Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Goodness of Others

This Christmas is different than any before.

Barry is a union carpenter. That means he gets paid the same union wage and benefits regardless of the construction company for which he works. He refers to some of his coworkers as "company guys" because they are able to stay employed with one company through the good and bad. Others switch between companies because they lose their jobs at the completion of a project and move along to where ever work is available. Try as he might, Barry has not really become a "company guy." As a result, when the work at his job site slows down and the company's new projects have not yet begun, Barry gets laid off.

This year Barry was laid off on November 7th.

Three days later our bishop approached Barry to inform us that an anonymous group wanted to adopt our family for Christmas. The bishop needed to know if we would accept their generosity.

I don't know how or why, but a local medical group reached out to our bishop to ask if anyone in our congregation could use help this holiday. Bishop prayerfully considered and felt strongly that he should submit our family's name. The group's spokesman also carefully pondered and agreed that we were to be the recipients of their generous goodness. All of this happened before Barry was laid off.

At first, we didn't want to accept. How could we, when we know so many families who are more in need than ours?!? We're certainly not rich, but we get by well enough. We have food and money in reserve because we know that these lulls between jobs happen unexpectedly. However, the bishop felt that this was all inspired by the Lord, so we trusted him and agreed.

The first gift showed up several weeks ago. I asked for a holiday door mat and it was given to me. I love it.

The remaining gifts were delivered by our bishop on December 21st. He brought three large boxes full of presents. Barry and I were overwhelmed. On December 23rd the bishop called to say that one more box of gifts had arrived, so he brought that over as well. Barry and I were overwhelmed some more.

Tonight, Christmas Eve, I sorted through all of the gifts and placed them beneath our Christmas tree. I started crying. I can tell that everything I wrote on our little wish list was given to us, and then some. The kids don't need all of this! They would have been happy with a few presents, but they will be excited to see so many! Knowing that people went above and beyond for my family, (Who they don't even know!) touches my heart very deeply. It's a good thing I have lots of tissues.

We could have had a fine Christmas on our own, but it would have involved fewer gifts and more stress. I would have worried about money and our savings account the whole time.  Barry was out of work for over a month and the job he has now may last only a week. I'm glad I didn't spend the past month biting at my fingernails and cursing the holidays.

Christmas is about Christ and about the gift of the Atonement that he gave to all mankind. Christmas is a time to give and love freely, as Christ did through his life. Christmas is a time to celebrate our blessings in this life and our blessings to come in the next. I love Christmas and I love that my precious family has been so richly blessed this year by others who embrace the true meaning of Christmas.

Thank you, Bishop, for listening to the Spirit and for encouraging us to accept this kindness. And thank you, Santa's anonymous helpers, for giving so generously to my little family and for blessing me with the knowledge that My Heavenly Father knows our needs and loves us. 

Merry Christmas, Everyone!!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Love My Wood Burning Stove

I feel like every blog post I write could be titled, "How Is It (insert month here) Already?!?!?" Seriously. Where is the time going? How is 2013 nearly over?
Jump! Jump! (Thanksgiving)
The fact remains that it is now December. It is cold this week. I am very grateful for the memory foam topper that I bought for our bed several months ago. It makes my ridiculous Sleep Number Bed (DON'T buy one of those!) so much more comfortable and cozy on cold nights. I also love our wood burning stove and Barry's uncanny ability to acquire free fire wood. *When I first moved from Ohio to California I thought I was so much tougher than California kids because I wore shorts every day for a year. Clearly, I have acclimated.*

