Mr. Golden Sun, Please shine down on me!

Mr. Golden Sun, Please shine down on me!

 

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“Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it. -David Suzuki

 

 

March has decided to grace us with some beautiful weather. For months I’ve been telling my therapist that my seasonal depression hasn’t been as bad this winter, but it only takes one day of sunshine to realize how much weight is lifted off my shoulders. I’m especially breathing easier because my niece is due to arrive any day now, and the fear of her coming mid blizzard is starting to ease up. My poor sister has had anxiety about the possibility of being snowed in and in labor during her entire pregnancy.

 

 

IMG_0292One thing she and I are really looking forward to is spending some time outside while she’s on her maternity leave. We are hoping to get some vitamin D by walking the Cape Cod Canal, and the waterfront in Plymouth. Trust me, I remember how crazy those first few weeks with a baby are. We are trying to keep our planning minimal and expectations low, while still crossing our fingers for opportunities of time in the fresh air.

 

 

 

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With my son’s testing at Boston Children’s Hospital, my own dislocated jaw, (and the following days of being knocked out from the muscle relaxer) and the 5 days my family spent with the flu, I’m behind in the old meditation department. It’s been shown that only 5-10 minutes walking outdoors clears your mind. It’s organic meditation, even when you’re not planning it. Natural sunlight is great for mood, unplugging reduces stress and migraines, and any type of movement or activity releases endorphins associated with productivity while burning calories.

 

IMG_4527About a year ago I had thought about becoming a Tinkergarten teacher. I enthusiastically believe in their mission of getting kids to interact with nature (and each other) at an early age. Unfortunately Anna was a newborn, and my bipolar treatment was still in the beginning stage. It wasn’t the right time for me to take on the commitment, I needed to focus on fixing my own mind.

 

Even without teaching a formal class or getting paid, I intend to use some of their lesson plans with my own children. For the last few years, I’ve kept them busy by taking them to a ton of special events. With an untreated bipolar mind, this was my way of making the kids happy and “spend some time with them” without actually sitting down and having one on one conversations. Although events are fun, we are cutting back this summer. I plan to take it easy, and really get out into nature.

 

img_0084One new technique that really stood out to me during my research on wellness is the practice of earthing. Earthing is spending time barefoot outdoors and absorbing the earth’s free electrons from its surface through the soles of your feet. In our region, many people talk about the stress relieving properties of feeling the sand between your toes while at the beach. This theory extends to all types of terrain, and is definitely something my family will be trying this spring. After all, getting dirty benefits your heart, skin, and immune system. Who couldn’t use that?

 

I leave you today with advice from a tree:

Stand tall and proud,

Go out on a limb.

Remember your roots.

Drink plenty of water,

Be content with your natural beauty,

Enjoy the view.

 

Looking forward to getting outside,

Kate and the Kids.

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Surviving the Flu in a Big Family

Surviving the Flu in a Big Family

IMG_2357Thursday afternoon we got the call- Jacen needed to come home from school, he had a high fever. I’ve been incredibly lucky with Jacen, aside from his Ehler’s-Danlos he almost never gets sick. He’s had antibiotics less than 5 times in his life- not bad for an eight year old! As soon as I got to the school I could tell this was a different kind of sickness for Jacen.

 

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It was a long night, as both Anna and Jacen started showing symptoms. We got an appointment with the doctor the next morning, and got confirmation it was Flu B. (We already had Flu A earlier this season.) Mama grabbed a coffee and buckled up for a rough few days.

 

  1. Tamilflu:

 

IMG_2392The kids were prescribed Tamiflu. After my own swab came back positive in urgent care, they sent some in for me too. I almost had a heart attack when I saw the cost of the medication. Anna’s prescription was just under $80, Jacen’s $145, Mine was $106. I had to take some time and weigh my options. The first thing I had to consider is that Tamiflu does not “cure” the flu- it treats the symptoms and can lessen the impact & duration of the illness. Second, I asked about generic alternatives- turns out these prices WERE the generic, Oseltamivir . IMG_2388There are no prescription strength alternatives that may be cheaper. Third, I had to weigh the family on a case by case basis. I have no chronic illnesses that may become life threatening with the flu- I would be toughing it out without the Tamiflu. Jacen has a genetic condition, and had a procedure done earlier that week- he was a prime candidate for serious illness with the flu. Anna is a previous NICU baby, with a history of breathing issues. Also a high risk patient for complications.  I didn’t have a choice- I took a deep breath and swiped the card. I just had to keep telling myself it was medicine, it was something we needed, and we would figure out another place to cut back this week. The kids got the Tamiflu, I got some extra strength Tylenol.

