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Our Last Trip To Our Abilene Pumpkin Patch

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'll never forget our first year in Abilene, driving around town with Christopher's sister Steph, desperately searching for anything that might somewhat resemble a pumpkin patch.

We went home empty handed that day- frustrated and severely out of spirit. I'm pretty sure we ended up buying a pumpkin out of the bottom of a dirt filled wooden box at Walmart, and I don't think it ever got carved anyways, but- I remember being upset.

The next year we skipped pumpkin hunting altogether, but the year following that, we found our beloved pumpkin patch. And its been a tradition ever since.

And this year was no different. Between attacks from the beastly flu, soccer practices and games, jury duty downtown, and anything else that tried to get in our way- we took our annual trip down Clack St, and let the babies pick out their own gourds for carving.

Theres just something so magical about watching your kidlets run about in a field (or in this case, a glorified front yard), looking for just the right one...

Eleanore was moving so fast, from lump to bump, I was lucky that she made it into even one photo. Evelyn got a little baby pumpkin that her big brother picked out for her, and Charlie, who by the end of the trip was feeling the full effects of the impending flu, took whatever pumpkin we handed him.

We might have missed the hay ride this year, but maybe we'll try to go back? Either way- we had a great time watching the sun go down together, glaring off of each and every orange globe in the field.

For a trip down memory lane, here are the links to our past pumpkin patch trips:
Our First Year At The Pumpkin Patch.
Our Second Year At The Pumpkin Patch.

Next year at this time, we'll live in a new place, with new patch to discover.
Bittersweet, it is.

Some Photos

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Christopher is watching Mythbusters with the cat purring in his lap, the babies are asleep (for the most part) upstairs in their cozy comforter covered beds, and I'm relaxing next to a sky high pile of dirty tissues- courtesy of my old friend, the flu.

I feel a lot better than I have been, so I thought I'd share some pictures from the last week...

These chubby stubby legs may or may not have taken their first step this week.

Charlie sure loves his veggies.

Coloring wooden race cars in between snacking on grapes and watching Halloween Thomas.

In between one of many not-feeling-well naps.

Eleanore took a trip to her class treasure chest, and brought home some play dough!

Rockin' the ear infection.

Lovin' on Lovey.

Charlie's playground. He can frequently be found buried under a mountain of decorative pillows, with only an eye peeking out.

Such a busy girl, these days. School, soccer, speech therapy...

My big laundry helper- dumping out all of the nice clean clothes out onto the floor, and turning it into a train.

Barenstain Bears and light through the blinds.

Playtime! Its rush hour at the ramp way on the play mat.

Such curious little fingers, grabbing and pulling at everything they reach.

Its been a wonderful week.

Finding My Beautiful

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Something I've suffered with for months, years even- is identity crisis. I was constantly looking at other women and comparing myself to them- admiration, jealousy, insecurity. I went from black hair to blond hair to purple hair to highlighted hair to red hair to brown hair to-

And then one day I decided that I'm going to love myself.

Over the last year I've really pulled myself out that awful rut that I was stuck in, and I've worked hard on simplifying my life. I cut out the things that I knew were weighing me down (foods, projects, distractions, fake friends, and unfortunately even some family that I still love, but simply cannot let bring me down), and I started to focus on the things that make me happy, and make me feel like a good person.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again and again and again- until my voice is hoarse. I want to be a wonderful mother. I want to be the best mother to my babies. Not mother of the year, not better than so-and-so's mother, but- the best mother, to them.

I want to be a good wife. I want my husband to want to come home after work. I want him to love me, and love spending time with me. I want him to find happiness both with me, and without me. I want to accept that we don't agree on everything, and let the arguments slide. I want to grow old with him.

You know what I've wasted a lot of time on?? ...vanity. Haven't we all? And a few months ago, I just got sick of it. Sick of having to color my hair. Sick of having to pay for haircuts that I would come home and hate because I thought it made me look fat (because thats all that I saw). Sick of feeling the need to spend top dollar on products that would smooth away this frizz, or control that curl. And speaking of curls- how many hours of my life have I wasted blow drying, curling, and straightening?? Seriously- thats time that the bathroom mirror has gobbled up, that I'll never ever get back.

