Monday, November 19, 2012

What exactly is the problem? Thoughts on TBI & Fibromyalgia

Photo from
You don't feel good.  You go to the doctor.  You take meds.  Hopefully, you feel better.  That's the way things ideally should work.  With the invisible illnesses it goes so much farther than that.  You don't feel good.  You go to the doctor.  He gives you meds.  You might not feel better.  You keep going.  You keep having symptoms.  Life can be quite miserable.  What is the real problem(s)? What exactly is it? What can we do to make it better? Will it ever get better?  It is TBI? Is it PTSD? Is it something else?

Here we are, over a year from the time that I brought up to the doctors that my husband had been having these "absent" type seizures.  He has went through a host of drugs, some with allergic reactions.  A few have truly helped his functioning.  The neurology department diagnosed a few types of seizures.  Then, they dismissed them as psychogenic in nature and referred him back to mental health.  We have been through the works and spent much of the last year and a half in various doctors offices.  

While it is obvious that stress makes most any illness more exacerbated, we have always thought that there is a more physical relationship to John's symptoms.  Even with a diminished sense of self awareness, he still has these feel awful days when he reports virtually no stress. 

John's case is complicated and that's why we bypass the most local VA facility to go to what we thought was a better one, yet so much is still left unanswered.  Fatigue, confusion, dizziness, sleep disturbances, daily headaches, and this brain fog of  taking long times to respond and trouble speaking were all symptoms we (and doctors) attributed to his Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or maybe his severe case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  John has always had pain.  He gets compensation from the VA for arthritis related to some injuries and he takes daily meds for pain.  Last year, we found out about some nerve conduction problems in his extremities.  John would drop things or loose feeling in his arms and legs.  Now we have radiology reports that there are hotdog shaped tumor like places along John's spine and throat.  Part of what we have been looking at as a typical seizure like episode includes falls, change in consciousness, dizziness, vision disturbances, and a massive nose bleed out his right nostril.  This massive nose bleed has been unexplained by any doctor or medical professional and I've started taking lots of pictures when this happens so providers can see what I am trying to describe.  

An interesting finding for me was that I looked back into our first case management phone note from the VA Medical Center and found that headaches, falls, dizziness, confusion, and nose bleeds were his complaints before ever presenting at the facility over 6 years ago.  I remembered the headaches, because they dominated life.  They were terrible.  I remembered John spilling numerous drinks on a brand new room sized rug.  Within a year, it was past the point of being cleanable and I had to trash it.  John spent most of the time at home sleeping while I was at work and I didn't pay extreme attention to his daily routine or symptoms.  Then, looking back I saw these same host of symptoms that are only worsening. 

Last week, John spent a couple days in the hospital with chest pain.  It was unexplained.  EKGs were fine.  Blood pressure and pulse were normal.  It wasn't anxiety.  It wasn't stress.  It was just atypical chest pain.  A stress test ruled out any other cardiology related problems.  So, they sent us home without any real answer of why his chest was so severely hurting that he couldn't move, had trouble breathing, walking, talking, and feeling his legs and arms.  

John did some research on fibromyalgia.  Virtually every symptom that I can find and research fits.  Not one, not two, not 10.  Almost every symptom fits his unfortunate daily life experience.  From the emotional symptoms of anxiety and depression to the gastrointestinal symptoms, it all fits.  The neurological symptoms of dizziness, fainting, numbness or tingling sensations, ringing  ears, sensitivity to light, and noise intolerance all are real and present. Other symptoms are feeling spatially disoriented, balance difficulty, clumsy walking, dropping things frequently, difficulty judging distances and difficulty seeing what you are looking at. (Click here for one blog I referenced

John read somewhere on the web that the VA has linked a service connection to fibromyalgia and vets, particularly ones that served in Southeast Asia prior to 2002.  These vets were given a host of anthrax and other immunizations that may be linked to this and other problems.  So, these thoughts have sparked our interest.  We've already began to ask our medical providers for answers.  In the meantime, I thought I'd share this with you.  You can can offer any feedback that is helpful, it is welcome and appreciated. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mini Apple Pies in a Jar

After being in the hospital for a couple days and resting up, John was itching to bake an apple pie.  I saw mini pies in a magazine so we decided to try it. The recipe yielded 7 individual jars for us.

