Sunday, July 24, 2011

The chances of you having Strep Throat are really minimal...

Hi Aspierations Friends,

Judging by my blog title, I don't think it will take Nancy Drew to solve the mystery of tonight's topic!

If you checked out my last blog post, Memories Made at the Melting Pot - Happy 19th Anniversary, you already know that John and I had a fun-do time eating fondue on our anniversary evening date.

What I didn't mention was that last Monday on that special anniversary morning, I woke up with a really sore throat.  Having just had iron infusions for anemia the previous Wednesday (my ferritin level was at a 2...), I had been dealing with a variety of side effects over the weekend but there was no way, NO WAY with a childsitter already scheduled for the boys on Monday that I was going to let anything ruin my anniversary night date with my husband.

I noticed pretty quickly that it hurt to swallow as well.  Uh-oh... Warning bells went off in my head. On average of once or twice a year during my childhood and teen years, I would get strep throat.  It was during this period that I learned I was allergic to pencillin, ampicillin and amoxicillin.  I learned the hard way... fun times!  I'm not sure how common strep is with other autism spectrum kiddos and adults. So far, neither of my sons has had strep but my oldest gets 1 or 2 ear infections a year and my youngest seems to be developing allergies. If you or a member in your family is on the spectrum and you had strep regularly as well, either as a kid or adult, please post in the comments section.

For awhile when I was a kid, I fantasized about having a tonsillectomy to take care of the recurring strep throat issue.  This of course was motivated by the thought that I would then get to eat an unlimited amount of ice cream afterwards.  As I got older, having the tonsillectomy seemed less appealing but eating lots of ice cream continued to be enticing!

Strep did follow me as an unwelcome guest into my college years and occasionally in my 20s and early 30s but it seemed to go away after that.  I can't say that I missed the experience.

Having had strep so frequently, I certainly could recognize the signs.  REALLY sore throat, difficulty swallowing, swollen glands, slight fever...  Every time I went in for a strep throat culture unequivocally it was positive so I didn't need a license to practice medicine to figure this one out.

Yet on Monday night, anniversary night, I ignored all of that because as I said before... there was NO way I was missing this date with John... and because I was able to do so, I even thought that maybe, just maybe I was wrong and that I didn't have strep at all, just some sore throat side effect of the iron infusions.

So... Tuesday morning rolls around and OUCH... not looking good.  Not a convenient time to be sick with John or the boys...(like ANY time is convenient!!).

No time to be sick because I had so much work to do but I knew... just knew things were not looking good. I slept in during the morning and that helped somewhat. The kids both had day camp for part of the day and then swim lessons later and since it was their last lesson, I promised Ryan that I would be there. I did not want to have a very sad and disappointed 5 year old that had been talking animatedly the past couple days about his Mommy coming to watch him swim.

I told myself, don't touch anyone, be as anti-social with strangers as possible, don't get anyone else sick!  I did a really good job on the anti-social and not touching people part... Surprised??? (A little Aspie humor for you... emphasis on little...)  Hopefully no-one near me got sick.

The kids both seemed fine and John, who has not had the best year cold and flu-wise also seemed healthy, although he recently had a bit of minor neck surgery so he wasn't particularly gleeful.  Just one more day and then if I didn't feel good Wednesday, I would go to the doctor's.

Wednesday rolled around and it was not pretty.  I resigned myself at this point to the fact that I had strep. I allowed myself a 30 minute pity party in bed where I tried unsuccessfully to fall asleep. I then decided that I needed to get antibiotics, something which I dreaded intensely since I seem to be allergic to so many. (There are others on the list above, but I won't get into that now.)  Still, I didn't want to risk my family getting sick and should I dare go out in public, to infect a stranger.

John took me in the late afternoon to our local Kaiser where I was seen for a rapid strep test.  The man who saw me and administered the test was not at all convinced I had strep.  He was certainly a nice enough fellow and I wasn't arrogant enough to tell him that I knew that he was wrong so I sat quietly and listened while he rattled off statistics such as only 1 adult in 10 that has the throat culture actually has strep.  (Yeah, I know about those 1 in XXX statistics... hmm... Autism?  Asperger's?  rare allergies to medicine?)

