Friday, December 31, 2010

-Never say Never-

We had a fantastic Christmas with our family. We were fortunate to have both sets of parents spend Christmas at our home. What a gift it was to have them get up with the girls Christmas morning and share in the excitement. Even though it was 6am and we’d all like to get another 3-4hrs sleep it was a wonderful memory we will cherish forever.

Today, December 31, 2010, we all look toward what the New Year will bring and also reflect on the last year. For 2010 it is going down as the year I learned to “never say never”! So many lessons learned this past year and so many wonderful experiences and some not so lovely experiences have brought us to this day. In each experience we learn something, even if you don’t realize it at the time.

Here are the highlights of our year (definitely a year to remember):

  • January – We enjoyed a lot of outdoor time building snow forts and snowmen, skating and sliding.
  • February – My husband attended his med school interview on my birthday. We packed our bags and headed to Florida with my parents!
  • March – We received my husband’s acceptance to Medical School!!
  • April – Celebrated our oldest daughter’s birthday. We began to try and figure out our next steps in life…move, commute, accept?
  • May – I ran my 1st Half Marathon (1st never say never teaching moment “I’ll never run farther than 10kms”)
  • June – Listed our home for sale and made plans to move to another city (2nd never say never moment “I’ll never live in this city”)
  • July – Sold our home and took a trip to see a Taylor Swift Concert (The concert was a nice distraction at the time. A 3rd never say never moment “I’ll never take my kids to a concert”)
  • August – Moved into our new home and spent the first 3 days cleaning and painting the whole house.(4th never say never moment “I’ll never buy a split level house in half acre lot again”)
  • September – Sent my 3 students off to school and attended my husband’s “white coat ceremony”.
  • October – Celebrated our youngest daughter’s birthday and my husband’s. We also mourned the loss of a dear Uncle.
  • November – Celebrated my husband being the recipient of a very generous bursary for med school (what a huge relief!!!) (5th never say never moment. “We’ll never win this!”)
  • December – Held a family open house with 57 guests! Had our first Christmas in our new home!

We’ve all had some crazy years, good and bad. The last few years we’ve had a share of not so great ones; from being laid off just before Christmas (both of us) to various health problems. But we’ve always remained strong as a family unit and that is largely due to the people we are surrounded by. Our families are strong and have always been supportive, in an unbelievable way. Our friends new and old have been encouraging and given us great strength.

We want to say thank you to our amazing family and friends that have supported us in our recent adventures, even when we’re sure some may have shook their heads in confusion. Thank you for your continuous encouragement and we wish you all the happiness possible in 2011. Happy New Year, bring on 2011. We have so many great adventures to look forward to.

As Gloria Swanson stated “Never say never, for if you live long enough, chances are you will not be able to abide by its restrictions. Never is a long, undependable time, and life is too full of rich possibilities to have restrictions placed upon it.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

5 more sleeps…

Ever since we’ve had our children we calculate everything by “sleeps”, for some reason it simplified things for them and for us.

My husband writes his first exam in 5 sleeps, on Saturday morning at 9am he will be sitting down to write the first test that will begin his long journey of examinations.

As I sit and write this entry I am surrounded by papers, and diagrams in the office. When I look closely at the massive whiteboard that is filled with words that I can’t even pronounce let alone have a clue what they mean, I am overwhelmed with the knowledge a physician has to ascertain (and this is only year 1!!). It seems nearly impossible for one to cram all of this knowledge into one’s brain!

He’s been studying day and night for weeks now in preparation for this exam and will for the next 5 sleeps…we are all very much looking forward to getting over this first hurdle so we as a family unit can move forward and get some quality time together.

The girls are dealing with my husband’s nonstop studying fairly well. This past weekend we travelled home and had to leave my husband behind to study. This was hard for him as well as us because he was missing family and friend annual parties that we always looked forward to attending together. But he was happy to see us arrive home with a plate full of food for him and even a gift from the Yankee swap. We’re making the best of our situation and realize that life could and will be so much more difficult. But at the same time we’re sad to not have him by our side.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Monday!

I just got the kids shipped out the door and they undoubtedly missed the bus today. So my husband would be dropping them off, which is probably good since my oldest daughter had her project to bring in today. They were up on time but just moving at turtle speed today. I can’t say I blame them as we half expected a snow day today but we didn’t get it.