-Make a pie crust
-Line 1/2 pint jars with crust
-Fill with Apple pie mixture
-Lay lattice crust
-Brush with egg and cinnamon sugar
-Bake at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes
- Cover tops with foil if needed to keep from burning
-Cool and enjoy

What I got for .24 and a few other things!

Wal-Mart Trip - oop .24 (tax)

Couponing is so fun....unless you get unexpected surprises at the register.

You can find most of the coupons I used by searching the database at  or using or 

I started off last night at CVS to take advantage of their great ad that "started" today.  I got:

  • Lindsey olives  (used 1.00 coupon)
  • 2 Right Guard deodorant (2.00 Coupon)
  • CVS Haul November 2012
  • baby shampoo (which is why I went)
  • Advil- Childrens 1 oz
for about 6.10 and got back 6.37 in EB which I used today on my second trip. 

I went ahead and picked up a buggy of stuff because I didn't want to do so many transactions and I spent 15.55 (plus tax) and saved 37.84 on these items (getting about 24.00 EB back):
  • 2 Minute Rice .40 (.60 coupon)
  • 2 Lindsey Olives (used 1.00 coupons)
  • Nips 
  • Powerade 
  • Listerine Zero (used 1.00 coupon)
  • Chex Mix (used .35 coupon)
  • Easy Feet 
  • Kotex 
  • Starbucks Refreshers 
  • Caramex (used 1.00 coupon)
  • Cepacol 4 ct 
  • CVS asprin 
  • Scooby Snacks (gummies) (used .35 coupon)
  • 2 AirWick Warmers (used $2.00 coupon)
  • 2 Sparkle Towels 
  • Charmin Toilet Paper (used .25 coupon)
  • Glade Warmer Plug In (used 1.00 coupon)
  • Play Doh soft Pack 
Then, I used those $24 EB to buy these things with an oop cost of about $5 with $21 EB remaining:
  • 2 Taster's Choice Coffee Sticks (used 2/.50 coupon)
  • Ladies Speed Stick
  • Belvita wafers
  • South Beach Diet 5 pk
  • 1.25 lt Fanta
  • 2pk Energy Drink
  • Makeup kit
  • Phillips Remote
  • Green Bag Tag
  • 2 M& M Tubes (cost of having kids)
  • Command Strip (used 1.00 coupon)
  • 4 pk Sleep Sampler 
I plan to go back later to get the Kraft Mac n Cheese, 12 pk DR Pepper, Hot Wheels, Advil, another Listerine, and a few other things to keep rolling the EBs.

My quick Wal-Mart trip included 

1.00 Duck Tape Packing tape (1.00 coupon) FREE
2 /.98 Beach Nut pouches  (2/$1.00 coupons)
FREE coupon from General Mills for the 12 pk 90 CAL Brownies
.24 (tax) oop

Happy Saving!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Couponing Fun! Stock up and/or donate stuff.

Tomorrow marks the start of CVS's  big sale.  The ad is filled with "Free" after Extra Bucks (EB) items.  Here is my Shopping plan, starting with what I bought tonight on sale.  I mentioned on a couple FB pages today that you can hygiene items to a VA hospital/facility.  I personally saw the need at the Augusta, Georgia Downtown facility when they didn't have toothpaste for the patients.  If you want to donate any toiletry items, I will be happy to take them!

Lindsay Olives $1.00
  $1/2 Lindsay olives printable
 I used the $1.00 from last week (Final Price= FREE)

Baby Shampoo - 1.25

2.37 ECB WYB Children’s Advil Suspension, 1 oz, $2.37, limit 1
Manufacturer Coupon -$1.50 off Advil Children’s item (Facebook) printable
 (1.50 profit after EB)

$2 ECB WYB Right Guard Total Defense Deodorant, $2.99, limit 2
(excludes spray)
Manufacturer Coupon -$2/2 Right Guard Total Defense 5 deodorant printable
Manufacturer Coupon -$3/3 Right Guard sport deodorant, excl aerosol printable
Manufacturer Coupon -$2/2 Right Guard Total Defense 5 Deodorants, RP 11/4