He then went on to share again that it is really rare for adults to get strep (uh-huh, go on, what was this about a rapid strep test), my temperature was only 99.8 (which for me is high since I generally run below "normal", go figure) and well... my story to him about thinking I caught strep from an older gentleman standing in front of me in line at Kaiser the day I had my iron infusions just seemed way far-fetched.

The way he looked at me made me think that he thought I was a hypochondriac.  The way I looked at him was polite but skeptical.  Another reason I really dislike going to the doctor's office is because even if I explain my symptoms very logically (with pages of notes and research to back it up... that might be the part that freaks them out), even if I make a supposition that I might have so-and-so (and be right), there seems to be this "look" I get back that gives me the feeling that because I didn't go through umpteen years of med school, I must be certifiably nuts.

Not nuts... (well, maybe a little nuts... macadamia if I had to choose) but with all due respect, I've had more years experience living with MY body than you have, Mr / Ms. Doctor / Nurse and there are some things it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out. For example, if I TELL you I'm allergic to a certain kind of medicine, you don't give me the generic equivalent and tell me it's okay. (Been there...)

I see I'm well on my way down tangent lane so let me get back to my original anecdote.  This is the part where I'm sitting and waiting for Dr. "The Chances of you having Strep Throat are really MINIMAL" to finish pontificating and just stick the darn throat culture thingamabob down my throat.

When he did, I of course was totally unprepared (the part where he said, "say AHHH" should have been a clue) and reflexively gagged.  I think I almost punched him as well but that may have been a hallucination.  The second time he stuck the swab thingy in my throat, he was successful and I was well on my way to what I was sure was a POSITIVE test result.  But before I could go and take my culture to the lab for "rapid processing", I needed to hear a few more minutes about what I could do at home to take care of myself when the results indubitably came back negative.

I listened kindly in return and then asked him to make sure that on that slip of paper where the results come back, that there was a note that I was allergic to penicillin and amoxicillin, two of the most popular antibiotics given for strep.  With a "haven't you been listening to anything I've been saying, you nincompoop" look and a polite smile, he acknowledged my request and sent me on my way to the lab.

After my "rapid processing" at the lab, the results person came out with my pretty pink piece of paper and stamped on it in 48 font was "POSITIVE".

The last time I saw a POSITIVE result so big, I was pregnant with Ryan!

It was off to the pharmacy to pick up my medicine that I would hopefully not be allergic to (Cephalexin) and then home to rest. I resisted the grade-school urge to go back to the nurse's station and say, "I told you so!!!!!!" but I did not resist the grade-school urge to think it!

Now a few days later, no longer contagious but still with a week's worth of medicine to go, I'm starting to feel better. I'm having a little rash and some side effects but nothing major. I'm still exhausted but that could easily be the anemia or a combination of the anemia and strep.  It could also be the fact we've had a couple hot days here in Washington after a very mild and cool summer.

I'm looking forward to a positive week but not one in 48 font that is strep-based!  Justin is heading to an adventure day camp and Ryan has his adventure day camp where he had Camp Kiddo last year so tomorrow during the day, I should be able to catch up on work again!

I did want to blog here because I almost always miss writing when I don't do it and I wanted to give a bit of an explanation why I had gone incognito again after my last post.

Thanks to all who commented so nicely on my last blog.  I responded to you separately in the comments section.  Thank you also to the special people who recently contacted me individually.  If I have not written back yet, I will quite soon!

Best wishes for a healthy and happy week ahead!
Karen

Monday, July 18, 2011

Memories Made at The Melting Pot - Happy 19th Anniversary!


Today John and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary with a very special date night at The Melting Pot fondue restaurant in Portland, Oregon.


Now this is a way to start out a day!

It was AWESOME!! The company was marvelous, the fondue was delicious, the ambience was romantic and having a 3 hour date with my husband was a true delight!

This was our first trip to The Melting Pot and after our amazing experience there, I would highly recommend this place to other couples for a great date night, especially if you're having a special occasion like an anniversary or birthday.  It is in downtown Portland but there is a parking garage right across the street where you can get validated and even though I'm not a big city kinda gal, this Monday night outing went quite well.

One neat thing is that you enter the restaurant from the street level by descending a circular flight of stairs. So in essence you're dining underground but it really doesn't feel that way once you're inside. 

