Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chronic(les), Part 1: Celebration

Today is my 31st birthday. In celebration I am going to do a short series on my life with two chronic, autoimmune diseases. Why are diseases worth celebrating? They are such a part of me and I haven’t really talked about them on my blog. I view my blog as a tool for me to share my thoughts and experiences about my life and the life of my family. I can’t be truly honest about my life, without sharing this part of me. I hope I can put a face to my diseases and you will learn a little bit more about me. Join me today as I celebrate my life and living it the way God designed.

An autoimmune disease occurs when your tissue is attacked by your own immune system. Your immune system is designed to attack invaders of the body, which includes infectious agents. Those with autoimmune diseases have antibodies in their blood that target their own tissue. Most autoimmune diseases are chronic, which is the case with mine. I will have them for the rest of my life. Every minute. Every day. Forever and ever. And…..I’m okay with that.

No one really knows what causes the battle within the body, but it has now happened to me twice. Both my endocrine and gastrointestinal system have been attacked by my own body. The result: Type 1 Diabetes and Ulcerative Colitis. I did not do anything to get either of these diseases. It is not my fault. This is very important to understand, for those with an autoimmune disease. It was out of my control. It is unknown what causes an autoimmune disease, but many in the medical field believe those who develop one have a genetic predisposition and it is triggered by an environmental factor, such as a virus. There can be a genetic link, but often the odds are very low. My sister also has an autoimmune disease, which she was diagnosed with two months prior to my diabetes diagnosis. Unfortunately, if you have one autoimmune disease you are more likely to develop another. Since they aren’t awards or money, I am good with the ones I’ve got!

Last week I posted a status update on facebook, that wasn’t really me. It said, “…needs to have a 30 second pity party. Sometimes having two chronic autoimmune diseases really stinks.” I don’t wallow in self pity, typically. You may hear me complain about many things, but you won’t hear me complain about my diseases very often. I kind of regret that status update. It is not the image I like to paint, nor the mentality I generally have. I was raised to deal with what was handed to me, take a moment and move on. I don’t want it to sound like my parents weren’t sensitive or caring. Actually, it is quite the opposite. They did, and still do, care about me very much and I believe that is why they raised me to not feel sorry for myself. They taught me to make the best of my situations and to use my experiences to make an impact on others. I am forever grateful for this.

I believe that my diseases have given me character, however they do not define me. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, the nurses told me, “You are not diabetic, you have diabetes.” They felt saying I was “diabetic” defined me. It let the name of the disease take a greater position than me as a person. Really, I don’t care either way. I say both. The label doesn’t matter, but my attitude does.

Please stay tuned for my next two posts, in which I will share my experiences with each disease. I hope to post them this week. Thanks for reading about my life. I hope I haven’t lost half of my readers by boring you with this info!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

An update and nursery pics

Well, I have become one of those bloggers. You know, the kind that disappears after returning home. Life has been busy. Our transition home was a little difficult. She was great, I was a little numb.

Co-owning a business has it’s perks, but sometimes I wish I just had a job where I could leave the office and not take work home with me. I was able to take off four weeks, but that also left me with piles of things to catch up on. This is our busiest time of the year. We are preparing for summer classes, trying to decide on a schedule for the fall and spring, getting ready for our dance recital next week and we are in rehearsals for two musicals. Needless to say, I am not caught up yet.

I don’t really feel like I had the chance to soak in what we saw in Ethiopia and mentally deal with it all. We are still trying to figure out what God wants us to do with this knowledge and our experiences there. Almost everyday we wish we were in Ethiopia. We want to go back so desperately. That being said, we know we are where we are supposed to be. We have loved seeing our family and friends meet Sophia and fall in love with her. My friend, Lori, did an excellent job of communicating her emotions in her recent blog post. They spent a month in Ethiopia, so I can’t imagine what their transition home has been like. Please read her post and know that is how Michael and I feel. Lori and her family stayed at Bejoe’s, so we spent the last few days of our journey in Ethiopia with them.

Sophia is developing new skills everyday. She rolls over from her stomach and her back. She is trying to crawl. She is very strong. EVERYTHING must be in her mouth. She smiles and laughs all the time. When people meet her they ask me if she is always that happy. Yes she is. She is a delight and we feel so blessed that God trusted us with His precious child. It is an honor to be her Mommy and Daddy.

Amy took pictures of Sophie’s nursery right after we got home. For some reason a few of them are blurry, but I haven’t found the time to retake them. If I don’t post them now, it may never happen! I can’t really take much credit for the cuteness that is her nursery. Amy and Michael really deserve all of the credit. My mom, dad and Amy helped with the final touches while we were gone.

Amy made the adorable birdhouses. To see better pictures of them, see this blog post.

Michael painted the trees on the wall. The birds are decals.

My dad made this bookshelf and there is another under the other window. The deer is also a wall decal, like the birds.

Here are some more decals. Sorry about the blurry pic. The decals were purchased from this etsy seller. Amy bought them for Michael and I for Christmas.

We don't have doors for her closet, so Amy bought these curtains and added the ric-rac. So cute.

Again, I have Amy to thank for these bird counting cards. I love them and they look great in her room. I really do have the BEST sister!!!!

I hope all of my mommy friends had a great Mother's Day. I know I did!