Snow Snow Rambling Snow Snow

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The first big snow of the season is supposed to come this weekend. Sure, we’ve had a dusting or two, maybe a couple of inches, but they are saying it could be 6-10 inches over the course of 48 hours.

As much as I hate Winter, I do look forward to the first snow storm. Something about it brings out something very childlike in me. I have so many memories attached with the first snow and getting excited for Christmas, that I can’t help but be a little bit thrilled when the first snow storm hits. Not to mention, we’ve had a handful of years where it didn’t snow until after January, so huzzah to snow for Santa.

I do have some things to do before the snow gets here. I decided against putting up Christmas lights on the outside of the house, (got the inside covered!) but I do need to move some things into the shed and pull out the snow shovels. Just generally clean up the yard so I don’t have to do quite as much in the spring. The snow is supposed to start tomorrow evening, so I know what my day plans are for tomorrow.

Thankfully I don’t have any plans for this weekend. I did most of my present – shopping online this year, so beyond one more day with a trip to a couple stores, I’m done. So while the snow is piling down, I’ll be at home with my tea, occasionally shoveling but mostly binge watching Netflix and random cleaning. Unfortunately the boyfriend, Jon has to work, so I’ll be worried about him driving, but I’m sure he’ll be fine. Hopefully the snow slows down by Monday so my own commute to work won’t be too bad.

Other than my excitement for the white shit that falls from the sky, things are.. okay. The short kid is excited for Christmas, I got her one big present and some smaller things, and of course Santa is coming to my house and Grandma and Grandpas.

I’m trying to share in her excitement but of course, for I assume all single parents, the holidays are a stressful time. Jon has helped out with some gifts, and has been helping me tackle some things around the house I haven’t had time for so that’s definitely been helping. Just trying to stay on top of all the household chores and the finances is kicking me when I’m already down.

Of course my FMLA for work had expired, and getting it renewed isn’t exactly easy. I’m trying to be patient and understanding, but it hasn’t been easy on the corporate side of things. Thankfully I have a couple of friends who either work in employment law or are very familiar with FMLA that are guiding me through it. Of course, all of that just adds stress on top of what I already am dealing with, plus being sick. That’s how it always works. When it rains, it pours. (Or in this case, SNOWS!)

Other than that, one thing I don’t have to worry about is my car. My lovely Rav4 hit 250,000 miles the other day. We rebuilt the transmission 2 summers ago, so that’s been good. However, my wheel bearing went out. I went to get that replaced, and also replaced the ball joint as well as finally getting new tires for it. It was time, I couldn’t put it off any longer as they were pretty bad and I was sliding on just wet pavement. Of course that set me back quite a bit, but it needed to be done, and thankfully it is done just before the big snow.

I am still reminding myself to think of the good things, because like anyone else under a lot of stress, it’s easy to take life for granted. I’m very lucky, even though I’m having a tough time with my health, I’ve also been much sicker. I may be stressing about finances, but I have my house, car and decent job. I may get overwhelmed, but I’ve got a smart cookie for a kid, and a very loving boyfriend (who brought me a chai at work today because I was having a rough day!). There’s an upside to everything, and I am very blessed to have the life I do and the people in my life.

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.. because I’m still here.

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I planted my garden today with a little help from Stevie. Apparently, I’m still not strong enough to drive those metal poles (for my cucumbers and green beans) into the ground far enough to be stable. I planted two different kinds of tomatoes, some bell peppers, of course my green beans and cucumbers (cucumber salad here I come!), radishes, lettuce and carrots. I’m excited that it’s finally warming up enough to plant, although we had a frost advisory last night.

I didn’t plant any flowers yet, that’ll be next paycheck as I tend to go a little overboard with them. Definitely looking forward to picking them out. I know I’m going to get Margarite Daisies, Snapdragons, and some double impatiens if I can find them. I have so many pots to fill, and a flower bed (any shadow loving flower suggestions anyone?). My short kid is in charge of her flower bed, so I’m assuming she’ll pick out the brightest colors she can find.