How do women do it?! I just don't understand!!

I found myself fascinated by pictures of women with dreadlocks. One picture in particular that I can remember- a mother sitting in a vintage floral patterned chair, the sunlight coming in through the window and bouncing off of her beautiful porcelain skin and long bleached locks- holding her baby in her lap, her arms wrapped tightly around him, while reading him a story. And I think it was the expressions on their faces that really made my heart sink. Something went off in my head, and it just felt right. That picture made me happy.

Over the next couple of days I became obsessed with the idea of it. I can't even tell you how many times I got lost in a search engine, bouncing from one picture to another. All of these women were so beautiful. Their faces were so soft, and I could almost feel their warmth coming through my screen. I felt such a strong connection to these women that I had never met, and knew nothing about. Maybe not a connection, but, a pull, of some sort?

I talked it over with Christopher. I weighed my pros and cons a million times. I did my research. And then we decided- its time to ditch the dyes, the products, the hassle... its time for me to get dreadlocks.

I waited. I waited and waited and waited. I didn't even so much as want to tell my best friend, because I didn't want to hear anyones reaction. Its kind of a big deal, right? I wanted time to just sit on the idea. I wanted to know that this is what I truly wanted. And as time went on, I colored my hair back to my natural color, I stopped using all of the products, I stopped blow drying and straightening- and one day after a shower I stared in the mirror, and something looked different.

Well first of all, I was seeing me, which is sometimes hard to look at, but something I need to do. The real me. Not a fake, made up version of myself. And second of all- "Christopher, what did I do to my hair to make it look like I have dreadlocks?".

Ummm... well I hadn't brushed it for 2 months, for starters, hah! My hair had taken the hint.

...And thats when I knew that this is what I really wanted. I hadn't originally planned on going the "neglect" route, so I painfully brushed the knots and tangles out, but- by that point I was craving my dreads so bad, I hated to look in the mirror at the old Tia, and I so badly wanted to see who I feel I really am.


And then the whole seizure thing happened, and I knew I had to wait until after Dallas, because of all the electrodes they'd put on my head.

Well I'm back from Dallas now, so theres nothing in my way-

My bestie Alexis stepped up to the plate (again), and we spent hours and hours together, saying goodbye to all of the vanity issues that I've been wanting to shrug off of my shoulders, and when it was all said and done, I drove home from her house, stopped the car in the middle of the road for crossing deer, and layed down and went to sleep next to my amazing husband, knowing that things were just as they should be.

This is going to be a long journey. My version of beautiful might be different from theirs. But right now, in this moment- I feel beautiful.

Documenting My Diagnosis: Day 4

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I can't even tell you how sick of my electrode wires I am. I trip over them. I snag them on my IV site. I get them tangled up around my waist, my hair, and my other wires for other things that I'm getting sick of getting tangled up in. Electrodes- GO AWAY.

9:20: I just talked to Doogie Howser, and he thinks that my attacks are one of two things. Both being seizures. An epileptic type in the back of the head, or a non epileptic type.? We talked about whether or not this could all be related to imbalances in my blood (potassium, electrolytes, B12- Alexis and I have had too much time for googling), so to ease my mind he pulled up all of my blood work on the computer, and showed me just how "normal" I am. A picture of perfect health.

Sooo... now I'm trying to wrap my brain around the diagnosis that I might get later today, while at the same time holding back on jumping to conclusions, since they haven't said the actual words "you have this" yet. I'll know more when the team comes in, in about an hour, and maybe then I can start letting it settle.

For now I need to just listen to Alexis's shower water (lucky- I would do anything to clean the glue off my scalp), fight my heart pounding anxiousness, and hope that I get more cell phone pictures of my babies.

Side note: cooked green beans are a no go. At least the hospital version of them.

11:47: I just had an episode. I don't even know what Alexis and I were talking about, but she kept telling me to push the button (my seizure stick), and I didn't want to. And then when I finally did, the dang thing didn't even sound the alarm, so she had to come push it for me.

This time I was scared? That happens at home sometimes, where I just feel really scared, like a child almost. Only this time, Christopher wasn't here to comfort me. I curled up on my bed and cried lightly until it was over. And it was over really quickly, thank goodness, unlike the last 2 I've had here, which lasted for almost an hour each, off and on. But now I'm tired, and can't stop yawning. My face feels flushed.

