The Isolation of the Unknown: Living Without a Diagnosis

Whenever someone is experiencing an issue with their health, the most common course of action is to get a diagnosis. A medical diagnosis can provide answers, direction and allow for treatment to begin. But what happens when no one can find an answer? 

What if you are living with many physical symptoms that no doctor can explain? Or who simply ignores your symptoms and concerns and says " It's nothing" and doesnt give you the support you need? This experience is not only difficult due to the obvious physical pains, but it can also be incredibly isolating.

When a person does not have a diagnosis, it can be very hard to handle the uncertainty of what might be wrong. In some cases, doctors may suggest that the symptoms being experienced are all in your head or just part of “normal life”. This often leads to people feeling as though they are being ignored or dismissed. 100% the case in my situation. Over time, this lack of understanding from others can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

I am 6 months away from two years from the start of when all of my symptoms started ranging from tremors, myoclonic jerks, headaches, numbness, dizziness, nausea, muscle spasms, weakness, stiffness, spotty vision/sensitive eyes, pain, fatigue, cognitive difficulties, sensitivity to cold, electric like shocks through body, weird sensations (like water was spilt on me or hot spot flashes on my legs), spatial awareness difficulties, difficulties finding the right word/dysphonia (loss of volume in speech), issues with swallowing (dysphagia)...this doesn't even include everything.

Another challenge that I face and people like me face; when living without a diagnosis is the inability to connect with others who may have similar experiences. If someone has been diagnosed with cancer or another disease, there are many support groups available for them to turn to for help and advice on how best to deal with their situation. However, without any concrete information about what is going on in their body, it is much more difficult for people without diagnoses to find someone who understands what they are going through or how it affects them physically and emotionally. I have joined a few groups on social media but without a diagnosis I feel like a cheat.

Being unable to get a diagnosis can lead to feelings of depression and more stress or anxiety due to the uncertainty surrounding your health issues. You may feel overwhelmed by the unknown or frustrated with the lack of progress in finding a diagnosis. I give myself a day saying "this sucks" then get up and move on. The longer it takes for a diagnosis, the closer the "this sucks" days get. Staying positive. Doing things I love and being with people I love makes the difficult days easier.

From experience, living without a diagnosis can be an incredibly lonely experience. I do not wish this on anyone and hope you do not need to wait for the answer but if you are going through something like this it is normal to feel this way. Remember that you're not alone, there are many people that care about you and want nothing more than for you to find relief from your symptoms. Continue to take care of yourself through self-care activities, talking to family and friends until a diagnosis finally comes along.

The Reality of Cognitive Delay from Brain Lesions

Have you ever experienced an embarrassing moment when you forgot a word or were unable to recall an answer? We’ve all experienced these moments, but for those with brain lesions the effects are much worse. After my first MRI in May of 2022 I was informed I had three lesions on my brain and one on my spine. These embarrassing moments are an everyday occurance. Something that I don't talk about cause it really makes me feel less then and like a failure. However, I feel like the more I talk about it the answers to my health issues might come. 

Im not a doctor but have learned a few things so...let’s take a closer look at what brain lesions mean and how they can affect cognition.

Not pictures of my brain. Image found on Google.

Brain lesions are areas of tissue damage or scarring in the brain that are caused by trauma, infection, stroke, multiple sclerosis and more. While not all brain lesions cause serious problems, some can cause long-term health issues such as seizures (for me they show up as myoclonic jerks). These lesions cause difficulty moving certain parts of the body, vision problems, cognitive delays, memory loss, weakness, numbness, shaking/tremor, headaches, stiffness, mood changes, balance and spatial awareness.

Cognitive delays occur when the brain is unable to process information quickly enough or accurately enough to respond in a timely manner. These delays can range from mild to severe depending on the size and location of the lesion and how it affects the brain’s ability to process information. People diagnosed with cognitive delays may experience difficulty in completing tasks that require problem solving skills or recall of facts and information. They may also struggle with concentration, focus, and organization. This can lead to embarrassment in social situations as well as difficulty with daily tasks such as cooking dinner or completing simple chores around the house.

