Thursday, June 25, 2015

What's new?

Well I finally announced this on Facebook so it is time to let the blogging world know too!

Saturday was my birthday! 

My present was to get my hair done...yes, I know most people get their hair done just to get it done, but I just cannot stand the cost to get it done right, so to make myself feel better, this year, it was my birthday present.  A cut and highlights.

I posted the following on Facebook:

"New hair, new BABY on the way....35 is going to be a great year! Thanks for all the birthday wishes!"

So now that all of you know, I can fill you in on the rest of my health history over the past few months!
I finally gave in and took the (out-of-pocket) adrenal function saliva test, which tests your cortisol levels at different times throughout a 24 hour period and gives you an idea of your adrenal gland function.   And I was shocked when the results came back as "highest level of adrenal fatigue"!!  I mean, I was tired and hadn't felt great and along with my high blood pressure at every doctor's visit but normal blood pressure at home, I was starting to wonder if I was falling apart.  So when my doctor suggested Adren-ALL, I quickly agreed and started taking this OTC supplement and it was working great!  I was starting to have energy like I had not had in....well, as long as I could remember.  I also changed my diet, because the adrenal glands are all about managing stress and apparently mine were overloaded, so anything I could think of to lower stress (yes, even all those pesky carbs that are difficult to digest are stressful on your adrenals!), I did.  And like I said, I was feeling so good....and then I got pregnant and my doc said, "No more Adren-ALL." 
All I can say is that I cannot wait until I can get back on those supplements.  I am tired.  And it's now the I-slept-all-night-but-still-feel-unrested-the-next-morning type of tired. 
This baby is due in December!  The 22nd/23rd (depending on which of my doctors you ask).  And so far, Praise God, things are looking very good!  I will be 15 weeks on Tuesday and I have had 3 ultrasounds so far.  Baby in the right place, check.  Baby has a heartbeat, check.  Placenta looks good, check.  Baby was scanned and I had a blood test to check for chromosomal disorders and everything came back looking great.  I was so relieved. 
The doctor who did my last scan was the same one who dealt with my partial molar pregnancy last year....that baby, as did Mary Grace, had triploidy, and the doctor mentioned again that he had never had a patient (or had heard of his colleagues having a patient) who had 2 triploidy pregnancies.  I go back in July to the maternal fetal medicine people to have my big anatomy scan, and like with Caroline, we are not finding out the gender.  I just pray that everything continues to go well.....all I can do is take it day by day...and sometimes moment by moment.  The anxiety sometimes comes out of nowhere and I constantly think of purchasing a fetal heart Doppler to calm my nerves.  But ultimately, whatever happens, God is in control and His big picture is something that I do not yet get to see. 
In the meantime, we pray, hope and enjoy watching my belly start to grow!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The CD and the Puzzle.

I just have to document these events that took place because it is a reminder that we, our lives, things that happen which we don't understand....all of these are specks...pieces of a magnificent puzzle that the Lord is putting together....fitting together to make a clear picture, but of which we only sometimes get glimpses.  We find two pieces of a thousand piece puzzle that match and we have a momentary rush of excitement and wonder that we were able to put 2 pieces together.

The same is often true of our lives and I had a small glimpse of this last week. 

Rob was out of town Thursday night, the 16th.  I was tired and went to bed with the phone beside me in case he called (sometimes he is out late with clients).  At 10:15pm, the phone rang, but it was one of his co-workers (also a friend and a Godparent to one of our kids)....but my heart began to race as I woke up and tried to comprehend why he would be calling instead of Rob. 

"Hello?"...."Hello!???".....I said....there was no reply.  And then he hung up.

My mind started to panic.

I immediately dialed Rob and to my relief he answered and was okay.

Well, what happened was this:  Rob and his co-workers were in the hotel lobby having a drink and Rob received a phone call from his sister.  His co-worker thought he was talking to me, so he thought it would be funny to interrupt "our" call by calling me....unfortunately, he was wrong about who Rob was speaking with, called me, woke me up and then felt terrible for his mistake.

