January 31, 2013

Rihanna and Chris Brown are Back Together.

I heard on the news this morning that
Rihanna and Chris Brown are *officially* back together.

I know that everyone makes different choices.  

Maybe Rihanna really can get past the whole my boyfriend beat me up thing.

For the record, I don't think she'll every get past something like that.  

I think that every time they fight, she'll always wonder if he's going to hit her again.

But more than anything I wonder how she'll explain it to their future children.
Not to mention what kind of example it sets for all their fans.

How do you explain that one time daddy beat the crap out of mommy?

And the entire world saw her pain, felt her pain,
and pleaded with her to make a better choice.  

How do you teach your son that it's not ok to ever lay a hand on a woman? 
When daddy did that to mommy.

And how do you teach your daughter that no one should ever
touch her or speak to her like that? 
When mommy went back to daddy after he did that to her.

 How do you teach your children to be good people when their father isn't one?

And as I think about all of this, I remember a shocking statistic I learned in college. 
That it takes a woman (on average) 7 times to leave her abuser before she leaves for good.

January 29, 2013

Chattanooga Fun!

With only a few items left on our Fort Campbell Bucket List, Grant and I decided to head down to Chattanooga this past weekend to cross a couple more off our list. 

The drive was quick and beautiful.  We made a quick stop in Nashville so I could help with slating at Theta and then we were on our way.  It wasn't long before we made another detour when we saw the signs for the Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchburg, TN.


After that we drove straight to Chattanooga and absolutely fell in love with the city.  It has this really coll vibe--a ton of history combined with a feeling of revitalization.  A little Berkeley mixed with the traditional Southern feeling.  At first glance, Chattanooga is a thousand times better than Clarksville.  We wish we would have discovered Chattanooga sooner because we definitely would have taken more trips there.  We had lunch at Urban Stack. I found Urban Stack on Yelp and the reviews did not disappoint.


Once we had filled our bellies, we headed over to Lookout Mountain to see Ruby Falls.  And while the Smoky Mountains were the mountains on our bucket list, we were so impressed with Lookout Mountain and all the mountains we could see from Lookout Mountain, that we would count this as our mountain viewing in TN. 



Ruby Falls is a huge natural indoor waterfall.  You walk half a mile through the caverns to reach the water.  Thankfully there were benches along the way for my POTS and Grant's foot.  A little claustrophobic for me, but it didn't seem to phase Grant at all.  The guy that discovered the falls crawled for SEVEN hours before he was first able to stand up.



We were completely exhausted after our tour to Ruby Falls so we hopped in the car and drove up the mountain more.  We stumbled upon the town Fairyland, GA.  The houses were beautiful and the street names were things like Red Riding Hood Way and Peter Pan Circle.  We decided that if we were ever forced to live in Georgia, Fairyland could be on the short list of towns we would consider.

After our brief drive through Fairyland we checked in at the hotel, dropped our bag off and sat down for approximately 5 minutes before running back out the door to dinner.  We went to Sekisui (another Yelp find!) for sushi and it was delicious!

When looking for things to do in Chattanooga, I found a town website that had info about the show Avenue Q.  They had a show Saturday night so we decided to check it out.  We put the address in our GPS and ended up at a semi-deserted mall--for all those at home think Monument Theater Mall.  After circling the building THREE times, we finally found the entrance to this place.  The inside has been redone and it turns out the show was sold-out.  We go in to get seats and find out that there are only two seats left---perfect! Except not because they weren't together.  So we take out seats along in this tiny, tiny room.  Think 15 feet x 15 feet with seats on two sides forming an L shape, and the opposite L sides being the stage.  There were probably 50 tickets sold and everyone knew each other.  It's probably the same as going to see a show at the Lafayette Community Center.  The show was funny, crude and vulgar, but funny.  But the first Act was an hour and 45 minutes long, so we snuck out at intermission. 

We decided to grab some dessert and found The Ice Cream Show on Yelp.  They had a dairy free option and it was located right by the Aquarium.  While it was super yummy at the time, something it is was not Kingsley friendly.  By the time we got back to the hotel room, I had a massive rash all over my chest and felt terrible.  I popped a bunch of zyrtec and was finally able to fall asleep.

