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If You Never Try, You'll Never Know

Nearly all my life, I've lived with pain. Around the age of 11 or 12, I sort of integrated regular pain in various parts of my body into my daily life. I didn't know it then, but I had a chronic illness. I wouldn't be diagnosed until age 35.

As a teen, my pain was manageable but consistent, and I had a range of other odd symptoms like fainting, racing heart (tachycardia), dizziness, and dry eyes. It wasn't until I entered my 20s that I began to realize that what I was feeling wasn't "normal." After a bad breakup at the age of 23, I started looking into just what was "wrong with me."

Fast forward.

After ten years of marriage to TOP*, we divorced amicably in 2010. I had been a stay-at-home-mom for five years by that point, but being a SAHM was no longer an option as a single mom. Uninterested in re-entering the teaching field, I took a job as a legal assistant in a small law firm. The job was mentally demanding, but physically I sat at a desk all day. The strength I had built up exercising and running after my young children quickly disappeared. After one year on the job, I was in the worst shape of my life with zero muscle tone. I had lost a ton of weight and could hardly function.

In late 2011, two brialliant things happened: I got remarried and I met with a doctor who actually examined me. All prior physicians (and there had been A LOT) dismissed my complaints with one look at my "normal" body and "pretty, young" face. This new doctor was smart enough to know that some illnesses are invisible, and sometimes hoofbeats mean zebras, not horses.

What should have been an obvious diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hypermobility type), or hEDS, took over twenty doctors and nearly twenty years to be discovered. By the time I was diagnosed, I could barely get out of bed. Every joint in my body was subluxing and inflamed. I had what I know now was the closest thing I can imagine to a nervous breakdown. I couldn't work. I couldn't walk. EVERYTHING WAS DIFFERENT AND WRONG.

Once I got over the shock of having a genetic disease that would stay with me forever and had no cure (not to mention could potentially end up affecting my children as well), I did a lot of research. My conclusion was that I had two choices: I could get busy living or get busy dying.

Would I have literally died from EDS? Probably not, but I was merely existing instead of really living. I was in excruciating pain every day, all day. I had pain-somnia every night, and my anxiety had reached crippling levels. A simple walk to the bathroom sent my heartrate soaring to 150bpm.

Everyone with hEDS has varying degrees of severity and symptoms - even within the same family (it was later discovered that my paternal grandmother, father, and likely an uncle and some cousins have it as well). There are hEDS patients who have MUCH more collagen laxity than I do; some must wear splints on many joints, and some use wheelchairs or other assistive devices.

After my diagnosis, I was left wondering, "How bad will this be for me?"

I knew there was only one way to find out if I could fix myself. I got up - and I tried. I started with walking around my block once. ONE TIME. (It is a small block.) I barely made it, but I made it. I walked one lap every day until I could walk two laps, and then three. It was a painfully slow process, and once I made some significant progress, my hip joints became inflamed with bursitis and I had to stop walking. I almost languished in self-defeat.


There had to be a way for me to get stronger. I instinctively felt that if I could just strengthen my muscles enough to support my lax joints and tendons, I could do life again. That day was the first time I took the plunge into the pool, four years ago. I took everything I learned in Physical Therapy straight to the water. I could do everything I used to do as long as my body was supported by the water! Slowly, I built my strength back up with water therapy and swimming. I still injured myself in the pool, but not as often. I began to really know my body. I learned to pay extremely close attention to every problem joint so I could stop a problem before it got out of hand.

Combined with a chiropractor who is knowledgeable about connective tissue disorders, monthly pain clinic visits, eliminating several foods from my diet, getting sufficient sleep, and taking the right medications, vitamins and supplements, swimming saved me. I am now stronger than I've ever been at age 43. I can do everything I used to do (within limits), and I live a full, satisfying life.

I now own my own business and work from home so I can set my own hours. McGuire Media, LLC became incorporated last year and now has five employees. Never, ever give up.

