Monday, November 11, 2013

Bumps in the Road to Operation Pay-off: C-diff, a Transmission and a Baby

A year ago (plus a few months) I wrote about our transition from Operation Vacate to Operation Pay-off. At the time I thought we'd be just about ready to start Pay-off, and we were, but there's been a few bumps in the road that stopped us in our tracks.

Bump #1

In approximately Aug-Sep of last year a walk-in clinic over prescribed antibiotics including the mega, full-spectrum antibiotic Clindamycin. One thing led to another, and I got to enjoy my first hospital stay of four days with a C-diff intestinal infection. C-diff is overgrowth of bad bacteria in your gut & intestines. It's the same principle as what happens when you get a yeast infection from antibiotics--the antibiotic kills off the good bacteria and then the bad bacteria grows, and in the case of C-diff, it's a nasty, mean, antibiotic-resistant bacteria that grows. The most common time people acquire C-diff is after an unrelated procedure in a hospital. They go in for surgery, their immune system is weak, etc, and then a hospital worker accidentally transfers C-diff spores from one patient to another. Commonly used alcohol based cleaners do not kill C-diff.

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 At that time, I knew nothing to very little about probiotics and it seems neither did those in the medical field who tried to help me.

After I was released from hospital prison, a friend recommended the strongest probiotic Earth Fare offers, which was a 7-day powder. I took it every other day. I also researched C-diff and gut health to discover some of the easier foods for me to digest, such as potatoes, bananas and other basic foods. I already don't eat meat, which is harder to digest and also avoided dairy. It took a couple months to regain my prior energy levels, and it was about six months until I felt normal again. I feel I'm one of the lucky ones whose only lasting problem at this point is a mild dairy intolerance, and hopefully it will be a long time before I need traditional antibiotics. The GI doctor told me I should never again take Clindamycin or Amoxicillan or other related antibiotics.

This situation could have been avoided!

When taking antibiotics, only take them if absolutely necessary, of course, but when you do take them, don't just "eat yogurt" like a friend or your doctor might recommend (if there's any recommendation at all). Take a high quality, highly potent probiotic as well. Take your probiotic at a different time of day than your antibiotic or the antibiotic will kill the probiotic before it can work. I now take herbal antibiotics, remedies and preventative medicine, use a neti pot for sinus trouble and so on.

As you can imagine, that was a hefty bill.

Bump #2

My van's transmission died. No explanation needed here, just lots of cash.

Here she is, my new transmission. Look at all that pretty metal-- Bling bling!

Bump #3

Finally, the good bump! Because of my C-diff history (and new knowledge), I needed several things to be done differently for this pregnancy. For example, I needed to be under the care of someone with herbal experience AND OR I also needed to be under the care of someone who fully understands C-diff (there's a chance I could get it again) and the huge risk it could cause for a newborn and his or her mother during pregnancy and labor/delivery. My two choices were to go to a highly knowledgeable OB or have a homebirth. Either choice is more expensive than how I had my first child, especially the hospital route. But  only one choice, homebirth, fits my family and our values and beliefs about birth. But, the cost... double.

We've now got that ready and have ordered our water birth tub! We also love our midwife and though we haven't yet had our baby, we are already so happy that we would go this route again if there were to be a next time.

The best of the the three bumps.

Three large bumps conquered!

I'm both relieved and happy to report that we have added ZERO debt thanks to having sold our more expensive home and lowered our costs. Below is a recap.

We wanted to accomplish several things with our move:

  1. Have a low enough payment that either of us could afford to live here alone (if we were to become separated by death or divorce)
  2. Have a low enough payment that we could handle it even in case of a job loss.
  3. Have a 15 year mortgage
  4. Have a higher cash flow that we could use toward debt
  5. Have a home that would easily be changed into a rental home (or be resold if desired)

#2 a low payment and #4 higher cash flow were the key factors in maintaining no new debt despite what would have been unmanageable bills otherwise.

Operation Pay-off (what remained after our move) included one dwindling school loan that is now done! And the larger part will officially start in just a couple weeks. We're still trucking!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 15, Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day

It's been time to update for a while now, but there's this BIG THING I don't know how to put into words. Like anything else, the only way to begin is just to start writing and see what words come out, read over them, see if they make any sense.

You see, I'm having a baby, a little boy. He's probably around three pounds now, and I'm about 30 weeks--entering the final stretch! At first, all we did was worry. I cried daily, often multiple times during the day. Partly it was because I was so happy, but mostly it was because I know what losing that happiness feels like, so I mourned in advance at the thought of losing my current baby, for my past ones and everything in between. We had extra, carefully-timed ultrasounds so we wouldn't have too long in between without knowing if baby was alive, or if the unthinkable had happened again.

Eventually, the hardest part of this pregnancy passed, and I could feel my body's precious cargo poking, kicking and moving about. What glory! I'm in awe, even today! And I look at my belly now in amazement. I feel I knew my body could do this again! I knew it!

But there's this THING still nagging at me. It's the hurt and worry, and I don't know exactly how to rid of it, so it seems, I can't. I can't ignore it and think it'll go away. It's frustrating because I want my innocence back. I want to be in middle of the ignorant bliss of my first perfect pregnancy and birth.