Haven’t been feeling my best lately, my Crohns is acting up just in time for World IBD Day. It’s really doing a number on my outlook/mood though. I guess I’m just frustrated that it’s limiting what I can do again, and I’ve been missing a bit of work. That, and of course, I’m worried that I’m going to make those around me upset. I’m sure my co-workers are getting tired of me being always sick, and I don’t want to worry my family. My daughter doesn’t seem too phased by it though, and Stevie is really understanding, which helps a lot.

I’m glad I was able to work through getting sick while weeding the garden earlier. I’m really proud of the fact that I was able to continue working through the pain (with the exception of a bathroom break) and get everything done. It really bothers me when I am not able to do what I used to, but I’m slowly learning how to pace myself and how to work around limitations. Although I’m pretty sure that I got a little snappy when I was offered help, but whatev.

Now? Time for some grilled pork chops (that I’m not grilling.. yay!), artichokes and baked beans. Then I shall be curling up to finish my book. Good weekend.

It’s been a long month.

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It’s been a busy, busy month. As most of you know, I have some health problems. Apparently, in addition to Crohns, my heart apparently has some quirks too.

My heart itself is fine, it just decides to beat excessively fast than it should at inappropriate times. It’s called Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia (which is part of SVT). It’s practically harmless, but insanely terrifying, especially if you don’t know what’s going on.. which I didn’t for the first few weeks it was happening. I’d be sitting down relaxing, or in the shower, and my heart rate would shoot towards 200.

So this month has been filled with appointments with cardiologists, kidney specialists, and an electrophysioligist. I had an heart study last week, with the hope to pinpoint and maybe to do an ablation if possible (before they thought it was IST).

For now I’m just going without medication. I had tried one, but it dropped my heart rate too low and I need to think on it. I have another appointment with my EP in 2 weeks to discuss. I guess I’m just happy knowing what’s going on, not as scary otherwise.

Beyond that, things have been pretty good. With all the crap going on, I was able to realize what was really important and what I actually wanted out of life. I’ve been spending a lot of time hanging out with Noodle as well as working on projects at home. Now that I have the heart stuff starting to get figured out, I’m going to focus on extra curricular stuff for Noodle and new social ground for myself. I do have to say, thinking you’re having a heart attack a few times, really helps you get over a break up. Haha.

Now it’s just time to weasel out some good swimming classes for the kid, and I’d like to find one of those beer & book clubs for myself. Wish me luck!

Random Ramblings Again

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It’s been so busy here, it’s unbelievable.  Here it is, already the middle of June and I am still feeling like it’s the beginning of spring.  Of course before I even register that it’s pretty much summer, school will be starting and summer will be over.

I went back to work about 3 weeks after getting out of the hospital.  Those 3 weeks at home weren’t exactly bliss.  What I was hoping for was 3 comfortable weeks to get back on my feet and spend some time with my kiddo.  What was it really?  It was filled with both my daughter and I getting a cold (which we both still have coughs from) and what I shall term the never ending headache.  (I’ll get to the headache later)

Honestly?  Those weeks I learned how inpatient I really am.  I do not like the whole “time to heal” bullshit, it’s basically admitting that I need help and downtime.  While being at home itself didn’t bother me, I didn’t like that my body couldn’t keep up with what I wanted to do around my house.  It was damn hard to sit there and know that chores needed to be done, but I could only do one thing before I wore myself out.

It was nice on one front though, I was able to take my time getting the short one ready for school in the mornings.  Eating breakfast was leisurely and filled with chatter.  I was able to get her home right after school, so afternoons were spent outside or hanging out together indoors.  I’ve only been back at work for just under a month, and I already desperately miss that extra time.

Noodle is perfectly content with going back to full-time daycare now.  Her daycare morphs into a summer camp every year (and is still cheaper than most daycares around here).  They go to the beach and water park on alternating weeks, and take field trips to go mini-golfing and to different parks around the area.  She’s already been to the beach once, to a joint with bowling and one of the many bouncy-house-filled-trampoline-places that have become ever so popular.  Summer camp is always so fun for her, while I feel guilty for missing out on time with her because I’m at work, she’s off having a blast!

Like I said though, I’m back to work.  It hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would.  It’s still taking some time for my brain to catch up on my tasks (which involve dimensions and math at the moment), but I’m getting there.  I never really got off of my sleep schedule, so that wasn’t/isn’t a huge issue.  The toughest part has been dealing with my apparently numerous health issues while trying to act like nothing is wrong at work.

