We’re in a holding pattern.  A position unknowing.

Just waiting.  At the end of the month I will be going to OHSU in Portland to be evaluated by expert neurological docs.  We are hoping they might be able to distinguish if I have spinal damage, MS, or something totally random that we haven’t even heard of yet.    It takes a great amount of courage to believe God can make this mess beautiful.  He can.  I’ve seen it over and over in my life.  It’s just hard to apply that to yourself when you are in the throes of disappointment, discouragement, pain, and frustration.

Life just keeps getting messy.  Even with this major appointment on the docket, life doesn’t pause for us.  The flower shop is very much a fourth child.  It could be a really great gig for someone.  Honestly, it does pain me to think about selling it, but I think that’s what it might come down to.  Being the only shop in Weiser is beneficial to a degree.  The problems for us come in because in order to run a great business, I need to be there more.  I am physically worn out and am there as minimally as possible right now, which even on slow days for a few hours of standing, causes a lot of stress and physical pain.  It is very difficult on top of three children, homeschool, and my health.  My Toby is not able to keep a regular schedule with HP, so we don’t really know when he will or won’t be home to help with the kids so I can go to work.  His only day off is Saturday which he tries to enjoy training in Boise.  With everything that goes on Sunday – it is not a day off – and I guess that leaves me with no “real” days off to choose from.  Even on my days off I get calls from work, have to stress about upcoming funerals, holidays, and I have to be on call to come in and help. 

Without the shop, I still have three crazy kids and an extremely dirty house to keep up with.  I feel like the best decision for ME is to sell the shop.  Toby really wants me to hang on.  He wants the shop for our family and our future.  I get that, I do, but I am so tired of hanging on.  You don’t make a ton of money being self-employed.   So, there’s not like this financial money tree I’m hanging onto.  I really enjoyed the creative parts of the job and I totally rock at business when I’ve got my game face on.  I believe I could apply the same business skills I’ve learned at the shop to any industry and be successful. 

The problem is that there is dread where there was once joy.  Even if Toby comes in and takes over, I still have a lot of pressure on me to make product and be the back-up.  It would also be an extensively long transition period between when we could feasibly not need HP – probably a year or more. 

Ultimately, I don’t think the shop is conducive to my goals of health and healing right now.  Even though Toby is home 65% of the time, the other 35% that he is in Boise, is very difficult for me.  I am embarrassed to admit that.  Ashamed.  But, it’s true.  If you think about something you love, love, love to do and then throw on the aches and pains of a bad flu, you wouldn’t want to do it.  Try applying that same concept to things that you don’t even like to do everyday of your life.  It makes life suck.  I don’t want life to suck anymore.

I suppose I am going to honor my husband and hang on to the shop securely until after the June appointment.  Even if I felt better, do I really want to live the stress-filled life that comes with this business?  Do I want to have to juggle three kids and their schedules and Toby’s ever-changing HP schedule and mom’s cancer and chemo and employees…  do I really want that on top of the shop?  I don’t know.


My One Defense

44.  That is the number of days that I have been on this restrictive gluten-free, sugar-free, fat-free fiasco of a diet.  We’ve (me and Tob) been detoxified and cleansed.  We’ve been vitamin’ed up and herbally enhanced.  We’ve drunk a lot of water.  It’s been good and bad all at once.  The whole purpose and intention for this was to feel better.  A desperate attempt to change the direction of my health.

I wish I could say so many good things.  There are several, actually!  I am mentally and emotionally pleased with myself for accomplishing something hard.  Cutting out sugar is something I would not normally do with sound mind!  I love all the foods that are bad for me.  Getting to the point of being thankful for lightly salted vegetables and brown rice – a beautiful meal for millions in the world – was difficult for me.  Being thankful for the manna.  Will you choose to be thankful, or not?

