Sunday, January 24, 2010

Flu, Steroids and the Lottery

I've never been a morning person. So, when I woke up on Friday morning, I was seriously considering negotiating with my alarm clock to somehow roll back another hour so I could get more sleep. Of course, it would also need to have the power to stop time for the whole city. Not the whole world, just the city. After all, my commitments were only on a local level, namely getting 3 out of 4 kids out the door to school. Malcolm is in afternoon kindergarten.

Dave had been away all week. It was a particularly easy week kid-wise. They had Monday and Tuesday off so a lot of the homework that the teachers normally assign for the whole week was not assigned. Nevertheless, I chalked up the exhaustion to the week of being solo.

Later that day, I started feeling really awful though. I had chills and aches, but no fever. I slogged through the busy afternoon shuttling kids back-and-forth to karate and Girl Scouts. Then got home and my husband returned from his trip after dinner, but still early enough that the kids could visit with him. He had been in a different time zone so he was pretty jetlagged.

The kids were pretty tired too...and relatively quiet (which is very, VERY rare). So, I buried my shivering self under blankets and we all watched some iCarly as a family. I think I helped put the kids to bed, but I can't remember. I kept shivering and aching until I fell asleep. Still no fever! There's no medicine you can take for shivers! I suppose I could have asked Dave to make me some hot tea because I was too cold to get up and do it myself, but I felt bad for him because he was so tired.

The next morning I wake up and I'm at 101.2! I pop an Advil and stay under the blanket pile. Finally, I stop shivering and the aches subside. Now, I'm hungry and I need my coffee! I must be feeling better. Dave had two kids out at Andy's Cub Scout event and his basketball game. I hung out with Harry and Lilly and then drove her to a birthday party. Ah, two kids are so much more palatable when you're sick than four.

As the Advil wore off, I spiked a fever again, only I was trying to take a nap so I didn't bother with any more medicine. THEN, when I finally woke up, I had hit 103.2! Yikes! Again, more Advil, fever down and (almost) feeling normal.

Such is how things have been going for the last 24 hours. 101.2 this AM, time for more Advil, but this time my peak flow was also down. A peak flow is a device that is used by asthmatics to see if the illness is acting up. Anyone with asthma knows that you have a normal peak flow when you're healthy and if it goes down, this is a bad sign. Since 2006 when I was diagnosed with severe asthma, I have been working with a pulmonologist. After much trial, error, pneumonia and ER visits, we have come up with a plan that every time my peak flow dips below 300, I MUST take prednisone, which is a steroid.

One of the most painful trials and errors was when I used too much prednisone as a treatment plan per my doctor. This ended up shutting down my adrenal system and it took two years for it to come back up to normal. So, it's a fine line between an asthma attack and taking too much prednisone. I think we finally have a handle on it. Asthma is SO different for everyone individually I have learned.

Anyway, I did have to go to a GP doctor today because the nurse was concerned about me. My lungs were clear so I have no pneumonia and weirdly enough, my fever did not come back this time! This morning's Advil has since totally worn off. The doctor was puzzled. He said it's probably a virus and to watch the fever for a couple more days.

He also mentioned that prednisone could also be holding the fever back. What it does is basically comes between your illness and your immune system fighting said illness, which is pretty scary when you think about it. In other words, you're still sick, but you can't feel it. I'm one of the lucky people that don't have too many nasty side effects from this "wonder drug". For me, I get a huge burst of energy, but I can't turn it off at night when I want to go to sleep. Then I end up getting only a few hours' sleep but feel fine the next day and not sleep deprived. Weird! I should only be on it for a few days so I will recover from at least that symptom quickly.

There is some more good news other than my fever not coming back. When I parked my car in the almost empty doctor's lot, I noticed a pile of junk that looked like it fell out of someone else's car. I know if it happened to me, I'd want someone to turn it in. However, there was no one at the front desk on a Sunday.

There was clearly a lot of trash (including an empty box of cigarettes), but there were also CD cases, which turned out to be empty and a slew of lottery tickets. This person was not only a smoker, but somewhat of a gambler! Since I had found a dollar bill in a parking lot on my birthday last week, I thought, "I'm on a roll. If this turns out to be a huge sum of money, I will do the right thing....but what is the right thing?" There was NO ONE around. If someone had been parked there, I definitely would have asked them about it. I am probably the most honest person you'll ever meet.

