Thursday, December 29, 2016

In which I show you all my clothes...

I'm a huge fitness enthusiast which means I spend most of my time in athletic attire. You're more likely to see me at Costco in leggings and a tank with no make up and sweaty than you are in cute jeans and flats with my hair done. I wish I could rock both looks every day, but with small children the majority of my days involve me dressing for a work out and then as I'm getting the kids to and from school, down for naps, fed, etc finding time here and there as the day progresses to get my exercise done. Since it is what I wear most often I think it's pretty reasonable that I'm totally and completely obsessed with all types of athletic wear. My fitness regimen covers a wide range of activities so I have my favorite pieces depending on what I'll be doing. This includes everything from sports bras, tanks, pants, and shoes! I'm going to share some of my favorite pieces and brands with you, information about where you can get them, and why I love them! I've also asked some of my active friends to share their favorite items with you, too!

First, let me say that my go-to exercise outfit is long leggings (sometimes called tights) and a tank. I rarely wear capri-length leggings and you'll never see me in shorts. I would love the freedom and range of motion that shorts provide but I just don't feel comfortable in them right now, and that is something I'm working on. My pregnancies left me with stretch marks on my legs and I know that I shouldn't care at all, but I feel best when they're covered. Now because of my most recent skin issues I also have scars, so for the foreseeable future- it's pants for this girl!

There are a lot of options out there for athletic leggings. When I'm shopping I look for two main selling points: 1. moisture wicking, so that I'm not bogged down and nasty feeling when I sweat, and 2. thickness, so that when I am in motion or folded over the butt of the leggings are not see-through. There are so many great brands to choose from ranging from cheap and inexpensive, to high-end and faves fall somewhere in the lower-middle of this range! I, like all women everywhere, LOVE Target. Target has great reasonably priced options for active wear, and their C9 brand actually ranks really high on a lot of lists- most recently Good Housekeeping ranked the C9 Embrace Must Have tights as the #1 legging on the market beating out brands like Nike, Lululemon, and Under Armour! Target is great because you can often find sweet deals in the clearance racks and use the cartwheel app for an extra discount. Another little tip for teens and petite women- shop the kids section!!! If you're size 6 or smaller you should check out the kids section every now and then! You'll pay half the price and still get pretty decent product. The thickness of the leggings and fit may differ slightly, but this is still a great option if you're just looking for something inexpensive to wear for at home work outs.
C9 sports bra from Target- got on clearance for $8- no make up and Paw Patrol on in the background! My life.

XL kids leggings from Target! Great for aerobics or a run, but wouldn't wear for serious yoga or pilates practice.

One of my favorite brands is 90 degrees, I love it for so many reasons! It's available on Amazon prime so I can get it shipped quick, its super affordable, and the quality is amazing! Most of the power flex yoga pants are around $19.99, but if you're not picky on color/print you can often find some reduced to $9.99-- which is insane for the quality! The leggings are thick and never see-through, but breath really well! Check them out here! I wear these for any and all work outs!

I wear a size small and am typically a 2/4 in street clothes. I love bright colors!!

Recently I bought my first tanks from 90 degrees and I've been really pleased with them, too. They're thin, but moisture wicking but do not have a built-in bra- so a sports bra is needed. Again, super affordable as this one that I purchased is a lovely $12.99.

shirt from the link above        

me today!! Wearing C9 sports bra and 90 degree tank

Another option for quality active wear at a reasonable price is Fabletics. A warning, though, Fabletics is an auto-ship style agreement where you commit to buying each month unless you log into your account and skip a month. If you are busy, or forgetful like me- this can be dangerous and you can end up racking up charges pretty quickly. If you're responsible and can keep up with it- it's an awesome option. The products I've purchased have all be of an amazing quality, super comfortable, and have lasted a long time. 

Fabletics tank with built-in bra support

 For all my yogis out there if you're serious about your practice you may find that it's worth it to invest in a few staple pieces that are higher quality. My bestie Caitrin swears by the Lululemon power y tank, and won't do hot yoga without her Lululemon Luon leggings. One of the perks you get for the money is that Lululemon is designed to be worn and stay put. You wont find yourself in down dog having to adjust your tank top or pull up your leggings- if your practice a lot, this is huge! I do have one Lulu top that I love for this exact reason! Another highly regarded brand for yoga wear is Alo yoga, some of my favorite insta-yogis rock Alo all of the time. I've ordered an Alo tank, and I'm super excited to try it out soon!