 

IMG_2394As soon as we got home, I loaded the kids up with Tylenol and their first dose of the Tamiflu. It took about 45 seconds before each child threw the medication right back up. I cried as I cleaned up the vomit, all I could think about was the $250 I had just spent at the pharmacy- all that money and it ended up on my kitchen floor instead of inside my sick kids. I knew I couldn’t afford to let this happen again, so I jumped on Pinterest looking for tips. Unfortunately the medicine has a very strong, bitter taste. It will overpower most liquids it is mixed with. The typical juices are off the table. I found a lot of positive reviews on mixing with coffee creamer, so we gave it a go. My husband picked up a peanut butter cup flavor, and the kids were excited to try it. The creaminess coated the acidity and bitterness of the tamiflu extremely well, and they have not thrown up a single dose since. It’s also been nice that I don’t have to battle with them to take their medicine. They like the taste of the creamer so much that they look forward to it!

 

  1. When I say “Flu” you say “Ids!” FLU-IDS, FLU-IDS, FLUIDS!!!

IMG_2391Having the flu draws a lot of fluid out of your body, (sweat, boogers, vomit, mucus, all that fun stuff that makes you want to gag when you read about it!) and the loss of fluid is for a reason! It’s your body’s way of pushing germs and toxins out of your body, and accelerating healing. It’s important to replace the toxic fluids that exit with clean, nutritious fluids.Drink a ton, I mean as much as you can physically handle! In our home we opt for herbal teas, water and electrolyte replacers like gatorade and pedialyte. When those don’t sound appetizing, we offer sugar free pudding, popsicles, low sugar ice cream, broth, soup and snow cones. Dehydration will only make you feel worse, so do your best to keep drinking!

 

  1. Jello for sore throat

 

This is one of my secret weapons! I learned this trick while working in pediatrics. For a sore throat, make “tea” with a tablespoon of powdered jello mix dissolved into a cup of hot water. (I use sugar free jello and have the same great results.) Drinking the tea will coat the sore parts of your throat and decrease pain. Jello is naturally low calorie and fat free, so it’s a no-guilt way to get some fluids in!

 

  1. Pineapple juice for a cough

 

In the holistic community, it is believed pineapple juice is five times more effective than over the counter cough syrup. Personally, I’ve adopted a joint holistic and western lifestyle. I still treat my children with Tylenol and Tamiflu, but I also believe herbal teas, spices, and juices will expedite healing. Pineapple juice contains a mixture of enzymes called bromelain, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. The enzymes soothe a sore throat and help break up mucus.

 

  1. Get some rest.

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IMG_2395This week Anna has become the poster child for resting while sick. She has not hesitated to stop, drop and nap whenever she needs it. She has fallen asleep on the floor, while standing up, while sitting in chairs, mid conversation, and mid activity. A girl needs her beauty sleep! Even I slept for about 30 hours within a two day time frame. It’s the best thing for recovery! When you sleep, your body is able to focus its functioning power on healing and fighting illness. It also means you’ll sleep through the most miserable of your symptoms. If you’re sick, sleep. Easier said than done, right? Especially for a mom. Take help when it’s offered. If it’s not offered, ask for help. Don’t be afraid to put the babies in a safe place- like a crib or pack and play- and nap when they nap. As always, remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup, and mom needs to heal and recover too.

 

 

  1. Flu Shots

 

IMG_2262Don’t be confused. Anna contracted both flu A and B this year, and Jacen caught B. We all got flu shots. THIS DOES NOT MEAN FLU SHOTS DO NOT WORK. Flu shots are proven to reduce symptoms and length of illness. They can also be lifesaving for people who have chronic illnesses. Just like with any vaccine, you are not only protecting yourself but those around you. When you choose to get a flu vaccine, you are lessening the impact of the virus for yourself, but also the virus that you may give to others. This is especially important when you are around someone who is chronically ill. Not everyone who is chronically ill appears so, like Jacen and Anna. Both were high risk kiddos, but even our close friends and family may not have realized it. Most of the time sick kids do not look sick. Get your flu shot. Protect yourself, protect others.

