Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oh Brother, WHO art thou?

My brother, Richard, is hilarious. He is deadpan and clever. He is egotistical and charismatic. I initially wanted to end each of my Utah posts with a quote from Richard. Unfortunately I didn't take notes while I was in Utah and I forgot to start with the quotes at the start of my Utah travel blogs. Here are a couple of my favorites, as well as some pictures from our several dinner trips up the canyon with my family.

"I think, in the end, I will just marry my pet rock." ~Richard Creighton

"If actors are so good at acting, why don't they just act normal?" ~Richard Creighton

"Stop it now, or I will poop in your bed." ~Richard Creighton

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Less Than Ten

Remember Music Monday? Remember how I wanted to have a "new day" when I gave up MM? Well, I got one. No alliteration but it is consistent. I call it Methotrexate Wednesdays! Who ever heard of a drug you take twice a day once a week? Weird.

One of the reasons for my extended Utahn visit was to see a specialist in Brigham City. My aunt, who also suffers from JRA and is one of my favorite people on the planet for many reasons referred me to him. I made the appointment in January. Yes, he is that busy. By the time June came, I have to be honest, I was more than skeptical. I almost cancelled the appointment. We have spent thousands of dollars on medical bills thus far with no results. My faith in Western Medicine is faint at best. I had resolved that I would come back to Hawaii and hit the naturalistic stuff hard. No dairy, no sugar, no gluten. Not to mention the slew of supplements I was stocking up on. I had to have a back-up plan. I was going to give Western Med one more chance in Brigham CIty but if that didn't pan out (and I knew it wouldn't) I had to know I wasn't just going to sit around and do nothing.
I made a contact through my sister-in-law, Ruth, for a naturalist specialist in Logan so I did have some hope that my health my reside in Cache Valley.
I made the trek north. The day started on a good omen when my brother went to work and left his iPod in the car I was using. New music on a two and a half hour drive? Not too bad. The Jealous Sound, Nurses, The Snake, the Cross, the Crown and other great new (to me) music made the other-wise looming journey fly by.
The doctor's office was inundated with painted, wooden clogs. Pictures of windmills, blue and white plates with Scandinavian script and pastural paintings hung on every inch of the walls throughout the small office. Except one section of the wall in lab room and one corner near the front desk. These areas were completely devoted to dogs. Dog pictures, dog calendars, dog quotes and a plaque that said something like "you'll never love anyone like your dog" only I think it mentioned death in there somehow.
The doctor came in and I told him my whole story. He asked a lot of questions. He pulled out (gasp) books. He sat beside me and read out of books (still shocking to me: a doctor that has set his ego aside long enough to admit that he either doesn't know or can't remember something and look it up! Fantastic!) the mystery symptom which is. . .my stumpy toe.
I am pretty sure most of you know I lack ten full toes, but just in case I have a mystery lurker out there who does not know me in real life, it is true. I have nine and a half toes. My fourth metatarsal on my left foot is significantly shorter than the rest, thus dropping the whole toe down. I have always been told this is unrelated to my JRA. This was the initial instinct of Dr. Brigham City as well, which is why he pulled out the book. He thought maybe I didn't have JRA but something related. Just a side note here: I currently have no signs of JRA in my blood work. i have had several doctors debate this diagnosis, two tell me that I don't have any arthritis (check the basketball knee genius!) and one who prescribed an anti-convulsive. I was nervous that Dr. BC was going to be of a similar camp.
As a surprise to both of us, Dr. BC found in one of his books links to shortened metatarsals or metacarpals to JRA especially the form called Still's disease. This occurs in very young infants and is often accompanied by high fever and unexplained rashes. My symptoms as a toddler match this exactly. Yahtzee! I am not crazy! I am still broken, but not crazy!
Dr. then said we needed to see if my disease is active by draining my knee and examining the fluid. He was shocked that no other doctor had done this before as this is the first and fastest way to tell if an auto-immune response is occurring. To make a long story a teensy bit shorter, he drained my left knee and got one of those fatty-huge syringes (I forgot the cc number) full of nasty, dark yellow fluid. Yellow= bad. Clear=normal. He shot some cortisone into my knee since he had the needle in there anyway.
I have been balking at aggressive meds for months but he is the third doctor to suggest it. And he had proof. A footballer who gets his knee blown out in a tackle may have a white cell count of 2000 in the fluid around the injury. Mine was 8000. I am going to need new knees in less than a decade if I don't do something. That is fact. Dr. said something to me as we discussed the possible side-effects of my new Rx regime. He said: "yes, these drugs are bad, but the disease is worse. you must remember that.". I guess that is sort of obvious but right there, in that office, with a wooden windmill above his head, I believed him.
Tomorrow will be my fourth Methotrexate Wednesday. As of now, I am still riding the wonderful wave of cortisone. I know it is nothing more than a band-aid but I do loooooooove the pain reduction. I have so much energy. I even tried to run. . .for 20 steps. That hurt, but I COULD DO IT. I actually just teared up typing that.
I am not going to discount health. I am still eating dairy and wheat but I am going to continue talking to naturalistic experts. Maybe once I get this under control I can go off of the big guns and maintain my health naturally. To be honest, I felt guilty starting the meds. LIke I had given in or taken the easy way out. I am feeling better about it now, though. Who says you have to be one way or the other? Do I have to have dread locks, make my own deodorant and gather fennel fronds to be a good person? Or can I eat kale, take my krill oil and avoid double knee replacement with a little Methotrexate and Plaquinil?
All in all I have to say that Dr. Brigham was the best doctor I have been too. He is willing to treat me over the phone and in person whenever I visit. He encouraged, nay, demanded I call him often to check in and his assistant's name is Bianca. I don't know how that last part is a positive, but for some reason, for me, it is.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Aspen Grove. . .

