An Introvert with a Semi-Colon Tattoo.

11204880_10207403113653395_1086864012260351700_n

My husband and my semi-colon tattoos. He’s my rock and my reason.

I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t move.  I couldn’t talk to ask for help.  All I could feel was the sensation that my air supply had been cut off.  I didn’t know what was happening.  I thought this was the end.

I was only 13.

I couldn’t eat in the lunchroom, I hid in the bathroom until the bell rang.  How on earth could I walk up to a table and ask if I could sit with any of these kids?  Why would they want to sit with me?

20 years later.

When I go to the store, I’m the one on a mission just trying not to make eye contact.  It’s not that I don’t want to be courteous, it’s just that I don’t feel good enough compared to anybody else.  Crowds make me incredibly nervous as well.

When I take my children to school or sports functions.  I don’t make small talk with the coaches or other parents.  I don’t know how to start the conversation.  I feel silly or embarrassed if I even try to fit in.  I’ll just sit back and observe until I get to know you better.  Once I do, we’ll be chatting at the field all the time.

If we are friends, you won’t get phone calls very often from me.  It’s not that I don’t love you.  It’s just that I hate the phone and would rather be at the dentist for two hours.  I’ll text you 24/7 though.  I write much better than I speak.

If I say no to plans, please don’t take it personally.  People drain me.  Absolutely drain me.  The only ones that I can be around all day every day are my kids and husband.  It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be friends or that I don’t want to hang out, because I do.  I don’t like that I am like this.  But, I am.  And if you have been my friend for years, you know this about me.  And I appreciate the fact that you stand by me more than you’ll ever know.  Please don’t stop trying to make plans with me.

I want to be social.  I want tons and tons of friends.  I just have a hard time starting the conversations.  It’s rare for me to find friends that get me.  But, when they do, we are friends for life.  I’ll be there for them for always.

My children and husband are my absolute world.  I may be anxious, I may be an introvert, but you will see a whole other side of me if you mess with any of them.  They make me dealing with all of this so easy.  I owe them the universe.

In large crowds, I will be looking for the nearest animal to pet.  I want to socialize and be like the rest of you, but on the inside I’m trying not to go into panic mode.  Any crowd I go into, I feel like I don’t belong.  I never feel good enough.  The only time I find enough confidence to deal with the world is when it’s for my children or for work.

At work I try to hide being an introvert.  I try to hide my anxiety.  You have to be a faux extrovert to work in customer service.   I’ve learned to be pretty good at it too.  Most people are surprised when they hear that I am an introvert.  I take pride in that fact. I work very, very hard at my job.  When people complain or gossip about something I did, I probably take it more to heart than anyone else in the building.  I do that because of how much I care about what I do.  I’m really, really hard on myself.

You may call me weird, shy, anti-social, rude, selfish, odd, mad, depressed, a loner, people hater, hermit, nerd (ok that one may be true), but I promise you, I’m not really any of those things.  I’m a regular person who is just has a little more anxiety than the person next door.  I’m a little bit awkward because small talk is not my thing.  I’d rather be at home reading on a rainy Saturday with my family than at the mall or out at a bar.  But, I promise you that if you ever need somebody, it doesn’t matter the time of night, I’ll be there.  I’ll listen intently and will remember everything you say, judgment free.

So, if I am ever out and about and you feel the same way too, don’t be afraid to ask me about my semi-colon tattoo.

xoxo,

Stacy

Advertisements

Momma, Get Fit! Don’t Quit!

I’m determined.

My thighs, jiggly arms, butt, calves, belly and gobble, gobble chin will be toned by summer time. 

I don’t believe in resolutions because I feel they always fall through.  Instead, I am doing this on my own time.  That time just happened to be the second week of January.  Prime resolution time.

But, honestly, here is what/who got me off my butt: 

Dr. Phil.

I know. 

