I Want To Ride My Bicycle: Part 2

The other day I posted Part 1 of this little series, talking about my newfound love of cycling. Today I want to talk more about why I love it so much and how it compares to running (for me).

To start, being physically active was always part of my life. I played a lot of sports growing up and have so many great memories of childhood in the context of sports. Teammates became close friends. I learned how to compete and push myself individually but also how to work together with others as a team. Finding something I was good at and could excel in (or make progress in) was also a great feeling. And for me, that was sports (not so much academics lol…I was an okay student). The one sport in particular that made the biggest impact on me (because it was both the hardest and most rewarding) was running cross-country.

 

I started running x-c in middle school (when the course was 1.5 miles) and continued all throughout high school (3 mile courses). I stopped, however, after graduating and going to college. Kind of kicking myself now for not playing some sort of sport in college, but, alas…what’s done is done. I had different goals then. I would occasionally go for a run here and there during my 20’s and tried to “get back into it” a few times since getting married and having kids. However, I’ve been pretty unsuccessful.

Now that I’ve “gotten into” cycling, I can see a lot of similarities between the 2 but also some key differences that I think explains why I’ve had such a hard time running again. I’ll start with the similarities. While both cross-country and cycling are team sports, there is still a huge emphasis on individual performance. You have to dig deep within yourself and push yourself to see how much you can suffer. (Let’s just call it what it is. Suffering lol.) In both sports, you can cross the finish line with a huge sigh (or gasp) of relief, and think, “Holy crap..I just did that. I ran ‘x’ number of miles without stopping….up and down hills!” or “Wow, I just rode ‘x’ number of miles and ‘x’ amount of feet in elevation gain!” There’s something oddly satisfying about pushing yourself to the point of complete exhaustion. It’s amazing how much your body can do and how far it can take you. Running and cycling are both great examples of what the human body is capable of.

The difference is, with running, the suffering starts a lot sooner. And if you haven’t run in a long time, it’s like starting back at zero again. Progress is slow. (Just speaking from my own experience here, might not be the case for others). And it’s because running is more high-impact. It’s harder on your body – your feet, your knees, your digestive system, your heart and lungs, etc. So it takes a while for the shock to your body to subside and get used to it again. It’s like my body was saying to me, “Oh…ok, so you’re doing THIS again? Well….you’re older now and you’ve given birth a few times sooooo we’re gonna need some transition time here.” I would have to start by just running 1 mile because it’s all my body could handle. I was winded. My body hurt. It was discouraging that I couldn’t do what I used to do, and that made it harder for me to stick with.

I’ve found that cycling, however, is much easier to start. It’s low-impact. Easier on the body (at first). Progress comes faster and that’s super encouraging and makes me stick with it. There is still suffering to be had, I assure you. But you can ease into it. Also you can go faster and farther on a bike than you can your own 2 feet and I like that aspect of it too. But I really do love that it reminds me so much of my cross-country days. Sure, I sometimes do leisurely rides that barely get my heart-rate up, just enjoying the views out on the bike. But I’m far too competitive with myself to do that all the time. I want PRs. I want QOMs (if within reach..which is really hard in the Bay Area).  I briefly mentioned Strava in my last post, which is what I use to track my rides. You can see how you compare to other Strava athletes, but also yourself. It’s great motivation! I also mentioned Zwift, which is the virtual riding program I use, and that has similar motivational aspects. On every course there are sprint segments or KOM/QOM climbs and I cannot resist them. I just can’t. When I get to one of those segments, I go hard until I almost pass out/throw up lol. KOM/QOM is short for “King of the Mountain” and “Queen of the Mountain”. It’s the title given to the person with the fastest time on a given segment (doesn’t necessarily have to be a climb on an actual mountain). For running it’s called a CR, “Course Record.”

Anyway. I feel like I’ve reconnected with part of my childhood through cycling. The personal suffering and feeling of accomplishment when you’ve finished. The mental battle (see below).  Seeing progress and results. Man, it feels good.

Of course, other major benefits I’ve experienced (not just from cycling but regular exercise in general): more energy, better overall mood, less anxiety, less body fat, etc. etc. I’ve always known those things to be true of course, but it’s not always easy to accomplish when you’re a mom. My exercise consistency has been all over the place since having kids. That is to say, not at all consistent. But now that we’re done having babies (unless there’s divine intervention), I’m hoping this will now be part of the regular routine and lifestyle. And with little eyes watching me, I hope it rubs off on them too!

Lastly, another similarity I’ve found is the community and camaraderie of the sport. Of all the sports I participated in growing up, cross-county was the best team I was part of (meaning, we were a tight-knit group). I’ve seen the same thing in the cycling world. My husband has his group of guys that he rides with and they’ve grown to become great friends. You can also see it out on the road when passing other cyclists. You acknowledge each other with a nod or wave. Find each other on Strava and give them kudos (it’s like a facebook “like”). Sure there’s competition, but it’s usually friendly. Everyone pushes each other to be better. Of course there will always be a few bad eggs out there (I’ll talk about them in another post), but for the most part, everyone is pretty cool and they look out for each other. If Ivor sees someone stopped on the side of the road or trail, he stops and asks if he can help (he’s changed lots of flats for people). If a fellow riding buddy is struggling and is clearly in need of some fuel, you offer a gel or a clif bar or something.

