Military Spouses know, that as soon as their service member leaves, the house is sure to burn down, the car will explode, and anything that can happen – will happen. It’s Muphy’s Law of TAD, TDY, and of course, deployment.
Back in May my husband left for a short little Navy paid vacation. It was to be 63 days. For me it was a 63 day vacation to watch whatever I wanted on TV (with no sighing or laughing from the peanut gallery), eat all the tomatoes, mushrooms, and olives I could (since my husband dislikes them) and a way to gauge how my kids would react to a deployment that is hiding in the shadows in a dark alley close by.
It started out well. He left, my kids were upset for maybe two hours and then things went back to normal, quicker than I had anticipated. Well, as “normal” as things could be for the end of the school year, which basically means that “chaos” is “normal”. My oldest daughter had 4 school school events – a patriotic concert, a talent show, a science fair, and kindergarten graduation. On top of that she had her ballet recital. After the patriotic concert, my youngest decided she had, had enough and the next week at the talent show lost her mind in the middle of it and screamed at the top of her lungs.
She was tired, she missed dad (it had been about a week and a half), and she was over driving around to go watch her sister do cool things. As I got up to leave with my screaming child (I should mention this is very out of character for her, she is usually the happiest child on the planet), two lawn chairs, camcorder, camera, and a bag of snacks, I had a mom tell me she wasn’t judging me, and another women ask if everything was okay and that I should, “Get a handle on my child” as my 5 year old was playing spiderman on the car door, screaming and refusing to get in.
In what I can only describe as one of the worst moments of motherhood thus far, I shoved her in the car, accidentally pinched her with the seat belt as I was trying to hold her down to buckle her in, and promised I would buy her a pony if she would just stop screaming. It was a miserable drive home and I had no intention of buying her the pony. After we got home and she went to her room to read for a while so I could collect my thoughts, I decided that I was not going to “Get a handle on my child”. She missed her dad and no one was paying any attention to her. I have a tendency now and again to act out when I’m stressed, I could not punish her for being stressed. So, we talked about it and continued forward to the next day.
The next day she was playing outside with the dogs (dogs PLURAL because just HOURS before my husband left I thought it would be a good idea to add a second dog (*cough* puppy *cough*) to our household. “She will be a great distraction!” I said. I’m clearly mental) and accidentally (purposefully) threw their ball over the fence. She told me she wanted me to “toss” her over the fence so she could retrieve it. I said no. The fence is tall and if I was to toss her over she would surely break her ankles. She started screaming and I gave in, because at the time it wasn’t worth the argument and I decided I could get her close enough to the ground on the other side of the fence to drop her gently (we do have a gate on our fence, but it is so difficult to open I usually just jump over the fence). I picked up all 40 lbs of her, braced all of my weight against the fence and almost immediately, as I was still holding her, heard a “crack, pop, crack”. I dropped her and stumbled back. It hurt every time I took a deep breath. I somehow managed to yank the gate open with whatever superhuman strength I was exhibiting at that time and went back into the house where I made sure all of my limbs were still attached and not broken. I soon figured out that I must have done something to my chest and text a friend to see if she could watch my kids so I could go get an X-Ray (since at this time it had become excruciating to breathe).
Readers, this is Maddy. Maddy, meet my readers. (She is 18 weeks here)
My dear friend literally left in the middle of her pack out and met me at the Emergency Room, and took my kids back home, where her amazing teenager watched them. I had, of course, given myself a hairline fracture across my sternum, but more alarmingly after receiving that information, the ER doctor sat down across from me to let me know there was an incidental finding on my X-ray. In my right lung, there was what he described as “a mass” and in my left lung there were enlarged lymph nodes. They wanted me to go see my doctor immediately the next day.
At 7am I got a call from the Navy clinic asking me to come in as soon as I could. My 5 year old in tow, I trudged to the clinic…my least favorite place on this base. The doctor said that he thought that my X-ray was wrong, because I’m skinny and thought it must have picked up something else. He sent me to get another X-ray, a million vials of blood drawn, and a referral to get a CT scan should the X-ray come back with anything on it.
Of course that afternoon as I am picking my oldest up from school the hospital calls and asks if I can come in to get a CT at that very minute. We agreed the next morning would work out better.
In I went, back to the hospital, leaving my 5 year old with a sitter I had met basically 5 minutes before leaving her. They did the CT (which to my astonishment was WITH contrast…ugh…IV’s are my worst nightmare) and the doctor at the clinic said he would call within 24 hours.
There was no call the next day (Friday), so I went about my life thinking it must have been nothing. On Saturday, my husband’s SUV had basically had it and decided to have all sorts of problems and I had, had it with the SUV (if you were not already aware, we have horrible luck with vehicles).
That Monday with a list of husband approved vehicles to go look at, I was at a dealership when my phone rang. The clinic. The doctor.