As far as the effects of the diet on my health; I’m unsure of how this detox and cleanse have impacted my body at this point.  There are a few things I’ve definitely noticed:

1.  I have zero wart on my thumb.  My body was able to fight that off after a year of it being there.

2.  I’ve lost like 10 whole pounds!  My jeans fit better, I’m leaner and within a handful of pounds to my ideal weight.

3.  I’ve completed something I set out to do.

We are sticking with the diet indefinitely.  I know, right?  Who would do that?  It must be doing something, huh?  It’s hard to see the good that it could be doing right now.  I think I will have to give it long-term approval.  I am exhausted.  I was tired when I started this diet and I’m just as tired now, if not more.  Sleepy fatigue.  It is very frustrating.  I want to do so much, but I’m just inexplicably tired.  I’m still at that place where I’m not sure when to sleep and when to fight it.  Lately, sleep has won.  I’ve maintained a regular sleep schedule during this diet, and for most of the year so I’m not sure what more to try in this area.  There is some medication that my neurologist said I can take for the fatigue.  More pills.

My leg pain is steady.  I feel like my left knee and ankle are pretty weak these days, on top of the pain from the spasticity.  I take Baclofen for this and it definitely helps.  However, there is a deeper, wandering aching – almost like a toothache – type of pain that is almost always lurking deep in my legs somewhere.  I say “toothache” because it is often ranges like that annoying pain where you know something is wrong with the tooth all the way to needing a dentist right NOW because of the pain you can’t ignore.

In addition to needing help with the pain and fatigue, I have a few other things that I’m just now starting to personally research.  I have been studying things like “clonus” and how to differentiate benign familial tremor from tremor caused by disease or damage.  The tremor has not lessened.  I feel pretty awkward when I notice people noticing it.  It’s like wearing a bright red Britney Spears latex jump suit.  People notice.  My left hand is the back-up plan.  I’m not very good at making it my dominant hand now, which I probably should be.  It is getting more difficult to write, particularly, signing my name type of stuff.   As luck would have it, my left forearm is crapping out on me!  I’m not joking!  Lefty is the back-up plan and lefty is getting weak.  I’m unsure what this means.  I have an odd sensation of pressure wrapped around a good portion of my forearm.  It “feels” weak.  I think the neurologist felt that my right hand was noticeably weaker than the left at my appointment.  I think we should pray for lefty and possibly righty.  I will not be human if I can’t use my workin’ hands!

Not only will this particular blog serve as super record keeping down the road, it’s also helping me get my thoughts and primary concerns ready for my appointment at the Multiple Sclerosis center of  OHSU in Portland.  That’s right.  I got an appointment!  This June.  I researched the clinic while waiting for all of my paperwork to be filed.  Which is another mystery in and of itself.  My information was faxed over to the clinic in November/December.  I got an appointment with Dr. River, my neurologist here, in January, so I didn’t pursue my application at OHSU as aggressively as I should have.  Meghan, sweet Meghan, reminded me I needed to be brave and after speaking with this angel, I got courage and called the clinic to figure out the status of my junk.  I had to get more information from Dr. River sent, a week went by.  I was laying around the house feeling bad.  Doing nothing.  I called again.  They need more paperwork.  I was totally confused at what other paperwork they could want.  Turns out, my chart was mixed up with someone else’s.  After a very influential phone call from my sister at the doctor’s office here in town, OHSU called to offer me an appointment that very day.  I was so shocked when the lady said she was calling to get me scheduled.  I’m like, ‘Wait, what?  Like, the doctor is going to see me?  OH!  MY! STARS!”  I felt so redeemed.   Thank you, Lord.

The doctor I was randomly paired up with is very knowledgeable in Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology.  She has special interest in dietary influences on neurological disease processes.  Um, could I not have found her at the most perfect time?  I am totally prepped!  45 days, now, into a variant of the diet she advises for conjunctive MS therapy.  I am so prayerful for this appointment.

