Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dang Cancer. One Mom's Journey Through Mesothelioma

I was recently contacted by an amazing cancer survivor, Heather Von St. James, who shared her story with me. She had just given birth to her daughter when she found out she had mesothelioma, and was given just 15 months to live. Her story is extraordinary. Take 4 minutes to check it out.

For more information on mesothelioma, go to

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Another Hospital Stay. My Turn.

my expertly placed iv
So now I guess it's my turn. I was admitted to the hospital Sunday afternoon after experiencing mild contractions about 10 minutes apart and feeling lots of pressure in my lower abdomen- very alarming at 24 weeks pregnant. I really didn't want to go in, but I also didn't want to be irresponsible with the life of our baby. They gave me iv fluids and medication to stop the contractions. According to the nurses, I'm a 1/2 centimeter dilated. The baby is doing great, kicking and moving like crazy. It was just an overnight stay, and I'm back home with instructions to drink LOTS of water, slow down and take it easy. Sam, of course, is very worried and, if you ask me, getting a little too comfortable with his new "caregiver" role- taking a little too much pleasure in ordering me around and making decisions for our family. I keep asking him "Is this what I do to you!?". His response is always an emphatic "YES!!".

Though I certainly would have preferred none of this to have happened, one of the hidden blessings was having a "trial run" before the big day in February. I think we were completely caught off guard by how emotional it was to be back in labor and delivery. When I was being admitted, I looked down and realized I was wearing the same exact outfit the night I went into labor with Jack- the same day we learned about Sam's cancer. As they were wheeling me up to the floor, all the fear/excitement/anxiety came flooding back. I'm not sure we've completely processed how traumatic that experience truly was. I'm not sure we ever will. But I'm glad we got to revisit and acknowledge some of those emotions and feelings, and hopefully work through some things before this baby's arrival.

So. Until then. We'll be laying low for awhile. You probably won't see me chasing Jack around the park anytime soon, and I'll probably be cooking with my crockpot and watching way more Thomas videos than I'd like. And speaking of crockpots- please feel free to send me your family's favorite slow cooker recipes. My collection is dismal and I'm always on the lookout.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Paula Deen's Very Veggie Braised Greens

Don't get me wrong, we love a traditional pot of southern greens cooked down with salty/smokey pork fat, but since we eat them often enough, I had to find a healthier cooking method. I came across this version a few years back in Paula's Southern Cooking Bible, and I've been making them this way ever since. Yes, I know, there's still a stick of butter- it is Paula after all- but it's necessary for texture and flavor and the recipe makes a big pot. These greens are easy to toss together during nap time, just needing to be gently reheated right before dinner. They are a staple on veggie night where I serve them alongside mac & cheese, sliced tomatoes and cornbread. Also, keep this recipe in mind for Thanksgiving, especially if you have any vegetarians coming to the house. Cook up a pot a few days ahead of time, and get a jump on that crazy long to-do list. Such a great feeling!

Paula Deen's Very Veggie Braised Greens

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 - 2 1/2 lbs mixed greens (like turnip greens, collards, and/or mustard greens), stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
Pepper vinegar for serving

1. In a large dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

2. Add the broth and salt and bring to a gentle simmer. Add your greens, a handful at a time, stirring after each addition, letting it wilt down a bit before adding more. Once all the greens have been added, cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are silken and tender, usually about 50-60 minutes. Pass the pepper vinegar at the table.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Back Home!


We're finally back home. They debated placing a PICC line, but settled on sending Sam home with a peripheral line to administer his antibiotics. This may not be the ideal way to wake up in the morning, but it's just for a few days. Thanks again for all the love and support.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Update on Sam

We're being discharged this afternoon! It's been a roller coaster of events trying to get us out of here, but, finally, the Infectious Disease, Bone Marrow Transplant and Pulmonary teams have come to a consensus. Sam's been clear of fevers for 48 hours and his cough has greatly improved. They want to discharge him, but need us to stay local. He still needs 3 more days of IV antibiotics since they found pseudomonas in his lungs, and they're concerned about his elevated tacrolimus level. As soon as this level comes down, we can return home and have his antibiotics administered via home health. So that's the plan for now. A lot of detail, but I know many of you have been asking for an update.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A New Adventure: Admitted to Moffitt

Sam was admitted to Moffitt yesterday afternoon. We've visited the clinic countless times for outpatient appointments, but this is his first overnight stay. As many of you know, he's been sick for weeks. He was running a fever all day long during our appointment here on Wednesday, though they went ahead with his scheduled tests and scans. We got the results back that same day- still in remission!- though he definitely still has pneumonia and now the rhinovirus. We were sent home with some new antibiotics and instructions for controlling Sam's fever. Yesterday, they called and asked if we could please drive back over to have Sam admitted. Frustrating. But ultimately, we're trying to stay focused on getting Sam better. And that long drive over was a great opportunity to talk about how much his current work schedule is *not* working for our family. Well, I guess I did most of the talking. But in all seriousness, 10 hour work days, in between hospital stays, are just no longer an option. We'll be here through the weekend. And likely beyond, though we're trying not to think about that. One day at a time. Yay for remission!! And Go Gators!!    

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My {Current} Favorite Pregnancy Workout

Sam and I have a full day at Moffitt today. He's been really sick for the past few weeks so hopefully we'll leave with some answers and an effective treatment plan. Usually days like today include an extraordinary amount of time just sitting around waiting. So. While I wait, I thought I'd post about something new. We've covered cancer, food, and parenting. It's time for a pregnancy post don't ya think? Specifically, my attempts to stay "fit" during pregnancy.

Now, I am all about exercising and staying active while I'm pregnant. Nothing too extreme. I've miscarried in the past, so I tend to avoid anything too jarring or harsh on my body. I know some women train for races, lift heavy weights, and pretty much go about their business like there isn't another human being occupying their body, but not me. I tend toward more gentler workouts and swimming/walking routines. I love exercise dvds- pregnant or not- and have amassed quite a collection. My current favorite is Tracy Anderson's Pregnancy Project. It's a set of 9 dvds- a new workout for each month of pregnancy- and was filmed in real time during her last pregnancy. It's an awesome combo of stretches and light weight work (she never lifts more than 3 lbs) which might sound mild, but always leaves me sweating and pleasantly exhausted. And I love how the workouts change for each stage of your pregnancy. The first three months focus on just getting you moving and work through any nausea you may be experiencing. I'm on Month 5 right now where she steps it up a bit, focusing on strengthening your arms and butt. The last three workouts are focused on opening your hips and staying strong to prepare for delivery. Each one is about 30-40 minutes so it's never overwhelming. When Sam is home and feeling well he'll do it with me, and Jack has become well acquainted with "Tracy". Every morning he asks me, "Is mama gonna do her exercises?". Every. Morning. My weekly workout typically shakes out to be 3-4 dvd workouts and 6 miles of walking. I'm still gaining weight like a champ, but I feel amazing. If you're pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant or need a great gift for someone who is pregnant- consider this dvd set.