In his great-great grandpa's chair.
Liam is 16 months old. He is getting so big. He has amazing conversations with me and I can almost understand what he is saying. I can't wait until he switches over to English. He has several words that he uses consistently, and he definitely gets his point across with Baby Babble, hand gestures, and crying, but I'm still really looking forward to actual talking! In the past month, Sir Liam has gained his first molar tooth and is working on his second. He continues to eat like a Hobbit and therefore seems to weigh a ton. He has started climbing onto furniture. He's too short to climb onto the couch on his own, so he frequently dumps the contents of a toy box all over the floor, carries the empty container to the couch, and uses it as his personal step stool. Sometimes I find him standing on top of the cats' scratching post at the foot of Emma's bed. It's a good thing he's so cute, because he's going to give me a lot of gray hairs.
Liam & his great-uncle in matching outfits!
Emma is stoked for Christmas time. She helped me set up the tree and other decorations the Saturday after Thanksgiving. She is quite bummed that I am not going to actually decorate the tree this year. (I don't feel like decorating only the top half, and I don't want to keep an eye on Liam and my ornaments every second of the day.) Her evil arthritis is still quiet, and her weekly shots of Enbrel are going amazingly well. Emma is great with other kids and loves making friends. It's so cute to see her holding hands and attempting to guide her younger friends around. Check out my friend's blog to see some photographic proof of this cuteness at the zoo. I love that Em has the sass to tell the rambunctious boys in nursery "No!" when they misbehave. Bossy girl, just like her mama.

Barry & I are crazy as usual. He was laid off about a month ago, which is not unusual between construction jobs, but still annoying. The good news is he has been very busy working for friends (and strangers that he meets in hardware stores - I'm not joking.) who have fix-it projects at their houses. I'm doing well, just busy chasing kids around, going to Zumba twice a week, working once or twice a week, and running my household like a well-oiled machine. We're rechecking my blood work at the end of the month and I'm interested to see if my thyroid function has dropped further because I have really been lacking energy lately. I'm currently on a low dose of levothyroxine (replacing my thyroid hormone) but I don't think it's doing much. Oh well. Everyone has their challenges in life.

Happy Almost Christmas everyone! I hope you enjoy this fabulous time of year. I'm looking forward to some trips around town to look at lights, our annual visit to Deacon Dave's, and an evening enjoying the lights and music at the Oakland Temple!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Secret Fear

Liam is 15 months old now.

Do you know that Emma was 15 months old when her arthritis showed up and broke my heart and changed my world?

I know my kids are very different and will have very different struggles in life, but that doesn't quiet the little, nagging fear in the back of my mind that Liam is going to wake up one day with a stiff, swollen joint. Compared to an average child (Whatever that means!), there is a slightly increased chance of my son developing Juvenile Arthritis, because autoimmune diseases tend to run in families.

I'm a worrier and have been since I was a little kid, so it's only natural that I worry about this evil disease affecting my children. From what I gather, most JA parents find themselves checking their healthy kids' joints from time to time because we just can't help but worry. I know I'm not the only one.

So far, all is well with little Liam. He walks everywhere, has eight teeth, loves food, and definitely ate his weight in watermelon today. He has some separation anxiety when I leave him with other people. It makes me a little sad to hear him cry when I leave him, but it also makes me feel special to know that he really does enjoy having me around. Liam loves our cats, his sister, going outside, his daddy, and just about every other detail of life. He also enjoys throwing the occasional tantrum. I tell him "no" and he cries out and plops himself down hard. Then he either folds in half and puts his big head onto his little feet, or flops backwards and lies down. I try not to let him know that such behavior is actually incredibly cute. I'm blessed that he is mine.

Emma is doing really well, also. She got a really flattering haircut a few weeks ago that makes her look so grown up. I love it. I love her to pieces. She is so brave when it comes to her weekly injections, yet she has recently decided to be scared of the dark. She asks me a million questions a day, often about song lyrics, or why a character in a movie acted in a certain way. I'm grateful that she's my girl.

