Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ENT Appointment Update

Yesterday morning I was impatient as I drove across town for my appointment with the ENT to go over the results of the MRI and talk about other possibilities since it came back (thankfully!) tumor free.

He said that it isn't totally unusual for migraines to begin to manifest other symptoms (like vertigo) after years of having them, although having vertigo every single day is a problem.

He also said that I have all of the symptoms of Meniere's disease (which my grandpa happened to have too) and so the next step is investigating to see if that's what's going on.

Part of that will be having a ENG ("balance test"), which can measure vestibular dysfunction (since we have two kids with vestibular problems I guess this shouldn't be particularly shocking).  They told me to eat a light lunch because "it's an hour of trying to bring on the vertigo" and so people tend to get sick during the test.  Sounds fun...

The other trial to try to determine what's going on is to limit my salt intake to under 2000 mg of sodium a day.  Yesterday I tracked it and managed 1400 mg, so I guess that will be somewhat easier than I thought as long as I cut out (or way, way back) on a few of my favorite foods (goodbye favorite hummus that I discovered has way, way too much sodium in it).  

He also wrote a referral to send me over to the neurology department at the university to get whatever is going on with my migraines under control and make sure nothing else is going on there.

The other thing we talked about is how it'll be up to me to decide if things are bad enough that I need to wean James, because there are medications they could give me that should stop the symptoms, just not while I'm nursing.  For now I'm holding off on that option.

And that's the latest update in the headache/hear loss/ dizzy all the time saga.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Long Ago... Story Time with Sadie

Last week after seeing how eager Maggie was to escape from the stroller so that she could attempt to go down a steep river bank to a river we were walking past Sadie started to talk about how it was very important to teach Maggie that rivers can be dangerous.

Today while we were walking to Sadie's ballet class we walked by the same river.  "Can you tell Maggie a story about... you know... what we're about to walk by?"

"Why don't you make up a story today."  I suggested.

A few minutes later, as we approached the bridge, she began:

"Long ago in ancient days, legends tell of a time when mermaids brought their babies to swim and play.  But then a crocodile came.  And ate them all.  Every single one.  He was a very good swimmer.  And not one of them was found.  Ever again.  And that is why we should never go down and swim in that river Maggie."

I glanced over at Maggie and saw her straining to stand up on the strollers foot board to get a better look over the railing at the river.

Somehow I have a feeling she's not yet been convinced.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

7 Quick Takes: Sunday Night Edition

On Friday the internet stopped working and Paul finally got it up and running again last night and so my post is a little bit late.  

As an update on the whole health situation, more headaches have held off and so I'm just dizzy with a horrible ear ache and some ringing in the ears.  Tomorrow I go back to the ENT though, and hopefully he'll have some thoughts on what's going on.

And in other Quick Take related news, Sadie saw me working on the picture for tonight's heading and said "You turned him into a gentleman, a superhero and a shield!"  

Now on to the actual Quick Takes!  


Patch had his first speech therapy session this week.

I had been keeping a list of words and phrases that he can say and when I said "Oh I know one I forgot to write down... cupcake.  He can say cupcake." he practically stood up in his high chair and shouted "CUPCAKE!!!!!  CUPCAKE!!!!!" over and over again.  

Also I'm pretty sure that they don't think he has a speech delay at all and that the reason that I was worried had more to do with my good old right ear not working... which makes sense.  And has me wondering how long it's been going on.


In other Patch related news I'll steal this status update from my personal Facebook page because it pretty much captures what happened while he was supposed to be upstairs taking a nap a couple of days ago:

After Patch somehow bypassed the password on the Kindle and bought not one but two episodes of Bubble Guppies before I could get upstairs to stop him:
Me: "Patch. You bought an episode of Bubble Guppies?"
Patch: "Yup."
Me: "You're not supposed to."
Patch: "No."

I have no idea how he managed to do it. He's constantly swiping electronics and somehow getting past passwords.

In this case I believe he had to get past my Amazon Prime pin to become the proud owner of one new Bubble Guppies movie and a 24 hours episode rental.  That child.  He's not even two and a half yet and he's already more adept at navigating electronics than anyone else in the house.