A gal that reads my blog (Hi Rebecca!) had sent me an email saying that theres a raw vegan cafe right by the hospital, so we looked it up. Its only 5 miles away. The menu looks awesome, but when it comes down to it, I'm such a food snob, that I just don't want to risk the improper food combining, and pay $15 for 1/4 of the portion size that I'd normally eat. So we're going to make it a point to hit up whole foods on the way home (which might be tomorrow!). I haven't been to a whole foods in 6 years. Sad? ...I know.

3:12: ...I've been avoiding updating. I've kept my computer closed, and I've kept my camera off. I saw my team of doctors hours ago. I'm sitting here with a heated shampoo hat on, water dripping down from near my ears and forehead- my electrodes were painfully removed about 40 minutes ago. They've collected enough data.

I'm going home today.

I don't think that the words that I need to describe how I'm feeling, even exist.
Other than- get this damn glue off of my head, and get this needle out of my vein!

So I won't bother trying to find them. Not right now at least.

I just want to go home to my husband and my babies.
I need time to sort out my thoughts.

I'll find the courage to write about my new beginning soon, I hope. And until then, I'll do my best to keep a skip in my step and a smile on my face. I'm going home!!!

Documenting My Diagnosis: Day 3

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I slept in again. I don't normally sleep in at home, so this was the last time. Usually I only get 5 1/2, or maybe 6 hours of sleep (depending on if I fall asleep on the couch or not), so- tomorrow I'm setting an alarm. I can't be well rested on top of being a lazy ass sitting in this uncomfortable bed all day. Thats not my norm.

I slept better last night, but I was cold. I woke up at 2am to a guy freezing metal stuff to my head- not so pleasant. And then at 5am, I had to pee worse than I've ever had to pee in my life, and I was stuck to the bed! The tape from my wires had gotten wrapped in my hair and stuck to the sheet. And then I got wrapped up in the tails of my electrodes. And then, I was tripping over the cord to my leg wraps, which was tangled up with my tails, and- oh my God someone just get me to the toilet before I pee all over myself!!

9:00: One of the doctors and a student doctor just came in and talked to me a little bit about yesterdays episode. Alexis and I explained it to him, and he made little comments like "I don't quite know what that is, but-", and "well we'll have to take a look at that". So he hadn't reviewed any of my stuff yet, and just wanted to hear a little bit more about it before he sat down to see it. But again, I felt discouraged. I didn't want to hear him say "I don't quite know what that is", I wanted to hear him say "Oh thats this, and this is the cure, and heres your neatly pressed going home outfit, ta ta!". ...so now I wait patiently for the next few hours, hoping that when they review the video they see something familiar, and have an idea.

By the way, all of my blood work came back normal. Vegan diet, for the win!

Time for water and oranges. The highlight of my morning, I'm sure.

10:23: Okay I skipped out on the oranges this morning. I'll save those for lunch. I ate store bought bananas instead. Did I mention that they brought me a plate of gluten for breakfast? Whhhhy?

Its boring here. I keep getting up and trying to clean. But doing that means I have to untangle wires every 5 seconds. I carry around my electrodes in a little purse. My EKG readings keep messing up, so earlier they brought me a new bag. I actually like this bag a lot better.

...and see, I'm so bored, that this is way exciting for me. A new bag to carry my wires around in, yay!

11:14: I just took my first dose of medicine. ...2 pills in a little cup, that are maybe going to change my life.

See, I'm trying to be optimistic. Through my red puffy eyes, I'm trying to see things for what they are.

My team came into my room, and we got down to business. Nothing was picked up during my face numbness or blurred vision. No readings of any sort. Nothing visual, nothing on paper- which is kind of what I expected. And then we started talking about my evening episode...

Again, nothing was recorded on EEG, but this episode, the doctors agreed could have been a seizure. They had a more specific name for the type of seizure, but in the moment I didn't quite catch it. They didn't dumb it down enough for me.

And then they told me about the medicine they want to put me on. And I silently freaked out.

Why did I come here? To get a diagnosis? To seek treatment? ...so why is it that as soon as the doctors tell me what they think is really going on, and offer me a possible solution, I break down?