John surprised me by having long-stemmed roses in a vase and a bouquet of balloons ready for me when we were there.  He definitely scored points in the romance department!  Before we sat down, the hostess took a picture of us.  She took one on the restaurant's digital camera and then at the end, we were presented the photo in a nice black folder with "The Melting Pot" embossed in the frame area.  Definitely a keepsake... and good marketing too.  We'll definitely be back in the future.  They made us feel special from the beginning until the end.  It's so nice to have such a wonderful date night like that, especially when you're not used to getting out in the evenings!


There's a bit of a glare from the scan but this gives you an idea.... 



We sat in a table in sort of a secluded area.  If you've never been to a fondue restaurant like this before (conceptually, it's similar to La Fondue in Los Gatos, CA), your food is prepared directly at your table. We had a four course dinner which consisted of cheese fondue, a Caesar salad, a tray of meat and seafood (steak, chicken, salmon, shrimp and teriyaki beef) and dark chocolate fondue with a platter of goodies to dip!



The waiter cooks the cheese fondue and chocolate fondue and we were responsible for cooking the meat.... or should I say JOHN was responsible for cooking the meat!  I did cook some salmon and shrimp and if you know my level of culinary expertise, you will know that this was not my normal fare but it was fun to do and delicious too!



For the cheese fondue, we dipped bread and apples.  I passed on the broccoli... as did John... For the chocolate fondue, we dipped a whole delicious array of goodies including Rice Krispie treats, marshmallows covered with Oreo sprinkles, pound cake, bananas, strawberries.  Everything was quite tasty!



The waiter and all the staff were especially nice.  The manager, April came over to greet us.  I was impressed with all the personal service.  Oh... speaking of which, they had a card for us with our names on it, handwritten wishing us a Happy 19th AND when the dessert plate came out, a separate plate with Happy 19th Anniversary, John and Karen was written in chocolate!  How cool was that!!  Classy and fun!



The best part of all was the man I was with.  John and I have had lots of twists and turns in our journey. We've climbed up many hills, found peaks and valleys but throughout all the seasons of our marriage, we have found that no matter what the weather, we love each other and we're dedicated to making our marriage last.



To that extent, we also did something else special today.  John and I sent in our application to the IRS to receive 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status for Autism Empowerment.  We founded and incorporated Autism Empowerment in Washington state in early June, held our first board meeting in late June and after about 60 pages of 1023 application forms and attachments, we are well on our way to being recognized as a publicly supported tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) non-profit.  

You will be hearing a lot more about this in upcoming blogs.  I didn't want to mention too much about it until we had our paperwork turned in but soon John and I will both be blogging about our programs, mission and goals!

But for now, it's back to our anniversary date!  I know for some 2 1/2 hours alone in a restaurant might not seem like much of a big deal but for us, it definitely was!  Last year we weren't able to get a sitter for our 18th anniversary on the 18th so this year, John made the call rounds WELL in advance... and fortunately the sitter we got is a neighbor and great with the kids!  I love it when a plan comes together!  (Quick... name the 80s TV show reference...  I'll give you an "A" if you get it!!!)

Well, it's time for our oldest to go to bed.  Justin was so sweet!  In our family it is a tradition at midnight to go into the bedroom of the family member who is having a birthday and sing happy birthday to him or her, even if that person is asleep.  At midnight last night, Justin had his alarm set and came in to wish John and I a Happy Anniversary.  It was selfless and sweet and one of the reasons I love him so much!  Ryan was also amazing today.  He initially did NOT want a BABYsitter because after all, he is NOT a baby, he's going into Kindergarten so after discussion that he was going to have a big boy sitter, he was copasetic with the idea and all went well.  Great behavior from both... a fantastic gift for them to give to us... as stress-free nights are not always the norm!

John and I are going to head to bed soon as well.  We're watching Nero Wolfe on DVD... fun series if you like mysteries and John got me Bones for our Anniversary so we'll try that one out next.  We cherish our late night TV show time right before snoozing.  

I cherish my Aspierations friends as well!  Thanks for being patient with me and my sporadic blogging.  I should have more time for this quite soon!

Hope you have a wonderful week ahead!

And John...  HAPPY 19th ANNIVERSARY, sweetheart!  I love you!  Here is to another amazing celebration for our 20th and many decades of celebration thereafter!

Best wishes and happiness to all,
Karen


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Spaghetti Saturday & Some Family Catch-up!

