Monday, January 30, 2012

I don't remember having those...

So, today I was going through pictures of my freshman year at BYU, and I found this lovely picture of Jill:


She looks very lovely, does she not? Well, the yellow paper on the fridge behind her says "Freezer Contents," and out of curiosity I zoomed in. This is what I found:


Hmm...We sure ate some interesting things back then.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

More Pictures of Ellie

Here are some more pictures of our darling girl. :)

I love this one, with her face all squooshed up. :)


She loves baths. :)



Looooooooove.




She's doing great. She has her two-month appointment in a week and a half (crazy!). She is still getting herself on a schedule. She had a growth spurt last week that threw everything really out of whack; I had like three or four days in a row where Ellie stayed up allllllll night and then slept during the day. Those were really, really tiring nights. But for the last two days she's slept pretty good at night, and I'm hoping she'll continue with that.

About her growth spurt: wow! I didn't realize how MUCH they can grow in just a couple days. She outgrew her newborn clothes in like two days. Little newborn pants that reached her ankles last week are now like a full inch above her ankles! Impressive.

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Throat is Trying to Kill Me

So, last night at our house I almost died. I feel like I'm exaggerating when I say that, because it seems like a ridiculous thing to be real, but it is. And I still feel like it's an exaggeration because we didn't have to call 911, and no ambulance came, because Jason was able to save me. But - it was real, and we could have had to call, and maybe it's hard for me to comprehend that. I was choking, and Jason had to do the Heimlich on me. No air was coming through until he did the Heimlich.

I am no stranger to choking, but this was the worst choking episode I've ever had. Let me explain. (With random pictures to break up the text.)

I have a rare genetic throat disease. It's called eosinophilic esophagitis. Basically, what it is is that I'm allergic to different foods. My body reacts to them by sending these certain white blood cells - eosinophils - to the tissues lining my esophagus. My esophagus becomes swollen, and the muscles are not able to push food down effectively because the swollen tissues are blocking them.


My problems started my senior year of high school. I kicked them off with a dramatic choking episode, similar to the one last night, except no one actually had to do the Heimlich (although my sister was ready to. She jumped up and got behind me, but then I coughed and was able to clear my airway). Then followed smaller, more numerous instances of food getting stuck in my throat for a couple terrible moments and then going down. I also had lots of chest pain. We went to the doctors, but they didn't seem to believe me that there was really something wrong. They did a barium swallow to see if there were any structural abnormalities in my throat, but there weren't. One said it was just acid reflux, and gave me some sample medicine for that. That helped with the chest pain, but not the choking.

Later that year I graduated from high school and started at BYU. For the first couple months at BYU, I didn't have any problems. Then, one night, when my roommates were all asleep but I was still up reading, I had a choking episode. The food went down after several panicky moments, like it (almost) always does, but it scared me. I woke my roommate up and asked her if she knew how to do the Heimlich. She (very sleepily) said she did. The next day I explained to all my roommates about my throat problems, in case I choked while they were there and I needed their help. I also decided to try again with the doctors, seeing if they could figure out what was wrong.

And lucky for me, the Utah doctors were (way!) different than the California ones! I first saw a doctor at the BYU student health center, and he asked all sorts of questions, a ton of them, until I felt like he really understood my problem. He even asked questions about things that I wouldn't have thought to tell him, but were part of the whole thing (like the chest pain, and how it all got worse if I ate something after I hadn't eaten after a long period of time, and the thickened saliva that comes after a choking episode, etc.). After listening to everything, he recommended me to a specialist, a gastroenterologist. He told them to do an EGD (where they shove a tube down your throat and look at everything) and also a biopsy (where they take some tissues from your throat and test them).


So I called, scheduled the procedure, and then one early (and cold) fall morning not too long later my sister took me to the doctor's office to have it done. The gastroenterologist was really nice, as were the staff, and the procedure went great (I was under anesthesia, so I don't remember the actual thing). A couple days later, they called me. They knew what was wrong. From the pictures of my throat, they suspected eosinophilic esophagitis, and the elevated levels of eosinophils in the biopsy confirmed it. "I have - what? Sorry. Can you say that slow?" They did, and I wrote it down (misspelling it pretty badly) so I could google it.

I had another appointment with the gastroenterologist (who I really like and would recommend to you if you need one in Utah Valley) a couple days later, and we talked about treatment plans. He recommended me to an allergist (because the best thing you can do is avoid what you're allergic to), and he also prescribed a corticosteroid which would help the swelling go down. The medicine (a liquid I took twice a day for a month) helped a lot. It made everything - the choking, the throat pain, the chest pain - go away. It was the best thing ever. The effects lasted only four months, though, when for most people it kept all the symptoms away for six months to a year. The gastroenterologist figured it was because whatever I was allergic to was very pervasive in the foods I ate.


And long story short with the allergist - the first one I saw did something wrong with the test. That's the best I can figure, because they said they didn't find me allergic to anything. And I accepted that, until the beginning of my senior year, when I was having my usual terrible seasonal allergies, and it occured to me - anything? They didn't even find my terrible seasonal allergies? And I know they tested for plants. They must have missed something. So I talked to my doctor at the BYU student health center, and she recommended me to a different allergist (one in Orem. The first one was in Provo). And this time they found out I was allergic to a ton of stuff! I was allergic to fifteen of the seventy foods they tested. And one of them, soy, I had as bad of a reaction to as the positive control. In other words? I am majorly allergic to soy.

They recommended that I cut out all these foods out of my diet, and then slowly introduce them back in to see if I was okay with them. And my body is okay with all of them, except soy. My body hates soy.

