Blog, Inspirational

Waiting on DUKE…

January 10th, 2018 the paperwork was written up by my neurologist and the request was made, we are headed to DUKE Medical.

A couple of things:

1. This Is Not A Bad Thing:
We are going to get several of our questioned answered. Hopefully qualify to get on their “Active Patient List” which would allow me to be considered for trial treatments and research.

2. I Am In A Better Situation Than Most Myasthenics Headed To DUKE:
I tested positive in blood-work, therefore so much workup was done locally, my time with the specialist will be extremely targeted and very efficient (hopefully) .

3. No, I Do Not Know When I am Going:
Once the paperwork is sent out, it could be a week or months before I get a phone call from them. Especially since I am currently undergoing one of the more major treatments.

4. I Cut My Hair!
     Due to my current treatment, my hair is starting to drastically thin and fall out. It should not get super patchy, from my understanding, and I will not lose it completely, but I will see a noticeable difference. This week I believe, has been the hardest as it is starting to come out by the handfuls. So I decided to take control and cut off almost 6 inches !!! I actually really like. I am still adjusting. 26907023_10102073625874496_3852989698692658467_n

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Blog, Inspirational

My Body Is Strong

5 lbs, 10 lbs, the scale keeps going up… As a woman, is this one of the worst feelings in the world. Especially, when all of your life you have been extremely active and kept physical fitness a priority in your life. I look in the mirror and some days I do not recognize myself. My heart breaks. Medically there is a reason, but sometimes even knowing that isn’t enough.

But then, after completing 4 months of this new treatment, I get my blood work back and the one major concern (a particular side effect) we have been keeping our eye on looks wonderful! In that moment, God sends me this amazing thought, “MY BODY IS STRONG!”

What do I mean? 

For years we have been trying to figure out this mystery. To do this, there was and still is, such much my body has to go through.  You can imagine the testing over the years and now the medication and treatments I am currently working through.

  • So much medication, my Pharmacist knows my name!
  • Nuclear Imaging
    • Computed Tomography (CT)
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
    • Positron Emission Tomography – Computed Tomography (PET/CT)
  • Ultrasounds
  • X-Rays
  • Bottle after bottle of contrast
  • Blood draws
  • Swallow studies
  • Several Surgeries
  • Intravenous Immunoglobulin Therapy (IVIg)

Even after all this, the sheer amount of radiation and medication that has been pushed through my organs and veins… my body is holding its own!! I am still working, coaching swimming, getting out and seeing family and friends, attending events even on days I just want to stay in bed; I still go!

Through it all, I could not be more blessed that my body is a fighter. That no matter what we throw at it, it continues to surprise me as the test results (side effects that we are monitoring) comes back so favorably.

My Body Is Strong!

#Live2Inspire1 #MGStrong #RareDisease #MyastheniaGravis

Blog, Inspirational

What I’ve Learned In 3 Months…

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To say the last three months has been a roller coaster would be an understatement. We began my third treatment option in October; knowing there would a 3- 8 month waiting period to see full benefit.

So here it is, month three and I can honestly say my head is still spinning. Some days I feel like things are going to be “ok” and everything is under control. Then within an hour, I can feel as if the bottom of the world is falling out from under me. As my doctor keeps telling me, this is completely normal.

Due to the way gMG* works, it truly can fluctuate day by day, hour by hour; sometimes by the minute. Making my days, for right now, very unpredictable.  To me, this is the hardest part. Why? Because I have commitments. The way in-which I live my life affects a number of people around me. I have commitments at work, coaching, church, family … all the places my heart is, that is where my commitments are.

When I am not be able to be there, calling last minute having to cancel, I feel, lets so many people down. On top of trying to understand and deal with the changes that are being thrown at me, I have this immense feeling of guilt. It brings me down, emotionally. Which also affects my gMG. It literally makes the transmissions in my nervous system run faster and slows down the communication in my muscles. So either way, I feel like I loose.

Last week, I had a terrible episode that made me have to cancel work, coaching and not attend church. Which began with a trip to my doctor’s office. I was slurring my speech, I could barely lift my arm above my head and both eyes were almost completely shut.
After a long conversation with my doctor I was still in the “safe zone” and did not need to go to the hospital, but we were going to reintroduce another medicine that had not worked before.  If I continue to get worse, he would be up for a half round of  IVIG**. (Thankfully, I do not have to have it right now. Only if my severe episodes become more frequent.)

He believes due to me being on this new treatment, it would allow opportunity for the other medicine, which it did not have prior.  It is strictly to help with symptoms in times of extreme episodes when my ice vest or sleep, does not alleviate weakness. This medicine has nothing to do with suppressing the disease. The two will work together. So far, I have seen some benefit and hope it will continue to provide stability.