I never turn on talk shows, I work until 5.  For some reason, the kiddos were not home yet, so I decided to flip it on.  When I turned it on I saw a few sisters who could not shed weight.  Dr. Phil suggested they try a new diet called the, “P.I.N.K. Method.”  I am not one for fad diets, but this caught my eye.

Maybe it was the color pink?  I am a sucker for pink, but regardless, I am starting it and sticking with it. 

It’s the kind of diet that seems to be perfect for me.  I can do all of the workouts at home.  I have no time to go to the gym working 40 hours a week and with 3 kids.  No way that can work for me.  I go out walking, but not as often as I would like.  The meals seem simple, filling and yummy.  And, there are no pills or hormones to take.

In just one week I have already drastically changed my eating habits.  Tuna, eggs, cucumbers, carrots, etc.  I feel amazing.  It’s only been a week.  I didn’t even get the diet kit until today!  I just want this and I want this now.

I stopped taking care of myself after my children were born.  As long as they ate healthy, I didn’t care what I put into my body.  I was eating fast food, cupcakes, all kinds of sweets.  These things are fine, but in moderation.  I want to be healthy for my children.  I want to chase them around and have them need to try keeping up with me.  I want to be there for them for as long as I can.

I need to start somewhere and that somewhere is here and now.

So, will I get to my goal weight?  Maybe.  If I don’t it’s ok.  My habits have already changed.  No more toxic waste will be put into my body.  I can do this.  I will do this.  Even if it takes over a year.  I’ll get there.

I won’t quit.

xoxo,

Stacy

Peanut Is Allergic To Peanuts.. Now What?

I wanted to send him out in protective gear to avoid peanuts!

About one year ago, I made my than 2 1/2-year-old a peanut butter sandwich.  I was working on making something quick for my 1-year old.  Some how, my 1-year old took a bite of the sandwich.  At that moment, one of the scariest things I have ever encountered happened. 

Within minutes, his face began to swell.  He was suddenly lethargic and mellow.  He was having a reaction to the peanut butter.  I was home alone with them.  My Fiance was working 2nd shift at that time and we only had one car between the both of us.  Mildly panicking, I called my parents.  Thank goodness they were 2 minutes down the road. 

Mom and Dad showed up.  I was trying to get the kids ready.  My Mom called the ER to let them know we were on the way.  My Dad was holding my 1-year old who was just laying there with hives all over his face.  Rather than calling 911, we drove him ourselves.   I couldn’t wait for them to get there.  Now it makes sense and I should have called.  I just wasn’t thinking at that time though.

We got to the ER and we were rushed in.  They gave my son an IV and an EPI pen shot.  Within minutes his face started clearing up.  He wasn’t happy with the needles.  He was thrashing around, but I was so happy to see him reacting that way.  This could have been bad.  I couldn’t help but cry while seeing him.  The Doctor and nurses were looking at me in a funny way, but I couldn’t help it.  I felt so guilty.  I had no idea he had a peanut allergy, but I still felt this was my fault.  After a few hours, we left and he was ok.

His pediatrician suggested we do a blood test to make sure it was definitely the peanuts.  He was also on amoxicillin for an ear infection at that time.  They wanted to make sure it was definitely the nuts.  The ER Doctor suggested the same, even telling me to spread a little bit on his back to see if he reacts.  Really?  As a Mom, I know what just happened.  There is no way in hell I am going to put some on him!  So, I opted for the blood test. 

After a few weeks, the results were in.  The nurse asked if I had a pen on me.  Not only is he allergic to peanuts, but he is allergic to dogs, cats, walnuts, coconut, almonds, basically all nuts and soy.  Wait.  What?  Soy?  Yup, soy also.  To the allergist we go.

I had been through an allergy exam with my daughter.  This was the least pleasant thing to put a child through.  She was 4 at the time and it was traumatic for her.  My baby is a little over 1.   But, we had to do it.  We wanted to do it.  Better safe than sorry.  The test was interesting to say the least.  It’s certainly not fun.  They wiped down his back and marked it up with numbers.  (When my daughter had hers they used her arm.  If your child should ever need one done, ask that it be done on their back.  They can’t reach it and it’s so much better.) They then have a tray of all different types of liquids which are the allergens.  They use a little prick type thing, not really a needle, but to me it looked like a mini-golf tee with a very pointy tip.  They scratch each marked number and wait for a reaction.