Because he felt so bad, he made me a cd with 5 songs on it.  My "I'm sorry, Ang" make up for playing a joke at my expense.

I thought that was pretty nice and I didn't have any hard feelings.  He's a jokester anyway.

The next morning, after Mass, we found out Nancy had died.  I took the kids home from Mass and waited for Rob to get home from his travels.  As soon as he got home I was ready to head back to church to a special day of Adoration which had been set up to pray for Nancy and her family.  I was a little annoyed when I got into the car and Rob said, "I've got music already ready for you."  As I drove away I thought, Why would he think I would want him to pick out music for me?  A friend died today and I want to pick my own music.... 

How arrogant of me to have had those thoughts.  

I relented of my mental battle and let the cd play as I drove to the church.

It was the "I'm Sorry, Ang" cd from his co-worker.

And each of those 5 songs touched my heart deeply.  It was just what my soul needed to hear.  I played it there, repeated it, and played it on the drive back home.  These songs, while not necessarily written about death, spoke to me with their lyrics and their melodies and some haunting harmonies. 

We listened to it all this week and on the drive to the funeral yesterday. 

The "I'm Sorry, Ang" cd turned into the "Nancy's Gone" cd for me....those songs will forever remind me of this time in my life.  Of saying goodbye to a friend.

As I started to think about the songs and this cd and how it came to be that after being woken up in the middle of the night as a prank, that I would get this music as an apology, and that unknowing to Rob's coworker that my friend was dying, he would pick these songs that were meant for me to be heard during this time..... it's just like God gave me 4 or 5 pieces of a 10,000 piece puzzle and I was able to make out one small image and see clearly something within all the mess of jumbled, turned over pieces. 

I messaged him to tell him how the cd was meant for me during this time and to explain how his calling me that night set all this into motion...and he replied, "God is so awesome.  This is the third time this week someone has sent me a note like this."

God is fitting the pieces together....everyone's pieces....all of the time.

We can't see the finished puzzle.
There are too many pieces.
We can't match them all. 

We won't see it until we have reached our final home, and the entire puzzle is displayed for us by Our Father.  But sometimes He reveals to us a section.  A few pieces that fit together and we must know that while we are living and "working out the pieces" of our own lives, He already knows how each piece must fit together to it's completion.

Edited to add the songs on my cd:
Waiting on the River to Rise  by Kingsley Flood
Just Visiting   by Wookiefoot
Welcome Home, Son  by Radical Face
Little Hands  by Inland Sky
Morning Light  by Annabelle's Curse

Friday, April 17, 2015

I thought she was making a fairy garden...

Today, our church and our homeschool community lost a beautiful friend to cancer.  Her husband lost his wife.  Her 6 children lost their mother.  And heaven has gained a good and faithful servant.  We are so sad to see you go, Nancy.  If only we could truly fathom the joy of heaven.  Heaven, the land for which we were created.  We are only passing through this life on our journey home.  And you have made it.  Pray for us, Nancy, and for all those who were blessed to call you a friend.

I thought Isabel (just about a week shy of turning 9 years old) was making a fairy garden.

She wasn't.
It was a memorial. 
So she could "have a place to remember Nancy and to pray for the Mack family".
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

February to March: Anniversaries to Baby Goats...

Strange title, I know...but I will explain.  February was a tough month in that the anniversary of the passing of our baby, Francis Marie was on the 6th and Mary Grace's anniversary was the 28th.  So the month was sort of bookended by these anniversaries.  I don't know if I adequately grieved Francis Marie, but I felt particularly sad on the 6th.  The 28th was full of snow and ice, but we made it to the cemetery on the 29th and it happened to be a miserable, cold, wet day.

But February and March kept us busy, because it is now kidding season for our goats.  And as this was our first kidding season, it has been full of anticipation, excitement and a bit of nervousness. 