*the other parent

Ethan's Hyperparathyroidism Story: Part I

As a baby, toddler and young child, Ethan was ebullient, outgoing, happy, talkative, and most significantly: a good eater. When he was 5 or 6 years old, he became a "picky eater," but he had a solid handful of foods that we could always get him to eat.

Around age 9, Ethan stopped wanting to eat. Even those foods that had been his favorite were challenging to get past his lips. The general idea of eating repulsed him. As a result of a VERY limited diet, he became severely constipated. This led to a series of extremely painful belly aches, several of which required a visit to the ER and prescription medication to clear his sluggish digestive system.

For about a year, we tried with all of our might to improve Ethan's diet. We encouraged him with rewards for trying new foods. We made smoothies and pancakes with healthy ingredients hidden inside. However, no matter what we did, Ethan simply did not like eating. There was a lot of gagging, excuses to get away from the dinner table, bargaining, begging, and crying. As he continued to grow taller yet failed to put on any weight, (still weighing 68 pounds at almost 5 feet tall), I took him to his pediatrician.

Essentially, I wanted to have his doctor check him out and run a few blood tests just "in case" we were missing something. I was 99% sure that most of the problem was psychological, as he was also beginning to experience some signs of anxiety and had already had several panic attacks. I already had plans to enroll him in a swallowing and food phobia clinic as soon as he was cleared by his physician.

Two days after his blood test, I got a phone call from his pediatrician. His blood work was ok except for one confusing result: he had an elevated blood calcium level. Thinking it could be a fluke or testing error, she asked me to have him retested in one month.

During that month, I did some research about high blood calcium, which is referred to as hypercalcemia. I learned something about the human body that I had never known: The parathyroid glands, 4 tiny glands in the neck, control the body's calcium levels. That is their one and only job. Each gland is about the size of a grain of rice  (3-4 millimeters in diameter). The parathyroids produce a hormone called parathyroid hormone (PTH).

A normal level of PTH keeps blood calcium levels in a very tightly controlled range. Proper calcium balance is crucial to the normal functioning of the heart, nervous system, kidneys, digestive system and bones. When hypercalcemia is discovered, one must always look for parathyroid disease. I called Ethan's pediatrician and told her about my findings. I asked if she would also have his parathyroid hormone (PTH) tested when we re-checked his calcium level. She agreed, and the second blood test did indeed show hyperparathyroidism along with hypercalcemia. Ethan had parathyroid disease.

I feel like I fell asleep sometime in October and woke up in Antarctica. Snow, snow, snow. Oh, and guess what's happening this weekend and also maybe Monday? Did you guess sunshine and an unseasonably warm temperatures? Because you would be oh-so-wrong. More snow. Which probably will lead to another snow day for my kids, whom I love endlessly, but for whom the challenge of school work and friendships and teacher-demands are necessary. Sitting at home all day has finally gotten to them, and last night they were teetering dangerously on the edge of crazy.

Luckily, today they had school, without even a delay! Which means more time for me to work (I work from home now) and make money to spend on all of the things required when raising two male children. DOYOUKNOW how fast these beasts grow? It feels like every time I turn around, one of them is wearing high-waters and it's off to the store I go in search of bigger sizes with super-durable fabrics that will last through the beating they'll receive on the bodies of my children.

This is something I never expected when I had them. The whole bursting out of clothing thing. My family is notoriously height impaired - for realz.  Like, my maternal grandmother was only 4 foot 5. You read that correctly. My mother is 4'11 and most of her side of the family is rather - stunted. My brother is shorter than me! I stand just 5'3'.

Now, my father's side of the family has what I want to call nearly average height genes, but el daddio himself is only 5'5.

So the other half of the genetic equation for my children would be TOP - who is also very short - I think he's like 5'6?

Anyway - so the children we made together ended up being larger than average, which shocked us both. At first, we thought, 'Ok maybe they're just abnormally large babies.' Every time I've taken them for check ups - every single time - I keep expecting the doctor to tell me they've stopped growing.