It was really cool to see how many people of varying ages and abilities showed up for the Silicon Valley Gran Fondo last weekend that Ivor participated in. I believe the oldest participant was around 78 years old, and the youngest was about 14. There were former pros, amateurs, beginners.. Some finished in less than 5 hours, some in 7 hours. But they all came together and enjoyed the same sport/hobby together….one of the first major milestones in all of our lives: riding a bike.

 

I Want To Ride My Bicycle (Part 1)

Wow, long time no blog! It’s been awhile. Life with 3 kids can be crazy (understatement of the year) so certain things I used to do a lot (like blog) have been put on the back-burner. I have, however, found a new thing I like to do. Ride my bike. And I think everyone should go ride a bike more often. So let’s talk about it!

For those who follow me on other social media sites (facebook and instagram), you may have noticed that I’ve been riding my bike a bit. Mostly with my husband. It was *his thing* first, for several years now. But recently, it’s also become my thing. Ivor has been commuting to work by bike for a few years off and on (within the last year it’s pretty much always on). He found a good group of guys he affectionately refers to as the “bike gang” (that’s actually their facebook group messenger thread name) that he commutes with often. They all live in the south San Jose area and commute to the Sunnyvale/Mountain View/Palo Alto area. You may be thinking “holy cow, that’s a long way to bike!”…and you’re right. It is. When they take the “flat route” (by way of the Guadalupe River Trail), it’s about 24 miles one-way (for Ivor). But he actually prefers his “scenic route” most of the time, which is 33-ish miles and quite a bit more hilly. But when you do it all the time, you get better, faster, stronger, and it’s not a big deal. That said, he and his coworkers are fortunate enough to work for companies that have lockers and showers. Otherwise they’d be sweaty smelly messes and would probably be discouraged from commuting by bike. So, having a “bike-friendly” work environment helps a lot.

Anyway, cycling has been amazing for my husband. He loves that he can be active and outside on his way to work, instead of sitting in ridiculous Bay Area traffic every day inside his car. He’s lost a crazy amount of weight and is currently in the best shape of his life. All from cycling (and nutrition, but mostly the cycling thing). It’s not just about commuting for him either. It’s pretty much a lifestyle thing now. He likes going for non-commute rides on weekends, exploring new roads and enjoying the beautiful scenery of where we live, which is way different to experience on a bike than it is from inside your car.

I started getting into the cycling thing slowly. In the beginning it was just something to do together: My husband’s hobby that I supported and took part in with him because I love him. I do also love being active and outside, but running or hiking was more my speed. However, slowly but surely, I have been converted. I get it now. The appeal. The addiction really lol. All the things he loves about cycling, I’ve experienced…and I am on board. The disadvantage I have…and I don’t even like using that word because I’m about to refer to my kids lol….but, I’m a stay at home mom of 3. I can’t just leave my house alone, and go ride a bike whenever I want. While I could do it on weekends with Ivor watching the kids, I don’t actually want to go alone, as riding on roads with cars still makes me nervous, and I have yet to learn how to change a flat tire by myself. So I prefer to ride WITH him, which requires someone else to watch our kids. So that can only happen occasionally when we hire a babysitter (or more frequently when his mom is visiting, like right now).

The solution we’ve found though to keep me riding more often is an indoor bike trainer. Using that, I don’t have to leave the house. I can ride during nap time while the big kids are in school, or early in the morning, or after bedtime, etc.  It’s a “smart” trainer that we use with this virtual riding software called Zwift. The whole set-up is pretty sweet and as much as I love riding out on roads, this is  the best option to keep me riding regularly. It’s getting me more in shape to be able to ride with Ivor (who has to go painfully slow to ride with me currently). I’ve grown to really look forward to my  trainer rides in the garage with headphones on, listening to a podcast or my workout playlist. Alone. It’s me time. In the pain cave lol.

Anyway, this post is starting to get too long. I still have a lot more to say about cycling (what it’s done for me personally, how it compares to running, how to get started with cycling if you’re interested, bike safety, Strava, etc.) and not enough time at the moment.  So I’ve just changed the title of this post to add “Part 1” and I’ll make it a series. Also, bonus points to whoever catches the reference I’m making with the title, “I want to ride my bicycle”.

For now, I’ll leave you with a link to a YouTube show all about cycling that was a big part of my conversion: The Global Cycling Network.  It’s a great place to start 🙂

Until next time,

The Converted Cyclist

 

 

Gwendolyn is 5!

For Gwen on her 5th Birthday:

 

FIVE. 5 years ago you came into this world and lit up our lives with your bright blue eyes and enthusiasm for life. Ever since you were just a tiny tot you’ve loved learning and exploring, yelling and laughing. It has been fun, exhausting, draining and life-giving all at once to watch you grow. (Parenting is hard, and you’re our first so we’re figuring it all out with you, kiddo).