 

I am happy to report that we are all on the upswing. I had anticipated that the flu would have us down for much longer, but we have bounced back within just a few days. I hope you and your family are able to avoid the flu this year, but if you do, may it be as minimally painful as possible.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

If you’re stuck, don’t accept defeat. Accept accountability. Accept help. Accept change.

If you’re stuck, don’t accept defeat. Accept accountability. Accept help. Accept change.

I’ve had a really rough couple of weeks. It makes me want to avoid blogging, as I really don’t want to share negative thoughts- but they happen. They’re still here, and they’re normal. Ignoring them doesn’t make them go away, so here they are.

I’ve had some serious frustration with people in my life making bad decisions. Small scale, my eight year old son has driven me crazy with the immaturity these days. Large scale, drunk driving is never okay. Motherhood is both difficult and terrifying. We do our best to raise good kids at home, to teach them to make good decisions. It’s difficult. We also know we can’t control anyone but ourselves. There are others out in the world making bad decisions everyday, decisions that endanger our family. That’s terrifying.

MISTAKES happen. We hope no one is hurt from our mistakes, and take the opportunity to learn from them. Repeatedly making the same mistakes are not accidents – they’re a conscious decision to do the wrong thing. Accountability is the first step.

When we refuse to take responsibility for our actions, it leaves room to repeat said actions. My son and his friend were caught talking during a quiet time in class. My son immediately told his teacher that his friend started the conversation, and he was just responding. The other child was punished, Jacen was not. It’s now become a habit where my son has disruptive conversations in class and blames the other person. If he cries, if he plays the victim, he can justify his own bad actions and keeping doing them. Ultimately he is only hurting himself. His friends will realize that Jacen throws them under the bus, and will not want to be his friend any more. He’s also missing out on important lectures, and will fall behind if he doesn’t change his behavior.

The same can be said for someone who drives home drunk.

Blaming others only justifies bad decisions to yourself. It doesn’t change that others were put at risk. Getting away with it doesn’t mean you can do it again. Your life will not get better escaping accountability. You will lose the people who are close to you when they realize your selfishness puts them at risk. Do not confuse SUPPORT while recovering from bad behavior and ENABLING bad behavior to continue. There’s a difference. I can be a friend, I can be an ex-friend. It all depends on how you accept my love. I will not enable bad decisions by sticking by someone who wants to repeat the same mistakes, I’ll only be a support person for someone who wants to turn it around.

These feelings extend to so many situations, like when my son leaves his homework on the kitchen table, then blames mom and dad for not reminding him it’s there. Trust me, it will happen again. Continually stopping for fast food and blaming you work schedule or budget won’t cause a change in behavior. Avoiding a mental health diagnosis or treatment won’t make it go away. You can not continue blaming a downward spiral on the way others treat you, instead of taking accountability for your own brain chemistry and bad choices. Take accountability, take support. Make a positive change. Don’t take advantage of your situation and play the victim.

I’ve had a hard time these last few weeks watching others make bad decisions. I do not punish my son because I want him to be miserable. I punish him because I want him to start making better choices. I do it because I love him. I’m not joining MADD (mothers against drunk driving) to shame or embarrass someone after a DUI. I do it because I love them. I want to keep them safe, I want to keep others on the road safe. I want to encourage positive change.

We all have something in our lives that needs to be shifted from negative to positive. Where can you take accountability today? Where can you decide that this problem was not caused by others, but by your own choices. Where can you take the reins back, and steer toward a better you?

Today I wish you wellness- physically, mentally, socially. I hope you decide to make a positive change, and keep both yourself and your family well.

With healthy hearts,

Kate and The Kids.

PCOS- they told me it was “reversed.”

PCOS- they told me it was “reversed.”