We woke up Sunday exhausted but ready to start our day.  A quick breakfast downstairs and then we were off to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel to look around before we headed off to the Aquarium.


The TN Aquarium was the second item on our bucket list.  It is set up in two different buildings: Ocean Journey and River Journey.  We were partial to the Ocean Journey.






The shark tank that inspired the movie Jaws is currently on loan to the TN Aquarium.



We started our drive home, but decided to take another detour when we saw a sign for Sewanee: The University of the South.  Sewanee is the only Episcopal university in the nation and has a magical feel driving through the campus.  I remember looking up the school when I was looking at different colleges and so we decided to make another detour.  I'm trying to convince Grant to drive back one Sunday before we leave so we can attend a church service!


After a quick lunch in Franklin at Puckett's, we were back in Nashville so I could do some more stuff at Theta.  By the time we arrived home in Clarksville, we were completely exhausted and I was still feeling crummy from my reaction.  A little french toast for dinner and we both passed out.

This weekend was exactly what we needed to distract us from the waiting game were are currently stuck in.  We feel back in love with how beautiful TN is, and decided that we would have liked this experience much more if we had lived somewhere between the south of Nashville and Chattanooga.

January 24, 2013

clarksville music videos?

Today Jenn and I grabbed some Starbuck's and headed over to the local Antique warehouse.  It's one of the only things I'll miss about Clarksville.  It's hit or miss, but sometimes I find really fabulous things.

I didn't know they filmed music videos in Clarksville.  While I don't think this video was actuallyyyyy filmed in Clarksvegas, it's definitely reminiscent of the local scene here.

Warning: Grandma and Grandpa...there mayyyyyy be curse words in this song.

January 23, 2013

i will wait.


"These days of darkness, which we've known, will blow away with this new sun...
...So I'll be bold, as well as strong, and use my head alongside my heart"

January 22, 2013

Fort Campbell Bucket List: #20

Yesterday we crossed #20 off our Fort Campbell Bucket List when we went to the Nashville Predators game!  They were playing the St. Louis Blues and we got our tickets through a military discount offered by the Predators (thank you Predators!).  Our seats were lower level right behind one of the goals. 


We had a really great time; but it was a different experience.  When all the antics started before the game I told Grant I felt like I was at a Monster Truck Rally.  People get VERY into the chants.  And every time the Predators score, the fans chant a YOU SUCK chant.  Super classy.

For being such a fast paced game, it actually feels slow because there is so much time spent waiting.  I don't think we'll be hockey regulars; but it would definitely be fun to check out a Sharks game once we're home!

We snuck out after the second period to go have sushi before the drive home!

Only a few more items left on our Fort Campbell Bucket List.  This weekend we're off to Chattanooga to cross the TN Aquarium off the list!

January 18, 2013

POTS and Vanderbilt: QSART and Glucose Test (Fasting)

A little over a month ago I finally had my appointment with Dr. Cherdak, a neurologist, at Vanderbilt.
My cardiologist and various primary care doctors are 98% sure that my POTS is caused by the 'trauma' of having my appendix removed in college and the resulting issues (read here).  To rule some of the other possible causes, I was referred to a neurologist in Clarksville who googled POTS while in the room with me, who thankfully referred me to Vandy.  While at Vandy in December, she ordered two tests and some blood work.

Prior to my first appointment, I had the Autonomic Function Testing done which showed signs of POTS.

Last week I went to Vanderbilt for my QSART test.

QSART stands for Quantitative Sudometer Axon Reflex Test.

The QSART test is a form of a sweat test.
The Vanderbilt Autonomic Dysfunction Center explains it here.

I was pretty nervous going into it because I read a lot about it online.  I know, I know, this is a terrible idea.  But I wanted to know what to expect it to feel like.  The brochure they gave me at Vanderbilt suggested a tingling feeling.  Since those brochures always downplay ow it actual feels, I wanted to see what actual patients had to say.  Some had no pain at all, and others said it felt like when they had gotten their tattoos done.  Needless to say I was more than a little nervous.

Grant and I made the trek to Vanderbilt and I was really nervous.  The actual prep for the test was easy.  No lotion or body oil the morning off, and they have guidelines for what medicines you can have.  Basically nothing that acts as a stimulant (caffeine is included in this list of no-nos).  Since I just take a beta blocker, my pill stayed the same!  I wore yoga pants and a tank top so when I arrived I didn't even have to change into a gown.