 

You’re strong-willed and stubborn. A stickler for the rules and the proper way of doing things (and making sure others do the same). You stick up for others. You’re friendly and outgoing. You are musical and creative– God has given you a gift, girl! I hope you never give that up. I hope you explore and grow in it, but most of all, have FUN with it.

 

You have been mommy’s big helper A LOT this past year, stepping up into your big sister role like a boss. You love to help take care of your siblings (and younger friends). You make your own lunch. You love to help with dishes and laundry (even though mommy sometimes gets a little OCD and wants to do it herself…I’m working on that). You love cooking with Daddy. You love school and playing with your friends.

 

Speaking of school, I am SO excited for you to start Kindergarten this Fall. I know that sounds weird, because most moms are sad. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll cry, for sure. But I am truly excited to see you learn and thrive in that environment and for all the opportunities that are about to be available to you and all the fun adventures ahead. New friends. Field trips. Extra- curriculars (sports and music!) etc. I can’t wait to see what passions and talents you develop and how you’ll use them for God’s glory.

 

Five is a milestone. You’re about to leave your preschool years behind and become an elementary school student. 5 days a week! You’re no longer a baby, or a toddler or a preschooler (well, you are for a few more months I guess). It’s bittersweet, and I’m doing my best to focus on the “sweet.” It helps that I still have your siblings in the toddler and preschool stage 😉 I do have some fears about the next phase of childhood though (school bullying, academic struggles/pressure, the fact that your body will change and you might start comparing yourself to others, and so on and so forth), but we’ll deal with those things as they come. Don’t grow up too fast please!

 

No matter what, I pray that you will always be kind (to yourself and to others) and do the right thing. You are loved fiercely and we will do our best to help you navigate this next phase of childhood (and pray like crazy!!) I hope you always know how much you are loved and valued, by your family and friends, but most of all by God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your identity and security is in Him. He’s got you! 

 

Happy Birthday Big Girl! We love you 🙂 

 

        

18 Month Update: Fiona Joy

We’re about a week shy of Fiona turning 18 months old! A year and a half already. Craaaaaazy. As I’ve done with her siblings, I shall write about all the things she’s doing at this stage. Because you really do forget sometimes (as I’ve just learned going back and reading through Gwen’s and Ivor’s updates).

Let’s start with her vocabulary (some of these are used regularly and some I’ve only heard once or twice, but I’m still counting them):

  • Hi, hey, buh-bye, nigh-nigh, Daa-ee (Daddy), Mama, no, I want it, I don’t want it, peas (please), daa-ooo/dah-doo (thank you), naa nice (not nice), down, yah-yoo (love you), muh (kissy sound), mo (more), mine, me, moo (cow sound), baaa (sheep sound), do do do (when she wants Baby Shark)

Other things she does:

*Claps excitedly at the end of songs (like, really enthusiastically….standing O even)

*Gives hugs. I didn’t think anyone was as good of a hugger as my Ivor Baby, but she’s giving him a run for his money. She initiates them most often with her siblings (she ADORES them)

*On the other hand, she also fights with them. And she doesn’t mess around. Girl can hold her own!

*She consoles/comforts her siblings when they’re in trouble. I mean….ughhhh it’s so adorable.

*She’s been teething (molars! ahh!) which has made her super clingy and moody, especially with me. She wants to be held and hugged, but then she also hits me in the face sometimes. So I put her down (I will not be abused!) and then she freaks out because she wants me to hold her again. It’s complicated.

*That said, singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” calms her down instantly. Every time.

*Still a good sleeper and napper (thank you Jesus)

*Kind of a picky eater. Unless it’s something Gwen and Ivor have, then she will FOR SURE want it.

*Throws full-on toddler tantrums when she doesn’t get her way

*Still a Daddy’s girl. Especially after they get some quality one-on-one time together. Recently I was KNOCKED ON MY YOU-KNOW-WHAT with the stomach bug, and spent a full 24 hours in bed. so Ivor was solo-parenting for a day. They bonded and now they’re BFFs again. It’s adorable.

That’s all I can think of for now. She’s fierce and feisty but loves on her family hard. I can’t wait to see who she becomes as she gets older. We love her so!

Until the next update (when she’s 2!) ……

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 2018!

Welcome to the year 2018 everyone! Hope you all had a fun, safe evening last night. I spent midnight fast asleep, mostly because I’m under the weather (thank you, all 3 kids, for passing along your germs to me), but also because I really love sleep…as I’ve lost a lot of it in the last 4.5+ years of being a mom.

Today is a day for resolutions, most of which will be broken in a few weeks most likely. But I have no problem with the concept. Goal setting is a good thing, but we should at least strive to make them somewhat realistic lol.

So my goals for the year are as follows:

*Spend more quality time with my husband (regular date nights, instead of occasional, and a few more “overnighter” getaways)

*Enjoy my kids more (like actually play with them, notice/watch them as they play, learn, figure things out, etc…really SEE them, ya know?)

*Bible study. It’s seriously been years since I’ve done an in-depth study of scripture. I’ve spent lots of time talking to God in my every day life and praying, but not enough time listening to what He has to say (most of which is right there in my Bible app on the phone I use every single day, and of course the good ole’ paper Bible in my nightstand 😉 )

*Try to make more $ with my photography. Instead of just taking the occasional job if someone asks me, I want to actually advertise a bit. Probably offering 2 mini-sessions this year (spring and fall!)