I'm looking forward to this wonderful month of November. Our family had a happy October. We especially loved the pumpkin patch, Halloween costumes, and trick-or-treating. Speaking of which... Emma is asleep and Barry isn't home, so I need to go dispose of some candy! (Shhh!!! Don't tell them!)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

14 Months Old

I'm a few days late... but Liam hit the 14 month mark this week.
 He is a fun kid. He is walking more and more each day, gaining balance, practicing his ability to change direction and stay on course. It's adorable. He is fearless, too. If he can get his knee onto the top of a toy or piece of furniture, he will climb it and stand, and feel terribly proud of himself before he falls. At the park this week, he found great joy in climbing the little play structure and launching himself head first on his tummy down the slide. I love that he trusts me to catch him every time.
If I am sitting on the floor, Liam will sit in my lap. It may be for a brief moment, it may be for a few minutes while he plays with a toy or looks at a book. Regardless of how long he stays, I derive so much joy from the fact that he wants to be close to me. He gives precious little snuggles from time to time, also. There are few things more heart-warming than a Liam Hug.

He has six teeth, three on top and three on bottom. He likes to try to put on shoes. He goes crazy for bananas and apples. He enjoys brushing his teeth, but doesn't enjoy it when I brush his teeth. He loves to play with balls, wear hats, as well as put any and every object on his head and pretend it's a hat.

Liam screams, cries, and clings to me when I leave him with my good friend once each week. It breaks my heart, but his crying is short-lived. All I have to do is get out of sight, and he calms down, thank goodness.

My little boy is truly growing into a little boy. It is wonderful to observe. I hope I get to enjoy his warmth in my life for a very, very long time.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Would You Like To Learn More About Evil Arthritis?

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." -The Usual Suspects (1995)

Emma's arthritis is nice and quiet. Beautifully quiet. Too quiet. In a matter of a few short weeks, her summer flare up was reduced to nothing. Her joints are not swollen, stiff, or painful. There is not even a hint of a limp to her gait. I have been happily lulled into complacency once again.
On the outside, she is a typical three and a half year old. She loves to run, jump, climb, and squeal at the top of her lungs. She adores her baby brother, but does not adore sharing toys with him. She is stubborn and sassy, she is loving and kind.

On the inside, her body is still a battlefield. Emma's immune system wants to attack her joints. Thanks to her weekly Enbrel injection, a sort of stand-off has been achieved. The perfect balance of inflammatory proteins and anti-inflammatory proteins in her body are keeping her immune system in check, for now. I hope and pray that it stays that way for some time. That's really all I can do.

Did you know that Juvenile Arthritis can also cause inflammation in the eyes? It's called uveitis and it scares the living daylights out of me.

Emma sees an ophthalmologist every six months to check for uveitis. As with inflammation in her joints, if uveitis goes untreated, it can cause permanent damage.

She saw her eye doctor last week and, as with every previous visit, he saw no signs of active inflammation. However, he did see a tiny sign of past inflammation. What. The. Crap? I'm hoping he was seeing things, that he is somehow wrong, but my gut tells me to trust this man. If that is the case, then Emma had inflammation in her eye sometime in the past six months.

Some JA medications treat uveitis, some do not. Uveitis does not magically go away on it's own. Methotrexate (mtx) does treat the eyes, and Emma was on that medication for a very long time. She stopped mtx at the end of February. It is possible that the naproxen she took for her flaring joints this summer actually helped her eyes, but she isn't on that anymore, either. The medication she takes now (Enbrel) does not treat uveitis at all.

So... I'm taking her to ophthalmology for her recheck in four months instead of six this time.  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Butterfly-Shaped Endocrine Gland

My Thyroid.

It sits in my neck, surrounding my larynx and trachea, silently secreting hormones that control every cell in my body's metabolism. That's a pretty big responsibility for such a little body part in such a vulnerable place.

As previously mentioned, I had some minor health issues this summer. (I'm feeling fine now, thank you.) Blood tests revealed lots of antibodies that prove I have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. That means my immune system is attacking my thyroid and preventing it from adequately producing it's hormones.

I saw a quote recently that said,
"Autoimmune Disease: Because only I am tough enough to kick my own @$$."
Enough said.

