Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Its been a year... WOW!

I cannot believe it has literally been a year since I posted to this blog. That is a shame really because I should have spent more time dedicating myself to educating the public about Multiple Sclerosis and the many faces it has, but I have spent this whole year doing a lot of things... one thing in particular, being HEALTHY!!!

I am not posting to brag, but to celebrate. I have said from the very beginning that this for me is a journey. My life has taken many alternate routes to the one that I think was originally planned for me but I am so grateful to be where I am today. My disease has taken a back seat. I am seeing well, with correction, I am regaining my energy more and more and I am almost completely medication free. :-) Who really could ask for more!!

Last year I took clean eating very seriously and noticed immediate dramatic improvements to my overall health. My main eye doctors, Dr. Medlock & Dr. Lane had surgically and medically done about everything they could do to clear up my vision. So after much research and discussion I decided to submit to treat my body from the inside out through diet and healthy living. One of the major components to this was that I was on a TON of meds and those had as many negative side effects as they did positive outcomes. My doctors were willing to take risks since I was. I began to basically quit meds one at a time and "see what happened".  When I lost my vision in the beginning, I was put on several meds "just in case". Since I had extremem inflammation and the chronic bleed it was assumed I would have headaches. So I took meds for that. But... I didn't have headaches after all.  It was also assumed that the steroids I had been taking for over a year were managing my inflammation. However when I quit taking them my inflammation did not and has not returned! Of course this is not and may not be the case for everyone, but it became evident that my body was not dependent upon these meds any longer for my MS to stay quiet. I have not had a flare up or relapse since January of 2012. I am also eating a pretty normal diet now and no changes other than energy levels have been effected. However, I think that is consistant with any person.

So what have I been doing? Well, I have been busy in love & life. I accepted a new job in August of 2012 and moved back to White Hall. In October I became engaged and Matt and I were married on January 19, 2013.  We blended our families and bought a new home just this past month! We are so excited to have been blessed with the opportunity to own this home and the land surrounding it. :) We are falling in love with the home more and more as we make it our own! Luke and Kennedy are so excited to begin 3rd grade next year. I am so grateful to be seeing and healthy so that I could be there to watch them receive their awards and participate in sports & the talent show. I am also thankful to not be the pirate all the time or not feeling well because I know that was so confusing for little Landon.

So thank you and thank God for all the many blessing my life has been given in health, happiness and family. I am not deserving but so grateful. I will continue to research, read and advocate for others with chronic illness. I have made so many friends along this journey and reignited friendships that had become distant. I know that right now I am a lucky one. I hope for 10 more years of this disease remaining quiet but if it doesn't at least I am better equipped now to handle the process. I have a wonderful support system, a loving husband and children & my doctors are continually looking at how to continue to maintain my vision with the least evasive procedures and minimal down time.

I hope you have all had a wonderful year as well! :) As always, I am a avid supporter of the Nancy Davis Foundation and their work. I enjoy the opportunities I have been given to guest blog with them and to witness their HUGE contributions to education & research. If you are not familiar with the organization, you can find it here: erasems.org

Love the life you live...


Friday, June 8, 2012

Constant reminders in life; What is a Friend?

friend  (frnd)
1. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
2. A person whom one knows; an acquaintance.
3. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.
4. One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement: friends of the clean air movement.
5. Friend A member of the Society of Friends; a Quaker.
tr.v. friend·edfriend·ingfriends
1. To add (someone) as a friend on a social networking website.
2. Archaic To befriend.

Sometimes we need a friend, sometimes we are a friend, and someone times we are reminded of who are friends really are.  I am not generally one of those people that says just anyone is my "friend". I love days when friendships are truly validated.  When you see actions or hear words that remind us why you love that person and value them in your life!  

Today was one of those days for me.  I have been so stressed and exhausted from the move and job search that I have not taken time to appreciate all the little things and be thankful for those I hold dear to me.  I have some of the best friends one could ask for.  Some friends I do not get to see as often as I would like, but when we are granted the opportunity we pick right back up as if a day has not passed.  