*Write more

*Support my husband’s goals and help him in whatever ways I can

*Explore more beautiful California lands (Yosemite, we’re coming for you!)

*And yes…..be more active/healthy. No New Years Goals List is complete without this one 😀

 

2018. This is the year that my kids will turn 5, 4 and 2. I’ll turn 33. My oldest will start Kindergarten (HOW?!….Why???…But also, yay!) We’ll celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary and 7th year living in CA.

My biggest HOPE for the year is that my nephew Mason gets the perfect kidney for his transplant! I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared his story on here before, but for those who may not know- he was diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure when he was just 3 weeks old. He’s been on dialysis most of his life (he’s 18 months old now) and is in need of a healthy, strong kidney! If you or anyone you know is interested in being his donor (type O blood), please visit this link and use the contact information on the page to inquire. You don’t HAVE to be local to the Philadelphia area, but the full physical and actual surgery will need to be done there. If you’re not type O but still want to help, spread the word and share his story! <3

Looking forward to what the year will bring! Here are some of my favorite memories from 2017:

*Our visit to PA (Mason Man, Chocolate world, Sesame Place, good friends and family <3)

*Trip to Tahoe

*Seeing John Mayer in concert

*Ivor completing the Tour de Tahoe (have I mentioned how much we love that place?)

*Having 2 kids in preschool (and 2 kids out of diapers!….eventually)

*Shooting the promo video for Stitch Fix (read more)

*Half Moon Bay Getaway (read more)

  

*All of our family outdoor adventures/hikes

(too many photos to choose from, running out of time for this post lol)

 

Wishing you all JOY in 2018! I hope you attain most (if not all) of your goals 😀

Love,

The Griffiths Family

Andrea Nyberg Photography

 

 

 

 

ITP Updates

For those just tuning in, my husband was diagnosed with a rare blood-clotting disorder called ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) back in November. You can read more about that experience here.

As for this post, I thought I’d give a few more updates on how things are going and explain a bit more about it, because it’s so mysterious and weird and we’re still figuring this all out.

The biggest symptom we noticed that prompted the doctor’s visit that day was what I previously called “a rash” of tiny red dots all over his body. The medical term for that is Petechiae, which isn’t technically a rash because it’s under the skin. Those red dots were little “bleeds” if you will, under his skin.  So when I said he wasn’t experiencing any bleeding, it wasn’t technically accurate BUT, there COULD’VE been a lot more bleeding (nosebleeds that won’t stop are a pretty common ITP problem for example, or blood in urine/stool, etc.) so that’s what I meant. His count was so low, that we were surprised there wasn’t MORE bleeding, which could’ve been life-threatening. Had he gotten into a car accident or something that day, even a minor one, it could’ve been a very dangerous situation.

So let’s fast-forward a bit. He’s had weekly blood draws since he was discharged from the hospital. He’s had 2 rounds of a high-dose, 4-day steroid treatment (Dexamethasone) which he responded really well to (his count goes up significantly right after treatment), however it hasn’t quite stabilized yet (it drops again), so he’ll likely get another round of it (depending on next week’s count).

Something we learned is that it’s unlikely that his platelet count will go back into “normal” range (150,000-450,000). His highest count so far was after his first dose- 95,000, and the doctor was super pleased with that and said it was a pretty high number for an ITP patient. Their goal is to keep it above 30,000.

For now, he’ll still have weekly blood draws and appointments every 4 weeks (bumped back from every 2 weeks, hooray), and as I said, probably another round of steriods if the count hasn’t stabilized yet. Eventually, if and when his count is stable and consistent, he should be done with the weekly blood draws and treatments, only getting occasional draws and check-ups, unless serious symptoms occur of course.

You may be wondering, “has this affected him in any other physical ways?”, and the answer is, not as much as it could be. I joined an ITP support group on facebook because I wanted to hear other people’s stories and experiences. From that group, it is clear to me that what the doctor said is accurate…. “ITP is unpredictable and affects everyone a little differently.” Some people experience a lot of other symptoms including fatigue, lots of bruising and nosebleeds, bad side effects from the treatments (and there are several besides the one Ivor is on) and not everyone responds as well or as quickly to treatment. So we are very thankful that he hasn’t experienced the worst of it. He had some fatigue in the very beginning, right after being dischaged from the hospital (but I think that had a lot to do with being stuck in a hospital for a few days and feeling blindsided by this diagnosis, etc.) It, understandably, took a mental/emotional toll at first. And the worst side-effect of the steroids were hiccups, which is weird (although that could be a coincidence…we’ll see if it happens again on the 3rd round, if he gets a 3rd round).

So, he’s doing well, all things considered. He’s still super active on his bike, and we’re about to start Rushfit together again soon. This diagnosis hasn’t slowed him down one bit 🙂 In fact, he has even more motivation now than ever before, to stay active and healthy (and making sure his family is too). His new motto is “Shut Up Blood”, inspired by a pro cyclist who started the “Shut Up Legs” thing lol.