1918173_211215425756_6279772_nFor almost my entire life I have struggled with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.) When I was a teenager, it meant I was a “late bloomer” who didn’t start getting a cycle until 16, and never grew breast tissue. Yeah, that made high school super fun- especially with the weight issues and glasses.

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Over the years following I found other symptoms popping up- facial hair, extremely oily skin, anxiety, depression, and weight problems (in addition to my binge eating disorder.)

 

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As an adult my cycle could last up to 30 days at a time, requiring surgical intervention twice. I’ve also been mortified on several occasion when I’ve bled through in public, ruining chairs, clothes, pretty much anything. It’s a painful, miserable condition- but the worst of it came when Mike and I started trying to conceive after our wedding.10806273_10152945403270757_5871925310345855693_n

It took 4 years, medication for insulin resistance, intervention with IVF, additional surgeries and a whole lot of heartbreak before we decided to stop trying. I took the time to focus on myself, and put all my energy into becoming happier and healthier.

17951449_10155389457315757_5116608580662651941_nAfter I lost my first 100 pounds, I was shocked to find out I had become pregnant without even trying. Ecstatic, I had labs drawn and the doctor happily told me that I had “reversed” my PCOS through weight loss. On cloud 9, I walked out of that office happier than ever; My PCOS was gone and I was finally having my baby.

Fast forward a few years. I’ve continues to lose weight, making total pounds lost 150. My healthy, beautiful, smart baby girl is 16 months old.. Aaaaand I’m back to suffering with my PCOS. “Reversing PCOS” wasn’t exactly true. I had it managed to a point where I could conceive, but the smaller symptoms remained. 22365602_10155969697000757_7313680637017225948_n

PCOS is a genetic, hormonal, metabolic and reproductive disorder. It can have some pretty serious associated symptoms, like severe depression, anxiety, obesity, endometrial cancer, and type 2 diabetes. PCOS affects 1 in 10 women, so it’s important to be educated on prevention and treatment. I’ve run into many women who have suffered with PCOS. I’ve learned some tips and tricks; like Red Raspberry leaf tea for cramps, and how caffeine actually has a negative effect on the days we feel particularly run down.

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PCOS patients usually have issues with their cycle due to malfunctions in their ovaries. A normal ovary releases about 20 follicles per month, usually one matures. At ovulation the mature egg releases into the Fallopian tube. The mature follicle releases progesterone and the uterine line thickens, period follows.

In a PCOS ovary, the body doesn’t make enough hormones for an egg to mature. The follicles will grow, but since none mature some will remain as cysts. No egg is released, no progesterone is produced and the uterine lining does not thicken.

The exact cause of PCOS is still unknown, but there is a trend in PCOS patients that elevated levels of androgen and insulin may be related to the condition.

PCOS is not limited to obese woman, but women who produce more insulin to break down their diet are at a higher risk for the condition.

Currently there is no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms can be managed with some medication. At my highest weight of 303 pounds, I was taking 2,550mg of metformin ( the highest recommended dose) to manage my insulin resistance. I was also prescribed hormones to force ovulation, then more hormones to stop the bleeding. All of these meds made me feel terrible all the time, and the hormones interfered with my mental health.

Losing my weight was the biggest thing that helped my PCOS to the point where I could conceive Anna. It wasn’t easy, but I had a strong motivation to keep pushing. The nutritionist I see still has me on a diet that is very similar to Keto, but is designed to keep the PCOS hormones at bay. IMG_1709

I follow the rules, I stay true to my diet and take my mental health meds- and yet sometimes I still have a PCOS attack. Today I am struggling with severe pain, lightheadedness, low heart rate, nausea, weakness, sadness, exhaustion and did I mention pain? It’s terrible. Even without missing any of my antidepressants, I’m feeling extremely low- as if I’ve neglected them all together. This condition truly has me by mind, body and soul.

PCOS is so common, which is good and bad. On one hand, we should be able to easily connect with each other, support each other, and push for research into a cure. On the other hand, it out right SUCKS to know people are out there suffering as much as I am. I’ve recently opened my mind and heart to additional aspects of holistic medicine, and I’m ready to try out some of my new tricks. Hopefully, the next time I blog about PCOS I’ll be able to share some helpful treatments! Until then, stay in the know and stay healthy.

 

All our love,

Kate and the Kids