And since I started writing this post we had another incident that involved me calling Amazon and getting them to credit back the $29.99 that he spent on a season of Paw Patrol (a show that he's never seen).  I also am about 80% sure that he's officially locked out of purchasing.  I say 80% because I was pretty sure before that he couldn't purchase anything and three purchases later I'm considerably less confident.

We also had this conversation:

Me: "So that was pretty naughty.  You're not supposed to buy things on Amazon."
Patch:  "I know."

He's also started removing all the outlet covers from outlets.  Two is proving to be an interesting age.


This was actually snapped at OT.
And she was furious with me because
it wasn't time for her session quite yet
and I didn't have the key to unlock the door.
With Paul's 3-job work schedule and our one car household I realized that the only way I could get everyone to all their various appointments was to have Maggie to in to the therapy center two days a week.  And so I called and explained what was going on and the amazing scheduler at the office managed to find space for Maggie and her therapists to do sessions there twice a week (because they're bursting at the seams too).  

And Maggie loves it.  When I told her earlier in the week that it was a learning center day she started leading me over to the door and putting my hand on the door knob.  

Her Monday therapist also told me that there's another little girl her age who was doing a lesson in the playroom where she went around and identified furniture and that when Mae saw what they were doing she ran alongside her and identified each piece of furniture with her.

Maggie's also apparently such a huge fan of the playroom that she gets her work done super fast so that she can earn five tokens to go back and play more.  

This is kind of hard for me to imagine because Mae was already a really fast worker (it's hard for her everyone to keep up with her a lot of the time).  But apparently as soon as she gets back to her own little area she runs over and grabs five tokens and sits down to do her work super fast so she can go play more.  


Last night I did major shoe sorting and went around the house and collected shoes (at least downstairs, since I wasn't going to risk waking anybody up to find any shoes that may have wandered upstairs).

I sorted through the shoes that didn't fit, threw out shoes that had holes worn in them, put aside shoes that were basically new that Maggie had decided she hated to take to the consignment store, and then put shoes that don't get worn everyday in the shoe organizer in the closer (like Sadie's church shoes).  Then I set out the shoes we wear every day (lest Maggie go searching for a special pair in the closet... I try to avoid that because it gets messy really fast).

One pair for me, one pair for Paul, one pair for Sadie (and a pair of roller skates), one pair for Patch and... the five pairs of shoes that Maggie can't live without, plus her roller skates.

You might notice my very bright new shoes.  Sadie picked out my shoes last week when we both got new shoes that ended up being entirely free with coupons at Meijer.

Maggie has very specific ideas about which shoes go with which outfit.  Her ballet outfit can go with ballet slippers, her Dora ballet crocs (sometimes) and now (and this had me on cloud nine because she hated those pink sparkly shoes when I first bought them, thinking she would love them) she's decided that the pink sparkle shoes can also be worn with most of her pink outfits.

If she's wearing her green velvet dress though I'll have to get out her rarely worn red shoes, because she wants red shoes if she's wearing green.

I'm always impressed at the choices she makes because whatever she decides it usually is the shoe that makes the most sense with the outfit of the moment.


Today was a victory.  We made it to Mass on time.

This was because for the first time in almost a month we didn't have a meltdown before Mass.  Last week it was because I was super mean and said no, bathing suits are not appropriate Mass attire.  The week before it was because I said she couldn't wear a tutu.  

So this week when I came downstairs and saw that she was only wearing a pink unicorn rain coat I was a bit nervous.  But when I brought up a pink dress with white polka dots she put it on, and while she couldn't find a pair of shoes that "matched" well enough I was okay with bare feet since we'd actually agreed on a dress (and it's not like she's down running around anyways).  

When we got to Mass, I quickly made crosses to prevent the possibility of sword fights:

When I handed Maggie her folded palm her face lit up and she said "cross, cross, cross!!!" and then proceeded to try to stand it up on the floor (don't worry, we basically live in the narthex).  She also said "love" about a dozen times, which is usually reserved entirely for "Baby 'Ames"... who hears it about a dozen times a day).  