We’re praying for stable numbers soon (well above 30,000 would be great!) Thanks for all your prayers and encouragment throughout this process <3

 

Our Half Moon Bay Getaway

Almost 2 weeks ago, my husband and I went on our first overnight getaway. Alone. Just the two of us. With NO kids. It was so wonderful, it’s making it on the blog lol.  Not just to jot down all the memories of what we did, but to encourage ALL MARRIED COUPLES EVERYWHERE to go do the same 😀

I know it’s not always possible because of the timing and/or money. For us, this was the first time in a long time that I wasn’t nursing a baby AND it was financially feasible to do. But honestly, if you spend too much time thinking about it, you’ll talk yourself out of anything because there are always “more practical” things you can spend money on. But your marriage is absolutely worth it. It’s not a splurge on an item. It’s an investment in your marriage. Regular date nights are important too, but there is something to be said for getting out of your normal environment for an entire weekend (or longer if possible) with just the 2 of you. We certainly can’t always spend a weekend at the Ritz-Carlton overlooking the ocean, but we’re definitely going to try more over-nighters elsewhere on a more regular basis.

That said, being at a Ritz-Cartlon by the ocean was, however, AMAZING and reminded me of our honeymoon (we stayed at the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne, FL). So this was a really sweet time together that sort of had that newlywed feeling again, except way better 🙂

Anyway. Staying in such a fancy place made me feel a bit like a fish out of water lol. Or like I was living someone else’s life for a weekend. It’s just not something we do often. I remember the first night after dinner, we went for a walk by the ocean, on a moonlit path, hearing the sound of the waves, walking hand-in-hand and thinking…”is this real life?” (I also had a particularly strong Manhattan right before which tends to enhance my emotions a little lol). I was just so happy to be exactly where I was right then.

And everyone at the Ritz treats you like royalty. I felt so special and pampered the whole time! I mentioned to the lady working at the front desk at the spa that this was my first weekend away from my kids, with just my husband, and so she gave us free stuff! Ivor used to work at a Ritz-Cartlton in Philadelphia so he gave me the inside scoop that employees have a certain budget that they can spend on guests to enhance their stay. How amazing is that?! The lady who gave me my facial threw in some extras for me too because she knew I was a tired mama (and desperately needed it lol). Her: “when was your last facial”…Me: “um…7 years ago….on my honeymoon” …Her: “ok, we’ll go the full 80 minutes and I’ll throw in a lip mask and eye brow clean-up…on the house” 😀

Anyway, we packed in a lot for 1 weekend and I could ramble on and on, but this post is already getting too long, so I’ll switch to bullet point highlights of my favorite memories instead:

*Walking into the lobby when we first arrived…..in slippers (I drove there in slippers because my heels hurt and I forgot to switch before getting out of the car because we were rushing to go see the sunset). I was embarassed at first. Me: “Who walks around the Ritz Carlton in slippers??” Ivor: “Rich people who do whatever they want. You’re fine. You’ll fit right in.” LOL

*Walking on a legit moonlit path by the ocean

*Sitting outside by the firepit, listening to the waves crashing.

*The employee who gave us free bubble bath and a candle

*Soaking in the tub, with bubbles

*The breakfast buffet of my dreams

*Mountain biking in Marin County (absolutely gorgeous!) It was mostly hard…..really hard. With a little bit of INCREDIBLE single-track downhill with an ocean view. I had a really rough time at one point, and Ivor ended up pushing both of our bikes uphill to give me a break <3

*The facial! Glorious.

*Getting fancy for dinner at the “fine dining” restaurant of the hotel- Navio. We had the most amazing mushroom risotto with shaved truffle (that the chef came out to add himself)…whaaaaaaaaa?! I can still smell it. OMG.

* A pleasant conversation with a woman we met before dinner one night, who praised the fact that I’m a stay-at-home mom and acknowledged how hard it must be but how rewarding and impactful it is. That doesn’t always happen. Normally it’s “Oh….cool” followed by a subject change or questions about what I did before kids (in my experience talking to Bay Area professionals anyway). It was unexpected and exactly what I needed to hear!

*Morning walk by the ocean, and randomly seeing 2 horses

*Mountain biking in Soquel Demonstration Forest- the flow trail loop. More enjoyable than the previous ride overall 🙂

*The sunset on the way home to go see our babies (I rarely see sunsets as a mom…isn’t that depressing? lol)

Ok, a few pictures then I’m done 😀

The ITP Diagnosis.

No, that’s not an episode title for the Big Bang Theory. This was our week.

Oh, where to begin with this one. How about from the beginning? I’ll jump right in. (Buckle in, this will be a long one…)

*NOTE: I am not a medical professional and I might get something wrong. If so, please correct me!

On Monday morning before Ivor left for work, he mentioned that earlier that morning (like, middle of the night early) he had a weird taste in his mouth and some gum bleeding (which is unusual for him because he’s one of those people who flosses regularly lol). Weird, but we kind of brushed that off and went about our day.