I went to an endocrinologist last month. He felt my neck, looked at my thyroid with ultrasound, confirmed that I have Hashimoto's, STUCK NEEDLES(4!) IN MY NECK to aspirate a nodule on my thyroid and make sure it's not cancerous (It is not cancer, thank goodness.), and agreed to let me wait to start any treatment until rechecking my thyroid levels.
Needles In Neck: The Aftermath

Since then, I have been considering eliminating foods from my diet. Take a look at this crazy diet! I get pumped up about it, then stress about it, then give up on the idea, then despair. I stopped eating sugar for two weeks straight. Then I indulged. I'm limiting gluten, but eat a sandwich almost every day for lunch. I firmly believe that we are what we eat, but sometimes I really like to eat cake...

Who doesn't like to eat birthday cake?!?
Also, please note that for the past six months I have been losing weight intentionally, but man, it sure was easy. I am at my happy, pre-babies weight right now and I am trying really hard to stay here, but I am still slowly losing. Hypothyroidism (Under-productive thyroid... which I have!) slows down metabolism. Weight gain or inability to lose weight is a common symptom. Why am I having the opposite problem?!?!? How can I possibly afford to give up gluten and sugar at a time like this?!?!

Moving on...

I had my blood drawn this week and it shows that my thyroid function is slightly low. My endocrinologist is starting me on thyroid medication. I'll pick it up tomorrow. I'm hoping that it balances out these hormones and helps me get some energy back into my life. Maybe my hair won't feel so dry. Maybe I won't be so cold in air conditioned buildings all the time.

Or maybe I have no energy because I have two little kids and interrupted sleep. Maybe my hair is dry from my recent switch to "green" shampoo. I've always gotten cold easily, so I doubt I can blame my thyroid for that one. Maybe I'll try a little bit harder at that auto immune paleo diet, after all.

At least this guy is supportive, no matter what.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

How Is It (almost) September Already???

My little Liam is 13 months old. He is so much fun and has quite the outgoing personality.

Tooth #5 is currently making it's appearance.

He folds his hands for prayers.
Cutest. Thing. Ever! See:

He loves his daddy.
This kid is a climber and likes to get into and onto anything. Thankfully, he hasn't attempted to climb out of his crib yet. *Knock on wood!*

He loves to play peek-a-boo.

Liam has taken his first independent steps this month. He can walk about four steps (from the couch to me) and that's it. Walking is hard work, but he's getting closer to mastering it and I'm sure he'll be running around in no time.

 We switched him from formula to cow's milk (I nurse him, too.) at the beginning of the month and it went fairly well. We had to warm it up for him at first, but now he'll drink it cold. He will suck it down fast from a bottle, but only sip at in in a cup.
How I keep him from crawling around in public bathrooms!
I love everything about him. 

My Emma-Bean is doing really well. Her arthritis is under control, thanks to Enbrel. Starting this week, she will go to a preschool/daycare one day a week while I'm at work. I'm a little bit excited and a lot bit nervous. The school I found seems great, but I've always left her with friends before. Eek! It will be a new experience for everyone... wish us luck!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Keeping It In The Family

"Plbbb to you, Enbrel!"
*Plbbb is how I spell the sound of a raspberry.
We restarted Emma's Enbrel injections last week.

The anticipation of the shot stresses her out more than the actual injection. She puts up resistance to sitting down and holding still, but eventually, she lets me poke her while she waves her magic wand and chants, "It doesn't hurt. It doesn't hurt." Both last week and this week she informed me, afterwards, that it actually did not hurt. This proves that, not only is she tough as nails, she has sufficient super powers to make a toy wand perform magic.

A couple of weeks ago Emma was having good days and bad days. Some mornings she hobbled to my room after waking. Others, she woke up screaming for me to come carry her because she couldn't straighten her knee at all. Sometimes she just crawled around for the first fifteen minutes of her day. Even on good mornings there was a limp and an inability to put all of her weight on that stiff, swollen knee. Last weekend she had two very good days in a row. Then we started her Enbrel and every morning of the past week has been beautiful. There has been no screaming, no crawling, and very little swelling or stiffness.