These are our two mama goats:


and Cameo.
Cameo went into labor first.  Poor girl. 12 hours of pressing her head against the wall.

She delivered two bucklings around 7am.


This is one of her bucklings below (yet to be named).

And Ian has started calling her other buckling "Snow Runner" (below).
That same evening, Amaretto went into labor and her labor was even longer; ending around 11am with the delivery of triplets!
Ian was really excited because he and Rob were home to help deliver these babies; just the two of them!

The kids were tuckered out their first day of life.

But two days later they have lots of energy!
Here is a picture of Amaretto's only doeling (below), still unnamed.

And one of the bucklings; Isabel has named this one Charlie.
Close up of Charlie.

And the third triplet (second buckling), still unnamed.
Charlie and his sister (below).

Our two "teenagers" were worn out after babysitting all the "babies".


Caroline doesn't mind the newest babies, but the teenagers are starting to get a little rough for her.
She was sipping "seashell tea" from a dog food bowl here. 
Below:  All the kids for this year (7 total) together.

It's really tricky to get pictures with these little goats, because at first there is only one.
And then there are...well, more than one.

And nobody wants to stand still!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

So I had a thyroid biopsy...*Update*

Check that off of my list of weird medical things to do.

It went fine and an initial look at the cells that they extracted look normal and not like cancer.  We are awaiting official pathology results that should come in Thursday, but it looks good.   Praise God!

So just in case you are wondering what it is like to have a thyroid biopsy, I went in and sat upright in a chair.  They put betadine on my neck and the doctor looked at my thyroid nodules by ultrasound and then stuck a needle in my neck and extracted cells/fluid/tissue...not sure what all came out of the nodules.

So I had 2 nodules and they had to do 2 biopsies on each nodule to make sure they got a good sample.

That was FOUR needles in my neck!!!  The first one hurt a little but, you know like getting blood drawn by a not-so-good nurse.  The second stick was much better, but right after he got done with that one I got really, really lightheaded.  The room started flashing, I thought I was going to be sick.  I had to sit forward, turn a fan on, sip cold water, put a cold washrag on the back of my neck and two ice packs on my thighs and hands.  And finally, I started to feel better.  The ice really helped.  That was pretty embarrassing and the doctor suggested we not do the last 2 biopsies, but I was not going to drive all the way again on another day for something that we could get done right then, so we trucked through the last two and I had some juice afterward and felt fine.  My neck was a little sore afterward, but all in all, it was a very simple procedure.  The worst part was me getting faint.

As long as the pathology report comes back clean, my little nodules will remain right there on my thyroid and I will go back to the endocrinologist in a year to check on them.

Overall I am feeling better...I think all the vitamins are definitely helping me, and being on the thyroid medicine must be helping.  But my heart still does pound on a daily basis, although it no longer seems to be skipping beats. 

I go back to my NaPro doctor in 2 weeks.  So we will see what she has to say about it.

*UPDATE*  My biopsies came back normal...they are benign!  Praise God and sorry to keep you waiting for the results. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Yet another Thyroid Update (with numbers)!

To begin with, my bloodwork came back from endocrinologist and there are no signs that I have a paraganglioma!  Which is great news!  Which means we can proceed with a biopsy of my thyroid nodules in 2 weeks on February 3rd.

Today I had a follow-up with my NFP doctor.  She asked if the endocrinologist had discussed my thyroid bloodwork and I told her that he had told me that it was all normal.  She laughed and said, it is definitely not normal!!  Basically I am hypothyroid.  My Free T3 and Free T4 were in normal range, but my total T3 was 71 which is low (normal is 76-181) and my Reverse T3 is 13.  She explained a chart of thyroid function and dysfunction which I can't really seems to come down to the fact that my T3 to reverseT3 ratio is not normal....mine is 5.5 and normal is 10 or higher. 

SO.....long story short, I am starting Armour at the smallest dose (15mg/day) for a week to help my thyroid and then she is bumping it up to twice that.  She wants to be cautious, because with my blood pressure on the high side, she doesn't want it to jump.