Then he got to work and looked down at his arms and hands and noticed a rash. He sent me these pics:

Ok, that’s also weird. We’ve never seen a rash like that before. He then went to get a shower (because had just biked 26 miles into work), and discovered that the rash was all over his body. Cue immediate call to the doctor. We got him an appointment for a few hours later. We had no idea what it could be, but thought maybe it was just a contact reaction to something, nothing serious.

Apparently as soon as the doctor saw the rash, he looked very concerned and ordered blood work for him ASAP. The doc said it looked like it  was a “low platelet issue”  He went downstairs, got to cut the line at the lab and have it done right away. That sense of urgency was a little disconcerting….

Then we waited for the phone call with the results.

The call, of course, came while I was picking up the kids from preschool. Ivor was at home when he got the call, “your platelet count is extremely low, go to the ER now.” So I get the phone call from Ivor in the middle of the kid’s classroom while I’m picking them up, “Meet me at the ER, I’ll be at Good Sam.” (the hospital, Good Samaritan). And that’s all the information I had.

I did my best to keep my crap together in front of the kids, immediately called a friend who lived close by and asked if I could drop my kids off  at her house so I could be with Ivor in the ER. My friend, being the absolute rockstar and saint that she is, said “yes, absolutely” and took in my 3 kids for the night. So I dropped them off, and drove with a purpose (meaning I probably broke the speed limit a few times) to the hospital.

Ivor was already being seen by the time I got there (also disconcerting but good, that he was able to be seen immediately). They wanted to re-take the blood test in-house just to confirm, because they were shocked that his count was so dangerously low but he looked and acted totally fine. He literally had no other symptoms except for the rash and the gum bleeding earlier. Anyway, it wasn’t too long of a wait before we got those results back. It was confirmed. His platelet count was 4,000. To give you an idea of how low that is, normal counts are between 150,000 and 450,000. 

Thankfully, all other aspects of his blood work were normal (red and white blood cell count, etc.). So the ER doctor believed it to be an isolated platelet issue/ITP (Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura) from the start. But a hematologist would need to take it from there and run other tests to confirm that by ruling out a bunch of other things.

In the meantime though, because his count was so low, they moved him to the ICU and began a platelet transfusion right away (donor blood, stripped of all the other things except for platelets. It kinda looked like a bag of pee. Platelets are yellow-ish…ya learn something new every day!)

Anyway. It was at this point that I think reality set in for me. The adrenaline/blur of the preceding events wore off,  my emotions caught up with me and I realized where we were. And where we weren’t. We weren’t at home together with our kids having dinner like we should’ve been, dealing with our usual chaos before bedtime. In an “instant” (a quick phone call), regular life stopped. Our kids were whisked off to a friend’s house immediately after school, and there we were in the hospital dealing with the unknown. It happened so fast.

I had googled “low platelet count” earlier in the day and knew all the serious possibilities (you know you’d do it too!) So my mind jumped to the worst case scenario, naturally, and thoughts of losing my husband, and my kids losing their daddy, filled my mind. And I was sick to my stomach. I’d love to say that “I was so strong and held it together like a boss”, but let’s be real………..I threw up in the middle of the ICU. It happened. I apologized to everyone around me, like they had never seen anything like that before (insert eye roll).

Moving on….

He got a room pretty quickly (because of the transfusion situation he definitely had to be admitted) and once he was settled in for the night and a friend brought me some Dramamine, my nausea wore off and I DID get my crap together after that. I ate some hospital jello.

He received 4 bags of platelets (unsure of exact amount) throughout the night. Not sure either one of us slept longer than 20 mins at a time that night…

There were more blood draws over the next few days, re-counting his numbers to check for improvement or any changes. The platelet transfusion helped a little at first, but his count eventually went back down to where it started. All the while other tests were being run to rule other things out. ITP is a “diagnosis of exclusion” which means they rule out all other possible causes (diseases, cancers, disorders, etc. etc.) and settle on ITP if all those tests are negative….it’s essentially a diagnosis that says “we have no idea what caused this.”

After what seemed like way too long, we finally got MOST of the other tests results back, which were negative, and ITP was the official diagnosis they were going to start treating. The first treatment was called Intravenous Immunoglobulin Thereapy (IVIG), which would only be a temporary fix but if it worked, it would support the diagnosis as the correct one. It did, and his platelet count went up significantly. So then they started him on a high-dose, 4-day steroid treatment called Dexamethasone, which should work fairly rapidly in getting his platelet level back to normal.

Since his levels were on the rise after beginning treatment, he was allowed to be discharged (yesterday just before lunchtime, and was back on his bike shortly thereafter 🙂 )

He has a follow-up appointment with the hematologist in a week and they will do another CBC (complete blood count) that day in the office to make sure everything still looks good.

The prognosis for ITP is a good one. It was definitely the best-case scenario in this situation, as opposed to all the other possibilities. It’s just kind of frustrating to be diagnosed with something that begins with “Idiopathic” -of unknown cause. No one likes the unknown. And Ivor lives an extremely healthy/active lifestyle and is only 37 years old. So it sort of threw us for a loop to have any sort of health problem at all.