All of the scratch tickets were duds...except one...only $2, but a winner nonetheless. Now, what the heck do I do? If I turn in all of this stuff, it's mostly trash and the winning ticket will probably get thrown away with it. Plus, when there was no one at the front desk and several different doctor's practices, to which office would I bring it?

I don't know if this was the right thing, but I left the pile there in case someone came back for it, but claimed the ticket for myself. I figured no one would come back for it and it would just get thrown away anyway....right? I have no idea if I was right.

BUT...I turned it in at the grocery store. Dave had gotten most of the groceries this AM for us since I was "under the weather", but I had a new found energy (drug-induced) so I ran in to pick up the things I forgot to put on the list for him.

I am kind of embarrassed to cash in scratch tickets. I feel like maybe someone will judge me as someone who is hoping to get to Easy Street, the easy way. I NEVER take the easy way out. Anyway, I got over it and cashed them in. I asked the guy for two more dollar tickets. Ta-dah! One ticket yielded $2 and the other $1!! I'm up technically $5 since I didn't pay for the ticket in the first place!

OK, so it's not the thousands or even hundreds I would have liked. I can't really expect to win the lottery when I don't 100% believe in it OR when I cash in a ticket found based on someone else's bad luck.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My birthday and beyond...

David and I enjoying my birthday dinner!
Ahhh, what a terrific birthday I had on Friday. First of all, I am honored to be born on the same day as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This year was the perfect amount of celebrating. Now that we're in our early 40's (gasp!) Friday night is Zombie Night for my husband and me. I'm not talking about some interesting theme at a local night club. I mean vegging out, letting our kids eat pizza in front of a movie or TV, not do ANYONE'S homework, put everyone to bed on time and quickly try to squeeze in some time together catching up on the week before one of us falls asleep while the other is talking.

This Friday was different though. It was my birthday. Although I would have been content with yet another Zombie Night, another couple who are dear friends of ours had invited us out to dinner. So, one of our awesome teenage sitters was scheduled and off we went. Sometimes going out involves prying myself off of the couch, but always being truly happy that I did. I had had such a great day though, no prying was necessary and I still was truly happy I went!

I kind of had the day off since our sitter extraordinaire, (this one's a grown-up), Valerie, was here all day. Friday is her day to work. I treated myself to lunch and went shopping! I bought a new, hip (I think) and not expensive outfit. The temperature was about 41 degrees too. If you're not from the Northeast, you may think this is freezing. However, we have had a very cold winter so far. This was a welcome change! I drove around with my moonroof open jumping around to a song on the radio from one of the few alternative bands that I like. Oh! Did I mention I found a dollar in the parking lot on the way back from my mini-shopping spree? It just seemed to fit into the great day I was having.

Dinner was wonderful (both the food and the company). As usually happens when we have a date, my husband and I continue our upbeat mood through the weekend as if we're still on the date. Even though my husband is on a business trip this week and we were all dreading him leaving this past Monday, we didn't let it put a black cloud on our weekend. Dave and Andy perfected the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby car for this Saturday, Lilly went to a 24-hour sleepover and Sunday we all went to see "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel" which was a lot of fun.

All of the kids had both Monday and Tuesday off. Monday was MLK Day and today was a Teacher Development Day. I was a little worried about this because I really fall apart without structure. The good news is, on Monday, all of us went on a roadtrip to have a playdate with some friends who had moved about 45 minutes away. This was scheduled for most of the day yesterday, but what about today? Well, it ended up snowing again. It wasn't supposed to!

I am a true snow lover...the more the better....but today I didn't want it. I had to take Malcolm to the doctor (with his 3 siblings tagging along). Andy LOVES to shovel our driveway, which is long and sloped, but I was still worried about getting out and how the roads would be. I wished I didn't have to brave them. I would have preferred to schedule a cookie-baking session or playing in the snow AT HOME.

However, I just HAD to take him today. He had been coughing for 2 weeks with an on and off low-grade fever. Since said 3 siblings have been taking turns with pneumonia since about November, I figured his number was up.

Well, what a relief to realize that even though the snow was raging, it was above freezing so it was not accumulating. Driving was no problem AND BONUS there was no pneumonia. Let's keep our fingers crossed that whatever it is goes away on its own.