About 20 minutes after the test.

  The peanut was an instant reaction.  It looked like a very swollen mosquito bite.  The Soy and Tree Nuts were also bad.  The nurse actually had to use an alcohol wipe to wipe those samples off of his skin rather than waiting the full 10-15 minutes.  I knew what to expect with the peanuts, a mother’s gut instinct usually knows best, but I feared the worst when it came to Glucose, Wheat, Shellfish and Eggs.  Thankfully, those were all negative.

We were told that when he is about 4-years old, they will re-test him.  There is a chance he will outgrow these allergies.  That would be amazing.  But, for now, what do we do?  Our life grocery shopping has changed dramatically.  EVERYTHING HAS SOY OR PEANUTS OR WAS MADE IN A FACTORY WITH PEANUTS!  It’s very over-whelming and also incredibly scary.   Thankfully, there are some amazing websites out there.  I discovered a few today.

One of the staples of my childhood was a good old Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.  I mean, who hasn’t had one of these and who doesn’t love the thought of one.  I don’t want my baby growing up never having one.  Well, today, I stumbled across a website called http://www.peanutfreeplanet.com.  It’s amazing.  They have peanut butter substitutes that are made with sunflower seeds.  Peanut, Tree-Nut and Soy free!  So much to choose from.  I plan on updating this as I find new recipes and websites.  So far, this one has the best options. 

If your child does have a peanut, soy or tree-nut allergy, please make sure you check what type of oil restaurants use.  Chinese restaurants are big on peanut oil.  McDonald’s is peanut free, but their ice cream sundaes are not.  Here is a website that has all kinds of information, http://www.bestallergysites.com/. There is even a magazine about living with allergies.

Some schools are now going peanut free also.  Please be understanding if your child does not have these allergies.  I didn’t understand until we had this scare. http://www.foodallergy.org has some great information as well. 

Hopefully, you never have to deal with these kinds of allergies.  If you do and if have any information that you would like to share with me, please do in the comments.  

xoxo,

Stacy

A Member of the Crooked Spine Club – About My Life With Scoliosis

 

Prior to surgery. This wasn't even at it's worse.

When I was just a baby in diapers, my Mom noticed that my hips seemed to be uneven.  She mentioned this to a few doctors and they told her she was just an “over-protective mother.”  As I got a little older, she noticed the same thing.  School nurses who screened the students and real Doctors who completed physical exams on me used the same phrase, “over-protective mother.”  Well, if it weren’t for that over-protective mother, I may not have survived through my teens.  I have a little thing called Scoliosis.

Scoliosis is a medical condition in which a person’s spine is curved like an “S.”  Remember on the movie Forest Gump, when he had the leg braces?  He said, “My momma said my back’s crooked like a question mark.”  Looks like his character had Scoliosis too.  Some cases are very minor, no surgery or back braces required.  Other cases, like mine, require major surgery.  Many people I speak to don’t realize how severe this can be.  I’m not sure my parent’s even knew. 

I was diagnosed with Scoliosis when I was about 7 years old.  I remember going to a few different Doctor’s for opinions.  One in Bangor, another in Boston.  Then, my parents were referred to The Shriners Hospital.  Most people think of the Shriners as a hospital for children who had been badly burned in a fire.  They do much more than that.  They help children all over the world who suffer from diseases like Cleft Lip, to children who have Cerebral Palsy.  From Spina Bifida to children with Flat Feet.  They really do it all.  And they are amazing at what they do.

The Shriners Hospitals offer local clinics for their patients.  I remember going to one and the lobby was full of clowns.  I’ve never been a fan of clowns, but these seemed ok.  They were interacting with all of the children and parents in the lobby, making animal balloons or what not.  My nerves seemed to ease.  I met with the nurses and the awesome staff.  I met the Doctor who would ultimately save my spine. 