 (BUY 2 for .01/ea profit after EB) *GREAT DONATE PRICE

I paid 6.10 + tax and got back 6.37 EB

  Tomorrow's Plan (Trip 1)

75¢ ECB WYB Mars Chocolate Candy Singles, 1.08-2.15 oz, 75¢, limit 2
B2G1 Mars Milky Way bars, 1.76-2.05 oz printable
(buy 3, makes all FREE after EB)

99¢ ECB WYB Charmin Basic Bath Tissue, 1 roll, 99¢, limit 1
.25 coupon from November P&G insert

(makes it profit .25 after EB) 

$1 ECB WYB Play Doh Soft Resealable Pack, 8 oz, $1, limit 1
(makes it FREE
after EB) 

$1 ECB WYB Kleenex Slim Pack Facial Tissue 3 pk., or
$1 Sparkle Single Roll Paper Towels, $1, limit 2 
(makes each FREE after EB) 

$1 ECB WYB U by Kotex Liners, 18 ct., $1.49, limit 1
(makes it .49 after EB)

Pay   6.73+ tax use 6.37 extra bucks (.36  OOP+6.49 EB Back)

Sunday Trip 2 

$2 ECB WYB Depend Silhouette or Real Fit, 3 ct., $3.99, limit 1
Manufacturer Coupon -$2/2 off Depend product printable  (I'm buying 2 to give away)

99¢ ECB WYB 3M Command Hook Sample Pack, 99¢, limit 1
Manufacturer Coupon -$1 off Command product printable 

(makes it $1.00 profit after EB)  

 99¢ ECB WYB Air Wick Scented Oil Warmer, 1 ct., 99¢, limit 1
Manufacturer Coupon -$2/2 Air Wick products, excl aerosols, stick ups and solids printable
(buy 2, makes both FREE + .99 EB profit!) 

$2 ECB WYB Listerine Zero 500 mL or PocketPaks 72 ct., $2.99, limit 2
Manufacturer Coupon -.50/1 Listerine Pocketpaks or Pocketmist printable

(.49 after EB )
I will use a .55 coupon from the dentist for a  .45 total after EB

7.40 + tax after Coupons (Use 6.49 EB) = 1.09 plus tax + $5.98 EB Back
Other Great deals on my shopping list include (go to here for a comprehensive list of all deals):
  • 88¢ ECB WYB Haviland Thin Mints or Nips, 3.5-4 oz, 88¢, limit 1
    (makes it FREE)
  • This is a great deal. Stock up! $1.50 ECB WYB Starbucks Refreshers, 12 oz, $1.50, limit 1
    Manufacturer Coupon -$1 off Starbucks Refreshers beverage printable
    (makes it FREE + profit!
  • This is a great deal. Stock up! $1.99 ECB WYB Starbucks Double Shot or Single Can, 6.5 oz, $1.99, limit 1
    (makes it FREE)
  • This is a great deal. Stock up! 99¢ ECB WYB Coca Cola Products, 1.25 L, 99¢, limit 1
    (makes it FREE)
  • This is a great deal. Stock up! $1 ECB WYB Powerade Sport Drink, 32 oz, $1, limit 1
    (makes it FREE)
  • This is a great deal. Stock up! $1 ECB WYB Chex Mix or Gardetto’s Snacks, 5.5-8.75 oz, $1, limit 1
    Manufacturer Coupon -.50/2 Chex Mix, 4.5 oz+ or 100 calorie snack, SS 10/07
    (makes it FREE, or use coupon – makes it 25¢ ea.)
  • $2 ECB WYB Nature Valley Protein Chewy Bars, 5 ct., $2.99, limit 1
    Manufacturer Coupon -.50/2 Nature Valley Granola Bars, 5 ct.+ or Granola Thins 
  • $2 ECB WYB Scooby Doo Fruit Snacks, 8 oz, $2, limit 1
    Manufacturer Coupon -.50/2 Betty Crocker Fruit Shapes, Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Gushers, Fruit Roll-Ups, or Ocean Spray, Mott’s or Sunkist fruit flavored snacks, SS 10/07
  •  This is a great deal. Stock up!ECB WYB Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, 5.5-7.25 oz, 99¢, limit 1
    (makes it FREE after EB) 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Give Others Something to be Thankful for....Don't Just Write a Post of Thankfullness.

