Taking a hiatus (officially)

6 May
God is good... All the time!

God is good… All the time!

I haven’t posted much on this blog, mostly because I have two others that I do post to (you can see my writing blog here, and the blog for my nonprofit here). I don’t think I’m going to delete the blog, because I may want to revisit it when life is a bit less hectic, or when I have wedding pictures, or something else fun. But without “making an end” or some kind of announcement or something, this blog feels like a loose end. So I’m going to officially take a hiatus, and cross this blog off my to-do list for awhile. Hasta la vista! And thanks for visiting.

 

Life is never boring

18 Apr

boredom

I used to pray, every year on New Year’s Eve, for a boring year. I finally quit, because the prayer was never answered. A friend told me I’d be bored in a month, but I still would love to give it a try sometime! (Even a month of “boring” would be a nice change…)

This year is shaping up to be huge in terms of transitions and new things. In addition to my new “job” as a writer and publisher, and my old jobs with Ten Eighteen and the Wright Group, this is just what’s happening in the next few months (this list is mid-April through September!).

  • The academic portion of our homeschooling will be done, although Zeke will be doing a gap year of life experience and our school will not technically close until 2014.
  • Ryan will be graduating from college in May, and marrying in June.
  • I’ll be taking our first official team trip to Andros in August.
  • I may be taking an earlier trip for legal paperwork and research.
  • Zeke will be headed to Uganda in August for about 6 weeks, and I’ll follow him in September for a work trip so we can journey home together.
  • Books 2 and 3 of the IXEOS Trilogy will be published.
  • BUT GOD: Two Words to Freedom will be published.
  • We will (Lord willing) sell our house and move to a new, temporary house in Raleigh.

In addition to that, I will (theoretically) be writing and editing, going to Beaufort, and enjoying at least some time with my family. It seems crazy, and yet, really, I’m so excited about most of it that I literally have butterflies sometimes.

I have probably written before on this blog about being a “kingdom” Christian. My upcoming book is all about that journey (shameless self promotion). What it means, in a nutshell, is that my goal — my family’s goal — is to advance God’s kingdom first and foremost. (A great book on this concept is called Wild Goose Chase, by Mark Batterson. Formerly titled Chase the Goose: Reclaiming the Adventure of Living a Spirit-Led Life and published by Lifeway as a Bible study book.) I look at life like it is in The Lord of the Rings. We all have a destiny and a role to play in advancing the Kingdom of God, and it will cost everything to fulfill it. Honestly, I really do… I believe that with all my heart.

While you might be nodding your head saying, “Of course! That’s what Christians do!”,  it really isn’t. This isn’t a disparagement of anyone or any church, it’s merely stating a fact. If we, as Christians, really were living this way, there would be a lot more miracles, a lot more missions, a lot more love, and a lot less suffering the world over. Churches tend to be (with exceptions) church oriented. Pastors (with exceptions, including my own) tend to be church oriented. That’s okay as far as it goes, but the Kingdom is out there, out past the church, out past home group, out past you and your life. The Kingdom is at war, and will be at war until Jesus comes back. No lie. It’s in the Bible.

Which means, as the old song says, “I’m a soldier in the Lord’s army.” My part may be big or small in natural terms, but to God, to the Kingdom and to His plans, it’s huge. It’s something only I can do. It’s something I have to both choose to acknowledge as a concept, accept as a message, follow as truth, and give my all to accomplishing. Sometimes — a lot of times — things don’t turn out as we think they will. Obedience is as big a part of the walk as anything else. I’ve had things fail in natural terms that I still know, 100%, were from God. My part was to obey what I heard Him say, and do my best with it. That’s all.

