Wednesday, August 23, 2017

10 Survival Tips for When Your Child is Sick

This post contains referral links which means that if you purchase from one of my links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.  Don't worry, this won't cost you any extra!

Cold and flu season are just around the corner!  Yay. *insert sarcasm here*  

So far, we haven't been hit by anything, but I know it's coming especially with school starting back up again soon.

To make things a little bit easier, I thought I'd share with you some of tricks I use to prepare for and survive when my kids get sick.

10 Survival Tips for When Your Child is Sick

Monday, August 21, 2017

What You Need to Know About the Truth of PTSD

This post contains referral links which means that if you purchase from one of my links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.  

When you hear of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, what do you think of?

If a soldier returning from being deployed is the first thing that came to your mind, you're in the majority.

Here's a definition of PTSD from the Mayo Clinic:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event -- either experiencing or witnessing it.  Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Any traumatic event can trigger PTSD.  Obviously, war is a big one, but there are so many others as well.  Traumas such as the death of a loved one, having a medically complex/fragile child or one who spent extensive time in the NICU, abuse, surviving a natural disaster, and more can cause PTSD.

What You Need to Know About the Truth of PTSD from Sunshine and Spoons

What you need to know about the truth of PTSD:

PTSD is isolating.  I try to keep my struggles with it to myself because very few people understand that it's not something I can control in the moment or just "get over."  The worst is when someone else has been through a similar experience and came through it without suffering from PTSD.  There's no way to predict who will end up with PTSD and who won't, but I can tell you that just because you're one of the ones who does, that does NOT mean you're weak.

PTSD means always being on edge.  It's wondering when that trigger will find you and send you spiraling into full-blown panic.  It's constantly being aware of your surroundings in an attempt to control your triggers.  It's emotionally and physically exhausting.

PTSD is paralyzing.  When it's triggered, it's like hitting a brick wall.  You feel trapped, stuck, and you can't get out.  You can't breathe, your heart is racing, and in your mind, you're right back in that traumatic event that caused your PTSD to begin with.  It's like being stuck in a nightmare that you can't wake up from.

How to Tell If You Have PTSD:

You can start by taking this online screening from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.  Then print off your results and take them to your doctor.  

Symptoms of PTSD include having flashbacks of the traumatic event, nightmares, feeling disconnected from family and friends, having symptoms longer than three months, avoiding situations that remind you of the event, being easily startled, etc.

My PTSD Story:

I've never been in the military, but I have PTSD.

When I was six years old, I had my first anaphylaxis event.  I was in a medically induced coma for five days so I could recover.  Because I was so young, I blocked it out of my memory, but then when I was 10, I had another attack.  And then another at 13, and another at 15 and so on.  I now average one severe asthma attack/anaphylaxis event that requires an ambulance ride about once a year.  The hardest part is that despite going to many doctors, we've never found a trigger and so there's nothing I can do to avoid going into anaphylaxis.  

It wasn't until after the anaphylaxis attack when I was 10 that I began to experience symptoms of PTSD.  I was walking past the ambulance shed just a few blocks from my house with my siblings when the ambulance peeled out and headed down the street with lights and sirens blaring.  I immediately felt like I was back in the ambulance struggling to get even a single breath.  It was absolutely terrifying, and I couldn't stop hyperventilating or crying.  I somehow managed to get home and cried myself to sleep that night.

Since then I've learned that ambulances, hospital "smells," or even watching someone struggle to breathe on a tv show can send me straight into panic mode.  There's no warning, I go from zero to sixty in a millisecond.
My PTSD story:

Over the years, I've learned different coping techniques to help me deal with my PTSD.  Thanks to implementing them, I don't have as many full-blown panic attacks/flashbacks as I used to.  I hope these tips can help you if you're living with PTSD as well.

Tips for Coping with PTSD:

1. Avoid your triggers as much as possible, while understanding that sometimes that won't be feasible.

2.  Distract or "ground" yourself.  As soon as the panic starts to set in, try to focus on something tangible right in front of you to bring yourself back from re-living the trauma.

Grounding Techniques for Anxiety and PTSD

3. Understand that on days when you're feeling good emotionally, you can probably handle your triggers much better.  On days when you're not doing so well, take extra precautions to avoid them.

4. Join a support group such as one of these.

5. Talk to your doctor about your PTSD.

6. Remember that your traumatic memories cannot be compared to anyone else's, even if they experienced the same event.  Each person is different and will react differently.  This does not make you weak.