Thankfully, it doesn’t look like it will change his lifestyle at all. I was so worried he might not be allowed to ride his bike, but he just can’t play contact sports like football. Which he doesn’t do anymore anyway. With the platelet issue he could have a much higher risk of bleeding (because platelets are what causes your blood to clot and stop bleeding). We are so thankful that he didn’t experience any major bleeding at all while his platelet count was so low, which can be a possibility even without injury.

Throughout this whole thing there was no pain or suffering involved (physically anyway). Like I mentioned before, he felt totally fine and normal the whole time, no other symptoms. The last time he was hospitalized (because he apparently likes to make a habit of this:-P ), he had been in an accident and was in a LOT of physical pain and the aftermath of that (the recovery) was very difficult. THAT situation was draining in a whole other way. Thankfully, that is not the case this time.

So …..that was our week, how was yours?? 😀

I want to thank all of our AMAZING friends who stepped in to help us out while he was in the hospital. With childcare, meals, keeping Ivor company while I was with the kids at night, etc. If you’re on facebook, you’ll be tagged 🙂 It is so great to have friends who will drop everything to help you when stuff like this happens, especially when you don’t have family in the area. We love you all!!!

And thank you LORD that this was not more serious and that my husband is now out of that dang hospital! (another story for another time…but let’s just say, there were mistakes made by a nurse that THANKFULLY did not have any negative effect on him, but could have and we worry for her other patients who are not as alert and knowledgeable as my husband). Le sigh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That One Time I Shot a Promo Video for Stitch Fix! (+special offer details!)

If we’re Facebook friends, you may have seen that in September I shot a video for Stitch Fix (in front of the camera, not behind!) So I thought I’d share a little bit more about how that came about and what it was like. Also at the end of this post, I have some exciting news for anyone who has been considering trying Stitch Fix, but hasn’t jumped the fence yet 😉

*Note: This post contains affiliate links. Should you sign-up and order using my link, I will receive a small commission which helps support this blog. 

So, how did I end up at Stitch Fix headquarters in front of a camera? I saw a facebook post on our MOPS page. Someone who knows someone at Stitch Fix, asked if anyone in the group had been a Stitch Fix client since 2014 (oddly specific) and was interested in going on camera for a client testimonial. I saw it and thought “Huh. I’ve been a client since 2014, but going on camera? Nah, no thanks.” I hate seeing/hearing myself on video and the whole idea just seemed a bit intimidating/terrifying. So I ignored it and moved on. But then I started getting tagged by several other people in the post telling me I should do it. Peer pressure. I gave in and contacted the person JUST to get more information about it, not to confirm I would do it.

Then I got more details and thought “Ok….why would I pass up this opportunity?…That’s just silly. Suck it up and do it Krystal!” And so, I did (along with 3 other people I don’t know- but we all shot separately).

Prior to the taping, they sent me a questionnaire about my experience with Stitch Fix, and then came up with a “script” using my responses. I was told I’d be reading this script from a teleprompter and wouldn’t have to memorize anything. And that it would be directed, etc. They also gave some recommendations for outfits I should wear (from Stitch Fix of course) and  that there would be hair and makeup on site! Thank goodness I didn’t have to be responsible for that lol.

When I arrived, I was extremely nervous but excited at the same time. The “set” for the video was legit…WAY more involved than I had imagined. In my head I thought there’d be like 1 camera, a plain backdrop and a light or 2. Oh no. This was a set that made it looked like I was sitting in a bright and airy living room in an expensive San Francisco studio apartment. I sat on a couch, with props behind me, there were several cameras in addition to the actual teleprompter, lights all around and a crew of about 10-15 people. So…not at all intimidating or anything lol.

I got dressed, had my hair and makeup done and then it was time. Even though they told me beforehand that I didn’t have to memorize anything and I would just be reading from a script, the director instructed me to “read….but don’t sound like you’re reading”. That is so much harder than you think lol. Also, I naturally spoke way too fast the first 2 takes and had to keep slowing down. We did a bunch of takes reading the exact script word-for-word, and then a few where I was allowed to ad-lib a little bit to make it sound more natural, like having a conversation with a friend. Then she asked me some questions that I answered off-the-cuff, and honestly that’s what I felt way more comfortable doing. The scripted stuff felt so awkward, so I’m happy we did that little unscripted Q&A portion.

It was over before I knew it (maybe only 15-20 mins total on camera?) and then they sent me on my way (with some snacks).

Being my own worst critic, I spent the whole car ride home thinking about all the things I could’ve said differently. But out of several takes, I’m SURE they got at least something usable lol. I know it’s just going be a short little clip, edited together with the other client videos.

If you were wondering, I’ve haven’t seen the final video. We were told it was being used as promotion/marketing material for a corporate presentation (but no other specifics were given). I don’t know if I’ll ever see it, but I think I’m okay with that lol. I left with $100 Stitch Fix credit and a fun experience 🙂

And I’m thankful for the crew member who insisted on making sure I got some photos of me on set, for my memories (and this blog post lol)

Stitch Fix Client

Stitch Fix Client

Ok, let’s get to the special offer! If you haven’t yet signed up or ordered a fix from Stitch Fix yet, you have the opportunity to try it right now for FREE! From now through the end of November, your styling fee is waived for your very first fix. So if you’ve been curious to try it and see what you think, now is the time! Use this link, and let me know how it goes 😀

My quick tips for getting a great fix:

*Create a Pinterest board to visualize your style
*Be very specific with any requests or dislikes
*Have an open mind and try everything on

Enjoy, friends!