What have I learned?
1. I have learned to make my goals smaller and to accept those goals.
2. I have learned that I can’t control what is happening to me. That doesn’t mean I have        to like it. Allow myself to grieve the situation.
3. I am setting four goals for the month of December.
– I want to loose 10 lbs
– I am going to pick a 5k and train for it.
– I am going to blog/vlog more.
– To be easier on myself.
4. My doctors are amazing and have been beyond supportive of me. (I have always known this, I just have to praise them a little on here. I am very blessed.)
5. I have to come to understanding that episodes are going to happen. They aren’t going away. So how do I handle this going forward?
6. I am not giving up. I have said it before and I will say it again. I hope that someone, somewhere will know my story and be inspired. That it helps just one person.                     #Live2Inspire1 will always be my motto.

I know what it feels like to be at my lowest. I know that I will have ups and downs. I know that every day has its challenges and struggles. But I also know I made it through the day. I know that I am making plans and trying each day to concur this, despite medical odds. I want to keep working, I want to keep coaching, I want to get back into shape, I want to run and play with my nieces and nephews like I used too. I want to look my doctors in the eyes and say “I did it.”

*gMG – Generalized Mysathenia Gravis
**IVIg  – Intravenous Immunoglobulin

Blog, Inspirational

Four Words That Changed My Life

“You Have Myasthenia Gravis (MG) ” (Generalized) – April 19th, 2017

What is MG?   (Great Information on the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America Website)

I never thought it was humanly possible to feel so much pain, relief, confusion, anger and uncertainty in 15 seconds, as I did that day. I was completely flooded with emotion. I felt as if the room started to spin and I had no choice but to hang on for the ride.

Once my eyes went back into focus, from my state of disbelief, I was able to start having a long dialogue with my neurologist. I was very blessed to be paired with this particular doctor. He listened to me. He told my husband and I, this was a team effort and he would not settle for anything less than my happiness and well-being. But it was going to be a journey, not instant.

He looked us in the eyes and said,  ” There is no cure, however, we will find the best medicine for you. Everyone is different. But we have to dig our feet in and get through the worst before it gets better.”

“Worst ” did not necessarily mean symptoms, although that is also the case, but the  frustration to follow as one medicine after the next, really wasn’t working for me (IVIG DID work, but as most MG-ers know, it does not last). And my particular case was extremely confusing because we had to start figuring out what was MG and when would it be post-operative complications from my surgery, that in turn makes my MG worse. More on that in another post.

Needless to say, our lives have greatly changed as we have only been on this journey for about 2 months now. It has been a long list of doctors office visits, specialists appointments, testing…..more testing, hospital stays and infusion treatments.

I will never give up, I will never give in. It is not my upbringing or my personality.  I hope one day I can become a spokesperson in the MG community; encouraging others. As well as educating doctors, future medical professionals, friends and family, about Myasthenia Gravis and the importance of finding a cure.

#MGStrong #Live2Inspire1 #MyastheniaGravis #IHaveHeardOfMG

 

Blog, Inspirational

Update June 18th, 2017

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Rambling update post- not very organized, just a lot of thoughts 🙂

It has been a while since I updated my blog. I have to say, I do miss it. Most of you have been following this blog for a while reading about my recovery from my tonsillectomy and the struggles that followed. After that, I started writing about my journey as a St. Jude Hero and the path it took me preparing for my celebratory half marathon, November 2016 at Disney World.  This run was to prove to myself I was not going to let my  post operative complication beat me.

In all honesty, that race was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. I never realized it, but I never did a post about it once I returned  from my trip. I AM SO SORRY!! It was all on Facebook. I will do a post about it after this one!

The blog has taken several different turns from gardening to movies and it was just a place to help me through the most difficult times of my life. Hopefully now, my blog will be more consistent with this new journey I am about to begin.

The reason why I have not been posting since my race in November, is because I never really recovered from my race. Meaning, my energy never came back, I was sleeping all the time and my everyday stamina was down.  Basically it felt like I was back to where I was 6 months after my surgery. We were very confused. However, we took it a day at a time, never giving up.

We got through the stress of the holiday seasons (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Lent, Easter…) ; as a pastor’s wife this adds a whole new level of stress but we anxiously awaited spring to begin running again. Then one day in April, everything changed.

I started feeling more and more tied. Getting up for work each morning felt like I had been hit by a MAC truck, it now became a chore. Bedtime came as early as 7:30 pm and I could barely make it to Church on Sunday, due to exhaustion. I just could not keep up.

As I was driving home from work one day I noticed the lines on the road started to blur. I blamed it on my fatigue and kept going. One day lead to the next and suddenly there were TWO distinct sets of lines on the road. I immediately pulled over until it cleared up.

The following morning I wanted my boss to know, so I sat him down to inform him what was going on and I was needing to see an eye doctor that day. While I was talking with him my eye lid started to droop. I have never been so frightened in my life. Stroke, aneurism, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), were all words flash before my eyes.

I did not know it then, but the days to follow I would be diagnosed with a very rare neuromuscular disorder name Myasthenia Gravis (MG).