Hi Everyone,

With each passing day that I don't blog, I feel like I'm getting further and further behind.  Good intentions? Yes! Busy schedule? Yes!  Some health issues thrown in the mix? Yes!

I've decided that I'm going to cut myself some slack for not recently achieving my blogging goals.  I've noticed that my husband, John at Life and Times of John Krejcha has fallen behind with his blogs as well but is currently in a power catch-up mode.

Since many of his blogs talk about family life at the Krejcha household, I'm going to refer you over to his blog in case you're interested in finding out about family events over the past month or so.

http://www.johnkrejcha.blogspot.com

I feel a bit guilty giving the link as it seems I'm riding his blogging coattails but sometimes in life you just can't get to everything you want to do in a timely manner.  I try to take each day as it comes, make the most of it and then take advantage of the next day, all the while making sure to appreciate and enjoy the memories of days from the past.

Today is John's Mom's 70th birthday!  If you happen to come across this blog, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JAN! We hope you're enjoying your time visiting with family in Wisconsin and we hope that your 70th year will be filled with promise and fulfillment!

Tonight John is cooking spaghetti and meatballs for dinner... my favorite!  God bless him!  I have not been feeling so well lately (severe anemia) and my appetite has been a bit off.  Smelling the great cooking coming from downstairs, I can sense that appetite coming back.  Looking forward to a delicious dinner with John, Justin and Ryan!

On Monday, John and I celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. Last year we had trouble lining up a sitter so this year, John wanted to make sure we'd get our "date out" and so he lined up a sitter from down the street over two weeks ago.  Big points scored!   We're going to go to The Melting Pot in Portland.  We've never been there before and have been wanting to go ever since our last anniversary!

If you're not familiar with The Melting Pot, their specialty is FONDUE!  It's a four course meal with cheese fondue, salad course, main entree course and then chocolate fondue course.  I think my favorites will be the first and the last!  Better save up room in my tummy!

This week has been filled with trips to Kaiser.  John had minor surgery on his neck on Monday to remove a cyst.  Ouch!  He's recovering well but still sore.  He gets his stitches out in about 5 days. Ryan met with his doctor on Friday for us to discuss allergies.  I got a shot the same day... literally a pain in the rear!

On Wednesday, I spent the morning and early afternoon going through my first round of iron dextran infusions. I'd been trying to increase my iron through daily pills but they just weren't absorbing.  I had gotten to the point where my ferritin levels were so low (a 2 if you understand the numbers...  11 - 300+ is normal) that it was adversely affecting my quality of living to the point where I needed to take more serious measures.  I still have LOTS of things left I want to do in this life and so taking care of my health really needs to be a priority.

Admittedly I was a bit concerned I'd have an allergic reaction to the infusion since I've had allergic reactions to quite a few medicines but fortunately everything went relatively smoothly after 6 attempts for the RN to find my veins.  Seriously...

John is giving me and the boys the "5 minute warning" for dinner so I will wrap up this little weekend update and write again later!

Hope life is going well in your part of the world!
Best wishes,
Karen

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summer is Here! Happy Independence Day Weekend!

Summer is here and it's almost Independence Day!  Hooray!




The kids have only been out of school a couple of weeks and already our summer has been action-packed!  After school got out, we traveled "home" to California to celebrate Father's Day with my Mom & Dad, show them how much the boys have grown and to spend a few days enjoying the Bay Area.  We usually visit California in August but this year we decided to make it an early trip for a variety of reasons.  It was great to see my parents again!  I wish I had a chance to say hi to some of my Cali friends but it was a short trip this time around.  Hopefully next year will be much different!










Since returning home, the boys have had two swimming lessons, one session of TOPS Soccer and our family made a day trip to Olympia, WA to visit the Capitol and to file some important paperwork to found a very special non-profit corporation which I will be talking about in the near future!

I am so jazzed to be writing again at the Aspierations blog.  These past couple months have provided a whirlwind of activity but I've got lots of exciting news to share over the next couple of blog entries.

For now, it's time to put the kiddos to bed but I'll be blogging again soon!  I have lots to share!

If you'd like to see some pictures of our recent adventure, please feel free to visit this public link at Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150248399568815.345091.589538814&l=d3e475f4de


You can click on the thumbnails to make the pictures larger and see the captions.

Happy Independence Day weekend!
Karen