As soon as they left the room I turned into a sobbing mess.

But before they had left, I agreed to try the medicine. Because really, thats why I'm here. I'm here to take a step towards getting my life back. If this medicine works, than these attacks are seizures, which may or may not be epileptic. If it doesn't work, then its something else, and we try something else.

The doctor said its not migraines.

So I just took my first dose. And I'll take another dose tonight. If my symptoms go away, then we'll continue it. He said that its my choice whether or not to continue it after I leave. And this is what really got to me. This is the part that I struggled with. ...if these are seizures, and I have to take this medicine for the rest of my life- how will it effect my kids?

He said it might make me tired.

I have 3 kids. I have a lot to do in a day. How can I take care of the kids if all I want to do is sleep?

But then again- how can I take care of my kids if I'm having daily seizures?

So my brain is swirling with emotional distress. I called Christopher, who had pulled over at the visitor center on his way home from an adventurous search for organic gluten free soy formula, since hes just about out of my pre pumped breast milk, and we talked it out together. This is whats best for us- to try the medicine. To at least see if these are, or are not, seizures.

And then we'll go from there.

So today, for the rest of the day, I'll continue to do crazy things like get up and have a stand in place dance party to get my heart rate up. Alexis and I will laugh so loud that the nurses will have to come in and tell us to shut up because they can hear us down the hall (but nothing can be louder than the crazy guy last night that we feared was going to get loose and attack us with a plastic butter knife). And I'll accept things the way that they happen.

This medicine might not work. And if it doesn't, then we'll go from there.

Also, they just brought me a veggie patty on a great big wheat filled bun. I'm so glad they're getting the hang of this no gluten thing. Please, poison me.

And then they poked my finger and took my blood. Mean.

1:04: Its probably time to pump milk. ...I'm having a hard time functioning on the meds. They make me dizzy, and tired. Every time I move I lose my balance. This is the part that I was dreading. I almost feel worse? Be open minded, be open minded, be open minded.

Christopher is doing great at home. Still sending me pictures of the babies-

3:36: I just worked out for 50 minutes. My feet and calves are killing me. Jogging in place for that long sucks. I feel a little bit out of it now, but nothing too drastic. Maybe I'll get up and do it again in an hour, after I eat lunch #2. We watched the 40 year old virgin while I got my cardio on- we've been watching movie after movie after movie. I fell asleep last night during Weekend At Berney's. I've never seen it- which seems kind of un-American, now that I think about it. And because I fell asleep, I've still never seen it.

The room smells like pineapple. I can't get enough of it.

5:35: ...I was feeling great. Like, really great. I had high energy. No numbness, no nothing. After I worked out I was on top of the world- all smiles. ...and then I started to hear my breathing loudly through my left ear. ...and then the left half of my face went numb. ...and then my IV site in my left hand went numb. I avoided hitting my seizure button for as long as I could, thinking "I'll wait until something else happens", and then every time something else would happen, I'd just ignore it. And then I had a moment of weakness in my head, and gave in and pressed the dang button. They asked if I needed a nurse, I said "no, I just don't feel right", they said they're watching me closely, and thats that. All of my high energy is gone, I feel out of it, so I moved from my standing corner back to my boring bed, and now I'm messing up my words. I meant to say "seizure" and I said "ceasar". I messed up another word earlier- I don't remember what it was.

Isn't this about the same time of day yesterday that I crapped out? Well at least I've still got my speech today.

My bestie Kalii said shes going to play a song for me on her radio show (www.kpsu.com), so I'm tuned in and waiting. I can't wait to hear it. She hasn't even played it yet, and I'm crazy excited. What will it be, what will it be? When I listened to her radio show last week, it was just like talking with her on the phone. Her words flow naturally between songs.

Oh my God Kalii- I love you.

Here I am, feeling how you know I'm feeling, and then out of nowhere you play a song that shakes my heart to a stronger beat. Nothing could have been more perfect.

7:28: So more about that episode. I kept trying to pull myself out of it, by telling myself "you're playing it up, you know they're watching, you're doing this on purpose", but every time I'd tell myself that, I'd drift off and find myself staring at the wall again. Or I'd catch my head bobbing to the left side. And after an hour or fighting it, I started to think clearly enough to scoot my salad tray towards me, and within minutes of eating, I was better.