Dr.: "Ok, well, he's done growing now. This is as tall as he's gonna get."
Me: "Sounds about right. Good day, sir."

But, alas, they keep growing, and growing, and growing. The oldest is now eleven years old. That's TWO ONES, PEOPLE. His feet are now bigger than mine, and I daresay that I don't have tiny feet. (size 8.5 US women's) The benefit of this is that I bought him an awesome pair of winter boots this year - specifically a pair that were gender neutral so that I could wear them, too, and ahem, after his feet outgrow them, guess who has a great pair of snow boots for life? I can also wear his clothes, but I'm not into Vans or Tony Hawk, so pass.

The little guy, he's NINE. That sounds so old to me, as far as kids go, but he still acts kid-like often enough for me to forget that he's growing up right before my eyes. Now, this one doesn't grow quite as astronomically fast as his brother, but he's lanky. He has really long arms and legs, like his momma (for my height, my appendages are abnormally gangling - so much so that it's always difficult to find clothes that fit me well, and now I've got the same problem with the nine year old. He's SUPER SKINNY, which, don't even get me started, I have literally NO IDEA where this kid got the skinny gene from. No one in my family is obese, mind you, but both sides, both paternal and maternal, are filled with rather solid people. Lotsa muscle, tendency toward chunk if you're not careful with what you eat, etc. Same on TOP's side.

So, the nine year old is 54 pounds soaking wet. He's basically a walking skeleton. I've taken to calling him Bones - and, for real, if you're not careful when you're laying beside him and he moves too quickly, BAM, his elbows can take. you. out. He's very angular and pointy. I buy him the slimmest pants I can find - all with adjustable waists or drawstrings because otherwise every single pair would fall straight to the floor. And, the day after I've bought him new clothes, they've turned to high-waters and his shirts look like they're 3/4 length instead of long-sleeves.

Yeah, um...so that's my point, uh, I think? That my kids grow really fast and basically eat me out of house and home and even though I get child support, it's just never enough, so supplement I must in many creative ways (writing, eBaying, dog-walking), so:

Dear Mother Nature,

    I wrote you a poem.

   Polar vortex, arctic blast, bitter, biting, bleak.
   Children need to go to school
   More than two days a week.


Jan. 10th, 2014

So many of my LJ friends are posting lately and I'm really enjoying reading what everyone's up to. I decided to join in, because I've realized that I don't write that freely on my public blog. I know that anyone can see what I write there, so I'm constantly self-aware and double, triple thinking about what I post. I've got one stalker who kind of needs to chill the fuck out. Oh, and also realize that his IP address clues me in to ALL of the times he visits my blog, my flickr page, etc. Now he's started messaging me on LinkedIn. Hey, dude - MOVE ON.

This polar vortex/cold blast has been all kinds of craptastic. My body is staging a revolt as I type this. Not even the powerful medications I take can keep my muscles from spasming into tight ropy bands that trap any nearby nerves, pinching them in the worst possible ways.

Having my chronic pain controlled for the past year has lowered my pain threshold, I think, because now when the pain hits, I'm unprepared. Before, when it was a constant part of my everyday life, I knew it would always be there, so I was ready for it. These muscle spasms are completely wiping me out and making me mad. Today I'll be doubling up on my muscle relaxer dosage, which I've been instructed to do by my pain management doctor, to see if that helps relieve any of the muscle rigidity.

This morning I awoke to an unexpected ice storm. It wasn't predicted to get below freezing overnight, so no one was concerned. Lo and behold, it was just at 31-32 degrees at school time, and from our front porch all the way to the school was one gigantic ice skating rink. Luckily, I put on the 4 wheel drive and only had one little slip, but I passed 4 accidents. I only made a 2 mile circle, dropping off both boys at different schools that are within 1 mile of each other. I then (AFTER I DROPPED THEM OFF AND GOT HOME) received a message from the school saying the busses were told to halt until further notice. So, the rest of the kids (mine included) are just sitting in there, twiddling their thumbs. Meanwhile, next time it's supposed to snow 1/8 of an inch and melt by 7:00AM, school will be cancelled.