Wunder Under luon leggings

power y tank

my Lululemon top- double straps and built-in bra keep "the girls" locked in tight so there is no movement during flow and inversions

My girl London does weight training, spin classes, and conditioning. Her go-to pieces are the Nike dri-fit tank and capris. My husband is also a huge fan of the Nike dri-fit- he exclusively uses the dri-fit shirts for his work outs. If you sweat- you have GOT to get some sort of dri-fit type fabric to wick the moisture from your body- it will make your workouts SO much more comfortable!

dri-FIT knit tank

Nike Power Epic Lux

The shoes that I wear for most of my training are the Asics Gel Noosa Tri 10- they're AWESOME! They're designed as a triathalon shoe so they can be used for running, cross training, basically most athletic activity! I pronate really severely when I run and I get great stability from these shoes without feeling like they're too thick or heavy! When I teach Zumba I wear a different shoe, a New Balance court shoe that has very little tread- this helps me move and pivot easier when I'm dancing!

my kicks

My old work out buddy Christina, who is the runner I wish I could be loves her Altra running shoes! She's had multiple knee surgeries and still manages to kick butt!

To complete my look I almost always use a headband to keep my hair out of my face, even if it's up in a pony tail. I have a large collection of headbands because I can never quite find the perfect one that wont slip, isn't too loose or too tight. Show me the perfect headband, and I'll be yours forever. It's my elusive holy grail! Now that you've seen my head to toe choices I'd love to know yours! Like I said, I'm always in the market ;) sound off in the comments with any questions or suggestions! Thanks to my friends for their input! xoxo Layne



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Unfiltered Christmas

I hope y'all had a fantastic Winter holiday! Ours has been spent enjoying the ridiculous weather and visiting with family and friends! Here are some snapshots of stuff we've done so far during our break!

jumping in the bounce house on a sunny Winter day

decorating cookies with Mimi

sister hugs on Christmas morning

with a friend at our town's Christmas parade

Christmas party at school

after workout selfie!

she wanted to help us with our acro-yoga practice

hugs for Santa

loving on one of her favorite people

puzzles were one of her favorite gifts from Santa

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

New and exciting things???

If you read my 2016 post series then you are aware of the radical changes I've been having to make as a result of allergies that I have developed. I thought I'd share with y'all today some of the new products that I am having to use now that we know everything I am allergic to. All of it is new to me, and right now I'm not too excited about it. However, if implementing these changes produce lasting effects then that will be really dang exciting!

At our house there is very little that hasn't changed at this point regarding products we use. I have to use special soap for hands and dishes, body wash, shampoo/conditioner, nickel free razors, face wash, lotion, make up, detergent, dryer sheets, toothpaste, deodorant, hair spray--the whole nine yards. Even new pots and pans that wont leach nickel into my food. As far as my husband and the kids go they are able to use their normal soaps and shampoos, shaving stuff, and toothpaste, but things that would effect me they are stuck with. My hubby did have to give up Burts Bees because it included lanolin and I am allergic to that. I was flaring up around my mouth and it seems to have stopped since he switched to an approved lip product. He was super bummed, but totally willing to make the change, after all, he is pretty fond of kissing me!

All of our clothes are washed with Kirkland brand Free and Clear- I can't tell you how happy I am that a Costco product made it onto our "safe" list. We use 7th generation Free & Clear dish soap and all-purpose cleaner, and I'm cooking all food in our new enameled cast iron pots and pans. The pots and pans things was huge, because what's safe for me to use is not cheap, and we really weren't in the position to spend hundreds of dollars on new cookware. Lucky for me I had a birthday in October and I was able to be super boring and request Bed, Bath, and Beyond gift cards to purchase our first 2 pieces. Then recently a wonderful group of women I know blessed me with a donation and I was able to purchase a few more pieces that have made it much easier to cook for myself and my family. The silver lining is that the new cookware is nice and should last my lifetime, but it's heavy and I'm having to learn to use it. Long-term I know it is going to be a huge blessing regarding what is best for my health! It comes in fun colors, which is nice, too!

