Friday, August 22, 2014

A New Journey

A journey that I never thought I would attempt has become a reality.

I AM GOING TO COLLEGE!

I struggled in school. Academically and socially. I was the quiet one with just a few friends. Luckily, I went to a great high school and the kids were mostly from decent families. I was extremely quiet and shy and borderline nerdy, but I was never teased. I hung in the background and was overlooked and I didn’t mind it being that way. Academically, I struggled. I was a B/C student who knew I would only get my A in an elective class. I never understood why school was so hard for me but I accepted it and moved forward. When I graduated from high school, I was so glad it was over and knew college wasn’t for me. School was hard for me. Now that I had “done my time” I surely wasn’t going back voluntarily.

Jump ahead 12 years to 2014. This year I turned 30 and I finally got my answer. I finally knew why school was so hard for me.

I have ADHD.

I am told by my doctor that I have always had it and it went undiagnosed.

Looking back now, it all starts to make sense.

My comprehension is poor. No matter how hard I try to concentrate and pay attention, I just couldn’t do it. Read a book or text and take a test on it? Yeah right. My teachers must have thought I was the laziest student around! There was no way I could have read the material and still failed the test so miserably. I will admit, it even got to the point in my later high school years that I wouldn’t even read the assigned book if I thought I wasn’t going to understand it. I failed the test and moved on. I always did well on home work and projects so that balanced out the failed tests in the end.
Then you have the nice teachers who let you watch the movie in class instead of reading the book. Most students would do pretty well on that test, but not me. If I didn’t fall asleep, I couldn’t follow anything that was going on. To this day, I can’t follow movies without asking my poor hubby what the heck is going on. Lastly, one test I don’t think I will ever forget was an open book History test. I don’t remember which grade it was, but I will never forget how dumb I felt and how much of a failure I felt when I got that test back. A 30% on an open book test?!?!?! How is that possible??!!

Now that I have a diagnosis and treatment, I have the confidence I needed to go to college. I would love to go into the healthcare field, however, I am finding that a lot, if not most, of those programs require clinical hours and I can’t figure out how I would fit that in while working full time day hours. For now, I am a business major. I am tossing around a few ideas of which direction I can go. I would love to still incorporate the healthcare field so I am considering counseling or human resources but I have yet to decide. I still have plenty of time. At this point, I am just going to start with my core classes and see how that goes.

This is a huge step for me, but I am very excited and can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It's Starting To Make Sense

I recently turned 30 and it made me think about all that I learned in my 20’s. I don’t know if this is the same for all people, but I learned so much about myself in my 20’s. More than I ever imagined I would. I have grown emotionally in ways that I am very proud. I have learned to stand up for myself and my feelings. This is something I have struggled with since I was little. It will always be a struggle, but I have come so far. One of the things I learned about myself and recognized is that I have Anxiety and ADHD. I was pretty aware of the Anxiety in my early 20’s. It is something that runs heavily in my family so it was very easy to spot. Once I finally went to the doctor, it was confirmed and I began treatment.

My ADHD story was not as short though. This is something that I have suspected for the last few years. Without realizing it, I had learned to live with it and adjust my behaviors and actions and even make excuses for it. It wasn’t until my therapist mentioned it, that I thought my suspicions might be valid. Once I became more aware of it and saw a doctor for treatment, all of the symptoms made sense for once. Even though my symptoms are still present (since I only chose to take the medication as needed, such as a busy work day or on a school day) learning to pay attention to them has helped me in many ways. My poor self-esteem that crept about was even a symptom to my surprise.

I learned that I had this since I was young and the symptoms were just dismissed. I struggled in school to get B’s and C’s. That’s just Sandy. She is a B/C student. I assumed I was not smart enough for college. I am “a blonde” and I am “dense”. That’s just Sandy. I would forget my head if it wasn’t attached. That’s just Sandy. I can’t pay attention to anything it seems. Again, even though this is the major symptom, that’s just Sandy. I would struggle to sit through a movie at the theatre, especially one that didn’t capture my interest completely. I would twist and turn in my seat, count how many minutes till the end, or even just give up and go to sleep. I figured that was normal. It wasn’t until very recently, I thought to try my new ADHD medication for a movie, and boy, when I say it was like night and day, that is an understatement. I actually enjoyed the darn movie and it was a long one. I normally dread long movies. Once again, things started to make sense!

I will always have ADHD and Anxiety, but I am learning that by controlling as much as you can in your environment, you can control the diseases quite a bit. I have accepted the fact that I will most likely have to take medications of some sort, for the rest of my life, however I have learned that if I eliminate as many of the stressors in my life as I can, doing so can decrease my symptoms and in turn decrease my medication dose.

In recent years, I never would have agreed and didn’t agree when people told me this was possible; changing your environment to ease the symptoms. It’s not an easy thing to do. It’s a life changing decision to remove yourself from stressful people and stressful environments, but it has proven to be a necessity and has worked for me! It will need to be something that I continue to do throughout my life, but if I stay aware of the triggers and are able to change them, I am realizing that I DO in fact have some control over these diseases.

Having anxiety, I have always struggled with accepting that I live with this condition. I hate that I do not have control over my thoughts and feelings and hate that I have this disease. Not having control over my brain has made me feel like a major failure. Now, with the help of therapy and making changes in my life, I learned that I have a little bit of control. Knowing this makes it much easier to accept my disease and deal with it.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Confirmation and First Holy Communion

My confirmation name is Elizabeth and Vince was my sponsor! Enjoy the pictures!





Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Falling FInally Got The Best Of Him

Well, he got his crutches, and uses them a lot, but mostly outside of the house. But three days ago, in the middle of the night, he fell in the bathroom again. (Wasn't using the crutches) He fell and fell hard. Ended up with an extrememly swollen foot and ankle and was sure he broke it.