What that translates to in these next 5 months or so is this. The opportunity to go to Andros was unmistakably a God thing, brought about through a chain of events that no one could have foreseen or coordinated. We went, and God showed me some things to do there as a Phase I: the youth camp missions trip, starting a Bahamian NGO/nonprofit, and finding out about egg farming. I came home and, after the house stuff was done, started on all those things. In the midst of that, the hospice began to move from (I thought) Phase II or even III to Phase I. My motto is always, “Do the thing in front of you,” so when things shift, I don’t stick to my own agenda and to-do list, I shift with them. I hadn’t planned on going back to Andros until August, what with the graduations and wedding, but now, after 10 days of trying to get a lawyer to call me back, and with information needed that will obviously be more easily obtained in person than on the phone, I am about 85% sure I’ll be headed back down before then. Maybe even a lot before then.

Do the thing in front of you… That’s how you start. My upcoming book, BUT GOD: Two Words to Freedom, is about this type of living, and if you’re interested, I encourage you to get it. (I’m hoping it’ll be available next week, and I’ll post an announcement when it is released.)  It’s a scarier kind of living than you might be used to. People will likely claim you are crazy (or lucky). But you’re not either one. When God speaks to you, when the Wild Goose that is the Holy Spirit (Celtic Christians called the Holy Spirit an gaedh-glas, which means “the wild goose”) whispers a crazy idea in your head, you have to choose: go, or don’t.

This is why I’ll never have a boring year. Wild geese aren’t boring. A Kingdom at war isn’t boring. Fulfilling a destiny, a quest, isn’t boring. No matter what you’re called to do for the Kingdom, if you will give your all to Him, you will find adventure, fulfillment, and a closeness and dependence with God that you’ve never experienced. Plus, you’ll be tired a lot of the time, so you’ll sleep pretty well, too!

kingdom-of-god

Managing my Freak-Out

4 Apr

now_panic_and_freak_out__by_jweinstock-d3hvgoz

Given all I have to do, sitting here writing a blog post seems stupid. But writing calms me, and I need to spend at least a couple of hours editing this morning, so I’m writing to try to reach my happy place. Right now, that’s a stretch, but if I can reach my “not running away screaming” place, I’ll have accomplished something!

We just got back from 5 nights in the Bahamas. Not a vacation, so I’m not feeling that wonderful relaxed feeling you get from days on a beach with a few frozen adult beverages to cool you off. We did spend 2 nights in Nassau, but at the first hotel there were two HUGE groups of spring breakers, and at the second hotel, a HUGE group of Orthodox Jews with their families. The latter was not much more unruly than the first, sadly – at least their kids. And the adults are rude. I kept thinking, “You’re representing GOD here! You are all wearing yarmulkes and carrying around your Torah and keeping kosher, and then ruining your witness of Yahweh by your behavior!” It was sad. And not relaxing. We did accomplish what we needed to in Andros, which is a story for another blog.

So now I’m home. I made a to-do list, just for the house stuff, on the plane, and it was more than 1 page. I have 8 days to get this house ready to go on the market, and I’m really panicked about it. We’re having a moving sale Saturday, too. I hate yard sales – you say it starts at 8am, and people show up at 6am when you haven’t even had your coffee. They haggle over a dollar. You have to get it all spread out, try to price things… It’s just a pain. Usually I donate everything to Goodwill instead, but we have SO much stuff that this seemed like a better idea. At the time. Right now it seems like a terrible idea, but I have an ad in the paper, so we’ll be doing it.

The house. Is a wreck. Despite all the work I’ve already done, it’s still a long way from ready. We still have some work being done. We’re still trying to live life. We still have a dog who sheds black hair everywhere, and a cat who leaves half her coat behind when she gets off of a chair. I now know the reason we’ve never lived in a house we were trying to sell. It’s impossible!!!

Okay, I feel better now. Sort of. Thanks for your patience. You can go back to your previously scheduled program.

Update from the migraine war, plus… I’m OLD!

21 Mar

getting-older

My birthday is April 15, and I’ll be 48. On the one hand, I don’t feel “old”, and I do think my generation is, in general younger at this age than our parents were. On the other hand, 48 is pretty close to half a century, and that seems old. I really don’t worry about age much, thanks to some fantastic genes on my mother’s side: my great, great grandparents both lived to be 96; my great-grandmother lived to be 92 even with diabetes; my grandmother is 99 and still lives alone, cooks, walks her dog, and has parties; my mom is 71 and a cancer survivor, and is in great health and condition. So from that perspective, I’m only about halfway there! Better to think about that, I think.

