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  • Love Always

    It's been a rough week in our household.

    My aunt died on Tuesday, after living with MS for 24 years. Friday night, Matt's grandmother died.

    I can't say that either death was unexpected - certainly, we had been warned that his grandmother only had days left - but it's a loss all the same. We saw both relatives just last week when we were up in Michigan.

    All this brings to mind something that is pretty cliche, but still true: Tell your loved ones how you feel. Cherish the time with them. Don't hold grudges. Make the best of the time you have.

    You won't regret the love you pour out on someone, but you will regret what you kept to yourself.

  • Go, Go Gwenzilla

    I write this having gotten back from Michigan 28 hours ago. (Give or take) It was the first time we'd left the Fluffs for an extended period, as well as the first time with Gwen on ear gel. She had been so cooperative with the ear gel for me that I wasn't too worried about my parents being able to get it on her, but I had my dad come down to see the process anyway.

    Well, Gwen decided that under no circumstances was she going to let these lesser-known humans medicate her. Not only was she against being medicated, she was violently opposed. I was surprised, because I honestly can't tell you the last time Gwen lashed out at us. She has her opinions, but generally seems to understand that she's not going to get away with it.

    Being as Gwen's thyroid is already out of whack, going a week without medication seemed bad. After talking with our vet, they had my parents bring her in a couple days to medicate her - just enough to keep her going while we were gone.

    When we got home yesterday, Gwen was obviously happy to see us, but I could tell by her body language that she wasn't feeling too great.

    She has a vet appointment in 3 days to recheck her bloodwork. Between not having medicine reliably for several days and my very strong suspicion that her dose was still too low, I took it upon myself to up her dose to three clicks, rather than two. Now, I don't recommend that you fiddle with your cat's medication. But her thyroid was SO HIGH last time, and with the intermittent meds last week, that the extra click can't hurt. I know that the vet would rather see her thyroid a little too low than as high as it was.

    After a couple of doses, she seems to be feeling a little better. I'm hoping for more improvement over the next few days, fingers crossed.

    We're going to have to talk to the vet about whether she's a good candidate for radiation. It was a step I didn't want to have to take, but if Gwen won't allow anyone other than Matt and I to medicate her, it's something we have to seriously consider. The longest she's "okay" going without meds is apparently 2 days. That's just enough time to get up to Michigan, sleep, and then go back home. It's either this, or we board her at the vet in our absence. I think a one time traumatic radiation process may be better for her than constantly traumatizing her when we leave. We'll see how the vet thinks.

    I have to say though, this was the first time we came back from Michigan and Aeris wasn't SUPER DUPER needy, following us around and meowing constantly for several days. Apparently she hung out with Cuppie a lot while we were gone, and it seems to have done the trick for not feeling lonely! I feel bad that it took this long to figure it out, but it seems that we finally found a workable vacation buddy for Aery.

    Vizzi, who is utterly terrified of visitors, played hide and seek the entire time we were gone. Turns out, he's honed his skills quite well. However, within a half an hour of getting home, he was acting more or less normal. Right now, he's sleeping on my desk, keeping my mouse pinned under his paw.

    So, that's all for now. Everyone is alive and well (more or less), and I'll take what I can get.

  • Turning Points and Growth

    The week we lost Mikenna is seared into my mind as one of the worst weeks of my life. When we got back to the house without her, having survived on minimum food and sleep for the past four days, I broke down. Full out body gutteral sobs from the bottom of my soul. It sounds dramatic, but it really was.

    What do I do with my life?

    I'll be deeply honest here, I've done many things over the years, but never committed to them to the point where, when things got challenging, I stuck with them. Maybe it was just that it required a skillset that I didn't yet possess. Or I'd have to sacrifice something that I didn't want to. A lot of it was depression and anxiety.

    When Mikenna got sick, I threw myself into caring for her, full force. I was prepared to put everything on hold for her for the next two years, if that's what it meant to get that much time with her. In the back of my mind, I knew that when it was all over, I was going to have to face everything that I'd shoved aside. But I thought I had two years to prepare for that, not four and a half months.

    This isn't about that, though. This is about everything that has come after.

    Two days later, I went to a friend's house for an Arbonne spa. I didn't really want to go, but because I am an upholder, I had said I would go, so I had to go. Besides, I knew that the sooner I forced myself out into the world, the better off I'd be.

    I was drawn to Arbonne because the products were amazing (I'd tried the mascara a couple years prior and had loved it), I loved that the company had super strict policies not only on how they make their products, but how they get their ingredients - and the idea of meeting people and having my own business was something that had appealed to me for years. I did my research and decided that Arbonne really did seem like a solid company, and makeup and skincare is totally up my inner girly-girl alley. Worst case scenario, I ended up with some products I liked.