I had an issue for a couple of weeks with one of my incisions, it kept opening up and was infected for a short bit.  Trying to take care of that, while wearing pants (it was right where the waist band sits) and talking to coworkers and customers wasn’t exactly my idea of fun.  That and the headache… or headaches… or whatever (again, I’ll get to that), it’s damn near impossible some days.

I feel bad because I know I’ve been snippy towards my coworkers, and I’ve made it a point to apologize and try to keep them in the loop with everything.  It’s still not their fault, but sometimes the pain and fatigue is a little much, and they’re in the wrong place.  They are basically like an extended part of my family at this point, so hopefully they take my apologies to heart and understand how rough it’s been.

So.. the headaches.  In a previous post I mentioned the first headache I got in the hospital.  The one that couldn’t be eased even with morphine, dilaudid, and ativan.  The one that made me think I was going to die?  Well.. apparently that’s part of my life for now.

Shortly after I got out of the hospital, I coughed (remember I got sick?) and BAM! my head exploded.  I dropped to my knees just holding my head.  4 hours later and I could function a bit like a human being.. but it left me with a low-to-mid grade headache that never went away.  So following the floor doctor’s instructions, I made an appointment with a Neurologist.  So for the better part of a month, if not more, I’ve had a headache every day.  Some days are worse, some days are tolerable.  Some days I am relatively normal?  Some days I just cry.

I went in to see my new doctor on Monday.  Very, very nice lady, who asked me a bajillion and one questions and preformed a neurological exam.  She’s not entirely convinced that the headaches are migraines for a few reasons, the biggest being that when I have a headache, light and sound don’t hurt me.  Just motion.  She’s trying to figure out what kind of headaches they could be.

However, since the first one I ever had was in the hospital after major surgery, she wants to rule out a blood clot or something along those lines.  I had a MRI while I was in the hospital, which was clear for massive clots and tumors, but she wants me to have an MRV and MRA, which are similar but look at the arteries and veins in your brain.  That appointment is on Monday.  In the meantime, I’m on a headache preventative and I have some pain pills as back up.  I know I have to give the medicine time, but seeing as how I had vision changes which bloomed into a huge headache (luckily it popped in my mind that the vision changes I was having might be what’s called an aura… and took a pain pill before the headache hit… so I took the edge off) yesterday, that hasn’t left yet (although it’s a bit better this afternoon), I’m nervous.

To be completely honest, I am just scared that I’m going to end up with another chronic condition.  What if I end up having these headaches long term on top of my Crohn’s Disease?  I know that I’ll buckle down and make it through, just like I always have, but it’s terrifying to me to have to face something else.  I went into surgery with high hopes of an improved quality of life, come out and end up with headaches… and now what seems like Crohns symptoms.

Yeah, I have symptoms that remind me a bit of when I first got sick.  Odd stomach pains, running to the bathroom, etc.  I hoping it’s really just an oddity, a side effect of surgery.. maybe it’ll go away soon?  I’m giving it a little time to see, but then I’ll be calling my GI.  I really, truly hope that this isn’t the disease coming back already.

The whole headache/Crohns debacle just really gets to me.  Like I said, I let my hopes get really high for this surgery.  I’ve been sick (with good days at some points) for 8 years now, I allowed myself to hope that I’d get a break after surgery.  Coming out of the whole ordeal with a whole new health problem is… well.. it’s hard.

Honestly this is where I’m thankful for the people around me.  For Ry, who’s literally been by my side through all of this, from all the hospital visits to surgery, and now with head/neck massages when I want to crack my own skull in two.  I’m thankful for my daughter, who understands that sometimes mommy has to take it slow, and through living with me, has learned a compassion that most kids her age don’t get.  Sometimes her hugs and kisses (and HUGE art projects… excuse me, weather machine.. ahem) are just what I need to keep trucking.  Hell, I’m thankful for my coworkers who visited me at the hospital, and have been making sure I take care of myself at work.  All the way to my neighbors who have helped out all they can.