Now I must go attempt to do some work that I get paid to do. I'll be back, though.
Hey guys...haven't been on here writing for awhile, but I definitely read all of your entries every day! I write mostly over at my new website now but have also been working on some stuff at DailyPath. Check it out if you'd like to join a community based on self-improvement and moving forward toward success.  We are building a community and I'd love it if you guys were a part of it. We have a facebook page too if you're interested.  Just 'like' us and you'll get the updates via facebook! Hope to see some of you over there sharing some of your helpful success stories in the near future. And keep writing here, cuz I love reading!

Do you know what the last person you kissed is doing? 

He better be sitting still in kindergarten.

What are you wearing on your feet? 

Cute black flats with a bow on the front

How was your weekend? 


Sex in the past 24 hours?: 


Have you ever watched a movie in another language? 

Yes, and unless it's Spanish, I hate it.  I can't read and watch at the same time. 

What is your favorite pop-tart flavor? 

Ew, really? 

I bet you're going to kiss someone tonight, right? 


Do you remember what you wore last night to bed? 

Hmmm, let me think, yeah I think I can remember. Don't you wish you knew? 

So, will you be sleeping on the floor tonight? 

Now, why in the world would I --nevermind.  Hell naw.

Who was the last person you talked to in person? 

My boss. 

What’s the last thing you "aw"ed at? 

A story about a lady's 14 week old puppy. 

If you caught your significant other cheating on you what would you do? 

I would fra-zeak the fuck OUT on him. 

Do you think anyone has feelings for you? 

What is this, middle school? 

In winter, would you rather wear jackets or hoods? 

Uh, I don't understand the question.  Jackets with or without hoods?  I say without. 

Where do you plan on living when you grow up? 

Joisey. Believe it. 

Gotten high in the past 24 hours? 

High on life.  Oh, and Lunesta. 

If any of your friends got kicked out, would your parents let them stay with you? 

Ha, this is actually kind of apropos considering that my mom lives with me now.  Suffice it to say that my mom's theory is "The more the merrier." 

Do you believe teenagers can be in love and stay in love? 

I do believe it can happen, but I think it is very rare. 

Have you ever had stitches? 

A handful of times, sure. 

Your last received text, would you kiss them? 

Have and will every day, multiple times a day, as long as he will let me.  :) 

Are you the type of person who has a new boyfriend/girlfriend every week? 

I had a new girlfriend last week, but I'm over her. 

Do you ever turn your cell phone off? 

Never; and I find this disturbing. 

Do you swear often? 

Been getting better now that I have a J.O.B. 

Name something you would NOT tolerate in a relationship? 


What are you supposed to be doing right now? 


How did you sleep last night? 

I woke up at least 10 times, which, wow.  WTF? 

When was the last time you did any homework? 

Last week I helped The Six Year Old with some math. 

Are there any moments that make you smile when thinking about them? 

Well...if there weren't, you might as well take me out in the parking lot and shoot me, right? 

Visiting old friends is the best, is it not? 

Indeed, it can be quite fun.  And sometimes, not at all what you expected. 

What color is your hair, naturally? 

Dirty blonde/brownish. 

What color(s) are the clothes you're wearing? 

Black and purple 

How tall are you? 

5'4ish (I'm sticking to it!) 

Are there any animals near you?

Well, I do work in a law office... 

Is there any chance you got someone pregnant right now? 

That would be very, very impressive if I could do that. 

How often do you think about "the way things used to be"? 

About once a week or so.  Luckily, "the way things ARE" always comes out on top

Have you ever bought anything from itunes? 

Yeah I bought a sandwich from there once.  Not very good. 

What annoys you, more than anything else? 

"More than anything else"?  I have to pick, like, ONE thing?  Cuz lots of things annoy me.  One is stupid questions. 

Do you have a lot of lists? 