One of the biggest irks I have regarding new stuff I have to use is that I am SUPER limited in the toothpaste department. There are only 5 options for me to use and 3 of them are kid's toothpaste! Ugh! Right now I'm sharing with my girls and using Tom's of Maine in the mornings and then brushing with just baking soda at night time. There is another brand I'm going to try next that is reasonably affordable called Cleure, but it is out of stock everywhere right now. The last option is $30 for a tube, and I just don't think I can stomach spending that on toothpaste, y'all. A bummer about the kid's toothpaste is that it is flouride-free and I am cavity prone because of deep indentations and crevices in the crowns of my teeth. I am able to use mouth wash which should help with this, and also with the fact that the kid's strawberry flavoring just does not seem strong enough to help fight bad breath. 
Add caption

The new face products I'm using seem to be working well, so far, although eventually I think I'll need to add prescription acne prevention back into my routine as these products lean toward more natural and less chemicals. Since I work out and sweat a lot I have to really deep clean to prevent blemishes. This True Cider is from Dr. Cheryl Lee who also makes eczema treatment and products called True Lipids. It's on the pricey side, unfortunately. 

The last little bit I'll share with you is my hair. This was something that was a huge issue, because a lot of my allergic reactions were manifesting on my scalp. At their worst they were all over and I don't want to go into too many details because it's so gross, but needless to say the sores were so bad that I was losing hair in several spots. Even right now I am on a decent dose of prednisone to prevent a flare up over Christmas and I'm still experiencing extreme itching and dryness in those areas. I think long-term my scalp will be the most difficult to get under control. There is a True Cider shampoo and conditioner that is "safe" for me to use but it is very expensive and I wanted to try something different before I went that route. A friend from church introduced me to the "No Poo" movement. Yep, that's right, No-Poo, as in, no shampoo. It's really big in the crunchy communities and overall supposed to be great for your hair and scalp. Some people who go no-poo use mud or volcanic ash as a cleanser, but because nickel presents itself in the Earth's crust and therefore in soil, I thought that might not be the best option for me. No one told me I couldn't use mud, but it seemed like a safe assumption. I decided to go the baking soda and apple cider vinegar route. I know that these two things are safe for me to use and consume so they seemed like the best option for me. I did some research and as you begin the no-poo method there is supposed to be a bit of a transitioning period where you hair can look and feel like crap. Basically before the natural ingredients can begin to work wonders on your hair all of the chemicals and parabens have to be stripped from it which can take a few weeks. For me the shampoo and conditioner I had been using was already a very basic Free&Clear version that had very little chemicals and I didn't seem to have to endure this transition period. What I did have to navigate, however, was how much to use and how often. This has been a trial and error thing and is honestly still in the works. A basic mixture is 1 part baking soda to 4 parts water- this is your cleansing agent. Start on the roots and let sit for a minute then work down to the tips and rinse. The conditioner is the apple cider vinegar, again it is 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water, you can also add a few drops of essential oil to cut the vinegar smell. I'm really limited on essential oil use, because I have to try each one individually to see if it will cause me to flare up and I'm just not down with that right now. I know I'm ok with lavendar, so that is what I use. I don't think it helps much, but maybe a little. On Sunday my hubby told me I smelled like pickles. Oh well. You can make these mixtures at the beginning of the week and use them all week long, it's not necessary to use daily or even every-other day, you'll know if you need to when your hair starts feeling dirty. Other bloggers I read suggested spray bottles, but I haven't found them to be super convenient. The baking soda water is too thick and clogs the hose in the spray bottle, so I just end up dumping it onto the top of my head directly from the open spray bottle. The vinegar mixture sprays fine, however. I'm hoping that my scalp will continue to adjust to this option and that I can use it long-term, it seems like the healthiest thing for my hair and is certainly the most affordable option. 