All in all it was a good morning!


I had major, major guilt yesterday.

I made a mistake in my scheduling and Sadie missed a cake decorating class with her AHG troop.  When we showed up we found out we were one Saturday late.

Sadie had been really, really looking forward to the class for... weeks.  

As I explained what happened I expected her to burst into tears.  

Instead she said:  "You don't have to be sorry Mommy.  It was a mistake.  And I'm not letting things upset me."  

So... we went home and Paul took her to the store and she picked out frosting and cake toppings and came home and said "I was kind of in a princess sort of mood" and then she made this:  

And ate a giant piece.

She also announced that she'll be making me a princess cake for my birthday this week... I hope it's chocolate!  


When we arrived home from the cake-misadventure I pulled out my camera and captured this (it's a little blurry but you get the idea):

I should have known that putting that trampoline next to that table was begging for trouble.  

For more Quick Takes head over to This Ain't the Lyseum!  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Grumpasaurus Rex Attacks

Today while the mermaid was taking her daily afternoon bath (and I was trying to remember how many baths it took to totally erase all traces of Vaseline after the last Vaseline hair incident) I put down a blanket on the floor for James to play on and soon found myself stretched out next to him listening to the sound of Maggie playing with her mermaid doll.  

The following moments made me smile and since I managed to capture them on camera I thought I'd share them here too.  In my head I labeled them "The Attack of the Grumpasaurus Rex" but that doesn't quite fit since he's so smiley more often than not these days:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

That One Time. In Malaysia.

Oh look it's Patch, proving that his
big sister has taught him well.  Too well.
Last Friday the kids and I were hanging out outside of the building that Mae has speech therapy in (while Mae was inside).  While the kids played I found myself asking God if maybe, just maybe I could have one child who doesn't see an open field and take off at a sprint without looking back (Patch is proving to be as much of a runner as both of his older sisters are/were).

I also may have been silently suggesting that maybe he could bless us with one child who would actually follow along like an obedient little duckling in a line (ahem... James... please...) when Sadie headed towards a slide and the conversation that followed went something like this.

My oldest definitely has a flair for the dramatic:

Sadie:  "This is it.  My last chance.  This is where I can redeem myself and prove that I can do it after what happened in Malaysia."
Me:  "Malaysia?  Um... What happened in Malaysia?"
Sadie:  "You know.  With the slide?"
Me:  "Do you mean Nebraska?"
Sadie:  "Nebraska.  Yeah.  Nebraska.  This is my last chance to prove that I can do it after what happened in Nebraska.  You remember what happened in Nebraska, don't you?"
Me:  "Oh I remember."

What happened in Nebraska is that barely four year old Sadie climbed up a gigantic play structure slide (of the sort that probably hasn't been built in thirty years because playground these days aren't that giant or metal or dangerous) while our broken down car was being worked on and while Paul was intently talking to someone on the phone I had to haul my gigantically pregnant self up to rescue her when she was too scared to go down the slide by herself.

Almost three years later she apparently felt that she needed to prove that she in fact could climb a not-nearly-as-giant ladder to go down a not-quite-so-big slide.  And she did it.

Although I have to admit this slide looked pretty safe to me.  Until she went down it.

But she seemed to count it as redemption after the Nebraska debacle (which I guess I shouldn't be surprised she remembers so clearly!).

And thankfully when Patch runs off I have Sadie to chase him down:

An Ambulance Ride and a Trip to the ER

Yesterday was not what I expected at all.

I woke up with a headache.

Now that's not a totally unusual thing.  I've had headaches since I was nine.  I've had migraines since sometime around when I turned fourteen.

Having averaged at least four migraines a month (and sometimes that many a week) for eighteen years, that's somewhere around a thousand migraines.   So I'm not a stranger to migraine pain.

What happened today was nothing like any migraine I've ever experienced.