    Funny thing though, it didn't go exactly how I had planned. They made it sound so easy! Call up your friends, ask them to host a spa as a favor to you, to introduce you to people, and next thing you know: business! Well, I didn't know a lot of people in the area to begin with, and only a couple of them were willing to host a spa for me. Then one of those spas fell off the calendar when illness swept through the family, and I never got that rebooked.

    This is the point where I quit, where I lick my wounds and say, "Well, I tried. It wasn't meant to be."

    Just like the wedding photography.

    Jewelry.

    Graphic design.

    Every time, when I hit a wall, I checked out. I was so tired of it. I felt like I had failed at everything I had ever tried, and it ate at me.

    There's a lot to unpack there, and I'm not going to say that I've got it all figured out, because I don't. But I knew in my gut that no matter what I tried, it was going to be hard. That's life. So I could keep running from one thing to the next looking for the 'easy' thing, or I could swallow my pride and actually figure out where I was lacking and do something about it.

    Maybe I'll extrapolate on that sometime, but not today.

    I wish I could give you the fairytale ending where I learned my lesson and suddenly everything was easy and there were talking squirrels and a white mercedes. That's not where I'm at yet. I pulled back from trying to book spas and hit the books. I forced myself to start being more social, and meeting new people. I stopped waiting for people to contact me and started contacting them.

    Several months later, I feel like I'm in a much better place as a person. I acknowledge that some things may never come naturally to me, but that doesn't mean that I can't do them. It's perfectly okay to be a little awkward and to own it. Here's what's funny - I do perfectly well with a script. I loved acting, and I can talk in front of people no problem. Stage fright isn't really in my vocabulary. But small talk kills me. Ask me what I've been up to and the past month will fall out the back of my brain and I can't remember a thing. Hand to my heart, I have to think about simple questions people ask and what I can say in response. I feel incredibly dumb, but I do it anyway. I rehearse what to say on the phone, and often have things written down in front of me so that I don't forget things when they say something I wasn't expecting.

    I don't have anything tangible to show you as far as success goes, but I feel like a million bucks. Something challenged me, and I wrestled with it rather than walking away. Arbonne? This is the thing I do and I am proud of it. I love the company, the products, and the community.

    It's simple, but it's not easy. Things worth having rarely are.

  • 1037ef634b9f5180-37208219_10154759212567706_535319286344843264_n.jpg

    I can tell that Gwen is starting to feel a lot better. She's decided that she likes hunkering down in my closet again, which I don't love, but she's coming out frequently, and is very social when she's out.

    I'd prefer that she just slept on the couch or in Matt's chair, but if privacy is what she wants, at least I can keep an eye on her in my closet.

    It can be easy to overlook just how chatty Gwen is when she's happy and feeling good. She goes out of her way to trill hello, and often adds a headbutt to the arm, just for added enthusiasm. It's so nice to see.

    Gwen's also been feeling super bossy about the door. She wants to look out so bad, as it really is the best seat in the house for the cats. But the weather hasn't been great for it, so I've been trying to just open the door in the evening. But when she runs over, headbutts my arm, then runs to the door and meows sweetly, it's hard to say no.

    I believe this means her thyroid is going in the right direction. Time will tell if it's going down far enough. Fingers crossed for little sasspants.

  • A Gwen-sized Setback

    A Gwen-sized Setback

    We've been having a little bit of trouble with Gwen lately. Namely, she started peeing on things she shouldn't. It was pretty okay when it was the bathtub, but when I started waking up to pee by my head, that was less okay. She needed to go in for bloodwork anyway, so I thought I'd bring up the peeing and see if we could get her checked for a UTI.

    Little miss iron bladder utterly refused to give a urine sample (figures, right?) so we made our best guess that it was a uti, and since she was sneezing herself up a uri anyway, antibiotics were prescribed.

    Once the antibiotics kicked in, we could tell that she was starting to feel better, but the peeing wasn't getting better at all.

    We were waiting on her bloodwork, and when that finally came back it showed that her thyroid levels were way too high. Back in January, we had them at the low end of normal, so like, 1 something. They were back up to 10 something, which is not only really really high but about where we started when she was initially diagnosed. It was like we hadn't been medicating her at all.

    We're still not 100% sure that her levels are accurate, but my gut says that this is probably the answer to what's been going on with her. I've noticed that if I forget to give her medicine in the morning for a couple days, she's more prone to pee somewhere. So I imagine, if her thyroid is basically as bad as it was over a year ago, she's feeling pretty darn crappy, in which case, I'd probably just pee on my head too.

    Not only would her thyroid explain the peeing, but it would explain some recent weight loss as well. At barely 6lbs, it's not like she has a lot to lose, so going down about half a pound over the last six months is fairly significant for her. Didn't seem to alarm the doctor much, but I'm not too happy about it.

    So, here's where we're at:

    We're increasing her thyroid meds from .01 and .005 in a day to .01 and .01. She was on this dosage initially when we got her to the ear gel, and at the time, it knocked her thyroid down into the "too low" levels. I'm not sure what kind of results we'll see from this increase, but we should find out when we re-test her in four weeks.

