We never did get a Christmas letter or cards out this year. As shown in the prior blog, 2017 came in like an EF4 tornado and nearly tore our world apart. We had Amber living with us, Owen was back at the bottom of the mountain when it comes to his battle with chronic depression and what the PKU does, and I was facing having to start on IV therapy to get the heart side of the Ehlers-Danlos with Dysautonomia back under control. I was at my physical, mental, and emotional limit on what to do.
Owen's finally seeking professional help again started to make a change. He was slowly coming out of all of the negatives, especially after being put back on the one depression medication. He's back working on his HAM radios and is talking about getting back into woodworking. While his job is still a major trigger, he's learning how to work with it. In April, I joined him in seeking counseling. Every other Wednesday, we drive down to UVA Behavioral Medicine together and go to our separate therapists. While couples counseling still really needs to happen, we've had trouble with finding someone who takes our insurance and also can work around my complex schedule.
That is because, in May, I was given a big promotion at work. I now don't just advise/manage 30 students, I also run our schools new community service and community involvement initiative. That meant researching and developing ways to bring more student and parent interactions to Bridgeway Homeschool Academy. The first step was making online clubs. I now spend every Tuesday running two Minecraft clubs for middle and high school students, and the 2nd and 4th Wednesday is managing our National Beta Honor Society club. There are also book clubs, which others are leading. It's been a great boost! Phase two will be kicking off in the spring, and I'm excited... but oh was it overwhelming for a bit. I also babysit my nephew on the Wednesdays I'm not in therapy, and sometimes that falls the same day as National Beta.
Other things were happening as well. My body and brain were "done" with some of the medications I was on, but we didn't really know what to do. It made for a long spring and summer. Very little, outside of work, was being accomplished, including the garden. I was back in physical therapy, this time for tearing up my shoulder blade in some really bad dislocations. I also had to start IV saline to stay hyper-hydrated and keep the tachycardia at bay. I wanted to write, had TONS of ideas and many posts written in my mind, but could not mentally function enough to do most of it. Now it was my turn to make a visit to Neurology (with a side visit to GI because the gastroparesis side was in a flare.) Neurology was quickly alarmed by how my eyes were not focusing properly, I had a slight tremor, my responses were slower than before, and I was upset over the constant weight gain, no matter what I did. They said I needed to quickly be taken off of two medications - one which helped with nerve pain and the other with migraines, both which caused the weight gain. We found a derivative of the migraine one to replace, but the nerve pain one just needed to be gone. The switch was made (with only two mini-neurological events, praise God!)
And I came alive again! Just like that. Boom. Yes, the nerve pain is a bit worse now, but I'll take it. My brain is no longer moving in slow motion. Creativity is back, so is ambition. I finished my second novel in record-breaking time, some days getting 10-12 pages finished. After four years of struggle, it was an amazing experience. We never realized how badly the brain side-effects had been! I re-edited novel 1 "Midnight to Morning" and re-released it. "Sunrise to Shadows" came out just 12 days ago, right in time for Christmas! I jumped right into writing book 3, because these characters will not be quiet, and my brain is letting me work. My job, which I had been struggling with since August, started becoming easier again (though I was appalled at the mistakes found during those months.) Despite the expected decline Ehlers-Danlos is causing physically, my brain is awake, active, and needing constant engagement once more. I'm loving it! Therapy has been helping get the emotions back under control and providing me with resources to work through problems as they arise.
I ended 2017 on a high note. It has been a mind-boggling year!