The “mass” the ER doctor saw was actually a cluster of enlarged lymph nodes. Not only were the enlarged lymph nodes in both lungs, but also in my chest and near my heart. They needed more blood to rule out Lyme disease and several other medical conditions and needed to get me in to see a Pulmonologist ASAP. Apparently he had also gone through my medical history and saw that I had been complaining about being tired for almost a year, he felt it was relevant at this point (as were the lesions on my legs that just a month before had been diagnosed as ‘fungal’ by a different individual at the clinic).
I left the dealership (they were rude) and headed back to the clinic to be poked…again.
I’m going to fast forward through the next part because while stuff continued to break (I may have melted my husbands PS3 and the puppy ate 2 pairs of Lululemon Wunder Under pants…she really loves the taste of lulu…oh, and the neighborhood kids that not only broke into my garage, but broke in my house too…), everything was kind of a haze. The best part about those few weeks was that my parents had my kids come to Maine to stay with them for a week and a half and I got to sleep for almost 10 days straight.
My husband came back home at the end of July and fixed everything that had broken, told me he liked his new car (though I’m suspicious that he’s just saying that), and continued to drive me crazy wanting to go to appointments with me.
My first appointment with the Pulmonologist came and he said to make sure he had the correct diagnosis they had to do a Bronchoscopy. He was fairly sure what I have is “Sarcoidosis” an auto-immune disease with absolutely no known cause. From the CT he could tell that it was effecting my lungs, heart, and liver, but needed more information. It’s not fatal, but can be problematic. The exhaustion I experience on a daily basis is a symptom (I can only describe it as I feel like I’m sleep walking, half aware of what is going on around me and I constantly forget things that I am supposed to be doing) as were the lesions on my legs (they are sarcoid, no question…not fungal).
The next week I went in for the bronchoscopy. That same night there was “command mandofun” scheduled. After the bronchoscopy I had four hours until the event would start. In my head I figured that was enough time to take a quick nap, shower and go. What I did not account for was that the medications given for the bronchoscopy would make me sick. So, 15 minutes prior to the event, I sat in my husbands car and threw up. Classy Cait. I still went to the event (my sweet husband ran into the exchange to get me a toothbrush and some tissues), though did not stay for very long. I’m not even sure how I held it together for the 45 minutes we were there, but I did.
In the past two months, I have sat in more waiting rooms, poked with more needles, and had my lungs and heart listened to more than I ever thought I would. And while the diagnosis is not life threatening, it still stinks. On the plus side, it was good to know that I’m not actually going crazy, that everything I think that is happening is actually happening.
I have done a ton of research (on top of what the Pulmonologist has told me). I have read a million studies on how they treat Sarcoidosis. I came up with a plan to switch from Paleo (no gluten, dairy, sugar, beans, etc.) to using the Autoimmune Protocol, which is basically a stripped down version of the paleo diet (on top of the gluten, dairy, sugar, beans, it also excluded, nuts, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers) and seeds). It probably won’t cure it, but it should make flare ups not quite so bad.
While my husband was away, I fell off the paleo wagon just a little bit. There is something to be said about comfort food making everything all better. While it’s not good for you, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. I have this crazy appreciation for Stouffers Mac and Cheese. It’s so gross and it’s not even remotely considered real food, but when I’m having a bad day, it tastes like the most amazing thing on earth. I eat my feelings and they taste fantastic.
After everything that occurred in the 63 days my husband was gone (which just seems like such a short amount of time for so much to go wrong), I am so incredibly blessed to have the friends I do. Without them I’m sure, without a doubt, I would have been reduced to a puddle of tears and stress, but they kept me upbeat and kept me going. They visited, they texted, messaged, hugged, laughed, went on outings, watched my kids, gave book recommendations (focusing on things I CAN do while I’m tired…I CAN read), and most of all they listened. They proved over and over again that military spouses are by far the military’s greatest asset. I love them and appreciate everything they have done far more than I could ever put into words.
I’m back to my blog and ready to share my journey into the world of the Autoimmune Protocol. There will of course be paleo recipes, because while I will be more restricted, my kids and husband will remain paleo. Of course, there will also be baking, because after all, it is my favorite thing to do.
While the Autoimmune Protocol seems incredibly restrictive, if you are a chai latte fan, you are in luck. I picked up The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook and to my astonishment there was a chai recipe in there. Now, I don’t care for chai at all, but my husband loves it and this seemed like a fantastic substitute for those Starbucks Chai lattes that are so crave worthy.
The great part is, it is so easy – you throw everything in a blender, blend until smooth, strain through cheese cloth and bam! A sort of healthy chai latte (it has dates in it for sweetener and dates are full of sugar).
1 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
4 pitted dates
Seeds from one vanilla bean
1 inch ginger, peeled
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cups boiling water
Let it cool before you strain it so you don’t burn your hands. This can be enjoyed hot or cold and will keep for a couple days in the refrigerator.
It smelled really good and my husband and oldest daughter thought it was the most amazing drink ever. It was the reminder I needed that good food does not have to take long to put together, sometimes the best things are quick and easy.