This past weekend was wonderful, probably my favourite weekend here so far. We spent Saturday morning searching for a tree farm in the area and had no luck. So we ended up at the local market to get our tree. We “thought” we found a perfect tree, so we loaded it onto our vehicle and home we went.

In the evening the girls and I headed out to get supplies for our Gingerbread house constructing that would happen Sunday. We also had to pick up more recipe/index cards for my husband's studying…he’d already written out 100 and needed more. Gulp!

Sunday we pulled our Gingerbread house planning together and decided on a “simple” pattern. My youngest and I prepared the dough and baked the pieces. The girls and I had fun putting it together. My husband stopped by for a study break to get a few pieces of candy and helped hold things together. I was pleasantly surprised at how easily it went together…..I truly anticipated the house collapsing and melt downs occurring. But here is the end result…

Penguin family

The tree also got put up today too. It on the other hand is not so pretty but it is what it is.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Family Update...

Life in the Wood household is going well. The Christmas decorations have come out in full force and we are on our way to being ready for Old St. Nick. Griswold (AKA my dear husband) has managed to turn our outdoors into Candyland. The girls and I take care of the indoor decorating aside from the tree. The tree is always a family event and we strive to make it as “enjoyable” as possible.

My husband has his first exam in mid December and he’s been preparing for it since week 1. What a tremendous amount of work, but nothing can stop him he’s determined and loves it.

My oldest daughter is working on her first school project of the year and is still struggling through some anxiety from the move. But she’s doing well and making some lovely friends along the way.

My youngest daughter is this resilient little individual and not much seems to faze her. School is going well for her and she’s been singing us some pretty Christmas songs in preparation for her upcoming Christmas concert.

I still play my part in fretting about all three of them. Worrying if my oldest daughter is too stressed out sometimes and takes life too seriously, while on the other hand I’m concerned that my youngest is just being strong to keep her Mom and Dad from worrying. But at the end of the day I look at us and think we’re doing pretty darned good.

Now it’s time to get focused on what’s next for me and where I fit into this puzzle aside from being the organizer/cook. I’m not working but hope to find something in the new year that will pan out. I’ve let my running slip quite terribly so my plan is to get back at it. I need to start making this place my home too, now that I know the rest of the family is on its way to a successful transition.

For now I’m getting shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning and taxiing done. I’m enjoying almost every minute of it and looking forward to the future.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Parachute Released…

In my first post I wrote about the adventure we have embarked upon and taking the leap of faith; my husband going to medical school and us deciding to move our family and taking on a huge financial debt in order to make it all happen. We made ourselves as financially fit as possible and never looked back.

A few weeks ago we had a parachute release in our leap of faith! The most incredible news arrived; my husband was informed that he was the recipient of a very generous bursary that would help us significantly over the next 4 years and really our lifetime. When we received this amazing news I found myself in tears for 20 minutes, the tears were a mix of joy and a release of stress. At that point I realized the financial burden was affecting me more than I thought (or allowed myself to think).

Not only will this alleviate some burdens over our years while he’s in university but it will allow us to focus on the future of our family.

It was another little message to us that we have gone down the right path and that we need not have fear as life’s journey has ups and downs. We know there will be rough times ahead as we’ve all had in the past but for now enjoy the moments when we can and know that as my husband always has said “it always works out in the end”. Sometimes it’s just hard to see past the difficult times but those times too shall pass.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What is Lyme Disease?

Well in hindsight I should have made this post before my last one...since my life was absorbed by this disease for some time I forgot that others may not have a clue what this disease is. I didn't have a clue what it was 5 yrs ago.

I'll try to keep it short as I don't want Lyme to be the only topic I discuss on here but it is something very important to me and it's critical that others are aware of this disease and how it is caused!

According to our public health agency :

What is Lyme Disease?
"It is an illness caused by the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, which can be spread through the bite of certain types of ticks. Lyme disease in humans can have serious symptoms but can be effectively treated. Lyme disease has been reported in parts of Europe, Asia, and throughout much of North America. "

How does one get Lyme disease? "Ticks get infected when they feed on mice, squirrels, birds and other small animals that can carry the bacterium. Ticks then spread the bacterium to humans. Two types of ticks are responsible: the western blacklegged tick in British Columbia and the blacklegged tick, sometimes called the deer tick, in other parts of Canada. People can’t spread Lyme disease to each other."