My mom and grandmother, Easter 2012

My mom and grandmother, Easter 2012

So the migraines… Since Christmas, I’ve been MUCH better. Whereas I had one continuous migraine from October 8 to October 31, and then 28 days of migraine in November, and lesser intensity but still there migraines for about 20 days in December (including every day of my vacation in Freeport, Bahamas), since Christmas I’ve only had a handful of bad migraines, and at least as many days headache free (or with one that responds quickly to Bayer Migraine) as those with migraine.

With this really unfortunate condition, I want to share all I know about what’s working with you, in hopes that some of what I share may help. I don’t know… we’re all different and they don’t seem to know a lot about it when you come right down to it. But here goes!

Appropriately, this image is from migraine-ista.blogspot.com

Appropriately, this image is from migraine-ista.blogspot.com

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING:

It appears that my migraines are about 80% hormone driven, so when I entered peri-menopause last year, the reduced estrogen is what started my migraine spree. As I said before, I rarely had migraines until February, 2012. Having had a lot of experience with them at this point, I can say that I did actually have them more often than my previous claim of one per year; I just didn’t know that’s what they were. But I only had one that was debilitating a year, and that is certainly livable.

Now, with the “good” news that “most women” are done with menopause by 52, I have a “mere” 4 or 5 years to go. But, since my migraines are triggered by a lack of estrogen, I’m not sure that things are going to improve when I don’t have any… That’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when we get there.

How I know it is hormone driven is that, when I removed my Nuvaring for good in October, I started the migraine from hell two days later. That’s the one that lasted, non-stop, for 24 days or so. After consulting with my neurologist and gynecologist, I went back on the Nuvaring November 11. The headaches got better over time, and after 2 1/2 cycles, had steadied out to where they are now. The goal is to use the Nuvaring all the time, but my body isn’t cooperating with that plan yet. After it’s out for a couple of days, I have migraines, usually lasting until I’m back on it for 2 or 3 days. But this last cycle, I left it out for only 2 days, and didn’t experience an uptick in migraines, plus my body did okay with it as far as my period, so that’s my plan for the moment.

I know that birth control actually gives some people migraines, and that’s more usual. But there may be some of you “mid-life” women out there who are in my situation, and I want to share this information with you in case it can help you as it’s helped me. Note that it isn’t an immediate fix — it takes awhile for your body to get adjusted.

FIGURING OUT WHAT ELSE IS HELPING:

I had an appointment with my neurologist on December 12, and we changed up everything. I gave up caffeine. He took me off medicines with caffeine (Bayer and Excedrine migraine, Fiorocet). He gave me a nose spray (Migranol) and told me to order both Migra-Eeze and Vessel Care. For people who have migraine with aura, there can be a genetic marker, and Vessel Care contains the dietary supplements that are recommended if you test positive for that marker. Rather than send me for testing, he just recommended the supplement, since it’s OTC. Migra-Eeze is a supplement with butterbur, ginger and ribo-flavin. He prescribed Bupap instead of Fiorocet, which is the same med but without caffeine. I also started on magnesium glycinate, 800 mg a day (more on this later). (If you’re wondering about Imitrex, Zomig and that class of meds, I don’t respond to them. I have a very high threshold of pain and quite often have a migraine before I actually feel it. Because you have to take these medications as soon as you have the migraine, I always miss the window.)

The problem with this strategy is that I did everything at once. I’d also been on the Nuvaring one cycle by this point, although the headaches were still frequent (but less severe). So, while things were starting to work by Christmas, I didn’t know what was working and was afraid to stop anything to find out.

Since I’m terrible at remembering regular medications, I discovered that the Vessel Care wasn’t doing anything by accident. I got that from Amazon very quickly, and it was the first addition to the Nuvaring. I had been taking it two weeks by the time I got home from vacation. Then I forgot it when I didn’t unpack it quickly (it was Christmas, after all!), and nothing changed. I’m not sure I have aura anyway — very occasionally I’ll get a bit confused or ditzy before a migraine, but that’s about it, and that could be because of the aforementioned pain-recognition problem). So I didn’t resume taking that.