I did manage to feel pretty good for Noodle’s birthday WEEK though, so that’s a major bonus!  Yes, I said week.  The kid lucked out this year due to everyone’s schedules kind of colliding.  She got one Saturday at Grandma and Grandpas, her birthday at home, and a party with the neighbors the next Saturday.  I think my kid is actually sick of cake at this point.  She got a lot of great gifts too, I’m super glad she had fun, because she deserves it!

Which reminds me!  I got her last report card, and my kid got good marks in everything (except for handwriting… it’s messy).  She tested well in math and is super ahead in reading (that’s my gal!!).  I am definitely proud of my little monkey and how far she came these past two years.  We went from her not wanting to read, claiming she couldn’t, and flat out refusing to read out loud, to reading everything I give her, quickly too.  Definitely a proud mama here.

I think that’s enough for tonight though, I had a bunch of thoughts bouncing around in my head.. as you can see my writing is just all over the place.  However, if you  haven’t noticed, I’m not much one for proofreading, and sometimes I just have to get it out.

I’m off to bed.  Goodnight!

Stress, Happiness, Family, Home and Work: Rambling Does a Soul Good.

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This last year has been turbulent.  There were so many ups and downs (it seemed like more downs than anything to be honest) and to be completely honest, I was burning out and pretty damn near miserable.  The worst part is?  I didn’t realize how miserable I was, despite it tearing apart my life.

When you’re not happy, it truly does impact all aspects of your life.  A big part of my issue was work itself, and after I started burning out, I no longer wanted to be a part of it.  I felt helpless, taken advantage of, and angry.  Little did I know, I was taking all of that home with me.  My relationship with my boyfriend suffered, I was working 60+ hours a week, and was so crabby during what little free time I had, I threw most of it on him.  My daughter felt the brunt of it as well, I snapped on her for simple things more times than I’d like to admit.  Of course, working so many hours, made me feel like I missed out on her life (which I did, and I regret wholeheartedly), which made me resentful, which made me angry… and the cycle continued.

The stress from work, and my by that point, unhappy home life impacted my health.  In 2013, I had no hospitalizations.  In 2014 through now?  What, 3?  4?  With several ER trips in between?  It’s been ridiculous.  Crohns isn’t caused by stress, but it most definitely is impacted by it.  So, on top of everything at work, and at home… add in hospital trips.  When you add in hospitals, you have to remember to subtract pay and add stress at work from missing work.  Take all of that and re-route it back into the unhappy job, which leads back into the unhappy home.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

Towards the end of the year, I realized that work was my main issue, and was getting the impression that I was bringing it home and affecting my family.  I made a goal to make it through Christmas.  I had talked about it with Ryan, and once Christmas was past, I would make a decision and decide whether I would leave or stay.

Oddly enough the timing of that final conversation coincided with a demotion.  For whatever reason, my management decided instead of making changes I had been asking for, that it would be better to put me back into the customer service pool and bring back an old coworker as the new supervisor.  I jumped on it.  Sure, I was a bit angry, not at the demotion itself, but at the lack of help I had received, the lack of support I was given and the lack of training (which is improving markedly since then, might I add) for my position.  However, I knew I wasn’t right for the position yet, and at that point, I didn’t want it anymore.

Once I was firmly back in my customer service position, I vowed to leave work at work and to bring the happiness from home there.  I had never been good at separating work and home, never.  Not even when I first started working at 15 years old.  This time I was determined.  That was the first step.  Within a few weeks I was getting comments from family, friends and coworkers that I seemed markedly happier.  Little fights with the boyfriend seemed to happen less and less.  I started to sleep better at night and I realized that it was because once 5pm came along, I *refused* to be aggravated about work, I *refused* to be angry.  If I did manage to bring home those feelings, I did something immediately to put it out of my mind.

Since then, as the weeks pass, I realize what a mess I was.  I wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t eating well, and I was perpetually grumpy.  My Crohns Disease started to flare again around Christmas, and I have been back in the hospital twice since then (one was just an overnight, the other almost a week).  The downtime while being sick really pushed home the changes I needed to make.  I have been doing great leaving work at work, and enjoying my home life.  My stress levels were markedly lower once I started focusing on how much I enjoyed doing silly little activities with my daughter, once I started working on my hobbies again.  I started to tweak my diet and cut out some of the fattier foods I eat and try to cut down on coffee.  I quit smoking again (wish me luck) even… that’s the newest, I haven’t had a cigarette since Saturday.