Our lives should exemplify Christ so much that we should be transparent so that in whatever we do, people see Jesus. 

First, I guess I should say that there is obviously nothing wrong with everyone posting "What I am Thankful for" posts.  There's nothing wrong with making a daily habit out of sharing your thanksgivings with others.  If you want to do that, great.  If you are doing it for intrinsic reasons or to foster a greater sense of thankfulness, fine.  I have started on a couple occasions to post something concerning this but have halted. 

One FB friend posted yesterday that he was thankful he hadn't started the ritual and some may sneer at that.  However, there are a host of reasons that I can think of regarding why not to make a daily "Day x-I'm thankful for..." post.  First, is it because of conformity? To be seen as doing the right thing for the season? If you miss a day or a week, do you feel obligated to list point after point things you are thankful for? Are you doing it to boast?  So, maybe these are far fetched reasons for you. Maybe you are rethinking your rationale.  I would venture to say there are people making thanksgiving posts now that haven't posted a thankful post in ages.  The Scriptures teach that we should be thankful in all things, because that's how God wants us to be. Hopefully Thankful posts and thoughts will lead others to be more thankful in their daily lives and not only in November

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. -1 Thessalonians 5:18

I didn't do this daily public post last year because of a couple reasons: sickness and issues limited our FB time and it was hard to speak those thankful things when life looked so bleak.  We didn't get out the boys Thankful Turkey and stuff his tail with Thankful Feathers.  It was hard to even speak those "Thank you God for...." prayers at night with the boys.

Here is where my sensitivity to the subject comes in.  Even with tough economic times, we all have plenty to rejoice in and be thankful for.  Maybe you're thankful for family, while there are others out there who seem to have no family.  Maybe you're thankful for your children, while others out there are childless.  Maybe you're thankful for births, while others are grieving loss and tragedy.  Perhaps you are thankful for a job, and others are unemployed.  Perhaps you're thankful for health, yet others are fighting for their survival.  Maybe you're thankful for the ability to provide, while others don't have enough money to keep the electricity on.  Possibly, you're pantry and fridge are stocked, still there are others literally pinching pennies trying to decide what grocery items they can afford.  Likely, you might have thought of plenty of shopping opportunities for this approaching season, still others wonder how they will be able to provide for those dear to them.

I challenge you to Give others something to be Thankful for

Be mindful of this.  It is likely that some around you are struggling that you may not even be aware of.  Ask God for discernment. 

So how can your life better exemplify God? I challenge you to go beyond just a daily post that may be forgotten next week.  I challenge you to Give others something to be Thankful for.  Because you have been Blessed...bless someone else.  Maybe that means take someone a meal, or sit and chat with one who has little company.  Perhaps it means take a bag of groceries to a person or family that could use them.  Give some toys to a family that is struggling to help ease their worry of where their Christmas blessings are going to come from.  Send someone a note to tell them you are thinking of them.  Provide something, be it small or large, for someone that would likely be impossible otherwise.  This might be as simple as buying a coat for someone. 

It is ironic that people can get trampled and have awful shopping experiences on Black Friday, just one day after this nation takes the day to be thankful for what we have.  Yet, our mentality is "Go get more" even if we don't need it. 

Take the challenge.  Give Others Something to be Thankful for..Don't Just Write a Post of Thankfulness.  Be the Body of Christ. Reach out and give someone something to be thankful for and share the real reason of the season.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Surprise Birthday Adventure!?!

Two weeks ago, John told me he couldn't keep it a secret any longer.  "I've got to have some help, so pack your bags and one for the kids.  I'm taking you somewhere tomorrow for your birthday."
He confessed that he'd thought about packing my bag for me and later telling me we were heading out for lunch and then realized that he would have left something out and that I would have been beyond panicked, not knowing what to expect. 