    Depending on what we get back from there, we'll either have to increase her dosage and retest in another four weeks, or we'll probably wait something like either or twelve weeks and retest. Either way, there's a decent bit of poking in Gwen's near future.

    In the meantime, now that she's feeling better, I'm going to see if I can bribe her with some baby food periodically. That's supposed to be pretty good for gaining a bit of weight, and really, anything we can put on her skinny little frame would be a positive.

    I will say, I can tell that she is feeling better, at least with having her cold cleared up, and now two days into a higher dosage. She's a lot more chatty when she's feeling better, not to mention more willing to spend time with us, and KNOCK ON WOOD, she hasn't peed on anything in a couple of days.

    In case you're wondering, I'm not sure what Gwen's long term prognosis looks like at this point. Left untreated/too high, elevated thyroid levels will eventually take their toll on Gwen's other organs, like her heart and kidneys. However, her bloodwork came back really good in those respects, which is great. If we can get her thryoid under control again, we may be able to leave her on the ear gel, though the fact that she jumped from totally fine to bonkers in levels in such a short amount of time is concerning and probably means we can't go more than six months without tests.
    Thyroid removal or radiation are other options, but they're not our first choice. Radiation is a good shot at getting the whole thing taken care of once and for all. However, it's fairly expensive (I'm not sure what it runs around here) not to mention what you're putting her through. That said, we've been spending about $50/month on her thyroid meds. Each thyroid recheck runs about $70 and the increased dosage means we may be spending $100/month on that. SO, radiation might pay for itself pretty quickly. I just don't know yet.

    Part of the dilemma is the fact that we don't actually know how old Gwen is. If she's on the younger end of what we were projected, she's around 9. If she's on the older end, she's 11 or so. But the fact is, she could be even older. We're just not sure. Her great health otherwise, and great muscle tone suggests ... Well, I don't know exactly what it suggests. Just that her thryoid is definitely the problem.
    It's just a matter of deciding how much is humane to put her through in a weird cost/benefit analysis.

    I suspect she might vote for whatever gets her poked less, but I don't know. The frustrating thing about all of this is that we can't ask her. We can't ask her how she's feeling, if things seem to be working, or how she wants us to treat her. If we could, this whole thing might be a whole lot easier.

  • Hamilton Background

    I finally joined the Hamilton bandwagon a few months ago - I know, I know, I'm a few years late. I usually am, for some reason.

    Anyway, I was playing around last night and made a little desktop wallpaper, for those of us (me) who still use something other than mobile devices all the time.

    Feel free to save it and use it if you'd like.

  • These are a couple of my favorite things

    I've been using these for breakfast recipes over the last month or so, and I'm loving them. Not only are they delicious as all get out, but they're PCOS friendly.

    If you're looking for the greens, fiber, or protein powder mentioned, let me know. Arbonne has a fantastic nutrition line that I can't recommend enough.

  • 5 Seconds

    Recently, I read The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins after having heard her speak virtually. I had seen the cover of the book beforehand, and I know I rolled my eyes. It sounded super gimmicky, and maybe it still is, but it's a gimmick that actually makes sense. 

    It's super easy.

    Any time you are on the verge of making a decision, and you know that you're going to find a reason not to do the thing you're supposed to do, just count backwards from 5 and move. What it does is it reboots your brain and takes it from automatic to manual, and then you can make yourself move.

    Let me explain a little better. The way this came about was that Robbins needed help getting out of bed in the morning. Counting backwards from 5 and then getting up before her brain could object helped her take charge of her day, instead of laying in bed, going back to sleep, or putzing on her phone for an hour before getting up at the last minute. 

    You can use this trick when you need a boost of bravery. Need to make that phone call? 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and dial. Want to go to the gym? Count down and lace up the shoes before your brain finds excuses not to. (And we know that there are always excuses not to)

    It can also be used to help reroute anxiety. When an anxious thought hits, count backwards and then start thinking of something positive - like your kids, or your pets, or whatever makes you genuinely happy. To be honest, it didn't really work the first time I tried it for this, but I kept practicing, and I have to say, I've been able to cut off a lot of anxious thoughts before they spin out. 

    The neatest thing I've learned from the book is that anxiety and excitement are really the same thing in our brain, just interpreted different ways. So if you can start telling yourself that you are excited about the thing, (like going out to meet people), you can start getting your brain to cooperate. 

    So, as I said - simple stuff, and really neat. I recommend picking up the book, as it's a pretty quick read, and Robbins does a much better job explaining it than I ever could. (Which makes sense, since it's her thing) 

    If you're looking for a boost, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and GO.

  • What the hair

    What the hair

    Long haired cats, they said. They have hair, they said.

    I was still woefully unprepared for this.