It's not easy seeing this cognitive  change in yourself. Brain lesions have a profound impact on emotions. I myself often experience instant memory loss, difficulty concentrating and processing information quickly.  I have periods of sadness and struggle over the old me that I have and little things can be challenging but I fight through these difficulties everyday. I am hoping that by understanding this condition more deeply we can come together and provide better support systems for those who are struggling with it daily. You are not alone in this if you too battle with these cognition delays from brain lesions...maybe you aren't aware you have brain lesions but feel these challenges daily too. Know that I understand.

Cognitive delay from brain lesions is often debilitating and embarrassing. Awareness about this topic helps create understanding among us all while providing needed support for those who live with this diagnosis every day. It's time we start talking about cognition delays from brain lesions because it affects more people than we realize - especially mothers who struggle everyday!

How I suvived 2022: A Year of Growth and Resilience

2022 was a year unlike any other. It was filled with both joy and pain, but in the end, it was one of growth and resilience.

Kaitlin turned 14 and started HIGH SCHOOL. How is she going to be 15 in just a month?! 
Sarah turned 13 and learned to adapt to change when a friend moved after losing her mom.
Leah (the baby...but don't tell her that I called her that) turned 10 and started middle school. Did her personality ever come out this year.
I am BLESSED and thrilled to be their mommy and look forward to every day with them in 2023.

Why are family pictures so challenging to This is us! 

I celebrated 15 years of marriage with ups and downs, laughter, loads of adventures, connection and love. F I F T H T E E N years. That's huge.

I went back to work for the first time in 14+ years. I was angry that it had come and felt like I a failure...but was pleasantly surprised. Being surrounded with children and playing during my work hours makes me happy, feel worthy and needed.

I packed up a home...the only home my daughters knew. A home we called home and that holds 15 years of memories. We found our dream home in a crazy housing market. If you need a realtor for the Calgary and surrounding area I can set you up. Carlin was the bomb and made the whole house hunting and preparing our home less stressful and enjoyable. She helped us find a home we love and one we will continue to make many memories in. We are still in awe and after 5 months say "how is this house ours".

I created and self published seven books onto Amazon. Five journals and two colouring and activity books. I am busy working on completing my written children's book in my little bit of spare time. It is coming and when it is ready it will be absolutely perfect. I recently connected with an amazing illustrator with beautiful artwork so it is coming. I am just SO proud of myself.

I enjoyed watching and cheering at multiple games as my middle and oldest daughters ran on the soccer field scoring goals, giving it their all and playing as a team.

And for the not so easy part of my year...a year full of tremors, jerks, headaches, body pain and discomfort, MRIs and learning I have brain lesions. Dizziness, numbness, brain fog, muscle spasms, weakness, balance issues, blurry vision, extreme sensitivity to cold, stiffness, perception difficulties, sleep disturbances, fatigue, hot flashes in my legs and more. Most would be beside themselves with this occurring day in and day out and more so when doctors refused to give answers, not listen and say it is "nothing" yet utter words like multiple sclerosis and lyme disease. Through it all I have stayed positive (since the very start in July 2021). Eighteen months later and still no real answers I continue to stay positive but some days are challenging and staying in bed till noon is just what my body needs. I am hoping and praying for more answer soon so I can do my best to heal my body and have more good days.

It was certainly not an easy year, but one that I am so proud to have survived!

A few things that kept me going with the obstacles I faced was acceptance. Even though it felt when I took two steps forward, something would happen that would push me three steps back, I accepted my situation for what it was. This allowed me to focus on finding solutions rather than wallowing in self-pity or beating myself up for things that were beyond my control...I would give myself time, cry and pick myself up and continue. I found the things I was grateful for and focused on them.

I surrounded myself with supportive people (and I am BEYOND thankful for them).
These people lifted my spirits and showed me I have so much to be grateful for. Family members, friends, even co-workers; they all played a role in helping me stay positive even when things didn't always seemed positive. Knowing that there were people rooting for me kept me going.

I took care of myself —mentally and physically. Whether this meant taking time out each day for positive affirmations, self care, prayer, cuddling with my girls, binge watching Netflix, creating my books or staying in bed till noon; whatever gave me peace of mind, body and wellness became a top priority throughout 2022.