One injection. One tiny, little, 0.5mLs of Enbrel and the kid is almost back to normal. I love this stuff. I also really hate the stuff. *Sigh* I guess this is just our life now.

That light blue range on the left is normal. That 12.35 was me.
I haven't been feeling well since the weekend of the JA Conference. I'm having little dizzy moments, am beyond exhausted some days, occasionally have a swollen feeling in my throat, and experience shortness of breath and a tightness in my chest at random times. I went to my doctor and had some blood work done. The results showed a very elevated TSH level. (That's Thyroid stimulating hormone - it comes from my brain and tells my thyroid to produce hormones.) That means my brain was essentially shouting at my thyroid to make more of it's hormone, called T4. Two days later my doctor ordered more tests. This time my TSH was at the high end of normal and my T4 was at the low end of normal. Well! That was a quick bounce in hormone levels! The really not so super thing is that I have tons of antibodies against my thyroid.

Antibodies are what our immune systems make to recognize foreign bad guys in our bodies, like bacteria or viruses, so that our good, fighting cells knows what to attack. My body has made lots of antibodies against something in my thyroid that is needed to make thyroid hormone. This means my own immune system is attacking my thyroid and preventing the proper production of T4. Do you understand what I'm saying? I'm saying my problem is AUTOIMMUNE. Emma's arthritis is an autoimmune disease. It's like we're related or something.

My doctor thinks I have acute Hashimoto's Disease, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid that results in hypothyroidism. He referred me to an endocrinologist, who I get to meet tomorrow. I'm hoping this specialist answers all my questions, digs a little deeper with me, and helps me get everything figured out so I can go back to feeling normal. I'll keep you posted as I learn more.

I want to say a super huge THANK YOU to my friends and my amazing Mommy who have given me extra love and support the past couple of weeks. Having a little kid with a chronic illness who I have to stab on a weekly basis is emotionally difficult. Feeling like crap physically on top of said emotional strain gets to be really draining. I'm glad I'm surrounded by caring people.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Big ONE!


(Photo by Emma)
It's hard to believe that an entire year has gone by as a mother of two. My children are my world. I am so lucky to be able to spend almost every day with them, raising them, teaching them, and learning from them. Liam's presence in our family is a tangible blessing. He elicits smiles from everyone he meets. He is his sister's number one fan and daily playmate. He is my light and my joy. He is his father's bouncing boy.

Here is a snapshot of life with Liam at one year old:
  • He crawls faster than a speeding bullet. 
  • He cruises along the couch almost as quickly. 
  • He loves opening and closing containers, pulling items out of boxes/buckets and replacing them, and chewing on anything and everything. 
  • His third tooth just broke through the gums two days ago.
  • He typically wakes up three times a night. (It's crazy. I know.)
  • He takes two lovely naps each day. 
  • He wears size 3 diapers. 
  • He loves to wave "Bah-Bah" out doors, regardless of if someone is coming or going. 
  • He says "DaDa!" when he sees his daddy. "Dah" for dog and down. "Ca" for cat. He whines and cries for me. Figures. 
  • He recently started shaking his head and saying "Uh-uh." Sometimes he really means to nod his head and say "Uh-huh!" but he hasn't figured out the difference between the two.
  • He loves to eat. His food, your food, my food. He even shows interest in the cat's food, but I try not to encourage that sort of behavior. 
  • When I talk on the phone, his face lights up and he gets very excited. 
  • He loves clapping. 
  • His favorite song is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. 
  • He is obsessed with fans and electrical cords. I wish he had a safer obsession. 
  • He says, "Bah" for book, but doesn't sit still long enough for me to read more than a few pages to him at a time.
  • He loves to hug his stuffed puppy (from Emma) and pet it's ear when I put him in his crib.
  • I bet he weighs 22 pounds, but I'll know for sure at his doctor's appointment this afternoon. 
Basically, we love him to pieces, our lives wouldn't be complete without him, and it has been amazing to watch him grow from a new baby into a sweet, little boy this past year.
Birthday kiss attack!!!
"Are you eating without me??!"