When I left my job at Scott Elementary last week I did not tell anyone goodbye.  The relationships I have forged with these women since 2009 are not all just work.  They were all part of the scariest time of my life and their support, love and prayers were invaluable.  I did not want to say goodbye because I am determined to maintain those relationships.  I know that it is hard to maintain friendships when you are not near each other every day. 

 Although I am not as good at it as I would like to be, I have tried to maintain communication with my friends from Kansas.  As we grow older and raise our children we tell stories of our childhoods... I wish my kids got to spend time with those I shared these memories with.  Just the other day I was showing them pictures of me, Elizabeth and Kasi showing sheep at the County Fair. They also saw pictures of me, Erin and Kim competing in our very first pageant.  These stories and pictures reminded me to reach out and connect with these people soon, because it had been too long! Thank goodness for Facebook!!

So, this summer I have a plan.  For starters, I am going to work on keeping in better touch with those I do not see often.  I am going to make sure that my friends here in Arkansas know I appreciate them for being a part of my life and that I do not take their friendship or support for granted.  Take a moment to appreciate your friends this summer!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Moving brings soooo many things out of me....

Well, my children and I are officially making the move back to White Hall, Arkansas!  Although I am very excited for what this next chapter in our life will bring, moving is about to do me in.  We are moving in to a house my parents own, and it is very old!  I love old houses, I think they have a ton of character.  But, to bring back some of its original charm (and shed some yuck) we decided to refinish the hard wood floors.  For anyone that has taken on this job themselves, you know exactly where I am going with this.  There is a reason people charge thousands of dollars to do this job... IT IS AWFUL!!!

In an effort of saving myself tons of $$ and to get to have the pride of saying "we did it"  I decided to tackle this job with the help of some of my loved ones.  Matt, his Dad, my brother, my Mom and myself have spent the past two weeks ripping out carpet, pulling tack strips and staples, and now sanding.  My hands are cut, my fingers hurt, and every time I blow my nose it is full of saw dust. Yes, I am a whiner. These floors best be beautiful I tell ya!!

Working all week and dedicating months of weekends to moving is not only taking its toll on me physically, but emotionally as well I have decided.  I am becoming irritated, stressed and panicked!  Although I know everything that has to be finished to move in will be complete in time, it still hasn't prevented me from experiencing all of the above mentioned emotions.  Not to mention I am a teacher, and this is by far the busiest time of year for me with records and portfolios.  Oh, and did I fail to mention I have to pack up my classroom as well???  Since I am not returning to Scott next year this requires me to pack up the past 3 years of my classroom stuff.  It's official, I am insane.

So I guess the point of all this is that I am in serious need of prayer and patience right now.  I am trying my best to go with the flow but that does not always come easy to me.  I will be thankful to be finally living in one house, not in between two.  I am looking forward to being close to Matt and right down the road from my Mom and Dad (I hope they share this excitement!).  And most importantly, I really hope my health cooperates with me... I really don't have time for a flare up or vision problem right now! So... "say a little prayer for me!" Project for this weekend... Move Matt to his new house and staining my floors.  Pictures and update soon!

Here are some photos of our projects....
Round #1 of Sanding in the Living Room
 (you can see how dark they started over by my Mom's feet)

Round #2 Sanding - Dining Room

Finished Sanding - Dining Room (trim not complete yet!)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring, Kids, Health & Fun!

I hope that everyone is enjoying Spring!! Here in Arkansas we decided to skip winter so it has been Spring-like for several months now.  I am just hoping this is not an indicator that we are going to have a miserable summer.

Many things are going very well for my little family right now.  The twins are wrapping up the 1st Grade and I am happy to report they both made the Honor Roll again this week.  If they could just quit talking back to their Momma all would be grand! We are also preparing to move to a new house down the street from my parents.  Although it has been a lot of hard work, we are all very excited about the move.

My health has also stabilized pretty well right now.  I had a severe "flare" a few days after Christmas that left me without vision for over a week.  However, they were able to clear up the blood and scar tissue to enable my vision to return.  We still do not have all of the answers as to "why" these bleeds occur, but one answer we do have is that it is associated with inflammation.  Ironically though, this flare occurred in my right eye.  The right eye has been quiet since my onset in Aug. 2010.  I guess it was feeling neglected and needed some attention!! So, I have had 2 surgeries to repair the damage from this "flare".  January 6 and April 16.  I have healed up fine though and am doing great!