At the same time, I am fully aware that I cannot rely on this doctor to fix this mess of mine.  I know I can’t.  I’ve been there before.  I think the best strategy for my brains and my heart going into this is this:  she is a part of my faith journey, a very intentional act of God.  If she helps me, it is with divine guidance and wisdom from Him.  I understand that this may be nothing more than a waste of fuel to drive to Portland, she may not even want to actually talk to me when I get there.  She may be a jerkface.  Regardless of what happens, I will go with the Lord, I will come back with the Lord, I will pray for the Lord’s hand to be in this, to lead me, to help me and to be with my doctor.  My hope can only be in Him.  I am so much closer to believing He is always with me.  Amen.



Warts and colon cleansers – in no particular order.

My family is gone.  It’s me and Texas.  The dog.  Not the state, silly.

They went to visit family and attend the celebration of life for Toby’s late Grandma Betty.  At one point we owned guinea pigs and I named them after her two ex-husbands, Gil and Ori.  Probably not an appropriate time to mention that.

I’ve been busy with my new found liberation.  

  • Picked up the house.
  • Vacuumed.  
  • Rug doctored.  
  • Upholstery attachment’ified the couch.  
  • Laundry.  Sock basket nearly empty.  Victory!
  • Almost finished listening to a book.
  • Made a flyer.
  • Went to work and actually worked.  I finished paperwork!
  • Re-organized, categorized, and listed four seasons of our family’s “Psych Pineapple Hunt of 2014”
  • Took a bath with mineral salts.
  • Made some more garbanzo bean breadish cakelike stuff.
  • Played some mad candy crush.
  • Baked some of the cutest little mini-cookies I’ve ever seen in my life.
  • Dishes.

I have yet to finish a few things:

  • Laundry.
  • Washing the windows.
  • Dusting.
  • Fixing a shelf.
  • Fixing Q’s dress form.
  • Repainting the interior doors.
  • Planning more details to the shop’s spring open house.
  • Bathroom’s.
  • Homeskool lesson plans for the next two weeks.
  • Dinner with mom and sister.
  • Garden beds.
  • Getting rid of kids winter clothes and old toys.

I’m burning daylight.  I have roughly 2.5 days to get my stuff done.  Prolly not going to happen, but I dream big.

Toby has commented that he has noticed a change in me since doing my diet.  He’s not sure what it is.  Energy or spunk or what.  I’ve noticed a change in me, too, but I can’t put a finger on it.  Or a thumb.  A warty thumb.

The diet and Bible study I’m working on both started within days of each other.  I think it’s God using both things to help me.  I’ve really detached myself from the shop.  More so than my staff would probably like, but the stress is going to ruin me.  My threshold is already so low, just because of my health.  The excessive stress turns me into someone I don’t like and someone I don’t want to be for 50 more years.  I’ve decided I need to figure out how to deal with said stress or proceed with trying to sell the shop.  For now, I really want to rebuild my health and give my body the best chance to heal.  Being able to rest when I need to rest.  Not having to force myself to follow a schedule I can’t be expected to follow right now.  There are have been lot of tears over the last several weeks.  Good tears.  

People have asked how my body has responded to this diet.  I, honestly, am not sure how to answer that.  I still feel pretty worn out.  At this point, I’m doing A LOT and keeping busy.  But, I’m exhausted.  I take frequent breaks.  I try not to nap so I’ll sleep better at night, but when that heavy fog of fatigue lays on you thick and you’re too tired to talk…  you get to take a nap then.  =)

I have noticed obvious improvements in my digestive tract.  My husband and I have, in the past, done a colon cleansing program.  I found it YEARS ago online.  We have tried to do it every few years since then, but I haven’t been able to do it as frequently as Toby because of my pregnancies.  We love this product, Colonix.  It will freak you out, it is that good.  I started my diet March 2, 2014 with these Acai detox pills.  We did ten days of the Acai WITH ten days of no sugar, dairy, caffeine, or gluten.  We also did a lot of juicing and ate primarily vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains like brown rice.  I started taking a multi-vitamin, 1,000mg Vitamin C, and an omega-3 oil supplement at this time.  In addition, I have drunk (drank? drunken?) more water in the past three weeks than I have in the whole year.