Basically they have you lie on a bed and attach four things to you (one to my left arm, and three to spots on my left leg).  They look like suction cups.  They also attach sensors.  The solution is circulated through the suction cup things for ten minutes while an electrical current is also run through it.  Cue the pain I was worried about.  The technician told me it would feel like a bunch of red ants in those spots.  I would say it felt like a combo of red ants and what I imagine getting a tattoo to feel like.  Unpleasant, but not unbearable.  And it only lasted ten minutes, so no big deal at all.

I did have some red rings left by the solution and current combination, and big red patches from the adhesive on the sensors.  But other than that I was totally fine.

The next day I went to our local hospital for my Glucose Test.  The neurologist wanted to look at the way my body processes sugar.  I had way more anxiety about this test than I did about the QSART.  I had to fast for this test which meant no breakfast which meant no beta blocker until afterwards.  And I didn't know how much stuff I was going to have to drink...

Yesterday I met with the neurologist to go over the results.  Both came back totally normal--along with all of my blood work! Great news! So what that means is that it is still likely that my POTS is caused by the 'trauma' of having my appendix out and everything that ensued with that ordeal.  The only other potential cause left to rule out is a Mast Cell Activation Disorder.  I will wait to rule that out until we are back in California and working with my allergist.

On a side note...I felt incredibly sick yesterday when I was at my appointment.  The nurses were really nice and got me into a room right away so I could lie down.  They let Dr. Cherdak know and the nurses kept checking on me.  Dr. Cherdak checked me out and asked if I needed anything else before I left.  They didn't rush me out at all and told me I could stay lying down as long as I need to until I felt comfortable leaving!

January 17, 2013

Ice Storm Hits Clarksville

Tuesday night we experienced our very first ice storm.  We knew a storm was coming; but we didn't realize people were ACTUALLY worried about it until all the schools, day cares, etc were released early, and all the city and county offices closed early.  Soldiers were even released at 5:00pm because of the storm--and they NEVER get released early for weather.

I still wasn't thinking too much about it until I went to drop off the rental car we had (Nissan was attempting to fix the Xterra for the bagillionth time).  The lady who drove me to my car asked if we were prepared for the storm.  I said I thought we were.  She then told me that an ice storm is when it rains but it's so cold that whatever it hits freezes (tree branches, electrical lines, the ground, etc).  It will be so cold outside that the electrical lines and tree branches will snap.  She said that 15 years ago, a bad ice storm hit Clarksville and some people were without power for THREE weeks.

So what did I do...I stopped at Wal-Mart and bought four boxes of cereal and two things of milk.

And guess what.  We didn't even lose power.  But now we have a ton of delicious cereal.

January 16, 2013

Real Life Pretty Women...Pretty Aggies??

Yesterday night my mom sent me a link from twitter.  Yes, mom is on twitter.

The headline of this article reads:

"Dating Site Claims Berkeley, Davis Students 
Relying on 'Sugar Daddies' to Pay Tuition"

Basically Davis has experienced a 220% growth vs. Berkeley's 67% growth over the last year on the website seekingarrangement.com.

I guess with tuition costs on the rise, ya gotta do what ya gotta do, right?

January 13, 2013

lazy weekend.

We've been having a very lazy weekend around here.  I've been in bed the past two days with a terrible, TERRIBLE cold.  Grant had to participate in a military funeral yesterday in KY for a man who died of old age.  We've been reading lots and trying to stay dry with all the rain we've had here.

Clarksville has flash flood warnings for all of today and our power has already gone out once.

January 11, 2013

Guest Post: POTS & Pregnancy: A Case Study (from the patient)

No, I'm not pregnant.  There would be a much more exciting way for me to share that news with you.  But during October (yes, I know, this post is really late), it seemed like POTS and pregnancy were an important topic to cover...and since I haven't experienced this yet, I wanted to reach out to someone who has.  I realize that every pregnancy is different, but hope that this information might shed some light and tips for women with POTS.

This post was written by Hillary E. Schafer and she blogs over at
http://hopealways.wordpress.com.