 I was fitted for a Boston Back Brace.  Some kids can get away with just wearing that until they are done growing.  This was one of the most uncomfortable things to wear.  A thick, plastic material, it’s a brace that fits under the arm, extending around the rib cage, lower back and hips it is worn under clothes.  I actually played sports still while wearing this thing.  The only activity I had to give up was soccer.  The director at that time insisted I wear bubble wrap around it to play.  Not wanting to be labeled, “snap, krackle, pop” on the soccer field, I decided that would be one sport I needed to stop.

After wearing the Boston Brace for 18-23 hours per day, it was advised that surgery was a must.  My spine was curving out of control.  I had to have surgery and I had to have it fast.  Of course, my Mom & Dad didn’t tell me at that time, but without it, I could suffer from heart or lung problems in the future.  My spine was curved so much, it was crushing my heart and lungs.  The Doctor never mentioned this in front of me of course, I was only 9 or 10 years old.  But, my parents knew and they chose the best thing for me.  I was going to have fusion surgery.

After a trip to Disney (thanks Mom & Dad), several Catscans, MRIs and computerized lab floor tests, it was time to get ready for surgery.  In May of 1994, I went into the Shriners Hospital in Springfield, MA.  As a kid, any surgery is scary.  Especially a scary back surgery.  I felt ok though.  I remember my parents never left my side.  I had my favorite wrestler t-shirt on my pillow for a pillow case and my brother, sister and sister-in-law drove down to spend some time with me.  On the night before surgery, I remember being in the bathroom with my Mom.  “Mommy,” I said.  “Am I going to die?”  Mom gave me a big hug and never let me see her fear.  As a mother now, I am sure she was scared to death. She knew that the possibility was there. 

Fusion surgery involves attaching rods, hooks, wires or screws to the curve and small pieces of bone are placed over the spine. The bone pieces will grow together with the spinal bone, fusing it in the proper position.   In my case, the bone used was a rib that they removed during surgery.  The rods they used were Titanium and will never be removed.

Titanium rods and yes, this is my spine.

I was in the ICU unit for what seemed like minutes to me, probably weeks to my parents, but was actually only a few days.  I literally had to learn how to walk again.   I’ll never forget the small details of the hospital or a few members of the staff.  It’s amazing what burns into your memory after going through something like this.  After almost 4 weeks, I was ready to go home. 

They didn’t know if I would be able to walk, but I did it.  I wasn’t supposed to play sports again, but I did it.  I wasn’t supposed to dance, which I loved so much.  I did that too.  I wasn’t supposed to carry children, but I did it, 3 times as a matter of fact.  I did have to schedule c-sections due to the placement of my hips, but that didn’t stop me from being  a Mommy. 

You can see from my X-Rays how severe the curve was.  It still is curved of course, but is not as bad by a landslide.  I just want people out there to read and see that this is a serious condition.  It’s not just a curve, it’s something that can harm some of your major organs if not caught and treated.  Many times it gets overlooked by parents and school screenings. Here are a few signs to look for in your children:

  • One shoulder may appear higher than the other
  • One shoulder-blade may stick out further than the other
  • One hip may appear higher than the other
  • Their head is not properly centered over their body
  • When bending from the waist, the ribs on one side are higher
  • Their waistline may appear flat on one side

If they show any of the symptoms, bring them to a Doctor.  Get more than one opinion if you have to!  Go with your parental instinct.  My Mom did and I am so thankful she stuck to her motherly instinct.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment.  You can also visit the Shriners Hospital website to inquire about other treatments they offer.  You can also make a donation so they can continue doing what they do.

http://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/CareAndTreatment/Orthopaedics.aspx

xoxo,

Stacy

Headed into surgery.

 
 
 

Gate Lab

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Walking for the first time. 🙂

 

In my spine chair.