After the first super strict 10 days, we switched from the Acai detox pills to the Colonix.  The Colonix is a 30-day program.  It can be more, but I’m just doing 30.   Following that, I will go back to the Acai pills as continual maintenance.  Toby and I both feel that the “prep” we did in the ten days before starting the colon cleanse made a big difference.

Here I am 21 days into this diet.  I am shifting the diet to avoid saturated fats, yeast, sugar, gluten, and dairy.  I have also added a few more supplements to my daily cocktail:  I am taking a high-potency probiotic, a high dose of Vitamin D3, and a liquid Vitamin B-complex.  I have tried to maintain a regular sleep schedule.  I am also committed to building my spiritual foundation in Christ.  I think all of these things, all of these little changes, are adding up.

I regret that I can’t say, “This diet has changed my life!  Do it!”  I don’t feel that, yet.  But, I’m willing to give it time.  I’m willing.  I want to keep eating this way.  That should say something, because it is not glamorous, or easy, or always tasty.  I don’t have a big testimony yet, but I do have a super tiny one.

It’s a wart.  Was a wart.  This is the grossest blog post I’ve ever written on:  colon cleansing and warts.  No, not venereal warts.  The regular kind.  I’ve had one on my thumb. For probably a year.  I’ve treated it with stuff, but found ignoring it worked best for me.  I’m so gross, huh?  Don’t judge me.  Please.  Every once in awhile, I’d hit it or if it got pushed it would hurt.  But, we mostly just did our own things, me in my world and thumb wart in hers.  I noticed last week, thumb wart is almost gone.   So…  in one year my body can’t conquer this little virus.  But, in two weeks + of clean eating, detoxing, and supplementing it goes away on it’s own.  This is a miracle.  I’m so thankful for it.  This tells me that my immune system is kicking in.  And, even though it may take more time before my body beats up the rest of the bad stuff, I think it’s working.  I’ll take what I can get!

For *MY* Toby


Charming.  Charismatic.  Goofy.  Funny.  Hilarious.  Naughty.  Smart.  Competitive.  Brave.  Strong.  Sexy.  Alive.  Energetic.  Compassionate.  Selfless.  Magnetic.  Inspirational.  Those are just a few of the words that I think of when I think of my sweet Toby.  There is nothing more perfect in my life than our imperfect relationship and my connection with a man so much bigger than anything I could have dreamed of.

I am sick.  We don’t know what’s going on, we’re getting more blood work and pushing paperwork for OHSU and a neurologist in Boise.  It is so difficult to get an appointment anywhere.  I have been laying around sleeping, mostly, for a few days.  So not me.  I’m not sure what to do.  If I listened to my body, I’d be asleep a lot.  But, if my body is goofed up, do I listen to a goofed up self or just push through it and do what has to be done?  Is that attitude of just doing it anyways actually hurting me?

Yesterday I got outside to breathe nice air.  I shoveled the driveway.  I am able to start okay, but I can’t do much and my arms are dead.  It took me a couple different times of trying, and finally, Quincy offered to take over.

The biggest concern right now and the scariest – I’m having swallowing, chewing, talking difficulties.  We’ve noticed it here and there over the past six months, but right now, it is more evident. Still somewhat sporadic, but seemingly progressive.  I am an eater by design.  I love eating.  It takes a lot to make me not eat.  I’m finally surrendering.  Yesterday was mostly liquidish meals.  Everyday is something different.  Every.  Single.  Day.

My Toby is such a brave little soldier.  I know he is so scared.  He has been watching his wife deteriorate since our engagement 13 years ago.  13?  I love 13.  I really hope it is 13.  It’s Christmastime and we are opening presents with our seriously crazy roommate Brian.  He was amazing!  I love him.  He tolerated me.  Toby got me this humongous gift.  It was time to open it and he brought it in front of me.  It was a box of styrofoam peanuts.  It had to have taken me several minutes to get them out.  There was a paper stuck to the bottom of the box.  Nice.  I pull this paper off and it says, “Turn around.”