Poo-free method

Well, there you have it. Now you know exactly what I'm using every day to get ready. If any of you suffer from skin allergies or sensitivities I'd love to hear what works best for you! Also, if you have any questions about the products I'm using or other changes I've had to make, sound off in the comments! 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Small Acts of Kindness

This Christmas season I'm jumping on the holiday spirit bandwagon and trying to implement small acts of kindness into my daily or weekly routine. I've always thought these gestures were sweet but something felt amiss about needing a certain time of the year in order to do something nice for someone else. I can be a negative Nancy. It occurs to me now that regardless of needing a special time of the year or whether it's an anonymous or public act the end result is that something nice is done for someone else and that is pretty great, I guess.
I have a lot of friends who do this each year. One does it in remembrance of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. She leaves a card with the deceased individuals name and age with whatever treat she delivers. Another friend I have does her small acts of kindness in honor of an infant relative that lost his life. I also have a vivid memory of  being young and my Mom defiantly skipping down Main St in Columbia feeding other people's parking meters to be kind even though it's technically illegal.
My seminary class is going to be working together on a small-ish act of kindness in the next week and I was so impressed with their ideas. Everyone submitted 2 ideas and I picked 4 that I thought were doable then they voted on which one we would complete. Just to give you an idea some of the awesome things that they suggested but ultimately weren't chosen were: Christmas carolling, making and delivering dinner to a less fortunate church member, care packages to deployed soldiers, and free yard work. The youth I'm around never cease to amaze me. When they're given the opportunity to serve others they always step up to the plate.
I recently watched a video online about a woman who could never figure out what to get her husband for Christmas so one year she placed a blank white envelope in the tree branches that disclosed a significant act of charity she had done on his behalf. Her husband loved it and it became a tradition. Years later when her husband died she still felt like honoring his memory with a charitable offering and put her white envelope in the tree branches, then Christmas morning came and there were a total of 4 white envelopes on the tree because each of her three grown children had also, unbeknownst to one another, felt like honoring that tradition. My cold heart does warm at the thought of instilling goodness and charity in our children's hearts and minds by servings other when they can see, and eventually involving then in the process.
This year my church has pushed out a world-wide initiative to #LightTheWorld. Each day in December leading up to Christmas you can watch a short video that shows a way to serve others and #LightTheWorld this holiday season. I highly recommend checking them out- they're perfect to watch as families and are easy for children to understand!

Do you have any traditions like this? Sound off in the comments, I'd love to hear your stories and get some good ideas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Finding Peace in the Storm

One of the awesome things that happened to me this year while I was struggling through my health issues, was that I started practicing yoga again. I previously practiced yoga pretty regularly when I lived in Columbia during college and up until Chad and I got married. Then life got in the way. In February I found a Groupon for a yoga studio in Augusta and BAM I was hooked again. I fell naturally back into my practice and it became very clear to me that it was exactly what I needed at the time. Something about being on your mat can make the rest of the world melt away.

About this time the studio where I practiced began a group program to go along with Baron Baptiste's 40 Days to a Personal Revolution. I had absolutely no idea what that would entail, but I thought it sounded like the perfect thing that I could do just for me. I desperately felt the need for something that was just my own and not having to do with my kids or family or doctors.

Y'all I highly recommend this program- whether you're a yoga novice or a pro, it was amazing. As a side note: I was pleasantly surprised as I read how often Jesus was mentioned in the book. Yoga is very spiritual, but I had not had someone make Christian ties to it before, and this struck me as I am very strong in my faith. Through this program and my yoga practice I also found the motivation to begin teaching Zumba again! Zumba is by-far the best exercise I have ever done for weight-loss and body shaping. Nothing I do burns calories faster when I need it! I have yoga for my personal time and growth. It's amazing for lengthening and toning my muscles and increasing flexibility. Then I have Zumba to really kick my ass! 

As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety I can tell you that exercise is priceless for me with regard to natural treatment of my symptoms. One of the issues I've faced with the low-nickel diet I have had to begin is that it leaves me with no energy and a lot of unhealthy food options. I've gained about 5 pounds in less than two months due to lack of exercise and not great food choices. This is something I'm determined to really figure out as I progress with these new changes in my life. I am excited to be teaching Zumba again after a hiatus during my allergy testing. I can already feel the difference in my body and mind! If you ever want to come practice with me, or dance with me I both attend and teach at Oh Yeah Yoga (formerly Dancing Dogs) in Augusta off of Fury's Ferry and I am ALWAYS looking for a work out buddy!

