Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Diagnosis

I talked previously about a bitter sweet March. Well, it didn't exactly end there.

I've been debating whether or not I should write about "this" for a while now and have decided it's time I start talking. Uggghh, where to start...

I've been sick quite a bit over the last year. You name some kind of bug floating around out there and I've caught it. It has been extremely frustrating to go from one illness to another. It seems like I was only healthy for a few days a time throughout this past winter. I've been to see several doctors and had countless blood tests run to try to determine what could be causing me to get so sick. Unfortunately, the blood work wasn't helpful with diagnosing the problem.

When I wasn't warding off a sinus infection, bronchitis, strep or the flu, I was just left feeling extremely weak and fatigued. I was experiencing severe joint pain and found it difficult to get through every day tasks like doing the dishes or picking up my son, Brady.

A lot of people chucked all of this up to me being an overwhelmed and sleep deprived mom. At first, I thought maybe some were right about me, which is why I had been beating myself up for not being able to do everything and be everything to everyone. I wondered how others were able to maintain this Super Mom lifestyle and why I could cut it. I carried so many feelings of inadequacy and found myself constantly comparing myself to other moms in my life.

I recently realized that I've been "abusing" ....yes, verbally abusing myself over all of the areas I felt I was falling short. It's like this nasty recording of my voice would just play through my head every day, all day long.

"Kelli, what has happened to you? You used to be so much more active. You used to be able to handle 20 times more than you do now. What's wrong with you, why can't you just get the rest of the baby weight off already? Come on, every other mom out there manages to keep a clean home, groceries in the fridge, meals on the table, laundry clean, play dates for the kids, visits to the gym.... Why can't you just get healthy and be normal again?"

I knew something had to give.

"Am I going crazy? Why can't the doctors find an explanation for why I feel so awful all the time? Am I really just a weak person? Why can't I pull it together? I'm trying to eat healthier, drink water, take my daily vitamins, get rest whenever I can. I swear I'm doing everything I know to do to get well and I still feel awful. My head is the old me wanting to do, do, do and my body is telling me loud and clear NO, no, no."

I had some friends tell me that they were sick of hearing that I'm sick...again. Some felt that it was all in my head and I just needed to work on starting each day with a positive attitude and I might feel better. Others thought that I had postpartum depression and needed medication. Everyone wanted to diagnose me except for the doctors, which left me feeling more confused, frustrated and lonelier than ever. 

Finally, I had a doctor say that she wanted to go through a long questionnaire to determine if I possibly had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It was like a light bulb went off. I remembered that I was diagnosed with that back in high school when I got really sick at the age of 16 fighting a bad case of Mono. After going through the questionnaire, I knew that this is EXACTLY what I was battling. We talked about it for over three hours!

On one hand, I was relieved to finally have a diagnosis that explained in black and white exactly what I've been experiencing, but on the other hand, there's no cure. This is something I will have to face life long. There are no medications to treat CFS, but there are holistic remedies that can help me feel better and take my life back (in time).

It has been a roller coaster since the diagnosis in April. I'm going to continue to talk about this and my experiences because it is a widely misunderstood and under-diagnosed condition. If I can help even one person out their realize that they're not alone as well as raise some awareness, then sharing my struggles will be worth it. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Brady's First Birthday

I had been dreading and stressing out over my son's first birthday for several months. Why is it that us first time moms feel the need to get all worked up about planning the perfect birthday for our lil' one when they are never going to remember it anyway?

I can't tell you how many people reminded me of that fact over the last several months. I've experienced lot's of eye rolling and people telling me that I was being completely ridiculous to stress out over a one year old's birthday party.

But I wanted something wonderful to look back on. I suppose I was looking to build a memory for our family more so than for Brady since he won't remember it anyway. There's always pictures and videos for his viewing pleasure in the future. And the stories we tell him when he asks about it later. What kid later wants to hear "Oh, it was just an ordinary day. We knew you wouldn't remember it, so we didn't really do anything special."  Not something I want to tell my son!

First, I was thinking of planning a fun day at a local park. We could rent a covered picnic pavilion, grill out, have a few fun games for adults and children of all ages. Who wouldn't enjoy an afternoon at the park with good friends and family? Well, that plan backfired when all of the parks I was interested in were already reserved.

My bubble was burst. I couldn't think of another plan that felt right. I started thinking up this plan when Brady was nine months old, so the fact that it wasn't going to work out just like I had imagined was frustrating. I kept thinking that something would come available, someone would have a great suggestion that fit exactly what I was looking for. I asked everyone I knew for advice on locations and alternatives, but nothing felt quite right. Before I knew it, Brady's birthday was only a few weeks away. I had all of the grandparents flying into town with no party planned!

Panic mode set in about one month out, then intensified two weeks out when I STILL didn't have a confirmed plan. Nothing was really coming together and everything I tried fell through. I felt like I was a bad mom and I was failing miserably at pulling something together. Finally, I decided to take a friend's advice and just have something small at the house for the immediate family.

At first, I was thinking it was a lame effort on my part, but it turned out to be the perfect scenario for Brady's first birthday! I was so worried about our house being too small to accommodate everyone, but thankfully our deck was just the spot for a family dinner. The weather held out so we could relax and enjoy each other's company without outside interruptions. Brady ended up diving into his cake early (while we were all still eating dinner) because he was fading fast and needed to go to bed. Had we been out anywhere else, we couldn't have put him to bed and continued our celebration. It would have been nice to have some of our friends there to celebrate with us, but we only see our families a couple times a year, so this gave us an opportunity to share stories and reflect on good times.

Everything about Brady's birthday weekend was about family spending time together and celebrating Brady's life.

What I realized is that while I wasted all of that time worrying about planning the perfect party, the only thing that mattered was having meaningful time together as a family. We now all share a memory that will last a lifetime. Thankfully, we have some great stories to tell Brady when he's older along with some great pictures and videos! What more could a mom ask for?