I’m like, “Turn what around?”  So, I flip the box over and try to figure out if I missed some other paper or something.

“Dana!  Turn around!”  It was Toby.  On his knee.  With his grandmother’s ring.

I said yes.

What an adventure.  I don’t think I have ever loved and hated and wanted and detested and liked and been frustrated with anyone as much as Toby.  None of it is negative.  Even the negative stuff.  Because, two negatives make a positive, or something like that.  I’ve complained a lot about him.  Verbally or in my mind.  I made a choice awhile ago not to do that anymore.  It really helped.  I think the Lord used that to help protect me from bitterness and envy.

It is so hard to be married to someone so very amazing as Toby.  In his shadow.  He gets reports from his boss and they are perfect.  Refrigerator worthy.  He gets raises and bonuses and belts and medals and he does it all while being an amazing, hands-on, in yo’ face dad and husband.  Seriously.  Who does that?

When I met Toby, his messy spiky hair and that naughty twinkle in his eye…  within minutes of sitting down at the table at Denny’s…  seeing him across the floor.  I knew.  I told my friend Shaun that I had come to coffee with…  Okay, I’ll back up.

I’m in college.  BSU.  My boyfriend had just broken up with me.  I was heartbroken.  Seriously.  I thought I loved him and he thought he loved me, I think.  My dad actually had kicked me out of his home, so I think the break-up with this boy wasn’t so devastating because it was the boy, but because I cringe at any form of rejection.  So, my girl friend Shaun and I are supposed to go see the play, “A Doll’s House.”  Me, in my infinite wisdom, tell Shaun, “Let’s just skip it.  I totally know this from high school.  Let’s go play.”  So, we did.  I am so naughty.  We ended up at Denny’s and we passed by a table of three boys and one chick.

I saw Toby.  I told my friend Shaun that was the one I wanted.  In a few minutes the chick at the boys table came over to us.  She asked us if we wanted to come and join their table and meet her guy friends.  We talked about if privately and finally went over. I’d like to say that the first day we met we fell in love, and maybe we did, but here’s the thing…

The chick that came over to our table to bring us to her guy friends, was actually Toby’s girlfriend.  Seriously.  One week.  He broke up with her in a week.  In the great big land of Boise we lived down the alley from each other off of River Street.  A 30-second walk, at most.

We made out constantly.  Ha.

Toby told me where he’d been.  The life he’d led – drugs, girls, arrested, jail, and more.  I should have ran.  Here’s the thing:  when I come into the picture, I see a thriving, joyful, muscle man of potential in Toby.  He was working at HP.  Through a contract employer, but he’d just received a significant promotion.  At 19 he was rubbing shoulders with adults twice or three times his age.  And he was shining.  That takes some balls, people.  It takes something so amazingly special to get out of the depths of where he had been and into the life that he was now leading.  i just knew.

I don’t know if there is another man in the world that can love me as big as Toby.  He tolerates me on days when I am angry and mean to everyone simply because I don’t feel well.  He has never doubted me.  Not once.  With all of the doctors telling me they don’t know, to go to another specialist, to take a pill, to get to a psychiatrist IMMEDIATELY… through all of the collections, debt, financial struggle that this has caused…  through sacrificing what he wants to do because he has to do my chores around the house.  For years.  He doesn’t complain.  Ever.  Instead of saying, “I need a break.”  He says, “Can I get you anything, doll face?”

I am so blessed to have this Christmas and many more with you, Toby.  I’m looking at our tipped over tree, no presents underneath, so thankful that our love and the love we have for our children cannot be displayed once a year, wrapped with a bow.  We have a relationship rich in detail, memories, laughs, connection, and togetherness.  Thank you for asking me to marry you.  Merry Christmas.