At noon I emailed Paul on his lunch break and told him I was starting to feel pretty sick.  He asked if he needed to tell them at work that he needed to come home and I told him no, I could make it through until five and I'd see how I was doing then.

An hour later I tried to call my doctor's office for advice but I couldn't form the words to tell them what was going on.

By the time I called Paul I was sobbing and could only get basic words out.  I could tell him I was in pain and I thought I needed to go to the hospital, but that was it.  Then I curled up on the floor of the kitchen and cried.

The EMTs arrived just as Paul got home. He'd called on his way because I wasn't making sense.

They transported me to the hospital.  I could hear them making comments about "having to roll out for a headache." but I couldn't care much. I felt like my head was going to explode.

At the hospital I sat in a dark room for a long time, sobbing, and trying to explain that this wasn't a migraine, not like any migraine I'd ever had, and I've had many.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being childbirth I gave the pain a 10, dropping at times down to an 8 and then shooting back up again.

I thought about the last time I'd been in the ER with a rusty old  roofing nail sticking out of my foot when I was pregnant with Patch and how I'd said the pain that day was something like a 5 or a 7.

After hours on an IV the headache started to subside.  They told me the MRI was normal. They ordered a cat scan and it came back as normal too.

I was relieved.

I am relieved.

And worried.  Because if there isn't something there than what's causing all these symptoms. Why am I losing my hearing?  Why does everything taste bland or like it's gone bad?  Why is my face going numb?  Why am I having trouble putting together simple words and forming sentences?  Why are there dark shadows here and there in the middle and off to one side of my vision?

The list goes on and on.

I had written down the symptoms to show my doctor.  I was thankful for that list in the ER when I was having trouble forming words.

After eight hours and a "headache cocktail" I was on my way home in a taxi (since waking up Maggie to get in the car to get me seemed like the worst idea ever).

It wasn't until after I got home from the hospital and was on the phone with my mom and she asked if it could have something to do with the contrast I'd been given for the MRI that I remembered that right before all the headache weirdness got really bad I'd noticed that the injection site was bright blood red and that my whole arm was turning red and itching too.  But then my head had become all I could even begin to think about.

This morning I woke up to huge hugs from all the kids.

And I guess next I go about trying to figure out fitting in that doctor's appointment to get a referral to see the neurologist that everyone was pretty adamant I need to see.

Thank you again to everyone for all the prayers.  I appreciated them more than you can imagine yesterday.

Monday, March 23, 2015


Yesterday was a tough day.

I left Mass during the homily and promptly burst into tears on the way to the car.

My head was somehow managing to be pounding, while spinning and foggy and numb all at the same time.  And then the right side of my face went numb again, and I totally panicked.

Which felt kind of silly because the right side my face has gone numb many, many times and I haven't panicked since the first half dozen times it happened when I went to the clinic back in California and was told that it was just a migraine thing and I was fine.  But now, with the whole hey-you-might-have-a-tumor thought first and foremost in my mind, the numbness seemed much, much more frightening, even though it was the exact same numbness I've experienced a hundred other times.

Even though it very well could just be a weird migraine thing.

Tonight at 9:30 I'll have the MRI.

I'm also beginning to realize why it's a good thing to write down what's going on every day.  Because last night when I was feeling better I was sitting on the couch with my planner thinking "You know, today wasn't that bad.  I feel fine right this second.  I bet nothing's wrong.  This is silly.  My hearing has even been great today." and then I went over the day in my head and had to write down: headache, dizziness/fogginess, numbness in face, and ringing in ears x 3  4, along with some other things I can't even remember now, and finally had to admit that maybe going to the doctor had been a not-so-horrible idea.

There was also a moment where I showed Paul a list of symptoms for an acoustic neuroma and his eyes got wide as he said "that's totally you" and I said "well except for the taste thing" and he looked at me like I had lost my mind and then I realized that I've been preparing my favorite meals for everyone else and complaining that the food tastes horrible/off while everyone else loves them and then I put tablespoon after tablespoon of hot sauce and red pepper flakes on everything I eat to taste anything...