. . .sure the explanation should be first, but I like to shake things up. The pictures are first, words are at the end. Aloha.

Aspen Grove pictures

Aspen Grove. . .more pictures

Aspen Grove

Every year for the past 16 years my mother's family has had a reunion at Aspen Grove family camp. This LDS-centered camp welcomes families from all over the nation to stay for a week in the beautiful Provo canyon, just above Sundance, and hike, swim, play all sports, craft, be inspired, you get the idea. The kids go to their age groups and the adults eat a lot of candy and talk. Or hike or craft or. . .I think I already did that part.
I was so excited to go this year. This was my first year being able to go with a kid of my own. I never experienced the younger groups, myself and so I was more than ready to start my vicarious living through my children right there at Aspen Grove. Lily did not like group. She did love Aspen Grove, though. We all did. No cooking, no cleaning, what's not to like. It was BEAUTIFUL up there. I literally caught myself holding my breath once while looking up at Timpanogos. There were so many wild flowers this year (thank you cool, long spring) and the air was that crisp, clean, I know I just got healthier by breathing, kind of air.
It was great to catch up with my relatives. I really love my family. My siblings, my cousins, my aunts, uncles and grandparents. They are all just too cool. I think I get smarter every time I talk to them.
One tradition we have at our Aspen Grove reunions is Grandma Gifts. My grandmother loves a bargain. Like any other product of the depression era, she saves bits of ribbons, all boxes, containers and of course, coupons. If my grandparents were super-heros they would be "The Rebate Rebel and her side-kick, Garage Sale Gramps: fighting over-consumerism one coupon at a time!". Every year my grandmother saves her rebated items, triple coupon day finds and other freebies she may get at the credit union, mail or store for the WHOLE YEAR. She then wraps them up and divies them up amongst the lot of us at Aspen Grove. The gifts are mostly useful, often hilarious and always FREE. Among my favorite gifts of Aspen Grove past are: Nair, Touch of Gray hair dye, poly-grip, Heineken key chain (my Grandmother is a most conservative mormon woman, she had no idea what she was giving Calvin!) and Preparation H.
This year, my grandfather asked us all in advance to prepare poems about these gifts that grandma gives. It was so funny. My uncle, Rulon, sang a song he wrote on the guitar! Classic. I only wish I had it on tape. I wrote a lengthy rap but dang it! my computer is dead and along with no Elmo I also lost access to my lyrics! Blast. I did scrap up a Haiku at the last minute. Here it is:

Brown paper lunch sack
but no sandwich is inside
free toiletries rock.

Of course the real gift to us each year is that my generous grandparents pay for us all to enjoy Aspen Grove. Thanks grandma and grandpa!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ice Cream Social Frock Giveaway!!!!

Ice Cream Social Frock Giveaway!!!!

I just found this blog. Love it. She has awesome stuff and GIVES it away. Also, her daughter is named Lily so you gotta give her props for that.
I am so impressed by some people. Where do they find the time? Do they ever give that away??

Strawberry Quart Caplet with Simple Sailing Frock

Strawberry Quart Caplet with Simple Sailing Frock

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Nilsson Pix

The cutie kids. Spencer, Lily, Brinlee, Addie

The crew. We were so happy to see Quinn! He is so cute.
Unfortunately I did not take pictures of the make-up. Sorry everyone. I don't know where I put the camera during that leg of the trip and after over four hours in the car I wasn't about to search through the car to document my own clown make-up. I didn't take any pictures of our family get-together and I was so sad. Luckily, Chris' sister, Kate just emailed me some that she took. Thanks, Kate, for being on the ball. Here is the crew. . .minus one. Britney had her baby yesterday! Emberlyn was born at 9:56 am and weighed 7 lbs 7 oz. I got to go see her and new mama at the hospital yesterday and hold the brand new angel. She is gorgeous and Brit looks great. And no, I did not take pictures of that either. Sigh.