Meanwhile, upward and outward toward the remaining 3-day school week. Back to the grind. No more days in PJs.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Moving into 2010

Breaking news! I've started exercising regularly again! I joined a local gym that was having a special just after New Year's. This was not just a mundane resolution, it was more that the timing of my desire just happened to be this time of year.

As I have posted about before, I have been struggling with an energy crisis since the fall of 2007. I had adrenal insufficiency caused by medicine I was taking to manage my asthma back then. As of August 2009, I got the green light in terms of my adrenaline being all back to normal levels, but I was still struggling with low energy. This, however, was nothing like it had been before.

Since my doctors could no longer find anything medically wrong, I resolved to really get myself on a regular sleep schedule and try to take more regular time alone. The sleeping is still in need of repair, but has gotten a lot less erratic. Since I always have at least one child at home with me, I was staying up way too late to take advantage of the quiet in the house. I would then get up with the kids on school mornings and be totally exhausted on the weekends.

Also because I always have one of my sweeties at home with me, I must go to the gym when my dear husband can keep an eye out for the kids. Weeknights are very difficult, but I think I can do Friday, Saturday and Sunday no problem. I also have some workout videos and a home stairmaster that I can partake of while my kid(s) are home.

Well, Saturday I didn't plan my very first visit to the gym very well. They closed at 6pm and I wasn't free until 5:30p. I am not going to beat myself up about it though. This is all new to me, right? I didn't let the gym be a confine to exercise though. I was determined!

I laced up my shoes, grabbed gloves and a hat (I think it was 20 degrees out if not colder) and set off on a walk/jog around my neighborhood. We live in such a great development. The streets are wide and I think I only saw 4 cars the whole 45 minutes I was out!

Besides the wonderful burst of energy I felt for the rest of the evening, I thoroughly enjoyed being outside. I didn't feel the cold because I was bundled up and moving. I also felt kind of anonymous since it was dark out. My neighbors were all snug in their homes. It was just me, the clear, starry night and the sound of my footsteps. It was incredibly uplifting...and oh, so quiet....!

I don't think I've felt the "addiction" of regular exercise since before we had children! I used to workout for two hours three times a week religiously. If I skipped a day, I felt like a bloated slug. I did that wonderful outing on Saturday and 40 minutes on the treadmill at the gym yesterday. My body is now wondering when and what I'm going to do today. It's very motivating. So is my empty stairmaster. I'd better go!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Photos from the Season

Beautiful winter trees in our yard.

Lilly sampling the snow.

Andy making cookies for Cub Scout Swap.

Harry at Thanksgiving.

Mommy's assistant cake-bakers, Malcolm cleaning off Dad's car, final cake product for Lilly's 10th birthday.

Monday, January 4, 2010

"A Perfect Ending to a (near) Perfect (Week)"

OK, I'm still (almost) quoting a Christmas song post-New Year's Day ("Sleigh Ride" to be exact). I find it hard to let go of all of the festivities! We haven't undecorated yet. We don't usually do it until the 10th or so of January, but we were even later this year in putting them up. So, I'll keep you posted on our progress and when we draw the line between festive and freaky and take them down!

We went sledding again yesterday at the same giant hill you see in the picture at the top of the page. It had been an active ski hill for 57 years, but has been closed since 1996. "The hill" is now our local, sledding favorite and back in the day, was considered a ski slope for beginners.

Tell that to Lilly's almost-10-year-old friend who joined us and became airborne (!!) on her new tube sled! Her first run down, the first time she's been to "the hill", she decided to ride down from the "tippy-top" as the kids call it. She did end up grazing the fence at the bottom as her path gradually beared right for her remaining ride after "the jump". This is kind of a ledge about a third of the way down "the hill". Dave and I watched her from the bottom as the rest of our crew was deciding how high up to venture. We weren't sure it was going to end well. "Not on MY watch!" I said.

She was OK though and her reply was, "That was AWESOME!" Kudos to another strong and adventurous woman-to-be! She did complete the rest of her stint at "the hill" with the entire bottom of her tube on the ground at all times, though. She later admitted that she did not like the face-to-fence meeting after all.

The approach to "the hill" is a little ominous. There is a large trash can FILLED with neon-colored remnants of once-loved sleds that did not survive. However, so far, I have never seen an ambulance called to "the hill" to rescue the riders of said sleds.