***Guest Post*** 

Overview

Patient: Female, 24 years old, 3rd pregnancy (2 prior missed miscarriages resulting in D&C procedures) 
Pregnancy Dates: 06/27/2011-03/27/2012 
Patient Dx: Hyperadrenergic POTS*, Dysautonomia, Iron-Deficiency Anemia, Hypokalemia 
Prescription Medication taken prior to Pregnancy: Fludrocortisone, Lexapro, Clonazepam 
Prescription Medications taken while Pregnant: NONE 
Yrs with POTS** Dx: 2.5 
Yrs with Symptoms: 5 
Specialist Physicians Who Treated Patient During Pregnancy: High-Risk OB/GYN, Cardiologist, Neurologist 
**POTS secondary to *possible* Chiari 1 Malformation, Hereditary Autonomic Dysfunction, and/or Autoimmune Disease 

The Good

Overall, I felt okay during my pregnancy. I actually noticed an increase in my quality of life. I was able to work part-time during the course of pregnancy up until 3 days before I delivered. I was able to socialize a little and do some traveling during my pregnancy. 
I had no problems traveling by airplane while pregnant. 
While pregnant, my "flare-ups" never lasted longer than 48 hours. 
I didn't need to take any prescription medication while pregnant. 
I delivered a perfectly healthy baby girl full-term (39 weeks) weighing 7lbs, 3oz. and measuring 19 in. long. 
I delivered vaginally with no complications and no tearing. 
I had a 16-hour labor and then pushed for one hour. 
My delivery was medically "uneventful".  
No immediate complications following the delivery - I was released from the hospital after 48 hours with normal bloodwork and vital signs.  
I only gained about 25lbs during my pregnancy and lost it rather quickly following delivery.  

The Bad
The 1st trimester I experienced a significant increase in fatigue. This was helped with drinking coffee in moderation. 

 
The 2nd trimester (between 19-22 weeks) I experienced a few episodes of severe tachycardia that were uncontrollable. My doctors contemplated starting me on a low dose beta blocker if the tachycardia didn't resolve in a specific amount of time. However, after a few weeks the tachycardia diminished on it's own so no pharmaceutical intervention was required. (This time period is when there are a lot of blood-volume shifts in the pregnancy so an increase in HR is not uncommon during 20-24 weeks.)  

 
The 3rd trimester I experienced episodes of very low B.P. (i.e. 80s/40s) and a few "black out" episodes. Towards the end of my pregnancy these were monitored closely and I spent a few extra nights in the hospital prior to my delivery for my vitals to be observed.  

 
Overall, I experienced more heart palpitations throughout my pregnancy.  
I was perpetually dehydrated during my pregnancy. (Almost every urine test showed +1 Ketones signifying dehydration). No matter how much water I drank or how many times I got I.V. fluids in the E.R., the dehydration was very difficult to correct.  
I had complications with my epidural during labor & delivery -- it became unilateral and then stopped working completely no matter what position they put me in or how much medicine they gave me.
About 10 days post-partum I experienced a SEVERE relapse in my POTS/Dysautonomia. This was probably the sickest I have ever been since I first became ill. I was hospitalized for two weeks and routine tests/treatments were unhelpful. My TTT (Tilt Table Test) was still clearly positive for POTS. The only other abnormality was a 3mm herniation of my cerebellar tonsils into my foramen magnum - aka: Chiari 1 Malformation. This was the first time this was noted on my brain MRI. I have since followed up about my Chiari with a Chiari Specialist at the University of Chicago and continue to pursue this Dx as a possible cause to my POTS. (Childbirth can worsen Chiari symptoms due to the "bearing down" during vaginal delivery.) 

It took about two months for me to return to a "functional" (this is a relative term) quality of life. My POTS treatment now post-partum, is much different (and more effective) than my treatment prior to pregnancy. (Current Prescription Medications: Metoprolol Tartrate, Mestinon, Clonazepam, Low-Dose Naltrexone.)  

 
I now have a much better quality of life than I ever have since being sick but it has taken me months of trial-and-error, research, tests, and the help of a wonderful Neurologist to get to this point. I am still quite far from "normal" and may have a long journey ahead of me but I am determined to continue to learn more about my specific case and try new things to aid in my recovery.  