In the end, 2022 turned out pretty fantastic. Most importantly, however, is the fact that I learned so much about myself during this journey through growth, acceptance and resilience. 

I look forward to 2023 and walk in with a clean slate and filling the pages with love, more growth and health. 

Happy New Year. Sending blessings, health, happiness and the best in 2023!

A Winter Wonderland of Colouring and Activities for the Family

It's wintertime, and that means it's time to bundle up and get cozy! But there are only so many things you can do before everyone starts getting bored. That’s why I created my NEWLY released colouring and activity book, My Winter Colouring and Activity Book! This book is designed to give moms and kids something fun to do together during those long winter days.

This Winter book is jam-packed with pages of activities that will keep your family busy all winter long. There are coloring pages featuring your favorite winter scenes, word searches to find hidden words about winter, mazes to help hone problem-solving skills, crossword puzzles that will teach your kids new vocabulary words, and more!

But what makes this book special is its focus on bringing families closer together. It provides an opportunity for moms and children to spend quality time together working on puzzles or talking about funny facts. With every page filled with laughter-inducing pastimes and creative activities that require collaboration between parent and child, this activity book promises to be a great bonding experience for all involved. And since it's light enough you can take it anywhere (even on a plane!), you'll never be without something fun to do while traveling...or just staying warm in the house.

If you’re looking for a fun way to keep your family entertained this winter season without breaking the bank or spending hours searching for activities online—look no further than My Winter Colouring & Activity Book—this book is sure to bring lots of smiles (and maybe even a few laughs) into your home this holiday season. So don’t wait any longer - pick up My Winter Colouring & Activity Book today!

The Importance of Toxic Free and Safe Products

I remember when I was a teenager, I would use whatever product was popular, regardless of whether it was safe or not. All the little bottles and pretty makeup colors caught my eyes and I wanted to try them all. I didn't think about the long-term effects of the chemicals I was putting on my skin or in my hair. Now years later, I realize how important it is to use toxic free and safe products, especially on and around my children...and they know it too.

The skin is the largest organ in the human body, it absorbs everything that is put on it in just 22 seconds. So, when you use products that contain harmful chemicals, those chemicals go directly into your bloodstream. That's why it's so important to use toxic free and safe products, especially if you have young children. 

There are a lot of toxic chemicals in common household products, like cleaning supplies, personal care products, and even some children's toys. These chemicals can lead to serious health problems, like cancer, reproductive issues, and neurological disorders. So, it's important to be aware of the ingredients in the products you use and to choose toxic free and safe alternatives whenever possible.

How do you know what is bad and what is safe? These are David Sazuki's Dirty Dozen...we will look at a couple in depth below.EAD THE “DI DOZEN”BACKGROUNDER

Coal tar dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number
Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)

One of the most common toxic chemicals found in household products is phthalates. Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften plastics and make them more pliable. They're found in everything from shampoo and soap to toys and food packaging. Studies have shown that exposure to phthalates can disrupt the endocrine system and cause developmental and reproductive problems.  

Another common toxic chemical is bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is used in hard plastics and the lining of canned foods. It's been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, as well as developmental problems in fetuses and young children.

Most fragrance is made from a mixture of chemicals that can cause a variety of health problems. These chemicals are easily absorbed into the body through the skin, and they can enter the bloodstream and travel to different organs. Some of the most common health problems caused by exposure to fragrance include headaches, dizziness, respiratory problems, and skin irritation. In addition, certain chemicals found in fragrance have been linked to cancer and hormone disruption. For these reasons, it is important to be aware of the potential risks before using any product that contains fragrance. Many people choose to avoid fragrance altogether, or opt for products that only contain natural fragrances.

These are just three examples of the many toxic chemicals that are found in everyday household products. When you use these products, you're exposing yourself and your family to these dangerous chemicals. That's why it's so important to switch to safe, toxic-free alternatives. 

Toxic free and safe products are important for everyone to use but especially for children. Their skin is more absorbent than adults so they are more susceptible to the harmful effects of chemicals. There are a lot of great companies that make toxic free and safe products so there is no excuse not to switch to them. Your skin will thank you!
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