What are the symptoms? "The symptoms of Lyme disease usually happen in three stages, although not all patients have every symptom. The first sign of infection is usually a circular rash called erythema migrans or EM. This rash occurs in about 70-80 percent of infected people. It begins at the site of the tick bite after a delay of three days to one month. Other common symptoms include fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes.

If untreated, the second stage of the disease can last up to several months and include central and peripheral nervous system disorders, multiple skin rashes, arthritis and arthritic symptoms, heart palpitations, extreme fatigue, and general weakness.

If the disease remains untreated, the third stage can last months to years with symptoms that can include recurring arthritis and neurological problems. "

With our deer population in NB going up (obviously some deer from our American border are making the journey over to us), Lyme has become a very serious issue in our province. You may have seen posters and TV and Radio ads talking about Lyme this year. It's an issue and you need to be educated about it.

Get out and enjoy our beautiful forests but just protect yourself and be aware. I now have deer sleeping in my backyard and running through my back lawn daily, so I need to be vigilant with checking my dog and my children but I refuse to let it stop us from enjoying our outdoors!

Thanks for your time! Next post won't be as serious...I'll lighten up.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Battle with Lyme Disease (the short story version)

I realize my blog posts are all over the place but I never intended to remain consistent and “chapter” like. So today I write about Lyme disease, this disease has affected me personally and I believe making people aware of it is the first step in helping…...

Here’s my story…

Late summer of 2005, our family went on a wonderful camping trip to the White Mountains. It was a great time filled with lovely memories. About 8 weeks later I began to get sick with flu like symptoms, not thinking much of it since it was flu season. I never fully recovered and lost about 10 lbs. Christmas came and went and my energy level kept plummeting. Keeping in mind that up to this point I was quite active running approximately 5-10kms 3 to 4 times a week, playing basketball plus working fulltime and managing the regular mom duties. I just chalked it up to it being the holidays and thought I’d regain my strength after I caught up on some rest.

In late February of 2006, I came down with strong flu symptoms again, including a fever (daily) and joint pain in my left knee. I never had joint pain in my life so it was very unfamiliar to me. The joint pain went to my left arm/elbow also. Along with this I got a severe sinus infection and was placed on strong antibiotics. The antibiotic treatment improved my symptoms and slowly but surely I was feeling better. One week after completing the antibiotics I started to get all the symptoms back and I was prescribed another strong antibiotic and sent on my way. Meanwhile, I began to have various issues with the left side of my body, not only was I getting joint pain but I had muscle twitches constantly, numbness in my limbs and face. It was a very scary experience as I was faced with new symptoms daily!

My family Doctor referred me to an ENT for my constant sinus infections, he was no help. I then went to an Infectious Disease specialist to look at the constant fevers, flu symptoms, joint pain etc. I remember waiting to go in to see him and fighting back tears wondering what could be happening to my body. I knew something was seriously wrong. I was poked and prodded and my blood was taken and tested for so many things but it kept coming back perfect. Thankful for good results but very frustrated, as I knew this was not in my head…why in the world would I want to waste any of my precious life going from Dr to Dr when I had my amazing family to be making memories with?

Eventually I was referred to a Neurologist by my family doctor. After meeting with the neurologist who was very thorough, it was decided that I get an MRI of my brain as the focus was on MS.

My symptoms were changing daily and I fought it as hard as I could. I still had a family to take care of and work to do. It was the most difficult time in my life; there were days I remember sitting at the desk in tears just trying to get through my work day. I would get home to my 2 young adorable daughters and I’d be so wiped out that I would have to go straight to the couch and crash. Meanwhile my daughters (5 yrs and 3 yrs) would sometimes have to make themselves peanut butter sandwiches for supper if my husband wasn’t home. The girls were wonderful helpers but not something they should have had to do. They missed their mom that used to go for walks and play with them and so did I.