I called the Podiatrist for an X-Ray. They know us well, so they got him in right away. Turns out he didn't break anything, but did tear a ligament. So, now he is in a walking boot for 10 days until his next check up. The walking boot is helping a lot but he says he can't use that with the crutches Grr As long he is careful, that is all I care about. I am really hoping no surgery will be needed, but we will know more once the swelling goes down. Lot's of ice for now.... and once this is over, he will be using at least one crutch all the time!! (doc said he could use 1 or 2 at a time) Thanks a lot Neuropathy!

And a quick shout out to my brother in law, John. He doesn't read this blog, but he has been a huge blessing to have around and has been a huge help with my taking care of Vince. It was just what we all needed and is working out FANTASTIC!

Also should mention that I have, for the first time ever, enrolled in college!! Should start this fall! More on that later in another post.....

My Communion and Confirmation are this Sunday! Pics to come...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Changes Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually!

I suppose I need a post updating what is going on as it has been quite a long time since my last post.

Towards the end of last year, I had mentioned to Vince that I had an idea that would help us financially and I wanted to know what he thought about it. I suggested that maybe his brother John would like to move into our second bedroom in our two bedroom apartment. Since he works part time and is on disability due to diabetic complications, his money has been tight, just as ours is. We discussed this possibility for a while before making any moves, as it is a big adjustment to share your home with someone else, even if they are family. Vince decided the idea wasn’t so bad and could really help not only us, but his brother as well, so he brought up the topic to him. John seemed to like the idea and said he would think about it. I then began to realize there would be more positive outcomes other than the financial help. He would be there with Vince a lot of the time when I can’t be. The thought of having someone else around to watch out for him while I am at work 40 hours a week would be great! They could help each other! A few short months later, he officially moved in and things have been going great.

In case I haven’t mentioned it, we have a FANTASTIC therapist. I am a firm believer in shopping until you find just the right one for you and that we did. This guy has helped Vince tremendously. We see him together about once a month and usually just check in. He is not only great at guiding us, but he gets our humor and is all around just a great match to our needs. While in a session a few months back, he mentioned that it seems I may have ADD. I have often suspected this of myself but always ignored it. I explained to him that my biggest issue is not being able to concentrate while driving. I am like a little kid, constantly looking all around me, instead of looking at the road. Not good. We left his office and I didn’t think much more about it. Then, months later, the topic came up again during a meeting with him and he, again, suggested I see someone about it.

I finally took his advice and made an appointment with a doctor who deals with ADD. During the first appointment, I was asked why I was there and what my symptoms were. I explained my lack of concentration, especially while driving. He then asked about my concentration during school. I explained to him my reading comprehension has always been poor and I just struggled through. I always explained that looking back, this was a big reason why I never felt I could attempt college. He then said something that really made an impression with me. He said he could tell I was very smart and I probably just have a learning disability and that I should go to college! That made me feel very good. As the conversation went on, I explained how my memory is poor (but I attributed that to stress) and how I seem to always be doing 10 things at once. I explained that it is hard to turn off my brain at night to go to sleep, but again contributed that to stress. He said it sounds like I have always had ADD and due to my moving from school to school during my childhood, it was never properly diagnosed. He said he would like me to see his psychologist to be tested. I agreed, as this is something that I really want help with due to the driving issue. About a week later I saw the psychologist and filled out a 60 question questionnaire and he took my background. He said he was surprised I was never diagnosed as it is pretty obvious that I have difficulty with ADD. He suggested I try medication to help since I was so concerned about my attention on the road and referred me back to the doctor to prescribe something. When I met with the doctor, I explained I didn’t want a stimulant like Ritalin and he informed me that there is a newer option that is not a stimulant and that I could try that. The only drawback is that it can take up to 2 months to see the full effects. So that is where I am currently at. It has been just under a month and I will see him soon for a checkup.

Another, non-medical related update, is that I am in the process of becoming Catholic! They say sometimes you just know when you are ready to do something. That is kind of how this came about. While sitting through Mass at Vince’s old high school during the day he was there to give his motivational speech to the Freshman, the idea came to me. Maybe because it was a Mass for the kids, maybe not, I liked how the priest provided such a positive outlook on life. The positivity really hit me and I thought to myself, maybe I would like to go to Mass more often. If I get this much out of it each week, that could do wonders for me emotionally and spiritually.

I decided to contact the priest at the church where we got married. He was so inviting and explained the process to become Catholic would be quite easy since I was already baptized. He explained he could meet with me and we can go from there. I asked Vince if he would go with me and he was happy to. So I met with the priest and he gave me a book that explained the Catholic religion from start to finish. He said we can go through the book and spend about an hour a week and at the end, I can get my first Holy Communion and Confirmation and I would be official! We have had about a total of 5 meetings and I will be confirmed in just a few weeks! I am very excited to do this for myself. I am surprised to see how much I get out of going to Mass once a week and am glad I made this decision.

Lastly is the most recent update is regarding Vince’s Neuropathy. He has been falling quite a lot lately and complained of a “buckling knee” to the doctor. After an X-Ray and MRI on the knee, everything came back fine. The doctor explained that most likely the Femoral Nerve has probably been affected by his Diabetic Neuropathy. This is a large nerve that runs from the waste, down the leg. It can cause the knee to buckle and general weakness in the leg. He suggested physical therapy to strengthen the leg muscles and an EMG to confirm the damage. He did say though that since this is such a large nerve, it tends to get better over time. I hope he is right. In the meantime, he has prescribed Forearm Crutches for Vince to use to help him walk better and hopefully avoid falling so much. Here is an example of what they look like.
 

Well I think I covered everything! I shouldn’t wait so long next time!