Family Pictures!

I have been fortunate to have worked with a ton of fabulous photographers in the past. Recently we've been able to work with Michele Blount who is local to the CSRA. She has taken pictures of both girls and our family over the past few months! If you're local to North Augusta or Augusta, she is truly awesome! I just love these snapshots from their 2nd and 5th birthday sessions.

2016 (part 4)

Now for the good...

In my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, there are not paid officials. No paid ministers, youth leaders, or choir directors. We all receive "callings" to serve in different capacities as the Lord sees fit, we give of our own time and resources and through members serving the church is able to function. In the past I have served as an adult Sunday School teacher, Young Women's leader, and activity planner. Another thing my church does is something called Seminary. It is an hour long class for high school students to attend before school Monday through Friday, all school year long, all 4 years of high school. The class involves scripture study, learning and applying doctrine, and growing as disciples of Jesus Christ. It is a very big deal and big commitment for these teenagers, and students who graduate from the seminary program receive a great deal of esteem, rightfully so.

Back in the Spring I met with leaders from my church and was asked to accept the calling of Seminary teacher for the school year of 2016-2017. This meant planning daily lessons for the students and teaching the class in my home for the entire school year. I accepted the call to serve in this capacity, and dove into research and planning. There were definitely obstacles regarding being able to serve in such a demanding role. I had small children in the home to take care of in the mornings, and although the leaders of the church didn't know, I was struggling with my health and all of the skin issues. There were concerns vocalized by some family members, mostly regarding too much being on my plate and the extra stress being too much for me to handle while I worked on finding a diagnosis for my skin issues. My grandmother was livid and thought they should have "asked" someone who didn't have small children to raise, although she has changed her tune now...sort of ;). 

 I was nervous, to be sure, but it became clear very quickly to me that I didn't receive this calling amidst all I was going through, but that the Lord extended this calling to me because of all I was going through. I was put in the position of studying the scriptures daily, not just reading them, but studying and learning and preparing myself to teach others about the Gospel. Every morning I get to spend an hour discussing the Savior and praising Him. I get the blessing of witnessing the testimonies of 9 teenagers grow each day as they draw nearer unto Him. I can't imagine how dismal I could have felt this year while going through all of my skin stuff. I know if I hadn't been serving the Lord in this manner I would not have been able to power through this. I wake up at 5:20 every morning and spend some alone time in silence getting ready for the day, then at 6:30 I start my day with the Holy Spirit strongly teaching and testifying of my Savior and loving Heavenly Father teaching and learning and laughing with 9 amazing young men and women. I couldn't imagine a more perfect situation to be in amidst the chaos of what I was dealing with. It strengthened me to be able to put my issues aside and care for my family, teach my class, and see the blessings rather than the burdens. I see and receive the tender mercies of the Lord daily, I know he loves me. I know the Savior knows what I am dealing with and offers the invitation to take His yoke upon me. His love truly strengthens me daily, and I'm ending this year with a stronger testimony of that than I've ever had before. 

my awesome group of students

2016 (part 3)