And how does one miss something like that?  I have no idea.  I kept saying "I must be getting a cold" even though no cold ever appeared.

This morning I'm feeling great.  And I am definitely ready for it to be 9:30.  Thank you all for the prayers.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Field Trip Time: The Zoo

After yesterday (thank you all so much for all the prayers!  I got a call last night from radiology and I'll be going in for the MRI on Monday at 9:30 at night, so we won't have too long to wait!) I thought I'd post something a bit more lighthearted and I had about a hundred pictures from our field trip to the zoo that I was dying to share, which I managed to prune down to these chosen not-so-few.  

We were already out and about because Mae had an OT appointment.  So the other three kids and I did a lap around the hospital in super slow motion during her appointment and fielded at least a dozen questions about the stroller from people who told me it was the coolest stroller they'd ever seen (it is definitely a conversation starter).

When OT was almost over I put James in to see how he would do, and then we met Mae in the hallway and headed over to the zoo.

Sadie asked that we take the long way through the parking lot to visit the Pluto placard... because Pluto is still her favorite almost-sometimes-it-depends-on-who-you-ask-planet.

The kids definitely approved of the days choice for activities, even if the walk was a bit long.

Even Patch who was a little grumbly about waiting for his sister in the waiting room was happy by the time we got to the zoo.

And James was reveling in being a big boy and sitting up in his own seat.

Sadie stopped to take her picture with the swan, and to pretend to be a swan:

And two of the wolves came over to visit us, while Patch screamed "Puppy!!!!! Puppy!!!!!" in his most excited voice (that's also his reaction every time we walk by a dog on the street or in a yard... the boy is dog-crazy).  

We checked out the space they're building for a new exhibit and learned some facts about crows and ravens:

The peacocks were a big hit:

Although the penguins were even cooler:

And we checked out the river, which is still partially frozen:

While the new bird exhibit has a neat sign, I'm more excited to see this come into being:

Although Sadie asked, "What's so special about a moose?" when I talked about it a bit too much.

She asked if we could stop and say a rosary at the children's memorial garden.  I told her I didn't think the babies were going to be on board for holding still that long in the cold so she announced that she would be praying three Our Fathers, three Hail Mary's and three Guardian Angel prayers before we went on.

And she did (and led everyone else through doing the same):

Then we went back to hang out with the otters while we waited for Paul to get off work:

And we got a glimpse of the bald eagles talking.  I'm pretty sure they were trying to convince a zoo keeper who was walking by that they needed dinner ASAP!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Not What I Expected... A Prayer Request

I've made the first three appointments of the day (four if you count dropping Paul off at work on time) and I thought I'd send out a quick prayer request/ update before I load all the kids back into the car to take Mae to her speech appointment.

After I dropped Paul off at work and Maggie off at the therapy center I braved the ENT office with Sadie, Patch and James.

To be honest, as I drove over there, I thought about how for about twenty four hours my hearing has seemed a little bit better and there hasn't been any ringing in a couple days.  Just watch, I said to myself, they'll say nothing is wrong.

I think I'm a little gun shy when it comes to all things head related because I've gone to almost a half dozen doctors in the last five years for the migraines, with my slurred speech and numbness in my face and the right side of my body, terrified, only to be told that it's just a migraine, it's fairly normal, I just have to learn to deal with it since not many medications are safe when you're pregnant or breastfeeding.

The audiologist saw me first.  I could tell right away that something wasn't quite right.  I was hardly hearing any beeps with my left ear and then when she started to talk and asked me to repeat what she was saying, I could only understand one or two words at a time before they would start to sound blurred and incomprehensible.  "I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that one." became my refrain.

Then it was time to see the ENT doctor.  He came in and asked me questions and sat at his computer and looked serious.  He looked in my ears, nose, and at my throat and eyes.

Wearing Mae's headphones to block out noise...
It was the only picture that seemed appropriate.
And then he asked me if I have an ear that I feel is stronger and I said yes, my right ear and he paused and explained that my right ear actually has more severe hearing loss.  And then he went on to say that my hearing loss isn't typical and that he's very worried about the various symptoms, especially the hearing loss and dizziness and that he's concerned that I could have a brain tumor, "although not cancer" and that he'll be ordering a MRI right away because we need to investigate that possibility before we can even begin to look at anything else.