Second row parking at Epcot!
As my birthday was not for another two and a half weeks, a "surprise" was a little easier to pull off than if it were my actual birthday.  I had a couple of guesses but John went way beyond with planning.  He made reservations for a hotel, meals, and tickets.  I was astonished that he had put so much thought into making my birthday special! We went through a couple years when he didn't remember birthdays and didn't remember Christmas, Valentines day, or a few other occassions.  I suppose I gave him a bit of greif over this because he has made it a big point to make sure (even if early) that he remembers these days and celebrates them in some way. 

John quizzed me on where I thought we were going.  I knew he's wanted to go to the mountains to Octoberfest for a couple years, but we had never been there.  So, I told him I knew this was "out of his comfort zone" and I told him that I thought he had booked something in Orlando. Universal and/or Disney was my best guess.  It is the last couple weeks of Epcot's Food & Wine Festival and I knew he had wanted to go.  We took the kids last year and they were just plain awful.  They were tired, didn't want to be there, and they acted out horribly.  We swore we would never take the kids back when we wanted to eat and drink our way around the world.  Last year, Aston wore most of the foods on his clothes.  He had jerk chicken with mango chutney on his shorts, along with chocolate mousse and he had what was left of two pieces of chocolate cake from France on his shirt.

Shrimp, Lobster Chowder, & Mini Crab Cakes
John surprised me with La Nouba, the Cirque du Soleil, performance with seats in the fourth row.  He booked them on the drive down from my phone's browser and I didn't have a clue.  He made reservations at The Coral Reef restaurant at Epcot.  We debated park hopping but stayed at Epcot from opening to close!  John even made reservations at the Disney Polynesian's Kona Cafe.  We slept in and didn't make it, nonetheless the effort was there.  Just before going home, we played a round of mini golf at Fantasia Fairways.  It was awesome.  It is a mini shrunken course with "sand traps" and water.  I still managed a hole in one on the third hole.

I was exhausted from the drive there and back but we had a great weekend.  I was blown away by the thoughts that John put into making the weekend special.  He was determined that for the third year in a row, we wouldn't spend my birthday at the VA hospital for appointments or tests.  He wanted it to be memorable for me. 

Thanks, John.  It is still a few days away but this has been the best birthday in a while. 

(Friends and readers: I am now a Travel Agent complete with graduating from the Disney College of Knowledge and I'd love to help you plan a magical vacation.  Email me at and Find the agency on Facebook - Our services are FREE from quotes to park plans and dining with qualifying vacation packages)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Another Magical Disney Trip

October seems like the perfect time for a quick get away for us.  Crowds have gone down and the weather is cooler.  Orlando is now in John's "comfort zone" because it is so familiar to us.  Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party has turned out to be one of our very favorite Disney things.  We've loved our last two years' quick get always.  Why do we love the after hours parties at the Magic Kingdom? Its unique.  Its a little bit cheaper than daily park admission. You get candy (or cookies, apples, hot cocoa if it is Christmas).  What's better than trick or treating around the Magic Kingdom where everyone can dress up and let cast members fill their bags.  Kids (and adults) can dance and party with their favorite characters and the parade and fireworks are spectacular.  I think we actually like the fireworks at the Halloween Party better than any other day of the year!

While we really like family or friends to "tag along" with us when we travel, we have conquered the Halloween Party trips with just us four.  This year we chose to stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort in a Pirate themed room.  The beds were a bit hard and the room was the smallest we've ever had at any Disney Resort but it was still a great treat for the boys who played and imagined their beds were sinking ships under attack and all kinds other scenarios created in their imaginations. 

The resort pool was spectacular and the kiddie pool was the most awesome that I'd seen.  The Grand Floridian's new Wonderland tea cup kiddie pool area is a close rival, but for a moderate resort the pool at Caribbean Beach can't be beat.  A kiddie pool with three waterslides is just amazing and the big pool had multiple waterslides through its castle like fort walls. 

We try to take advantage of good days, and Disney has a way of creating awesome memories.  Lots of pictures and plenty of fun make for great things to look back on.  Everyone needs a little Magic now and then. °

(Friends and readers: I am now a Travel Agent complete with graduating from the Disney College of Knowledge and I'd love to help you plan a magical vacation.  
Email me at and Find the agency on Facebook - Our services are FREE from quotes to park plans and dining with qualifying vacation packages)