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Good and Bad

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I posted on Monday about my first time being sick as a single parent (spoiler alert: it sucks!). My symptoms had started on Sunday and I was pretty sure I had the flu: high fever, alternating chills/sweats, nausea, vomiting, body aches. Classic signs, right?

In our co-parenting plan, the girls’ Dad takes them on Wednesdays overnight. He picked them up Wednesday afternoon and I was STILL at Death’s Door. In texting with my sister (an RN), she convinced me things had gone on too long to just be the flu. If anything, symptoms had been worsening. I was completely incapacitated. I mean, just writhing around in bed and on the bathroom floor (in between puking my guts up). And then I started to really notice the pain. Right in my lower back. Like…..right on the kidney.

I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed it sooner. I had an extremely high fever the first couple days of illness so that was front-and-center for me. My thoughts were distorted, I couldn’t put together a coherent sentence. I was a mess.

It took me at least an hour to pep-talk myself into getting up, changing clothes (I was wearing puky PJ’s) and drive myself to a full-service urgent care. But once there, a urine analysis and ultrasound confirmed a diagnosis: KIDNEY STONES

I have an extensive family history of kidney stones: my brother, my dad, all my dads’ siblings (including the females), my grandpa, etc. I grew up listening to stories about my Grandpa’s work ethic. He used to live in New Jersey and take the train into work in New York. He’d literally lie under his desk writing around in pain until he passed his kidney stone(s), then back to work and on the train home again. Long family history. So the Family Curse has struck again.

The Good News

  • I’m not contagious!!!! I was so sure I had the flu and was terrified that the second I got better, one of the girls would get sick and then the other girl and this would be a two-week long ordeal. Thank god that’s not the case!
  • It’s treatable! I came home with a whole smorgasbord of prescription medications: things to help with pain, nausea, antibiotics (because my urine also showed an extremely elevated white blood count – the stone likely caused an infection, too), and something to help my urinary tract expand so the stone can pass more easily (<not sure if this is just layman’s terms? That’s how it was described to me).

The Bad News

  • It still hasn’t passed. It was sitting low in my urinary tract so the doctor felt it would pass “soon.” That was Wednesday and no relief yet. He said if it hasn’t passed by Monday or Tuesday to come back again and they can zap it with a laser to break it up but he didn’t want to do that as a go-to because he didn’t think insurance would cover it.
  • It’s a lifestyle change. You get it once? Odds are you’ll get it again. I need to get an internal medicine doctor to help me so I can better manage stones when I undoubtedly get them again. I have been 100% INCAPACITATED this entire week. The stress from all the missed work (not to mention the already high stress of my life, in general right now) is almost enough to break me. I will likely need to make some dietary changes and things to try to prevent or reduce the re-currence of future stones. And I need to figure out some better pain meds. I was initially prescribed oxycodone but I took one on Wednesday night and was HIGH AS A KITE!!! Y’all. I’ve never done mind-altering drugs before, so I have nothing to compare it to. But this was insane. I was seeing sounds and hearing colors. I was god, controlling weather patterns. I mean….it was out of this world and NOT in a good way. Immediately Thursday morning I called and got a new pain med, Tramadol but it makes me super tired to where I can hardly keep my eyes open. I need to find something that can help manage then pain, but still allow me to at least do minimal amounts of work and take care of my children!
  • It’s costing me $$$. This was the kids’ Fall Break week! I was going to save on money by doing fun things for free. But instead I was forced to put them in daycamp for Thursday and Friday because of said incapacitation (see above). I’ve also had to buy way too much take-out because there was just no way I was going to be able to cook and the kids needed to eat. I haven’t reconciled the budget from this week yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ve used our entire “eating out” budget just this week. Plus prescriptions, co-pays, a heating pad, etc. etc. Lots of extra money spent this week.

So there you go. At least now I know what I’ve got and I can try to take active steps to get out ahead of it and better manage it in the future (recognizing the symptoms and getting started on meds sooner). But I’m still in pretty excruciating pain so there’s that.

I’m accepting all thoughts/prayers/well-wishes you want to throw my way. I appreciate any and all! <3

~Ashley


Returning to Old Ways – Homemade Soap

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Years ago, I made all my own homemade soap, all my own laundry detergent, only used vinegar (and occasionally bleach) to clean my home. That coupled with my aversion to doctors would probably classify me as homeopathic. (My kids are vaccinated and we do go to the doctor when necessary, but in general, I will try a home remedy before that.)

And aside from recent allergies (last year Princess was tested) and a broken bone, it worked for us. Then life got busy and stressful and I stopped.

I’ve been buying the $8 bottles of Arm and Hammer laundry detergent, a variety of cleaning sprays and Irish Spring soap…all from Family Dollar. But even so, money out the door.

We have recently transitioned back to Vinegar diluted with water for most cleaning.  It is great for floors, as fabric softener, on mirrors/windows with newspaper and even for cleaning countertops.

Back to the Basics – Homemade Soap

Yesterday, Gymnast was cleaning the bathroom and dug into my old soap making supplies for a mask and rubber gloves. All my supplies are kept in a large plastic bin in the laundry room. A constant reminder of the way things used to be.

As he dug them out, he asked if I would start making soap again. When asked why, he said it feels better. So this morning, I added it to my to do list for this weekend.

I don’t make the pretty soap you see at festivals. I use hot press recipes in a crockpot I have just for soap, set it in a silicon bread mold and slice it with a miter saw and box. (These are NOT affiliate links, just there for educational purposes.)

The ingredients in my homemade soap are pretty basic: lye, shea butter and an oil. Sometimes I use coconut oil, sunflower and others. While I order the lye and shea butter, most everything else I get locally. (What I have now is what I had in Virginia. I haven’t made any soap since our tiny living days in the apartment.)

Extra Money

I already have EVERYTHING I need for a several batches of soap. And with the process being so easy and quick, I’ve decided to do a bulk soap making day and then offer bars to my friends. When I was making it regularly, they always wanted to buy it.

homemade soap

This isn’t my soap, but this is what my soap looks like when complete. No color, no additives, and bumpy on the edges.

I never made enough to do that. I just made it for my family. I started because of eczema and sensitive skin issues, and allergies and just wanting a simple way to clean my house without the harsh chemicals around my then toddlers and dogs.

This will not be a side hustle, but maybe give me some pocket change. And since I’m always home anyways while working, it won’t take much away from my other work. I’ll just have to set a timer to check the crockpot for each phase.

Not to mention, the chemical reactions can be fun to watch. I might even be ready to let the kids take on more of the process. Lye is extremely dangerous to work with, thus the assortment of rubber gloves, masks and safety goggles in my soap making bucket.

Do you have any homepathic tendencies? I’ve been an essential oil fan for 6-7 years now, cleaned with vinegar since the little kids were just a couple years old and also preferred natural remedies to prescriptions?


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