Needless to say, I’ve noticed a huge difference in myself.  I’m enjoying my life a lot more now, and I finally feel like I have my priorities straight.  It took a long time for me to realize that my family and my health come first, no matter what.  No more going to work sick, no more sending my daughter to school with a cold, no more rushing back after hospital stays.  No more bringing home work and no more stressing about it after the day is done.  The benefit also crosses back into the office.  I feel happier heading into work (or at least the dread of a new day isn’t there anymore) and I take my lunch breaks and work on something I’d like to.  When you feel better, you tend to have a higher quality of work.  I  also make it a point to enjoy cooking (like I used to) and my family is benefiting from home cooked meals again.  I’ve even done my best to bring as much music and art as possible back into my home, which is one thing I noticed fell out of my life this last year.

So while I still have quite a bit going on with my health (new doctor, new medications, and new symptoms – a blog post for another time), I’m enjoying myself, my home and my job a lot more these days.  I wish I would have listened to my friends and family earlier, maybe I would’ve caught on to how miserable I really was.  However, you can’t change the past, you can only create the future, and more importantly, make sure you enjoy the present moment.  Here’s to hoping for a better year, a healthier life, and more happiness through out it all.

Confidence in a Smile

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Like pretty much everyone who exists, I have body issues that I try to ignore.  With Crohns (and Prednisone) my weight has yo-yo’ed quite a few times, with the biggest weight swings being upwards of 80lbs either way.  So I have plenty of issues with each size I’ve been in, and slowly as time goes on, I’m becoming more and more okay with the body I’m left with.

My smile though, it’s been less than perfect for years.  I’ve always had pretty crappy teeth.  I was that kid who had a dozen fillings before I even hit middle school.  I knew what a root canal was and had had teeth pulled before high school.  So yeah, crappy teeth.  It hasn’t been for lack of hygiene though.  I’ve always been very neurotic with brushing and flossing, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to make a difference.  I’m starting to guess it might be genetics, my Dad’s teeth aren’t much better than mine, and from what I hear, my Mom’s were pretty full of metal too.

A handful of years ago I had gotten a couple of cavities in between my front teeth.  I immediately sought out a dentist in my area to have them fixed.  I went in, was lectured and had them filled.  This is where it gets kind of hokey.  I went home that night and really inspected this lady’s work, it’s in the front of my mouth, so it was very visible.  I was already agitated because I could *feel* all the work she had just done and it was rough to my tongue.  I went and brushed my teeth, and realized that I couldn’t floss.  She had sealed my front teeth together.  I was appalled, it looked horrible.  My front two teeth looked like they were pretty much one solid tooth.  (Avoid Dental Dreams in Waukegan IL)

I went back to the dentist and asked her to fix it.  She pretty much just shrugged and told me that’s the way it was.  At that point, I was in a pretty big flare with Crohns (not to mention fresh out of a divorce) so money was pretty tight with everything going on.  I pretty much just resigned myself to a crappy smile and dealt with it while having every intention of going to get it done down the line.  It was just near impossible to spend money for vanity during that time, I was just happy they weren’t rotting anymore.

Fast forward a few years, other dental issues started popping up, but every time I had an appointment somewhere, I’d get sick and end up in the hospital.  I know in my case at least, with being chronically ill, teeth often get pushed to the end of the “to-do list”.  A couple of months ago, I made an appointment and stuck with it.  The dentist, while very nice, wanted to pull 7 teeth in back, add 7 crowns in front, and do several other procedures that were deemed necessary.  Okay okay okay, I figured, my teeth are horrible.  Why not?  They scheduled me for surgery, and I blindly trusted them… all the while waiting for a quote.  2 days before surgery, I got my final quote.  $18,000 total.  Yeah. You know, more than what my car is worth?  I just broke down, I didn’t have that kind of money sitting around, and they weren’t accepting payment plans for surgery and flat out refused to start any of the other basic work unless I had those 7 teeth pulled.  Good timing too, Crohns flare, annnnd back in the hospital I went anyway.