Weeks and months passed and I got rid of everything in the house that could potentially cause an allergic reaction. I started the low-nickel diet and said goodbye to peanut butter, my favorite food! I prayed and stayed positive, after all we finally had a diagnosis! Unfortunately I wasn't healing, and I actually was having some new flare-ups. On November 28th I went back in for a 2nd round of testing, this time they tested for another 70 things.  My 2nd round of testing revealed 4 new things that I'm allergic to. One that I am severely allergic to is PPD a chemical in hair dyes, textiles, temporary tattoos, and printer ink. I am so allergic to it that I can have a reaction just by being near someone with dark hair dye and the information I was given regarding the allergy even suggested avoiding dark colored clothing.They also found that I am also allergic to a Benzophenone-4 (a chemical in sunscreen),vitamin E, and a propylene glycol (a food preservative). After my first round of testing I received a print out from the database of all of the products on the market that were safe for me to use. This included medicines, make up, household products, toiletries, etc. The first list was 100 pages long and now it's down to only 48 pages. Several of the products I had been using that were previously "safe" like my deodorant, toothpaste, and conditioner were no longer on the list. It's nuts how every decision I make from here out will be affected by these allergies. I received several injections in my scalp for the sores that have been there so long, they said I was losing my hair in those spots. I also got injections in my back and arm.They wouldn't even put bandaids over where I was bleeding because they were worried I'd react to the bandaids. The nurse called me Bubble Girl and I almost punched her in her face, although I know she was only trying to lighten the mood. Chad was with me so that he could process all of the information and know how to help with the lifestyle changes from here out. The injections would take a few days to start working on the really bad spots, and then I was to start a really strong steroid regimen that will last 3 weeks... I'm to eliminate everything from the house that contains the allergens and study up on each of them to be aware of situations when I might come in contact with them. I have put together a binder that I'll take with me everywhere from now on, it lists all of my allergies and also the different names they can go by under ingredient lists- that can get very complicated. It also lists all of the low-nickel foods for grocery shopping. I will still be on the low nickel diet probably for the rest of my life. Here is a little information about how my condition works, and a picture of what the patches looked like before they were removed.

This is definitely a lot to process, I'm trying to stay as positive as possible. The idea that in the future I could no longer be itchy, and able to wear something other than long pants and skirts is unbelievable. This has been such a rough journey, I'm honestly willing to lose some things I love (like reeses and coloring my hair) in order to feel better. I've ordered new soaps, detergents, toiletries, make up, etc. As we speak I'm waiting on an Amazon delivery of new shampoo and conditioner so I can finally wash my hair!! 

I have to say that I am not one to get emotional over ooey-gooey stuff, but I have found myself in tears a lot over the past week because I feel so overwhelmed by the love and support I have received after this diagnosis. I am truly blessed to be loved and cared for by so many amazing people. I know that their prayers have helped my family so much during this process. 

2016 (part2)

I had my first round of testing with my awesome new doctor in August. On Monday August 29th I woke up and my hair was wet, the sores on my scalp were oozing and my head was really sore. I was nervous about them being infected, around lunch time the lymph nodes behind my ears got so swollen that you could see them and not have to feel for them. Both the sores and the nodes got progressively worse as the day went on. I called my doctor today and they asked me to come in, when I did he saw how flared up I was and decided he needed to start the patch testing right away and not wait until the following week. He said if I stayed flared up like this much longer I was going to eventually become super sick. He was particularly concerned about several quarter-sized sores on my arms, and back, and the large sores all over my scalp. Since I was flared up so badly there was limited space for the patches- he couldn't place them anywhere that had any bumps or rash on it, so they were only able to test for 60 different things as opposed to the 110 they had planned on.

The test he gave me is called a patch test, and tests for delayed reaction contact dermatitis. So, for example, if I was allergic to wool (which I am) and wore a wool sweater, or brushed up on one in a store while shopping then a few days later I might flare up- however at that point if I didn't know I was allergic to wool, I would have no way of figuring out what had cause the rash. The way the test works is several patches were placed on my back- each patch with 10 different allergens on it. The patches are outlined with markers and notations are made on my back and the patches are covered in lots of tape and stay on for 3 days...during that time I can't bathe, or sweat, or risk getting my back wet in any way. After the 3 days the patches are removed and initial results are looked for, but that isn't the end. Once the patches are removed I have to continue to stay dry and go back every other day for readings until the doctor decides he has all the information he needs. Since he is looking for delayed reactions typically that takes a full 7 days. It's miserable and uncomfortable and kind of just sucks. The first round of testing was for 36 different allergens. After that week of testing he was able to confirm that I was severely allergic to Nickel, and moderately allergic to Lanolin, Cocamidoproyl Betaine (the chemical that makes soap foam), and all fragrances. The nickel allergy was so severe that it caused me to develop Systemic Nickel Allergy Syndrome. Essentially it caused my body to go into shock, and my system to be so whacked out that all of my other minor allergies were compounding with the nickel allergy and wreaking havoc/unleashing rashy hell on my body. 

