and restating that the sand on her toes does NOT feel nice.

With some gentle prodding she came around, but was perfectly happy with 2 cool hours on the beach.  So glad I didn’t get a full day plan in place!

beach day 4

What we did NOT do was have a picnic lunch on the beach as planned.  Instead, we ate in the car.  Sea gulls, being nothing more than glorified pigeons would have undoubtedly created significant reflux for my girl.  So, we had Board Head chicken breast in the car, with potato chips, and had a great conversation – minus the sea gulls.

We walked the streets of Ocean Grove for a bit, and I saw the sign:

troubles and blessings

And somehow I knew we had done things right – today.

We headed over to the Great Auditorium for the concert.  We happily bought our girl her first concert T-shirt, and her “Tenth Avenue North” Bracelet.  In-scripted inside the bracelet are words from the cover song off their newest CD, “The Struggle.”  It reads, “We are free to struggle, but we’re not struggling to be free.”  She is sleeping with it on right now.

beach day 6

The show was amazing.  Meghan was enthralled.  They are quite the performers.

Meghan and I often sing along to their songs on the radio.  Our favorites are “Worn,” and “Healing Begins”

“Healing Begins”


So you thought you had to keep this up
All the work that you do
So we think that you’re good
And you can’t believe it’s not enough
All the walls you built up
Are just glass on the outside

So let ’em fall down
There’s freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We’re here now

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you’re broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark…

The lead singer also spent some time talking to the audience about God’s plans.  He told the story of a car accident his Senior year of High School where everyone thought he would die, and no one thought he would recover fully.

That 32-year-old man with a wife and 2 daughters spoke definitively tonight about believing God will use the adversity to grow greater things.  He told us he touched a guitar for the first time at 18 while he was waiting to heal from his accident.  Clearly, God had a plan.

I was touched by the story, but more moved by Meghan’s reaction.  She HUNG on his every word. She was thinking – deeply.

Then she asked if I had any of the “Cowden’s cards.”  And, God bless this girl she walked right up to the stage and handed them to one of the back up band members… alone.

“I just thought they should have them Mom, in case they want to read…”

This card was created out of her need to "teach" others about Cowden's Syndrome.
This card was created out of her need to “teach” others about Cowden’s Syndrome.

You know the irony with this darned Cowden’s syndrome is that what you NEED is to be away from doctors, because they cause STRESS which prompts other conditions that cause you to NEED doctors.

So, a few days after the hand became free, we are on the hunt for the solution to more developing problems.

Stress.  We do what we can to deal.

We use music.  We enjoy time together.

We try harder to get it right.  We hug each other.  We hold each other.

I still haven’t given up on a road trip to Philly.  (If only I can get my navigation system to work…)