 
Tips for "Potsies" Who Are Pregnant (Or Are Considering Pregnancy):
Have a close and constant relationship with a High-Risk OB/GYN preferably one with experience in treating POTS patients. Help them help you by providing them with information and case studies.  
If you are very sick, consider a scheduled C-section at 37 weeks (if baby is healthy) to avoid possible exhaustion & relapse following a vaginal delivery.  
Stay well-hydrated and receive I.V. fluids frequently.  
Rest as much as you are able during and after your pregnancy. DO NOT over-exert yourself. Stay very conservative with your physical activity, if any at all (As this may have contributed to my relapse following delivery.)  
If delivering vaginally -- DO NOT PUSH until you have completely "labored down", meaning let your uterus do the work for you. It may take longer for you to actually deliver but it's much better than becoming exhausted or endangering yourself (and your baby) by pushing too much or too soon.
Treat Post-Partum Depression (PPD) as early as you feel any symptoms. It is not uncommon and treatment is especially critical to chronically ill patients.  
If you plan on getting an epidural for either vaginal delivery or c-section, consult with Anesthesiology about your condition prior to the birth. If they are unfamiliar with POTS patients advise them of the following:  Careful titration of phenylephrine (as opposed to ephedrine) would be preferable for the treatment of hypotension. The avoidance of epinephrine-containing local anaesthetics or agents that trigger tachycardia would also be advisable in POTS patients. 
Push fluids (normal saline with 5% dextrose) before, during, and after birth. 
An arterial line may be appropriate for better monitoring of BP fluctuations as hypotension is common with anesthesia.  
Consider giving C-section patients blood during or after procedure since POTS/Dysautonomia patients may already be hypovolemic.  
If pregnancy was extremely difficult, consider permanent birth-control options at time of, or following delivery to prevent further pregnancies.  

Counsel well with your Doctor about breastfeeding to see if it is a right fit for you. There are both pros and cons to breastfeeding in POTS patients. You should decide on and prepare for a plan prior to delivery. I breastfed/pumped for the first three weeks post-partum but felt that it may me more exhausted and caused more heart palpitations (probably due to the blouses of blood going from my uterus to my heart as breast feeding stimulates uterine contractions).  

 
POST-PARTUM care is CRITICAL for POTS patients!!! You should be able to stay in the hospital as long as you feel comfortable or as long as you need. Closely follow up with your specialists and do routine bloodwork on-time. REST as much as possible and get help from family members and friends to care for your baby. Eat very healthy foods and hydrate well. Start medications (including oral contraceptives) as early as you need them (if you are not breastfeeding). Continue prenatal vitamins. You are clinically post-partum for the first year after you deliver so make sure to inform all of your doctors of your pregnancy and delivery, even if it has been several months since the birth.

Keep record of your own case of POTS and Pregnancy and share it with us so that we can gain and share more knowledge on this important topic.

Remember, childbirth is one of the hardest and most severe traumas a woman's body will experience. Do not be discouraged if it takes you a while to feel your "normal" again. Do not be discouraged if you suffer a relapse during or after your pregnancy. There are so many changes going on in your body, the unpredictable is expected. This is why you need to prepare as best as possible. Get as much rest as you need and do NOT feel guilty about it. You MUST take care of yourself if you want to be able to care for your child. 

Also, some patients may want to consider Cardiac Rehabilitation (with an OK from your doctor) prior to getting pregnant.  

 
Conclusion
Take your time in deciding whether or not to conceive. Having a child (and subsequently raising that child) is NO easy task. Pregnancy can be accomplished successfully in patients with POTS. Close monitoring of a specialist physician is highly recommended and C-Sections may be more appropriate for sicker patients or those patients with Chiari Malformations or other co-morbid conditions that affect autonomic control.

Case Study Links (Please Read and Share with Your OB/GYN):
http://bja.oxfordjournals.org/content/97/2/196.full

Disclaimer: Hillary is sharing her personal experience.  All advice given here is her own. You should always do your own research and consult with your doctor before decisions about your medical care.

January 10, 2013

waiting...

Time always moves SO much slower when you're waiting for something to happen.  When we're home in California, time moves a million miles a minute.  There is never enough time to see all the people we want to or to do all the things we want to do.  20 days flew by and before we knew it we were back in Clarksville.