Matt and I have been busy planning a summer trip.  My children have never been on what they consider a vacation before.  Whenever we have time away from school we usually visit my sister in KC or go to our Lake House.  But they want a car ride, hotel stay and the whole nine yards! So, I am excited to make that happen this summer.  I am pretty sure we are going to Branson to see some shows and play at Silver Dollar City.  I also think Horseback riding will be a must on the to-do list.  Kennedy is fascinated with horses these days. 

My last bit of business to report is that I have joined the Thirty-One team!! If you are not familiar with Thirty-One, it is amazing organizational products, purses, totes and thermal bags.  They make everything fun by adding the personal touch with embroidery or laser etching.  I have been a consultant for almost a month and it has been a lot of fun!  I decided to give this opportunity a try to help with some of my medical expenses and compensate for so many missed days of work & I will admit that I am already hooked!  If you would like to see the products, here is my link:


I hope everyone is enjoying the weather!!  I will be posting some of my flowers soon... they are almost all in bloom!!  Take care & love the life you live.


Luke & Kennedy enjoying the first boat ride of the year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tough People Make Tough Decisions

October was a very difficult month for me.  Obviously that is the last time I blogged.  In October I underwent two separate eye surgeries and was once again taken off work from the job I love; teaching.  Being ill takes a toll on an individual as it is, but being off works adds additional stress that often one cannot control.  Regardless, I have much to be thankful for.  I spent the entire month of November updating my Facebook status daily for all of the things that I am thankful for.  Some of these items included my family, my sister, Matt, my friends and most of all my children.  These are the people that I cannot imagine my life without. But most importantly, I cannot imagine not being able to see any of these people again.  I despise having vision problems. Even more I despise the constant tests and medication.  I HATE taking all of these shots and pills.  And these are all the reasons I've silenced myself over the past few months.

I have been able to pride myself in one thing since I became ill and started this journey.  I was confident in overcoming my difficulties.  I was strong and courageous.  And most of all, I was extremely positive.  But for reasons unknown to me I have struggled these last 90 days to remain all of the above.  I have grown tired of the unknown and the scary reality.  I have lost my patience in being the case that no one seems to have an answer for.  I have grown tired of taking medicine that makes me incapable of feeling like myself. And, I have grown tired of fighting insurance companies.  I have grown tired of feeling dependent on others for survival.

So, now that I have all of that off of my chest I can begin to dig deep and find my happy again.  For a long time I had thought that finding out the why and hows of my diagnosis would help me find clarity and peace.  But now knowing that billions of dollars and hundreds of specialists may never provide me answers I must just gain acceptance.  After a visit with a new specialist in Dallas I have decided to discontinue some of the medications that I take that make me feel so terrible and center treatment to my eyes directly.  Although choosing this may put me at risk for additional surgery, I am willing to try.  I want to see my daughter's face light up when she sees me in the carpool line at school.  I want see my son's chapped lips and ornery grin.  I had my most recent round of Kenelog injections last Monday.  These injections restored my vision last year and I am counting on them again.  I have been unable to see out of my left eye since June and I am happy to report that it is beginning to clear.

If anyone ever gains anything from my writing I would hope that it is to not let life pass you by.  Be aware that there will be trying times but you can persevere. Pay forward kind deeds and show gratitude to those deserving.  Realize that everyone is entitled to a bad day.  Understand that sometimes a hug and an open ear is all someone needs.  And most importantly, don't just tell those you care about how you feel... show them.  Happy Holidays....

~love the life you live.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reading IS NOT an Optional Life Skill

I love to read.  My parents were some of the lucky ones, two of their three children loved to read.  Although my love for reading lapsed in the middle school years, my mom and sister quickly turned me on to novels that captured my attention once again and I have never looked back since. So, I guess you could say I am one of the lucky ones too.  I have a interest in societies reading deficiencies not only because I am an educator but because I am a parent.  I see children struggle every day because reading is difficult for them.  Trouble with reading not only effects Language Arts development but also Math, Science and Social Studies as well.  All areas of learning are effected when a child struggles to read fluently and comprehend the material they have read.  So, hats off to Parents Magazine for presenting a well written and common sense approach to "Raising a Kid Who Loves to Read."