Thank god they over quoted me, thank god I cancelled that appointment.  (Future reference, avoid “Aria Dental” in Lindenhurst IL unless you want to be penniless and toothless)  I found a dentist through a friend and got a second opinion.  My quote?  Under $4,000:  Random fillings, 3 extractions, 2 crowns, 1 bridge, and ect.  I asked him why he wasn’t pulling more teeth, and was told there was no need, he could fix them and being that I’m only in my 20’s that should be any dentist’s goal is to keep my usable teeth.  The best part?  He accepts payment plans and will *not* bill me until it’s been run through my insurance.  The complete opposite of what Aria Dental did.

I met with him and explained that while there were other teeth that needed help, I really wanted my front teeth fixed, I had noted more decay.  I was honest, I told him it made me self conscious.  So I had my first appointment today, he immediately informed me that he wanted to extract one of the bad ones, to get that started and then work on my front teeth, purely so they could “make me smile”.  I walked in there nervous and scared, and walked out with perfectly repaired, shaped, and polished front teeth (and minus a far back molar).  He actually took the time to explain to me what he thought would be best, why he thought that, and what each appointment entails.  In a couple of weeks I’ll start a series of 3 appointments to get my teeth ready for and to build a bridge (I have two broken teeth in back, and you can almost kind of see one when I smile) so I can get full function back.

To say I almost hugged him is an understatement, the assistants (nurses?) were marveling at how much I was smiling when I left.  I almost hugged them when they REFUSED to accept payment until after they rant the insurance… no need for me to waste money I might not have too.

So at the end of the day I am thrilled, I’ve been popping in front of the mirror all day just to flash a smile.  They aren’t perfect (a little discolored, we’re going to talk about veneers down the line if I want) but it’s pretty damned close for me.  I’m just happy with the end result and the plans to fix the rest of my teeth.  It took several years and 3 different offices, but for the first time ever, I am happy with my smile.

 

 

 

(Sidenote:  While I have no problem putting Dental Dreams in Waukegan IL and Aria Dental in Lindenhurst IL on blast on a public forum, I haven’t listed my new dentist’s information for a reason.  I don’t want to have his name and or office come up with any kind of a negative review, even if it isn’t for his office.  Nor do I know if he’s okay with me posting his office name and such.  So I will keep that to myself unless you’d like to contact me for info.)

 

The Battle Begins

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So it looks like I’m being discharged shortly, I can’t wait to go home.  I’m feeling a bit better and can keep food down with minimum pain, and I am most certainly looking forward to stopping at Panera and grabbing a bread bowl with cheesy broccoli soup on my way back to the house.  As always, despite my bitching, all of the nurses, aides and doctors were wonderful here.  They were even wonderful the couple times I lost my shit because I was in pain/tired/or just a bitch.  Just another reason why I keep coming here for treatment despite it being 45 minutes from home.  Anyway, I am escaping!  Leaving!  Running home!  I can’t wait to see my kiddo and all the furry minions at the house.  :)

One part I’m not looking forward is getting my medications.  I am no longer going to be getting my Remicade infusions, I am being switched to Cimzia, which is an inject-able.  It’s not necessarily as strong as Remicade according to my GI doctor, but I’ve already built up a resistance to Humira and Remicade so I’m running out of options.  The nurse I have is looking into where I need to get the prescription from, and my GI already started the battle for it with my insurance.  Cimzia before insurance, is approximately $3,000 before insurance for 1- 200mg dose… and I need 2 doses for the first month.  My healthcare also will not cover it the drug with out “strong documentation” that all other drugs have failed me.  *sighs*  I always hate this part of it.  The last time this battle played out (beyond the one with Entocort, which I won pretty quickly) was when I went on Humira.  It took months to get my health insurance to approve it, and by the time they did?  Humira stopped working for me.   Yeah.  So I’m thrilled.  Beyond that I’m staying on my prescription for 6mp as well as taking favorite of all drugs : Prednisone (are you guys ready for mood-swings and moon-face???),  I can’t wait.

I don’t know.  I’m doing my best to not be stressed out about it.  Just focusing on getting home, getting relaxed and finishing getting well.  I want to be in top shape for my kiddo’s 7th birthday in a couple of weeks.  Wish me luck, and Crohns be damned.