August 1, 2012

August 1, 2013

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!!!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Juvenile Arthritis Conference 2013

We went to Anaheim to attend our first Juvenile Arthritis Conference.

It's was awesome in so many ways. We hung out with one of my favorite people, Tanya, who happens to live down the street and around the corner from our hotel. We went to Disneyland, twice. I met face-to-face with amazing fellow JA moms who have lifted me and supported me online for the past two years. Barry connected with other dads. (For me, that was the most worthwhile part of our whole conference experience.) We connected with new JA families. We slept on comfortable beds.

The experience was less than ideal in many ways also. Liam had wicked diarrhea the entire time, which led to many disgusting messes, including a particularly memorable experience at Disneyland. We kept Liam with us during the conference sessions instead of leaving him in the childcare program where he could potentially infect other people's babies. Therefore, Barry and I paid less attention to the presenters and material, so I think we learned less than all of the parents who were attending without a wiggly, almost one year old to deal with. Said child also slept poorly, which meant we slept poorly. Also, we didn't have enough free time to just hang out and talk with the people we were meeting.

Almost all of the "negatives" have to do with Liam. Let me be clear: I AM MADLY IN LOVE WITH MY SON! However, we will not be attending another JA Conference until he is a little bit older and more adaptable. (And hopefully diarrhea-free.) I want to go again in a few years so my kids can connect with other kids who live this and "get it." I don't want Miss Emma or Sir Liam to feel alone, and I know that the conference is a great blessing for kids with Juvenile Arthritis, for their siblings, and for their parents!

Behold! The Photos!

I hope all my JA friends who want to go are able to make it to Keystone, CO for next year's conference. Maybe we'll meet up with you in 2015?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


I spoke too soon in regards to Emma's arthritis. Things are not back to normal, though they sure looked that way for five of the past seven days.

Yesterday she woke up crying for me to carry her because she didn't think she could walk. She was stiff and painful, but not swollen. This morning she awoke and gently hobbled out of bed without a complaint, but I could see the stiffness in her slightly inflamed right knee.

Her rheumatologist referred to it as "Darthritis" today. How right she is. This stuff is evil. Doctor confirmed that there is active arthritis in that knee. Her left ankle may also be involved, but we can't be sure because it isn't painful or stiff. After her initial onset, that ankle has been thicker than the other, so that may be all we're seeing now.

So what do we do? We watch and wait. Emma will get her maximum dose of Naproxen, twice a day, for the next three weeks until we see her doctor again.

At that point, if it's still just the one joint involved, Dr. S. will recommend a joint injection. I'm not too thrilled about that idea. Emma would have to go under anesthesia to have cortisone injected into the knee joint. The benefits: localized treatment as opposed to systemic medication. The risks: anesthesia, the injection might not even work, and did I mention anesthesia?

If more joints are involved, we'll start back on the old regimen of methotrexate and Enbrel injections.  The benefits: we know she responds well. The risks: a suppressed immune system, and who knows what else.

I'm praying that Naproxen will take care of this entirely, and in three weeks, Emma will have no joints involved. Pray with me. Send your positive energy, thoughts, and vibes. Please.

That tongue! (Cutting with her left hand!)
When all of this started two years ago, it was horrible. Emma was so painful, so obviously stiff all day long, it broke my heart. Then, we were lulled into a deceptively peaceful time of no symptoms. I am beyond grateful for that year and a half of quiet joints, but I hate that I got so used to it. I hoped that life could stay like that forever.

This time is different. Emma is not experiencing the horrible symptoms of her initial flare. So far, it is only a brief time each morning that she is stiff or painful, but the rest of the day is fine. I don't know if I should feel angry that this is happening at all, or grateful that it is so mild this time around.