Friends are having a shower for me, and I'm so happy, but it's choking me up. I've started crying about it even though it's weeks in the future, and what if I can't even attend my own shower? What if I cry the whole way there, try to get out of the car and my knees buckle? And how do I explain all of this to my dear friends? That I couldn't be happier, that I want this more than anything! To celebrate a pregnancy with loved ones instead of crying over one is such a great joy! But I'm scared too. It's this "thing" I can't fix and won't go away. So now I've let that out, and surely it will be easier from here.


Today is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day, which, believe it or not, wasn't even planned for this post! On this day, all over, women and their families will light candles at 7 p.m. and leave them burning for at least one hour. In so doing, a continuous light will glow in honor and memory of the children we are a missing.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Thing with Feathers

"One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to the total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying." --Morris West

This winter my husband found and brought to me this beautiful nest, which we filled with our pain and hope. 

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul - and sings the tunes without the words - and never stops at all." --Emily Dickinson 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dresser Conversion Project

Procrastinating about posting a dresser for sale on Craig's List paid off last month. Long after it should have been sold, I was pondering the best housing solution for our stereo system. It hit me one day on... Pinterest. Here's how our project went:

Here it was ready for a sale. We could've gotten fifteen bucks, maybe?

Mirror and drawers removed & lightly sanded
We decided to keep one drawer. The rest of the supports were removed except the top drawer supports.  Two cans of spray paint later on a warm day, and this is what we had.
So there you have it! 

This project was definitely a favorite. It was easy, fast, used something we already had and best of all, it prevented us from having to purchase an additional piece of furniture!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Our new playhouse bed!

The inspiration for our playhouse bed

Between our first visit to the life-size doll house at the Oak Ridge Children's Museum and seeing the above cool house bed on Facebook (and later on Pinterest), we made up our mind on this one a long time ago.

Our kid would have one! The moment we won the bid on our home purchase, the idea gears were in full motion. We knew the room to hold it would be large enough (not some small attic room with a half wall, in other words), so about a week before we closed the deal, hubby began what is in my opinion--his best project of all time!

We wanted it to be fully functional both upstairs and downstairs and also fit a double/standard size mattress. We drew out some simple plans, purchased supplies and began in my parent's garage. Then, we disassembled and reassembled it in her new room. A couple coats of paint and a little decor were all we needed after that.

And so, without further adieu, here's the story... in photos:


Little helper

Reassembly and painting begun

Little helper again

Finishing touches

Completed bedhouse!

View of upstairs

Side view with ladder

Cat on the roof--what a perk!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Typical Errand Involving Junk Food

Does anyone else have trouble not picking up junk food when you make a quick trip to the grocery store? I sometimes eat something I'd not eat otherwise except for there it is staring at me in the check-out line at Kroger. It says to me, "Oh, come on, just this once!"

For my husband, it's Reece Cups. My kryptonite? Chocolate-iced doughnuts, but let's not even discuss how I eat those until I make myself sick.

Today, he came home from Kroger with peanut butter cups that claim to have no GMOs, partially hydrogenated oils, preservatives, artificial ingredients or corn syrup. Read about it here:

They were right in the check out lane at Kroger and from their Website, they appear to be at a good many stores already. Try them out. Next time those shall-not-be-named peanuts & chocolate bars call out to me, I'm going to try the UNREAL version instead.

Learning to Make Bread

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to attend a bread making class with a friend of mine. Her friend Rena of The Royal Slice of Bread blog put on the class, which was basically a trial run for teaching bread-making classes in the future, which she hopes to do. Her post about the class.

It went great! Though I grew up watching my mother make bread, I never really learned the process. I saw it, but I didn't internalize it, memorize it. I also watched mom make pie crust, but even with her recipe, mine were awful. But, back to bread. Another reason I didn't learn bread-making is because as time went on, my mom no longer made bread very often. When she did, it was a special, yummy treat!

And so I jumped at the chance to attend the class. After I left, I was eager to try my skills, and here's how my first try at home went. (By the way, I'm a visual learner if you can't tell.)

The dough after kneading

The best part has got to be watching dough double its size. Seems like some kind of  supernatural  power.

After I'd already kneaded, I decided to make one loaf into cinnamon-raisin bread, so I kinda rolled them in the best I could before putting the bread in pans.

My loaf pans are undersized, so...

After their second rise. The one on the left was so high I had to punch it down a bit before baking.

All done! They looked wonderful, but did they taste wonderful?

Indeed they did! 

I prefer the taste of whole wheat for most bread, but I didn't have any whole wheat flour, so for these loaves pictured I used King Arthur's white whole wheat which yielded a lighter taster than my preference.

I'm excited to have learned something and am going to keep on practicing and making my own bread as much as possible! If you're interested in one of Rena's classes, contact her via her blog or The Royal Slice of Bread on Facebook.

And finally, if making bread isn't your thing, you can still get excellent bread at a great price at Old Mill bread Company or at Kroger stores that carry their bread.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Just like her mom

In working on a different look for the blog, I've loaded tons of new pictures for the side bar.  Some of the things might be familiar but others are things I hope to blog about in the future.

I'm still not finished with labeling them as I'd like to, but at least they are here.

A sampling:

At Cruze Farm's corn maze last fall, a mini paradise.

My cat and most recent painting in progress. A gift for my husband for our recent twelve year anniversary.

My dogs, one boy and one girl, always moving. Getting a picture of them is nearly impossible. 

Just like mom! Rescuing an earthworm who'd found itself in bad spot.