If I did not have lists, I would have no idea how to exist in a sensible fashion

Do you text? 

I <3 txting.  I can't w8 2 txt some moreeeee. 

Are you a godparent? 

No, but I am a Satanparent.

Has 2011 been good for you? 

OMG yes. 

Any new movies you wanna see? 

Black Swan 

Would you rather be angry or laughing your ass off? 

I'd rather be laughing so hard that it made me angry. 

Are you comfortable? 

Eh.  My back hurts a little, fo sho. 

Do you sleep too much or not enough? 

By my calculations....I am approximately 1,374 hours behind on sleep. 

Is there anyone who is always on your mind? 

I'll give you a hint: YES. 

Do you miss anyone? 

I miss him the second he kisses me goodbye every morning. 

What are you currently worried about? 

How much fucking longer this survey is, honestly.  

Your mood? 


How long does it take you to shower? 

5-10 minutes 

Have you ever slept for 14+ hours straight? 

It's possible, but if so I don't remember. 

Could you go the rest of your life without smoking pot? 

 I told you I don't inhale. 

Were you happy when you woke up today? 

I'm literally NEVER happy when I first wake up.   

Last time you were confused? 

Last time I talked to The Six Year Old. 

Do you have any plans for tomorrow? 

Go to J.O.B., then I'm gonna get my hair cut and prolly go to Sephora.  Squee! 

Is there someone who you can spend every minute with and be happy? 

Yeah - myself. 

What is in your backpack right now? 

I don't own a backpack.  I'm a grown up. 

How old do you want to be when you have kids? 

Hopefully not older than 38 if I have any more.   

Would you tattoo someone's name on your body? 

Not evah.  No way. 

What do you dislike at the moment? 


Will you get married? 

If the right person asks. 

Are you happy with yourself? 

Almost too much so. 

When did you last cry? 

Last time I cried it was out of happiness.  Yes, I'm *that* girl.   

What are you currently thinking about? 

How I wish I had a vanilla latte. 

If your parents didn't like the person you were dating, would you lose them? 

Haha, would I lose my parents?  Believe me, it can't be done.  I've tried. 

Do you think best friends can be replaced? 


Do you think long distance relationships are ever really worth it? 

Tough one.  Define "long distance".  If I can't see him AT LEAST once a week, fahgeddaboutit.

 If you could pack up and leave your life now, would you? 

Nothing could drag me away from this amazing life of mine.


Head Over Heels

So much to say, so much to say.

I guess it's time to "get it out there", "let the cat out of the bag", "spill the beans", as it were.

I've gone and got mah-seff a boyfriend.

I know, I know, to most of you, this is not news.  Most of you reading this have most likely already had dinner with him or had him help you move.  One of you has already washed his socks.  Hopefully only one of you, anyway.

Trust me when I tell you that (for whatever crazy wacked out reason), The Universe has decided that for 30 something single working moms with two very LOUD children and one very FULL house, men are a dime a dozen.  To cut to the chase: most of them are close but no cigar.  This guy, though.  He hit the nail RIGHT on the head. (TWSS)

I realize you are sitting there reading this, cluck-clucking over it like a doubting Thomas.  And you're entitled to your knee-jerk reaction.  You're thinking "What is this cock and bull story?"

No, I didn't JUST meet him.  I'm not still in that haze of new love, all doe-eyed and giddy.  I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch.  To make a long story short, I've been seeing him for awhile.  And I didn't say anything publicly because, well, ahem.  I'm not D-U-M-M.  I was fully aware that plenty of people were going to give me a slap on the wrist if my dating schedule did not fit in with their idea of a proper "post-divorce" timeline.  I dated him for six months before I even introduced him to my (RL*) friends, and even still, one of them was very angry at me for putting all my eggs in one basket (they hadn't hatched yet).

But hey guess what?  I'm grown.  I'm like, a fully-formed adult-n-stuff.  I guess, what it is, is that, to some people, the fact that I had the GALL to go ahead and get divorced after 10 years of a PERFECTLY HAPPY MARRIAGE, well, that must mean I've GONE!!!!! INSANE!!!!!