I did start taking the Migra-Eeze on December 23, and since I started getting a lot better after that, I kept that one going. Then I went to Uganda in February, and that became a bit hit or miss, and I again didn’t unpack in a timely fashion. There was no change… so I’ve quit taking that, too. The Migranol never worked.

I am still off caffeine as a regular drink, but I have discovered that it, along with either aspirin or the aspirin/aceteminophen combination, is that only thing that actually gets rid of a migraine for me. This has led to me mixing up Bupap and Fiorocet, depending on the severity of the headache. If I have one at night that is a real doozy, I take Fiorocet and go to bed. If it’s annoying but not awful, I take Bupap. The pharmacist didn’t like filling both prescriptions before my Uganda trip (“Is this a man or woman? What does she look like?” could be overheard…), but I take them less than once a week. I just didn’t want to be in Uganda without enough meds if I needed them. Likewise, I take Bayer Migraine with either a Coke or Coke Zero for a daytime headache. Sometimes I do “the cure” of a Coke and 4 aspirin, but that’s hard on my stomach if I haven’t eaten recently.

All in all, I’m managing them well at this point. I had only 1 bad migraine in Uganda (and it was a doozy… but it was also unusually hot, and I’d probably not had enough to drink, 2 key triggers). I had 1 bad one on the plane going over, complete with nausea, but I didn’t have one on the trip home. I don’t think I’ve had a bad one since I returned on March 4. So that’s MUCH better than just a few months ago.

On the magnesium glycinate: apparently a lot of migraine sufferers also struggle with constipation. (Sorry for the graphic-ness here, but it is what it is!) He said to start taking 800 mg of magnesium glycinate daily, and then up it until “you have diarrhea” (sorry again!), then back off one tablet. I am actually good at 800 mg except when I was traveling, then I had to up it. But travel’s usually a big problem for me, and it wasn’t this last trip to Uganda, so that was a huge blessing. So if you have this problem, try the magnesium glycinate. You can get it on Amazon or at your local Vitamin Shoppe or GNC.

Of kids and hospital stays

29 Jan

I’ve now had both my kids end up in the hospital for multiple-day stays. I can’t say I recommend the experience! We just got home an hour or so ago from the latest saga, my daughter and a seriously wicked norovirus, which led to a 2 night stay, tons of IV fluids, and jello. Well, she doesn’t like jello, so she skipped that. But the rest of the tray was pretty similar to jello, so not very great.

While I was concerned for her and upset at what she was having to go through, I was never afraid for her life. As long as she wasn’t dehydrated and her electrolytes were kept stable, she wasn’t really in any danger, however miserable. Plus we were in the United States, where we have unlimited access to meds, wonderful medical technology, cable in both the ER room and the private room, linens and good food. (Okay, good is a stretch, but the cafeteria wasn’t bad and had a fresh salad bar.) I don’t have a bill, but I’m guessing these 3 days probably cost about $7,000, especially since they did a CT scan to rule out appendicitis.

My son was in the hospital for 4 nights in Uganda about a year and a half ago. We didn’t know at the time that he has asthma, and he fell very ill to pneumonia in about a day. (This was his 5th trip to Uganda and he’d never been sick before!). By the time he was admitted to the ER there, which was on the first day he even felt bad, his oxygen saturation level was 82%. I was in a village about 2 1/2 hrs away and had to arrange for a driver to take me back to Kampala, pay a bribe to a police woman, and only have contact by text message with my friend who’d taken him to IHK. When they got him there, his fingernails and lips were blue (which they hadn’t been able to see at home because they hadn’t had electricity at the house).