7. You can find resources here for helping you cope with and heal from PTSD.  There are also books for helping your loved one with their PTSD.

Tips for coping with PTSD:

8. Share your PTSD story.  The more people that realize that PTSD is not just a veteran related issue, the more understanding they will have for it.

9. Memorize a few of the Psalms and recite them when you feel your PTSD start to flare.  Some good ones are Psalms 31, 40, and 42.  Doing so can help ground you and also comfort you.

Do you or someone you know suffer from PTSD?  I'd love to hear if this post helped you in any ways! Leave a comment or feel free to connect with me in the Sunshine and Spoons Facebook Group.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Etsy Finds: 15+ Educational Toys that Kids Will Love

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Most of my kids' toys are in the play area of our basement.  The kids aren't allowed in the basement because the last time they went down there, they dumped ALL of the toys out.  ALL OF THEM.  That happened just about a month after I spent countless hours painstakingly organizing all of the toys into labeled boxes.

I may have cried a little.  

Since Toypocalypse, the kids only get to play with the toys that were already in the main level of our house.  That's about 10% of their toys.  They have legos, playdough, the sensory bean box, tractors, Shopkins, and a few other assorted sets and random toys.  It's been about 6 months (because I just can't bring myself to go downstairs and face the insanity), and they have barely noticed.

What that tells me is that it's quality, not quantity that matters when it comes to kids' toys.

Etsy Finds:  15+ Educational Toys that Kids Will Love

So guess what?  I'm going to be having a garage sale (or rummage sale or tag sale depending on where you're from) and selling a LOT of toys!  Also, I'm going to be a lot more selective about bringing toys into the house.  (Unless they're for me...I collect Vintage Fisher Price toys)  As far as toys that the kids play with, I have a few requirements.

Any toys in my house must be educational and non-annoying (to me, not them because we all know that kids don't care how annoying a toy is.)

With that in mind, I put together a list of awesome educational toys I found on Etsy that kids AND their parents will love.  Bonus: not a single one of these toys needs batteries!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What Chronically Ill People Want You To Know

Just about everyone who has a chronic illness fights not just their illness, but the preconceptions and judgments of their friends, family, and even complete strangers.  Stories like this or this happen way too often.

I asked people on my Facebook page, in the Spoonie Mommas group, and the Sunshine and Spoons group what they wish people knew about their chronic illnesses.  The answers were pretty eye-opening.  

If you love someone with a chronic illness of any kind, read this.  For them.  You'll come away with a greater understanding of what they are going through everyday.    

What Chronically Ill People Want You To Know

For me personally, I wish people knew that I feel like I have the flu just about everyday.  Imagine that...waking up in the morning aching intensely all over, so exhausted that you can barely put one foot in front of the other and that it gets worse throughout the day.  Now imagine waking up like that every single day and knowing that it will never get better.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

How to Conquer the Laundry Monster

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Around four years ago, I conquered the laundry monster.  It was awesome.

Aaaand, then it came back to life.

Long story short, I had my fourth baby who ended up being medically complex, we moved to a new home, my two oldest kids, the baby and I were all diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and I've spent the last three years at doctors' offices and in hospitals.  My world was turned upside down, and I totally lost control of the laundry.

How to conquer the laundry monster

That baby is now three years old and doing amazingly well.  We're slowly getting past the newly diagnosed stage of having a genetic syndrome and moving on to the maintenance stage.  We've lived in our home for three years now and everything has been unpacked, spread all over the house, and multiplied x 2000.  (Seriously, where does all this junk come from?!?)

It's time to tackle the laundry.  *insert scary music here*

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Do You Really Have to Treasure Each Moment?

This post contains referral links which means that if you purchase from one of my links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.  

As parents, we've all heard statements like these...

"Enjoy your kids now because you'll never get these days back."

"They'll never be this little again."

"Treasure each day with your child."

It seems that I always run across one of those blog posts or memes on days when I haven't had too many good mommy moments.  Days when I'm literally counting down the minutes until bedtime and simultaneously dreading the usual bedtime battle.  Days when the kids weren't the only ones yelling around our house.  Days when I wish I was done with diapers or potty training for good.

Do You Really Have to Treasure Each Moment?

Thanks for making me feel guilty for having "wasted" another day with my kids that I'll never get back.