My MRI came back clear thankfully but my symptoms continued to beat me down. My neurologist put me in the hospital for a week to run various tests which included a spinal tap, nerve conduction tests, blood work, and x-rays. She wanted to make sure she wasn’t missing anything. I am very thankful for her thoroughness, she did test me for Lyme but the result came back negative. Everything came back negative.

After about 2 years of tests etc the neurologist sent me to a rheumatologist. I was handed the all too common “fibromyalgia” diagnoses. The rheumatologist sat expressionless and stated you have fibro and there is nothing we can do for you, you have to take care of yourself. Try going to the gym and getting active was her advice. Seriously! I was so wore out and fed up by this point, I quietly walked out of her office in disbelief.

Shortly after this I ran into an acquaintance of mine that had talked to me about Lyme a few times before but I had dismissed it because of my test results. I took it as a sign that maybe I should do something about it….she was my angel in disguise and to this day I am so thankful for her support!

A month later, her and I were having coffee and sending my blood work to the States to be tested. Three weeks later I get the results and sure enough it was POSITIVE for Lyme disease. An amazing dedicated Dr from BC reviewed my results and explained them to me. He also took the time to call my neurologist and explain the treatment I needed. The end result being that my neurologist and family Dr were hesitant and truly did not think it was Lyme. But my family Dr decided she’d seen me go through enough and the treatment that was recommended would not harm me. She treated me and after 7 months of treatment I gained my life back!! Unbelievable! It was a slow process and it was a roller coaster but I am almost 2 years “Lyme free”!!!

I ran a half marathon on Mothers Day in celebration of getting my life back. I know how fortunate I am and am thankful every single day of my life! Thank you to the amazing people who stood by and supported me through this rough road! There is hope and healing can be achieved. Keep fighting it’s worth every minute of it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

We just got back from visiting our families over the Thanskgiving weekend. We spent 5 days at my parents home. We had a lovely time and enjoyed every minute of it. Lots of time spent outdoors and some special visits with grandparents, and I even got out for a run with my old running buddies! Time spent with family and friends now seems to be even more special than when we lived just minutes away. Does distance give us more appreciation of what we have? Or is it that we know our time is limited so we savor the moments more? I’m not really sure what the answer is but whatever the reason, we all seem to have a greater appreciation of our visits now.

This week the full schedule is kicking into high gear with the extracurricular activities all starting up. The kids have gymnastics and basketball practices, plus games on the weekends now. I will be coaching our oldest daughter’s basketball team this year and am really looking forward to it. I have two assistant coaches, so it should be great for the girls and me. My husband’s study schedule is ramping up and he’s pretty much in study mode from dawn to dawn! I have yet to get working (well the paying kind anyway) I’ve been plenty busy but really am looking forward to getting employed!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Embrace Change

I was driving home last night and noticing the sudden colour change in the leaves, for the past couple of weeks my family has been watching and waiting for this to occur and it seems like it happened overnight. I have usually been one to embrace change, I like change.....not just the change that jingles in your pocket but the evolving change. The one that makes us all think more about who we are and how life affects us.

This brings me to my reason for creating this blog. Life in my world has been turned upside down and a little topsy turvy. Our family has recently gone through my husband quitting his wonderful job in the IT industry that he's worked in for 15 plus years, leaving our friends and family, moving to a new city, starting our children in new schools…to name just a few.

In March of 2010 my husband came home with a letter in his hand and a face that looked like a deer in headlights. He handed the letter to me and I jumped for joy. This moment changed our lives forever; my husband is going back to university and fulfilling his dream of becoming a Doctor.

While the initial shock took many weeks to set in, big decisions had to be made. We talked to our daughters and other close family members and friends about our decision. We even contemplated just keeping on in our current life, and moving forward with our comfortable lifestyle and keep our family stable.

We also had the financial aspect of it to clearly verify how in the world we would be able to do this. Going from a comfortable income down to pretty much a very low income (I’m a teacher assistant and LOVE my job but the pay is not the reason I chose this career) to support our family was daunting. But in the end our decision was yes we can do this!

Why on earth would we choose this? Because we are taking a leap of faith and living life how it’s meant to be. I truly believe in what’s meant to be is meant to be and everything happens for a reason.

The move is now complete (thanks to our awesome family and friends for their relentless help!!), school has started for all 3 of my family members and we are doing well so far….Let the adventures continue…