I am emotionally drained. I am saddened. I know that I will get to a place where I will hope again and believe in a pain-free forever for my child, but I am not in such a place today.

Here's a little Fiona Apple to get my point across:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Little Liam is getting BIG!

11 months old already. This is wild and crazy.

Liam, my main man, is cheerful, friendly, and outgoing. He does cry and has stranger anxiety if I'm not with him when someone new shows up, but that's not so bad.

His ridiculous army crawl has improved drastically in the past month. He has mastered it and moves around the entire house at high speeds. When he is on hard floors he actually picks his little tummy up and crawls on his knees like a normal baby, but that's a new development, so he goes really slowly. We'll see if he makes knee-crawling a part of his regular routine.

Last week he started pulling himself up to standing and has just about perfected that trick. For most of last week he was so obsessed with standing that it was keeping him from falling asleep because he simply had to stand in his crib. I'm hoping we're past that.

He wakes multiple times in the night, but Emma did too until she was weaned, so I'm not expecting big changes any time soon.

He still only has one tooth, still drools all the time, and is cute as can be.

He waves, says the word "up", and loves music. He adores his big sister, she always makes him laugh. He pulls his hair and ears when he is tired. He sits and plays with toys by himself like a little angel. He is especially fond of playing with balls, so maybe there are some sports in his future?

Liam is becoming really good at feeding himself little pieces of food. He LOVES string cheese, all fruit, including raspberries, pears, and watermelon. Kidney beans are acceptable, but he'd prefer to suck down a pouch of pureed fruits and vegetables. He hasn't quite figured out how to drink out of a sippy cup - he sucks out some water and then spits most of it down his front. I'm okay with that, especially since we're experiencing a heat wave right now.

He is currently rolling around on the floor and crawling all over me in an attempt to get some attention. I'd better go.

Friday, June 28, 2013

FLARE Numero Uno.

Last weekend my nightmares became a reality... Emma had an arthritis flare.
In case you are unaware, she has had no signs of active arthritis for a year and a half. We stopped all arthritis medications at the end of April and she has been in unmedicated remission.

Last week, on four separate mornings, Emma complained of her right knee hurting shortly after waking up. (Morning stiffness and pain are common symptoms of arthritis, and her right knee was involved previously.) I examined her closely, stretched her leg, watched for a limp, but everything was okay. I decided to keep an eye on things.

Last weekend we were with Barry's step-dad's family at Lake Tahoe. It was lovely. Emma had a blast playing with cousins, but nothing unusual happened. Then, at 12:30A.M. on Sunday, she woke and we walked down the hall to the bathroom. Correction: I walked. She limped. Her knee was swollen, hot, and painful. When we settled back into bed I didn't sleep for crap. At 6:30A.M. when we woke for the day, the knee was still a mess. I took this photo.
June 23, 2013
Emma's right knee (on the left in the picture) is obviously swollen. Poor baby. However, in true JA kid fashion, once she got moving and warmed up for the day, she was comfortable and pain-free. We drove home that night and the three and a half hours of sitting in the car made her stiff again, so she limped into the house. I cried. I gave her Naproxen (an oral, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, AKA Aleve) and tucked her into bed.

Monday was a new day! She woke up feeling much more comfortable with less swelling, thank heaven! Labs were drawn and her blood work came back relatively normal. Her ESR (which indicates inflammation) was up from 9 to 20mm/hr. Normal is anywhere from 0 to 20mm/hr so she's still in the normal range, though just barely.

I continued giving her Naproxen twice a day and things returned completely back to normal by Wednesday. Awesome, sweet, and fantastic! No more swelling, no complaints of pain, no stiffness, and no horrid limping.

I'm not sure what triggered this little flare, I'm just thankful that it was short-lived and relatively minor. Holy cow, it stressed me out.

An enormous THANK YOU to everyone who sent their love, prayers, well wishes, and moral support. You have no idea how much that means to me.

Stupid Juvenile Arthritis. We hate you.