 

 

Miscarriage and Empathy

October is almost over and I have yet to mention anything about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. It’s not because I’ve forgotten about my losses or am somehow “over it” now. But the waves of sadness are smaller and farther apart. It’s been 2 years, 3 months and 9 days since my last miscarriage…so, the season of intense mourning has passed, thankfully. But that doesn’t mean I never get sad about it or that I’ll stop talking about it or acknowledging it.

I’ve shared my story a bunch of times. On here, on facebook, at my MOPS group, etc. So I don’t necessarily want to re-tell it again today. But I do want to share some tips/advice for how to support and encourage someone who is suffering from a miscarriage (or just suffering in general really). I want to tread lightly because I don’t want to shame anyone or make anyone feel bad for saying/doing something that I think is unhelpful or even hurtful. Honestly, I’ve been there too. I once made a very cliche, shallow comment to a friend who finally got pregnant after trying for a long time to conceive. I had the best of intentions, but the comment was less than helpful and basically minimized the pain she went through during all those years of trying.

But instead of just going through a big list of “things NOT to say/do” ….because there are plenty of those articles floating around the Internet to make you feel bad, I’ll try to just focus on what TO do/say. And please note: these are my opinions. Everybody grieves a little differently and what I find helpful and encouraging, might not be the same as someone else. Feel free to share your own thoughts if they’re different than mine. I ain’t afraid (actually that’s not true….I do fear big, mean  internet trolls…which is why I get to approve comments before they’re visible lol). For real though, do share.

So let’s talk about empathy. Rather, let’s let Brene Brown talk briefly about it, because she kind of nails it with this video. Watch this first, then read on.

What does empathy look like when someone you know just suffered a miscarriage and is in the pit of despair?

  1. Go down in the pit with her. Well-meaning people want to just reach down and pull them out, but usually way too soon. It’s okay to sit in the pit for a bit. (….I’m /facepalming myself right now, don’t worry). It’s okay to spend time just sitting in grief and not rushing through it. But no one should be down there alone.
  2. When in doubt, say nothing. If you’re worried about saying the wrong thing, it’s probably safer to just say nothing at all. Your presence alone speaks volumes. Offer a hug. A shoulder to cry on. Listen. Don’t speak.
  3. When you do speak, say  “I’m so sorry this happened. This sucks.” Period. No “But…”….no “At least….”. By adding “but” or “at least” statements, you can minimize the pain they’re feeling. Just because it “could be worse” doesn’t mean the pain they feel right now isn’t legitimate. It still may be the hardest thing they’ve ever gone through. For me, hearing about how it could’ve been worse, somehow doesn’t make me feel any less sad. It just doesn’t.
  4. Now I’m gonna get slightly controversial here for my fellow Christians. Are you ready? Please use caution (read: wisdom, discernment, good judgment) before throwing a bible verse their way. I am NOT saying scripture isn’t powerful. I am not saying it isn’t truth (I’m well aware of 2 Timothy 3:16). BUT (and I’ll preface this statement by saying that “for ME” because it might be different for others,)…not all scripture is helpful or comforting while IN the pit of despair. I think there’s a time and a place for certain verses while suffering. “God works all things together for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28) . I know it’s true. I believe it in my head. But that verse does not penetrate my heart in the thick of my grief. I can’t relate to that in that moment. I’m just not there yet. What verse DOES bring me comfort? “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) . Brokenhearted and crushed? Now that’s a verse I can relate to. That’s God meeting me where I am at. The pit of despair. Knowing He’s there with me in that place, THAT brings me comfort. Seeing how He worked it all together for His good? That comes later. The book of Psalms is there for a reason, ya know? And they ain’t all about praise and good times. Embrace the laments!
  5. Likewise, (I know I said I wouldn’t say what NOT to do..but…)… please avoid cliche biblical (but probably not actually in the Bible) Christian statements. I won’t list ’em…I’m sure you’ve heard ’em. Just don’t.

    And finally….

  6. Help with basic needs- like providing meals, cleaning or childcare if needed. When people are in mourning, basic tasks become incredibly difficult (at least for some people…like me). After my first miscarriage, I remember letting the dishes sit in the sink for days (and I didn’t even had kids then). I didn’t have the emotional energy to go back to daily routine stuff right away…because the last time I did the dishes, I was pregnant and excited and hopeful. The last time I did the laundry, I was daydreaming of folding little onesies and footed pajamas. Depending on the person, they probably won’t ASK for it, you may need to just go ahead and do it, or arrange it with their spouse, etc. Use discernment based on your relationship with the person so you can provide what will truly be helpful to them.

 

This is all just scratching the surface really, but I hope it was helpful to you. Sadly, since 1 in 4 women will experience this kind of loss, odds are pretty dang good that you will know someone who has gone through it, is going through it, or will go through it at some point. So  I hope this will help you bring comfort to your friend, sister, wife, daughter, etc. when the time comes. <3