Parents Magazine brought together several famous children's book authors and asked them for advice on instilling a love for reading in children.  Here are some of the tips they gave, of course with my little summary in Sarahisms. lol

  • 1. Plant the Seed - a.k.a. READ TO YOUR BABY!!  So as you may be aware, your infant could care less what you are saying to them, they just like to hear the sound of your voice.  Read to them every day to familiarize them with the connection between this thing you hold (a book) and your voice pattern.  They will begin to recognize words this way from very early on. 
  • 2. Create Reading Rituals - Read to your child daily around the same time.  Good reading times are during wind down phases like naps or bed time. 
  • 3. Bring Pictures to Life - Use this time to let your child's imagination run free!! Ask them what they see in the picture or even better have them predict the story from looking at the pictures alone.  Make a game of it to see how accurate they were when you have finished reading!! 
  • 4. Look Past the Page - Let your child write their own book no matter how young they may be.  If a child can only draw pictures, have them tell you the story and you can write it for them or allow them to tell the story out loud to another relative or a friend.  Kids love to have center stage!!

I know we are all busy, but these are small things that we can easily implement in to our daily schedules.  I can look around my classroom and usually identify my students that have been read to as a child.  Not only do they share a passion for books, they are able to better understand what they are reading.  In addition, reading allows a child's imagination to run free.  Good readers usually equal good writers.  Writing is becoming a very important skill with standardized testing.... open responses are expected to be well written pieces that are produced in a short time frame, usually 15 to 30 minutes.  So, set your child up for success and READ, READ, READ!! :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturdays are for.....

I have been thinking a lot about certain things since I was taken off work.  I guess when you have all of this extra time you really evaluate your life and how you manage it.  For example, I am a teacher.  This means that I wake up everyday around 5, get my kids to school at 7 and arrive at my own school before 8.  I teach all day, pack up my stuff to work on at home, pick up the twins from school and am home around 5.  This is a long day at work but then we have dinner, homework, baths and play time. So, by the time all of this winds down it is at least 8.  Kids in bed and I start my chores.  Laundry, dishes, grading papers, talking to my favorite people on the phone, etc...  I am excited to make it to bed by 10. This wears on you as the week goes on and you start putting household chores off.  Before you know it everything has been piled on to one day.... SATURDAY (or after church on Sunday)!!!  So, the time that was meant for relaxing and rest is now taken over by chores!! So, what can we do to fix this?? Organize.

I challenge everyone to continue to leave the weekend free for family and friends.  This is what I have tried to continue to do for quite some time.  Make a list of everything that needs to be accomplished throughout the week.  Schedule yourself a few things to accomplish each evening and do them before you go to bed.  That way, given no major complications or illness in the house, your place will be clean and cared for, laundry complete and your weekend will be full of more play than work!! Lets face it, our kids want to spend time with us.... that does not include watching us do chores or drag them all over town with the shopping.  Plan something that is just for them.  Best part, it doesn't even have to cost you anything.  Enjoy a local park, take a nature walk, or do crafts at home.  I think if we all accept this challenge our weekends will not only be more enjoyable, but a lot less stressful.  I am holding myself to this and I hope you will too.  I think we all work hard enough, take a little time to enjoy the ones you love the most or help another.

This weekend the Nida clan has a special project in store.  We are repairing a bicycle for a neighborhood kid that doesn't have one.  Luke and Kennedy are really good about sharing their bikes with him but I think it is time he has one of his own.  I found a free bike in good shape.  All it needs is new tubes and a bath.  :) This is a good learning experience for my kids and I know it will mean the world to Sam. All of this is much more rewarding than tedious household stuff and I get to teach my children the valuable lesson of doing for others.  No good deed goes unnoticed!! Have a great weekend and love the life you live!