I'm no longer able to make logical decisions!  I'm just running around willy-nilly, naked, shouting curse words at strangers and spitting into the wind or something.  I've lost it.  I cannot POSSIBLY make an informed, well-thought-out, logical decision about...


Another?? MAN????

When, in fact, the truth is that I couldn't be MORE in tune with my own decisions and how much of an effect they have on those around me.  I'm not jumping the gun.  In fact, the decisions I have made in the past year regarding my own personal relationship status have been the most difficult, thought provoking decisions of my life.  You don't get divorced on a whim, people.  Divorce is a doozy; that's the long and short of it.  And, probably most important of all: you don't sit around fantasizing about the day your kids will have to live in two separate houses.

Now, to answer a few questions.  I did not start dating The New Man until I was separated.  I met him through friends of a friend, who consequently have now become some of the most awesome friends I have ever met.  He was married for 11 years. Last but not least, NO.  He does not have any children.  Because that seems to be the most popular question, and then people heave a huge sigh of relief for me, because?  CHILDREN ARE SO AWFUL?  I make no bones about the fact that it would definitely throw a wrench into our plans a bit, but I'm sure we would go the extra mile and make it work even if he did have kids.  After all, I have kids!  Whom he is quite fond of, I might add.  Believe me when I tell you that I keep checking in with him to see if he bit off more than he can chew, but he assures me that he has not, and as a matter of fact, could he have another helping?

Ok, so.  The New Man.

(Who, by the way will have a MUCH more interesting blog name in future entries.)

You know what, I'm not going to put the pedal to the metal here, announcing all of his shining personality traits.  I sat here thinking for a few minutes about all of the completely awesome things about him, but then I decided not to type them out.  For one thing, I don't want to be all in your face, because I know who some of my readers are, and I don't want it to seem like a comparison.  It's kind of like comparing apples to oranges, really, but I'm sure it won't come across that way.

Suffice it to say that he was a blessing in disguise.  He gives me the best of both worlds; the whole nine yards.  Maybe even ten.


Now THAT'S a problem

This evening, I picked the boys up from TOP's house, and they were high-strung from the moment I saw them.  I had a feeling they were tired, so I spent a little bit of quality time with them and then shuffled them off to bed.  A few minutes later, Aiden appeared at his bedroom doorway.

Aiden:  Mom?
Me: What's wrong?
Aiden: I can't fall asleep because I keep yawning.


Here's your Sign

I just got back inside from a run.  I like to break up my writing with some endorphins, and it finally stopped raining long enough to get a decent workout in.  I stayed in my development though, because the roads around here are flooded everywhere.  So I ran and walked around the endless circle that is my little world.

About 15 minutes into my workout, a car pulled up in front of a house.  A man slowly heaved himself out of the driver's seat, hiked up his pants, adjusted his belt, and shuffled toward the house in question, holding a clipboard.  He cast suspicious glances in every direction, glaring at me as I walked by him.  I looked back at him as I passed, and he was frowning at the flowers in the front lawn, making furious notes on his clipboard.

I continued on, and each time around the block I would only remember him as I rounded the corner near the house that he was stalking.  I ran past him at least 4 times, maybe 5.  I was listening to my iPod, and occasionally I would sing some lyrics out loud.  The man did not like this, and he wrinkled up his eyebrows at me in disapproval.

The last time I came around the bend, the man was trudging back toward his unremarkable vehicle,  and he motioned to me, so I plucked the ear phones out of my ears (please do not tell me they are called ear buds...I am still trying to remember it is called an iPod and not a Walkman) and gave him my undivided attention.

Suspicious Man: Do you live in this house? (motions toward house in question)
Me: ...
Me: I've passed by you at least 4 times.  Don't you THINK that if I lived here, I would have asked you what you were doing?
Suspicious Man: So you don't live here?



this is 43
Adrienne. Vivian. You decide.

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