My son's room at International Hospital Kampala

My son’s room at International Hospital Kampala

That time, I was scared. Really scared, actually. Throwing up is bad, but oxygen is pretty vital, and he wasn’t getting it. Plus we were in Uganda. Okay, IHK is the best hospital in the country, founded by an Irish doctor who is now in Parliament, and well run. Everything was opened from sterile packs, we had sheets, we paid for a private room that had a bed for me, we had mosquito nets, and everyone was really nice. But the nursing staff was woefully undertrained. The way they do IV medication is to put a shunt in and manually push the medicine through (collapsing my son’s veins every time). They did an arterial blood gasses draw (very painful) and then someone unplugged the fridge so they lost it. They had one nebulizer for the whole hospital and didn’t start using it for 2 days. The tv only got two, very bad Ugandan stations.

My son got better, and the whole experience only cost me 750,000 shillings, which is about $300. When we needed more meds because Delta wouldn’t change our ticket to come back in time to get to our doctor here before the weekend, we just went back to the hospital, met with the doctor, and got another week’s worth for 60,000 shillings, or $23. Everyone was very nice, and they had ice cream at the cafeteria, which is all he ate (food was included for him, which is very unusual in Uganda — usually you have to bring your own food and linens — but beans and rice with chapati isn’t really what you want when you’re really sick!). The main inconvenience was having to go to the finance office every day to pay for that day’s services, and not having towels (my friend brought some to us). But it was frightening and gave me a huge appreciation for our medical system. And I have to give a shout-out to American Express, who was ready to evacuate us to either India or Nairobi if he needed more extensive care — they had a doctor monitoring his case, calling IHK and talking to our young British doctor, and calling me several times a day for updates.

Being in the hospital for days at a time, even when you’re not the patient, is extremely exhausting. (Note to anyone who has to stay with a child or loved one – EAR PLUGS!!) I stayed with my daughter the whole time, even though she’s twenty, because there’s not much worse than being in the hospital alone. Plus the patient really needs someone who can advocate for them. Nurses are great, but they’re really busy, and if you don’t have an emergency sometimes you get lost in the shuffle.

Plus, it’s what moms do… She may be getting married in a few months, but she’s still my little girl. I wouldn’t have been anywhere else!

I won’t be deterred!

3 Jan

perseverance-quotes

Not to bore you with repetition, but I have struggled with chronic migraines of late, and it’s amazing how stupidly debilitating they can be. I changed my medicines after my doctor’s appointment in December, and once I started on an OTC (available from Amazon) called Migra-Eeze on Christmas Eve I’ve been doing much better. I’ve only had two days that I’ve needed to take my prescription medicine, and three or four where I needed to do “the cure” (my doctor’s favorite remedy, 4 aspirin and a regular Coke). All but one of those days worked pretty well. Today is that day.

It hasn’t been a bad day. The migraine has been what I’d call mid-level. I was able to modify what was supposed to be an intense cardio interval workout to at least get a workout done, if not at the level I’d planned. Something’s better than nothing! Having had so many good days makes me realize how bad things were in October, November and December. Wow.

What my main “resolution” (I don’t like that word – let’s say goal instead) boils down to for 2013 is that I won’t be deterred. According to my two doctors (neurologist and gynecologist), odds are I’m going to be dealing with migraines until I’m past complete menopause. Since the average age of menopause is 52, that’s five years. And I am not having five years that are a repeat of the last one, that is guaranteed. Obviously a good bit of that is finding the right medicines, supplements, diet (ie I no longer drink any caffeine except when I need the Coke), and exercise. I’m avoiding things like MSG as much as I can; I’ve never had a noticeable reaction to it, but then again, I’ve never had migraines until last February, either, so I’m not taking anything for granted.

But I won’t let these headaches stop me. If I have a bad day, I’ll deal with it and get back to life the next day. If I have a small headache in the background, I’m not going to spend my day in fear that it’s going to turn into a monster; I’m going to do all I can when I can. If that means I modify my daily to-do list, so be it. That’s better than scrapping it! If staring at the computer is hard, I’ll do the never-ending on-paper editing. Or vice versa. If lifting weights or doing a hard interval cardio workout makes a headache worse, I’ll walk. Even with a bad headache I can at least Tweet, right?