Seriously- it was that simple. I ate food, and I was better.

And we're not talking "oh I feel better, tra la la", but like- night and freakin' day. I was a completely different person.

I don't know that that was the case yesterday, but- my yesterday and my today were the exact same. I had my attacks right around the same time of day, they both lasted about 45 minutes, and my symptoms were all the same. Could I have some kind of a blood sugar thing? Could that be causing all of this? I've been tested for diabetes 100,000 times, so I know its not that, but- maybe something else?

Way to not work, seizure meds, by the way.

Hey, they didn't mess up my dinner!!

8:05: My babies just called me to say goodnight. It was precious.

8:23: All I want to do is skype with my husband, eat some organic gala apples, and watch the rest of Titanic until I fall asleep. Maybe tomorrow will be awesome??

Documenting My Diagnosis: Day 2

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I slept awful last night. I couldn't stretch my legs out all the way, and I had to sleep on my back, when I'm clearly a tummy sleeper. And of course, my husband wasn't with me, so that in itself was enough to keep my eyes from fluttering all the way closed.

I woke up around 7:30, so I guess I got to sleep in, which was nice, but unwanted. Christopher texted me just 2 minutes after I got up, so that was a good pick me up. I went pee, pumped breast milk, and then sat. They brought a tray of breakfast to me (even after talking with the dietician, they still can't seem to understand gluten free vegan- I won't be eating my cold biscuit this morning, thankyouverymuch), and now as I type this, a technician is doing maintenance to my electrodes. The glue is cold.

Did I mention that we brought a scentsy burner? Our room smells like apple strudel. I bet its driving everyone down the hall crazy. Yet nobody has mentioned it.

If I'm going to have an attack, its not going to happen like this. This isn't my normal- sitting doing nothing in a dark room all day. I need to get up and get moving (which is hard, because they won't let me so much as go pee by myself). We opened up the blinds as much as we could, and today I'm going to walk around my room. As soon as Alexis gets back from grabbing breakfast from the car (apples/bananas/oranges), I'm going to feast, and then get on my feet. And I'm going to stand up, all, day, long.

I heard a rumor that if my strobe/hyperventilation testing didn't show anything, that they keep you awake for 24 hours. We'll see about that. I think I should be talking to a doctor soon?

Its 8:20am. I'm cold and I miss the warmth of my babies. I'm hopeless yet determined. I'm ready for a breakthrough. I'm ready for something to happen.

...The doctor came in around 9:00 with no news. He asked about how I've been feeling, I told him bored, and then we talked about how I can trigger some of my symptoms- jumping jacks. Alexis and I are going to get our cardio on.

Also, I finally pooped. This is a big deal, people.

...Its 10:30- I just got done doing in-place cardio for half an hour while listening to forgotten 90s music. I'm drenched in sweat that I can't wipe from my electrodes, my face and neck are numb, and my chest hurts. FIND SOMETHING.

Did I mention that one of the nurses totally got a show last night when he walked in on my pumping milk? Nobody pays attention to closed curtains anymore. Oh well, not like hes never seen a pair of worn out saggy milkers before. ...can you tell I'm losing my elegance?

10:34: I just saw something that wasn't there. And there it was again. ...nurses and doctors just came in. They're noting my readings. What can I do to make my attack worse? How do I bring on the paralysis? We played scrabble, but our game sucked, so we bagged. Christopher is doing a rock star job of taking care of the kids at home. Hes been steaming fruits and veggies for Evelyn, as well as bottle feeding her my previously pumped breast milk (which I'm positive we're going to run out of if things keep going the way they're going here). He took all 3 to soccer practice last night, made dinner for everyone, gave them all baths. Today he walked them all to school, and then took the younger 2 to run errands. I asked him if he was trying to impress me, because seriously- men that do chores are sexy.