My instructions based on these results were to stop using everything that had the 4 allergens in it. This got complicated because it meant all soaps, detergents, shampoos, etc were off-limits. The lanolin allergy also severely limited the options for cosmetics, toiletries, and lip balms. Luckily I was given access to a database in which my doctor input all of my allergies and it provided me with a list of all products currently on the market that were safe for me to use. The Systemic Nickel Allergy syndrome was so bad that it meant not just staying away from nickel jewelry and metal things, but also beginning a low-nickel diet. Oy vey, this diet is awful. Nickel is a naturally occuring element in soil and believe it or not has a very strong presence in a lot of food. The major culprits are chocolate, nuts, seeds, oats, whole grain, whole wheat, soy, and leafy greens...this means all of those had to be cut from my diet. It also was a huge clue as to why I flared up so badly when I was eating gluten free, because I was consuming a lot of chocolate, peanut butter, oats, etc. At this point I was to make these lifestyle changes and hope to begin healing.

2016 (part 1)

I don't have time to blog, but if I did I would tell you about what 2016 has meant for me...

First, the bad. I've always had bad skin. I have had eczema since infancy and I could count on at least one full-body rash each year with no apparent cause and only goes away with oral steroids. It's been that way for over a decade. This past February, however, I noticed a rash on my torso that didn't look like rashes I'd previously had. The papules were scabbed over, some appeared bite-like, others looked like sores. On February 12th I sent my Mom a pic to get her opinion and then went to see my dermatologist the next week. 

At the dermatologist I was seen by the PA who immediately diagnosed me with Scabies. In very basic terms scabies is like body lice, but worse. I told her that didn't seem right, we were clean people, we didn't own pets, no 2nd hand furniture or sleazy hotels in our past ... but she was sure. She prescribed me an oral medication for treatment and sent me on my way. I went home and did research that night and found out that the entire family would have to be treated in order for it to be effective because of the contagious nature of the parasite. So, we got the (insanely expensive) medicine called in for Chad and both girls and treated the whole fam.... but my rash need went away, so we treated again, and again. Then I went back to see the dermatologist again because I was miserable and confused as to why I wasn't getting better. This time the entire fam came along. We saw the doctor this time who looked at me and again immediately "confirmed" the diagnosis from the PA of scabies. This was despite the fact that the treatment hadn't worked, I didn't meet the criteria for being around the parasite, and no one else in my family was affected by what is an insanely contagious bug. She even went as far as to lie and say there was no test for scabies which at that point we knew not to be true because I was almost 4 months into this whole ordeal and had done my research. She deemed my strain resistant and tripled my dose of medicine. Oh by the way, did I mention that the medicine for scabies is a pesticide. So after taking the triple dose of poison and still not getting better and Chad pointing out how dismissive and uncaring my dermatologist was we decided to see another doctor. I went and saw my new doctor the next week and within 60 seconds of being in the room with me he told me I did NOT, nor did I ever have dreaded scabies. Bleck (and yes, I know what you're thinking, I did unnecessarily repeatedly ingest poison and cover my kids in it). I could get into the fury and pure unadulterated rage I felt toward my old dermatologist for causing me to suffer needlessly for months, or spend hundreds of dollars on harmful medicine, or hire professionals to come examine my house for bugs I didn't have, or wash my sheets every single night for almost 2 months... but dwelling on the past is not important. 

My new doctor was a godsend, but he wasn't able to cure me right away. He was very upfront that it would take some time, research, and trial and error to get a diagnosis. On the first visit he did two biopsies to test for bites and gluten intolerance which at first glance is what he thought my rash resembled. In the meantime suggested I go gluten free while we waited for results. Both were negative, but I felt like the gluten free diet was helping so I kept it up. This decision very quickly went wrong and I flared up horribly. Back at the doc he immediately suggested a severe nickel allergy based on some of the sores on my back, but needed to do testing to confirm. I was at one of my worst points during this visit. The rash was everywhere, there were awful sores developing all over including my scalp, this sucked for me- but my doctor made sure to let me know that the silver lining was that he had more to go on, as far as leading him toward a diagnosis. We scheduled testing began to pray harder than ever...