Except for one minor collision and a resulting snowy, stinging faceplant last winter by my "youngest" (Malcolm, who is 10 minutes younger than Harrison), the crowd has a mutual respect for each other. The sledders try to steer out of the way of stationary people (like parents watching their kids whiz by) or other children and participatory parents making their way back up for another adventure. If they can't steer, you just have to sidestep FAST when someone desperately yells, "Watch OOOOOOUUUUUUUUUT!!!!!" as the whoosh gets louder and louder, closer and closer.

We had the best storm this weekend! It lasted from early Saturday morning and it was still flurrying last night! Disappointingly though, there were "only" several inches of accumulation. This was not enough to cancel school today. My kids and I were looking forward to another day of fun in the snow with pajamas on under our snow gear! The snow did make our sledding outing so much more fun though...pretty darn near perfect.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. I've been told that if they didn't, even terrific winter breaks like the one that just ended would become old hat. I'll tell you, this morning was a rude, cold, post-holiday, I can't BELIEVE I have to get up THIS early kind of Monday. No wonder the day has a bad reputation. Hey, it's a dirty job, but some day has to do it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Another Year Over...

Happy New Year 2010!

Well, we made it through another Christmas season. As it happens all too often, Dave and I leave all of our wrapping until the last minute. So, we were up until 4am Christmas morning disguising surprises. I also baked 3 pies. We sat on the couch downstairs for only a few minutes when Malcolm and Andy decided it was time to open up their gifts. If we had been to bed we might have let them go after their presents, but we hadn't so they didn't.

Dave brought them upstairs until 7am. I fell asleep on the couch downstairs, but apparently Dave didn't get much sleep because Malcolm was crying in diappointment. I so appreciated that he sacrificed for me while I was catching ZZZ's. I did feel guilty but then I decided that guilt was not a good Christmas emotion.

We had a very cozy day, just the 6 of us. Then, we drove 1 1/2 hours to see my mom, my sister, my brother-in-law and my nephew. We had a nice dinner of ham and scalloped potatoes, kind of a family tradition. One of my pies was supposed to be a vanilla-chocolate marble pudding pie, but it flopped. I think I added the layer of vanilla pudding before the chocolate pudding was cool enough. So, we called it "mud pie" because it was more like soup in a crust and went with it. I was the only one who dared to try it, but my other 2 pies were a hit! We exchanged gifts and headed home. It was a tough holiday without Dad, but we were thinking of him as if he was still with us.

So, OK, onto the next part of our adventure. My in-laws live in Canada and it's about a 7-hour drive to get to see them. We always go a day or two after Christmas. Our original goal was to spend 12/26 at home packing and then leave for Canada the next morning.

Well, every time we try to do this, my body fails. I just need a full day to recover from the sleep-deprivation, rushing, crazy kids and of course, the great deal of family fun of Christmas before I take on the laundry, gift assembly, passport location and car cleanout that is required for our annual trip.

Dave worked so hard to try to get us to go on the 27th, but I just couldn't muster any energy. So, we left on the 28th. My mother-in-law cooks a GIGANTIC extended family dinner every year. God bless her (and my father-in-law who is just as hands-on as my dear husband). This year there were 25 of us!

We don't like driving up the same day as the dinner is scheduled (like it was this year on the 28th), but we made it up there in time even though we hit weather and delays as feared. I got to meet my 2 nephews that were born in 2009 who are 10 months and 8 weeks. I fell in love instantly! Of course, I love seeing how big my other nieces and nephews have grown in a year. I also cherish the time we spend with my wonderful and multitude of brothers and sisters-in-law and other family and friends.

Dinner was delicious as always. We all crashed hard and late that night and enjoyed a relaxing couple of days with my in-laws and other family that was in town before we headed back on the 30th.

New Year's Eve involved all of us being couch potatoes as we usually are. Sometimes, we get together with friends, but it's always low-key. This year, we were just us watching movies, eating Chinese food and staying up until midnight. Dave took a nap, the twins fell fast asleep around 10pm and I barely made it, but 4 out of 6 of us enjoyed sparkling juice and then went to bed.

New Year's Day was much of the same relaxing and then today has been a cleanup day. The kids and Dave return to school and work respectively on Monday the 4th. So far, I like 2010 and I'm loving the snowstorm that is lasting all weekend here in New England!

From our family to yours, Happy New Year and have a safe and joyous 2010!