In short, I will not be deterred in 2013. Come what may, I’m taking God’s promise that His mercies are new every morning and living one day at a time. On headache days I’ll live one hour at a time. But always with the sure knowledge that I get a fresh start tomorrow. There’s not much better than that!

Happy New Year – and good riddance to 2012!

30 Dec

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I won’t bore you with another recap of 2012 – let’s just say that I am overjoyed to close the door on the year and have a fresh start. Of course, that must come with a brief caveat, which is that there were a lot of great things in 2012 (writing, publishing, travel, Uganda, my daughter’s engagement, among others) and I am grateful for all those things, and see God’s faithfulness in them. But physically it was awful. It was the terrible, awful, no good, very bad year. But now it’s almost over – the end is in sight! Whoopeeeeee!

So what does 2013 hold? At least, as far as depends on me? For my writing/publishing goals, you can check out my writing blog here. There’s a lot more to life than writing, and the writing goals also dictate certain things about my life — you know, the interconnected, circle of life, uh-oh I’d better get a schedule kind of thing. So here goes. I’m going out on a limb and putting my hopes, dreams and goals for 2013 out on the internet for all to see. Nothing like a little pressure to keep you on track!

First and foremost, I want/need to get some control of my body back. I’ve come up with a schedule for my days that should allow me to get to the gym 4-6 days a week, even if I end up with a migraine that day (80% or more of my migraines start in the afternoon, so a morning workout should work most of the time). I’ve always been strong, even when I’ve been less than ideally fit, but I’ve lost a lot of strength along with fitness this year, and I want to reverse that. I’ve actually been working on this already, but I’m going to keep going in 2013, and not let any setbacks do more than be a blip on the radar.

Secondly is eating. I eat healthfully… Except when I don’t. I love potatoes. I crave potatoes in all the salty, fried, delicious forms. I know where the best french fries in town are (Coquette), and where the best french fries in towns I don’t even live in are!  And when I’m feeling physically weak, I eat way too much sugar without realizing it – my body is saying “give me energy!” and so I reach for the red hots. So… Back to the free day concept. Free days work really well for me; I did it for years in the past. So I’m going back to that, which keeps me from feeling deprived, but also keeps my body fueled properly and healthfully.

I am also using My Fitness Pal, an iPhone app and online free site, to track calories and exercise. When you’re 47, your body just doesn’t respond to these things like it did at 35, so this keeps me on track. Since my daughter is on it too, we’re “friends” and can see each other’s workouts and how we did with each day’s eating. It’s easy to use, free, and motivational, and helps keep me on track.

Next, as I’ve said on my writing blog, I’ve decided to trick my brain by treating my writing and publishing like a “real” job. Meaning a job I’d go to somewhere outside of my home, and so have to organize my life around it. I have made 2 different schedules which should accommodate everything I want to get done during the week and still allow for some flexibility and for the gym. I’ve moved my drafting table from the sunroom to my office and set it up like a desk. I’m going to make a sign for my door, and I’m letting my calls go to voicemail. After having homeschooled and been self-employed for so long, I need, and my family needs, to see physical barriers and delineations of “home” and “work”. So far, everyone’s on board. I don’t start until the 2nd, though, so we’ll see how it goes!

While it doesn’t seem like a big deal, I’m going to go to the grocery only once or twice a week. Currently I go almost every day. Seriously. Somehow, with only three of us most of the time, I’ve let any sort of planning go by the wayside, and we have 2 groceries within a mile of the house, plus Costco, so it hasn’t seemed like a big deal. But I’m sure I spend more money, and even a quick trip is a half hour by the time I drive, park, shop, load, and unload. And I have the added benefit now of my son working at Harris Teeter, so if we need something, he can get it after work!

Mostly that’s it. Anything else would just be an expansion of these themes, and I know I’ll have to tweak things at first. I am leaving for Uganda on February 15, so I have a built-in “six week trial” to see how it’s all going. Plus, that’s long enough to build some habits that I can jump right back into once I’m home.

How about you? Resolutions? Goals? Let me know – we’ll try to keep each other on track!