I sat there, bouncing James on my lap and hushing Patrick, who was whining because the Bubble Puppy game on the Kindle wasn't doing what he wanted it too and thought "well that wasn't what I was expecting."

I asked if maybe it was less likely to be a tumor because it started when Maggie screamed so loudly in my ear and he explained that a person could go into the ER for chest pain and it could just be indigestion, but that doesn't mean that they aren't having a heart attack a few minutes later when they walk back out to their car.

If it isn't a tumor it seems that the next step will be looking into Meniere's disease.

Now I have to wait for the hospital to call and schedule the MRI.  After the MRI I go back to the same office again.

It wasn't until I was walking out to the car that all the years of slurred speech and numbness and migraine auras came to mind.  I've spent so long being told they're nothing and believing that they're nothing that I didn't even that they could possibly be related until I was walking to the car and thought that they were probably something I should have mentioned.

Oh well.  I'll bring them up after the MRI when I go back to see another doctor in his office (who after writing those words and googling him I find has a special interest in head, neck and lung cancers...).

So I'm taking a deep breath and trying to keep this in perspective.  Because it's probably nothing, right?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

7 Quick Take Friday


This picture makes me smile.

It's just so Mae.  

The play castle in the back yard has two climbing sides with little hand and foot holds, but instead of using those she decides to scale the side of the house.

And because it's Mae, with her super developed gross motor skills, she climbed  to the window and then hopped carefully down and went back to running around.  

Also, she suddenly looks so much older!  I cannot believe that she's going to be five in July:


Twelve hours from right now is the scheduled time for me to have an audiology appointment and see an ENT doctor.  

And it can't arrive soon enough.

Between the hearing going in and out, the room spinning and making me sick and the stabbing pain in my ears I am so, so very ready for tomorrow.  

And I'm hoping that whatever advice I receive doesn't involve avoiding loud, high pitched sounds, because that's just not going to happen.

I did try Maggie's noise blocking headphones, and while they helped the screeching, they just made the dizziness much, much worse... Praying tomorrow gives us some answers (and solutions!).


So tonight I was kind of throwing myself a little pity party about how the whole ear things was going and I took one bite of dairy free ice cream and lost a filling/broke a tooth (pregnancy is never easy on teeth...).

Not having a dentist in the state of Michigan, and having four appointments I'm supposed to be at (with the kids) tomorrow, I'm kind of panicky at the moment.  

I'm hoping that tomorrow between the 7 and 9 am appointments I can find someone who can squeeze me in after the 3:30 pm appointment (when Paul will thankfully be getting off work early).  Prayers that somehow this works out are greatly appreciated.


Patch's name day was earlier this week and I tried to make it a good one. 

We started the day with a icy cold walk down by the river:

We took a trip to the museum where Patch got to play with the giant toothbrush (he loves that thing):

He did some building:

Played with bubbles:

And lights:

Checked out the fish in the waiting room while Sadie was at OT:

Took a stroll around the hospital while we waited for her to be finished:

And came home to have a cake that Sadie made for the feast day:

All in all it was a good day!


Now I know that as James' mother I'm kind of biased, but this little guy just seems to be getting cuter and cuter every day:

I can't believe he's big enough to sit up in the stroller!  


The last time I went to a movie was when Sadie and I went to Frozen.  

Yesterday I surprised her after dinner by getting out her Cinderella dress and asking her if she wanted to see a movie.  

She did.  And I have a new favorite movie.

It was so much fun!  


Paul's had a great first week of work (we're so proud of him!)!

And the kids and I have been getting around in style with the triple stroller, which I'm fairly certain is the best conversation starter, ever.

If you're walking with this thing you're going to have at least a half dozen (and likely quite a few more) conversations about how awesome it is.

And it is.  

For more 7 Quick Takes head over to This Ain't the Lyseum