I am also low on iodine and vitamin D, low-ish on B12, low on estrogen (during my cycle) but everything else seems to look good.

Here are the supplements/medicines I will start on:

Iodoral 12.5mg/daily for 2-3 months to get my iodine levels up.

B Complex daily to boost my B12.

Vitamin D prescription 50,000 units 1/wk for 4 months and an extra 5000units daily.

Niacin no-flush, slow-release 1/day as a starting point to work on lowering my blood pressure

Armour 15mg/day for 1 week then 30mg/day

HCG shot on P+3, 5, 7, 9 of my cycle to make my body make more estrogen

B6 Sustained 500mg/day to increase mucus in my cycle

She threw around the idea of doing an adrenal function test, but because insurance doesn't cover this it would be about $180.  Not sure if we will do it or not.  Adrenal fatigue she said could be caused by stress over many years, which she noted I have had lots of stress (of losing babies) but overall we think that I've handled it pretty not going to check adrenal function as of yet.

I go back in 4 weeks to check on blood pressure again.

Thanks for the prayers!  I feel like we are headed in the right direction.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Thyroid Ultrasound Update

On Thursday I went to the endocrinologist and they went over my history, symptoms, took my blood pressure (which was much lower at 140/90!), did an ultrasound of my thyroid and pulled lots of blood.

All of my thyroid blood panels had already come back at normal levels.

On the ultrasound they confirmed two nodules that were side by side on my thyroid about 1.5cm each.  Normally they would do a fine needle aspiration biopsy right then to check them out as they were not just fluid filled, but had solid parts.  However, this doctor suspects that it might be possible that I have a rare adrenal tumor called a paraganglioma on my thyroid.  Basically a paraganglioma is an adrenaline producing tumor.  If they were to biopsy this, it could send out too much adrenaline and have....well, unfortunate results for me!  So, he wanted to be extra cautious and do some more bloodwork that would help determine if that is what this is. 

I really saw God's hand in this, because the doctor relayed to me that they had had a case like this last month and he had really been reading up on this condition and discussing with other doctors about the best course of action should they come across this diagnosis again. 

They put me in a dark room in a supine position for what was supposed to be 15 minutes.  However, they must have forgotten about me, because about 40 minutes later (although I really had no idea how long it had been and didn't want to get up to go check because that would ruin the whole lie-still-so-we-can-take-your-blood-and-get-an-accurate-reading thing)....I finally prayed, "God, please let me know you are with me in all this and send a nurse in within the next 60 seconds so I know you haven't forgotten about me!"

And I started counting down with confidence....Sixty.



Fifty-se........*knock knock knock*

A nurse walked in the door to take my blood!  Yep, even though I was confident God was listening, I was somehow still surprised he answered that prayer so quickly!

So she took my blood while I was so calm and that should give a good idea as to whether adrenaline is pumping through my body when it's not  supposed to be; thus suggestive of the paraganglioma.

Here is some more information on these tumors, in case you are interested.  I was so glad this doctor took the time to write down all this information because my brain could barely keep up with all the information he covered in a short amount of time, much less was it able to spell or even remember the word "paraganglioma"!

Of course this would be something that is rare....because all of my issues turn out to be "really rare" and "this will never happen twice" and "surely it couldn't be this because you've already had x, y and z".

I should get the results back Monday or Tuesday and then they will let me know how we should proceed.

My symptoms are:  lightheadedness, high blood pressure, very strong pulse, pulse skips a beat, nausea, eating less, constant dull headache, irritability, times when I just have no more energy.. and I could go on! 

I did ask again about what I should or should not be doing in the meantime, and the doctor just said, "Don't run a marathon!"

Ha.  Don't worry about that.

My mom sent me a really encouraging psalm and I just loved reading it yesterday.  I am not too worried about this....God has it all in His hands. 

Psalm 16

Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
    or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.