And of course, now that we're back waiting on people to make some decisions and send some paperwork, time has literally stopped moving.  In fact, it feels like if it was moving any slower it would be moving backwards.

January 8, 2013

rape is never funny.

I don't even know where to begin.  I saw an article link posted on the Sexversations facebook page.  I've worked with Becca and Kelly off and on over the last few years through GASA and they always post articles worth reading.  This article will make you feel sick.  It will make you want to cry.  But everyone needs to read this article.

Steubenville is on the border of Ohio and West Virginia.  And one night a girl went to a party, had a little too much to drink, and passed out.  That should have been the end of her night.  But this article tells us that she was assaulted repeatedly by two make high school students.  They ever took (kidnapped) her to other parties where they assaulted her again.  They took photos throughout the night which were then distributed.  This poor victim was violated in every way possible.

But it's not bad enough that she was raped. And kidnapped. And it's not enough that she has a long road ahead of her.  Because someone thought it was funny enough to make a video about it.  This video was supposedly filmed the night after the assault took place.

Disclaimer: This video is disturbing.  Not visually, but verbally.  Both the content and the language.


Rape is never funny.  The comments in this video are degrading, offensive, and horrible.  I have a hard enough time hearing someone make a 'rape' joke.  But 12 minutes of video with rape and death jokes--that's unbearable.  The bystander effect is in full force here.  There is a room full of people and only one person (maybe two--difficult to differentiate) speaks up.  At least one person in that room knew what had happened and the conversation that was being recorded were wrong.  He says so repeatedly.  When the one friend talks about how that could be his daughter some day, Nodianos doesn't even bat an eye.  Thinking that maybe future children is too far off of a comparison, the friend tries to use his little sister as an example.  Still no realization.

When I watch Michael Nodianos speak about rape and the victim, I can't help but think that I hope his future wife sees this video before she says yes to a proposal.  And I hope she runs the other direction.  I don't care how he was raised; he obviously doesn't respect women.  And yes, I realize that he's drunk. But that doesn't excuse the words coming out of his mouth.  And yes, I believe people can change.  Maybe Nodianos and his friends will walk away from this experience realizing that major crimes were committed by the assaulters and that their personal decisions to make jokes about the victim were in very poor form.

I hope that we forget about the boys who committed these heinous crimes.  And I hope that we forget about the boys that thought rape was funny.  I hope that this victim becomes a survivor.  I hope she knows that this was not her fault and that she did nothing wrong.  She didn't ask to be violated.  I hope we learn that when something wrong is being said or done, we should must speak up.   Speaking up is not a choice; it is a responsibility.  I hope people make better choices and that good decisions prevail over terrible, life altering decisions.  I hope that people remember that rape is never funny.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am not an investigator. I am just a person who knows that no person should ever be violated. The purpose of this post is to spread awareness about sexual assault.

January 4, 2013

Lots of NEW Things.

2012 was a roller coaster of a year.  I could recap everything that happened, but you already read this blog so you know.

I can already feel that 2013 is going to be filled with lots of great and wonderful NEW things.

We have a move back to California lingering.  Just waiting on Army paperwork to finalize things.

This move obviously means new jobs for both Grant and I.

New relationships, new outings, new experiences.

This year is going to be filled with our choices.  Things we decide we want to happen instead of waiting for the Army to tell us what will happen.

2013 is going to be the year we've been waiting for.

But 2012 ended with a bang.  We got to spend 20 lovely days at home with family and friends.  It always feels like there isn't enough time to see everyone and do everything that we want to.  But we got some major things accomplished.

We got to see the Giant's World Series TrophIES!


We baked some apple pies using Grandma's recipe.


We spent the day with Grandpa and did a whole puzzle!

Gordon took his last final and graduated from USC!

We ate sushi and went to the symphony.


We celebrated our one year wedding anniversary.


We celebrate Christmas Eve as one big happy family.


We celebrated Christmas.

We spent the day in Napa with Grant's parents.

We had lunch at the country club with Grandma.

We spent NYE with Scott and Lindsay and the conversation cards. (Remember last year...)

 
It was a wonderful break that went by way too quickly.  But hopefully we'll be home again before too long.
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