12:00: 4 doctors just came into my room, my "team" of doctors, I guess I could call them. And they told me that they haven't seen anything on my EEG. Nothing. Everything looks normal. ...my heart sank a little. Really, you didn't see anything yesterday after the hyperventilation test? To be fair, I haven't had a huge attack yet, no slurred speech, no forgetting what things are or how to talk, but- nothing? They asked me if I had any questions, and said they'll see me tomorrow. TOMORROW?! Isn't there something more you can do TODAY?! ...no? They're waiting for me to have a big attack. They're waiting to see something, rather than just hear me complain about it.

I feel hopeless. I know I shouldn't, and "hope is all we've got", and blah blah blah, but- I miss my husband, I miss my babies, and I'm sick and tired of having nurses that don't speak proper english come in and bring me food that I can't eat!

Seriously, where in the words gluten free vegan, can somebody get a chicken thigh and a bread roll. Why is this so hard to understand?!

I just feel exhausted. Mentally. I had it embedded in my brain, that I'd only be here for 3 days. I'd be going home on Wednesday or Thursday, I thought. And then I hear the doctors say "ok we'll see you tomorrow", and walk away, and- ugh. Just, a letdown.

Alexis has been awesome, though. She prepared me a giant vomit bucket (minus the vomit) of black grapes. And everytime someone comes into the room, they comment on the assortment of fruit that we've got. It baffles me how in a health facility, proper nutrition is so foreign.

On the plus side- I've got a decent day nurse today. She sent another note to the dietitian, and she speaks english.

I'm running out of things to take pictures of.

Is anybody even reading this? Mom? Nurse around the corner? God?

1:45: ...Alexis is a good friend. A true, honest to goodness, friend. We just had a good cry together.

2:20: I hate 1-ply toilet paper. Why does it even exist.

2:40: Our room is right by the landing pad. When the helicopter flies in, it looks like its going to crash into our room.

3:11: (whoa-ooooh). I just had my EKG strips ripped off of my chest, put onto my back, and reapplied to my chest. Also, the tech pulled out a good handful of hair, thats already falling out like crazy, while doing so. ...why is my hair falling out so badly, by the way?

My smooshed face sleepy babe. Oh how I miss her.

3:25: I'm about to open up my PSE, and then close them all as quickly as I can, in hopes that the flashing will trigger an attack. Because it did once? And I'm getting tired of sitting around waiting for my brain to fry from sitting around.

Elie got a purple dot at school :)

3:38: Alexis is asleep, and I'm mad that my pse experiment was a fail. What can I do now? My back is going numb, my face is numb, I'm tired tired tired, but- none of that shows up on the EEG, and none of that is visible to them on camera. Brain storm people, what can I do to bring on a little bit of slurred speech? I'd even settle for some head bobbing. Seriously, whats it gonna take to get my brain to skip a beat?

4:00: I miss home so much, I'm spying on their netflix history. Today Charlie watched a Thomas movie called "Mud, Glorious Mud". ..and Christopher watched A LOT of The Office, haha.

Some cell phone pictures that Christopher has sent me throughout the day...

9:19: I crapped out big time. It lasted 45 minutes to an hour. I kept losing my thoughts, and my memory. I could hold a real time conversation, for the most part, but I kept forgetting what I had just said, and sometimes it caught up to me so quickly, that I couldn't figure out the next word that I wanted to say. I looked around the room, and silently tried to name objects. I'd usually get 2 or 3 objects in, and find myself staring blankly at the wall. I'd try to pull out of it, by asking Alexis to talk with me, but I always ended up trailing off and staring at the same spot on the wall that I couldn't quite pull my eyes away from. There was only a brief moment of slurred speech, and a couple of lung jolts that sounded like I was laughing, but it was mostly just confusion. I remember trying so hard to remember mine and Christopher's wedding. "Wedding, wedding, wedding, wedding", I repeated to myself. But all I could picture was a photograph of our wedding. I couldn't find the actual memory. I never got past the still shot.

We won't have the EEG readings until tomorrow. And even then, I have low expectations. I don't think they're seizures, so I'm expecting that nothing showed up. But- I did have nurses witness it, and its all on camera, so they'll at least see what they're dealing with, and hopefully they've seen it before.

After it all wore off and my brain settled back down to normal, we sat down for an epic game of UNO and ooh'd and aaah'd at the Dallas sunset.

Maybe tomorrow we'll have a few more answers? Or maybe we won't.

But either way...

Girls just wanna have fun.