Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Let's Talk About Arthritis. Again.

Next week marks one year since I gave Emma her first injection of Enbrel and we started getting her arthritis under control. It's been an awesome year. We got to wean off of her oral NSAID. We went to physical therapy and saw greater range of motion in her affected joints. We entered the world of medicated remission and we are still there!

Just look how much she has grown in a year. (Okay... 16 months, to be exact.)
Smiling through the pain.

My beautiful, big girl!
The first picture is from June 2012. That would be a month after onset of disease but before any treatment aside from naproxen. See her big, swollen knee?

The second picture was taken last week. You can't quite see it, but her knee is normal now and has been for some time.

Hooray for modern medicine and modern day miracles!

If she continues to be symptom free for two more months, we'll stop her meds and see what happens. I'm hoping we make it that far. I'm hoping we stop the medication and the arthritis stays away.

I'm delighted for my little girl, but there are kids out there who are not so lucky. Em was diagnosed quickly and we were able to start aggressive treatment early. Most children go for years without diagnosis and by the time the doctors figure out what is going on, these kids have permanent damage. We have a friend whose JA was quiet for months. Then while fighting a stomach flu, her immune system started attacking her little joints again and they became swollen, angry, and red. There are children whose own bodies attack their eyes, heart, lungs, and muscles. Juvenile Arthritis can kill these kids. It is horrible. I hate this disease.

Yet, it appears that JA is Emma's battle to fight in this life. I hope she endures it well and grows stronger because of her trials. I pray that her disease stays quiet for a while. I feel greedy to ask for complete remission; all I ask is for a few years so she can know comfort, peace, and a pain-free childhood without Mommy giving her injections every week.

Wouldn't that be nice?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Going Green!

During my senior year of college I had a roommate who used biodegradable dish soap and cleaning products. That same year I learned that a woman I knew through church wouldn't use pesticide flea control on her dog. She is a cancer survivor and has chosen to remove as many toxins from her life as possible.

None of this made sense to me. Why would it? I lived on poptarts, Oreos, frozen taquitos, pizza, and cereal. I didn't really know there were organic and all natural products out there and I didn't understand the bigger picture behind why people were choosing them.

Now, I'm starting to understand.

I don't let my kids have Red40 and try to stay away from most artificial colors in Emma's food. (I still eat the junk, but old habits die hard.) I haven't used fabric softener or scented laundry products in so long that the smell of other people's highly scented laundry literally makes me sick to my stomach. Emma is used to eating natural applesauce, so when we go out to restaurants and the kid's meal comes with high fructose corn syrup applesauce, she doesn't like it and won't eat it.

I'd like to go all organic with our food, but I hate the higher prices and am currently too lazy to become a coupon super-mom. I think I will with time. For now, I'm introducing organic and natural products little by little. As we finish one item, I'll replace it with a healthier, natural choice. For example, Emma and Liam get natural shampoo and soap, while I indulge in the mainstream stuff. I use "green" cleaner for the shower, sink, and counter, but my toilet gets nasty, straight up bleach. Once my bleach bottles (purchased in bulk from Costco) are all used up, I'll try to figure out something else to use.
Looking a little green?

So what happened to me? Why am I even attempting this change and repeatedly resisting the urge to buy those poptarts?

I think it is partly because of Em's arthritis. It seems to me that autoimmune diseases, cancers, asthma, and Autism are more prevalent these days. Why? I can't help but wonder about all of the chemicals in the air we breathe, in the water we drink and food we eat, and in the clothes, makeup, and shampoo we put against our skin.

That is why I'm trying to change things and hoping to limit my family's exposure to the byproducts of our industrial world. And I totally understand if you think I'm a little bit weird.

Wish me luck!

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Gray Hairs Are Multiplying

The past month has been eventful.

At the time of my last post, I was dealing with my first ever case of mastitis. That sucked because fevers make me miserable and a miserable Sarah is not fun to be around. Thankfully, antibiotics saved the day and life improved rapidly. Then, three weeks later I had a clogged duct that was a little bit painful and extremely annoying. In case you wondered, breastfeeding isn't easy, people.

I said goodbye to my best-kitty-friend on September 4th. That was sad, but I was well prepared. It was actually a relief to send my sweet Winter off to a happier, healthier place. She was nineteen years old and had lived a very nice, long life.

Last week I returned to my part-time work, which was good but bittersweet. I'm glad to be back in the swing of things and see all my wonderful coworkers, but I miss my babies. Thankfully, they're well cared for while we're apart.
I love these monkeys!

Emma continues to perfect the art of being a two year old, which gives me the opportunity to perfect the art of issuing Time Outs. She can be the most charming, adorable sweetheart one minute, and the next she is a screaming, spinning Tasmanian Devil whose sole purpose in life is to raise my blood pressure. I'm sure that her cranky rebellion is fueled in part by her perpetual sleepiness. You see, Miss Emma has decided that 5:45A.M. is an acceptable wake up time, regardless of when she went to bed the night before. Please don't tell me that she just needs less sleep than she use to, because the dark circles under her eyes say differently. The good news is that she's still napping well in the middle of the day (*Knock on wood!*)  and we're surviving.

Today, Liam is two months old! He weighs 10 pounds 8 ounces according to my baby scale. (It really was my baby scale, too. I can't believe my parents kept it for so long!) He is still a wonderful, mellow baby. He cries when he is hungry, tired, or in need of attention. Once you give him what he wants, he's quiet and happy again. He spits up a lot and it's a little bit gross. My mom calls him Mount Vesuvius. We use receiving blankets as burp cloths to cover a greater surface area and the poor kid always wears a bib. Thankfully, my hair is short, my carpet is cheap, and my couch wipes clean easily. He sleeps like a champ. His smiles are heartwarming. He has incredible blue eyes. I am madly in love with my little man.