Wonderfully, though, if I just avoid soy, I don't have any of the terrible symptoms I used to have. I don't have the awful episodes of throat pain I used to have (which I call "throat attacks"), I don't have the chest pain, and I don't choke (very often). Which is great, because I started having a bad reaction to the corticosteroid right after Jason and I got married. It still made all my throat symptoms go away, but it also gave me moonface. Yes. That's right. That's what they really call it. Moonface. Basically, it made me swell all over. It looked like I gained twenty pounds in my face. Not fun. I hated it, actually. But I don't have to take the medicine any more! Because I know what I'm allergic to, and I can avoid it.

The problem is - have you ever tried to avoid soy? Soy is in everything. Think I'm kidding? Go into your kitchen. Pick out ten random packaged foods - soup, cookies, pancake mix, crackers, condiments, taco seasoning, cereal, granola bars, vegetable oil, ice cream, whatever - and look at the ingredient list. How many of those will have soy? I bet you eight or nine.


I've managed okay, though. We avoid buying a lot of the foods that have soy, and if we can we buy certain brands that don't have it. I still do have it, though, because it really is pretty much impossible to avoid. I just try to eat as little of it as possible.

This week, however, I must have gone over the limit. Three days ago I had a can of chicken noodle soup, and had a pretty bad reaction after. I didn't have any (terrible, terrible) throat pain, like I usually do, but my throat entirely closed off. Like, I could still breath through my nose and somewhat through my throat, but Jason and I were keeping a close eye on the situation in case it got harder for me to breath. Luckily, after some time (I think about an hour), my throat opened back up again.

But when I have episodes like that, my throat is usually touchy for a couple days afterward.  And yesterday, I didn't eat anything all day until dinner (which, back in the day when I had problems all the time, not eating for a long period of time and then having a meal always gave me problems. But since I've been okay for so long, I didn't think about it).

We were eating dinner. Jason had already finished, but I was going a little bit slower because I had Ellie in my lap. We were having fish, and broccoli, and rice. And I put a piece of broccoli in my mouth, chewed, and swallowed, and then it happened. My throat does that horrible thing it does, where the food gets caught in this terrible limbo. My swallowing reflux is trying to push it down, and my gag reflux is trying to shove it up, and it can't go either direction, and I can't make it go either way, and it's like my throat is spasming. And. there. is. no. air.

Usually, after a couple seconds of this, I can push it down, and I'll be okay. But this time, I couldn't. And after those couple seconds had passed, and I realized it wasn't going down, that this time wasn't like all of the other times, I really quickly moved Ellie from my lap to the couch and I jumped up. I did the choking sign by putting my hands to my throat. Jason jumped up, and ran right behind me, and did started doing the Heimlich. After two thrusts, my airway opened up for a second. I stopped him, and tried to breath, but it closed again. So he did it again, once, and a bunch of water came up, out of my throat. The thing, the choking object, was still in there, but air could get past it now. I dropped to my hands and knees, and tried to clear my throat. A lot of broccoli came up, but I could still feel something in there. I waited, trying to see what would happen. Jason was right beside me, ready to do the Heimlich again if he needed to, ready to call 911 if he needed to. After a minute or two of waiting, with the thing not coming up, he asked if I'd like a blessing. I said yes, and he gave me one. In the blessing he said that I'd be able to breath, and that the thing would either come up or go down. About thirty seconds after the blessing, I was able to cough up another piece of broccoli, and I felt my throat relax. I went to the sink, drank a little bit of water, and coughed up some more broccoli and some really thick mucus. And then I was okay. Jason and I were both pretty shaken up, but I wasn't choking anymore.

So that's the whole story. That's what happened last night, and that's why it happened. Whenever something like this happens, it reminds me that I can't let my guard down. I need to eat (even less) soy than I am, and I need to avoid doing the things (like waiting a long time to eat) that caused problems for me in the old days.

So yeah! Know the Heimlich, folks. Especially if I'm coming to visit. ;)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Passwords

So, I have two passwords that I use for pretty much every account I have online. I've had them for years, and I never change them. Well, my Facebook account somehow got hacked last week and sent out spammy messages, and Jason's email was hacked this week and did the same thing. So, I'm about to begin the arduous process of changing all my passwords to different, new, secure passwords that aren't the same for every account under the sun.

Consumer Reports (my faaaaavorite) did an article in January's issue about how to "hack proof" your passwords. Their recommendations are:
  • Don't use the same password twice (whoops)
    • It's okay, though, "to use a similar character pattern from site to site, varying part of it in a way that's intuitive to you but not obvious to anyone else."
  • Make them strong
    • Use at least eight characters
    • Have at least one uppercase, one lowercase, one number, and one special character (sounds like a pain, but if it keeps your accounts secure, I guess it's worth it)
  • Avoid the obvious
    • Don't use things they could find out, like your birthday or your child's name
    • Avoid obvious patterns like starting with the uppercase
  • Keep them safe and up-to-date
    • Don't keep passwords or clues in an insecure place
    • If you store them on your computer, use an encryption software like KeePass (which is free, so I think I'm going to try it out)
  • Have security software on your computer (and keep that up-to-date, too)

I just checked my security software (Symantec, which BYU students can get for free) as I was writing this blog post, and realized its virus definitions haven't been updated in a long time. So that's updating now, too! I just put it on a scheduled automatic update, so it'll update once a month.

Anyway, that's what I'm up to today!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Christmas (yeah...very late)

On Christmas Eve (almost a month ago now!) and Christmas we stayed at my mom's house in Highland. We got to hang out with family, and it was awesome.




On Christmas Eve we spent a good part of the afternoon all making stockings (since none of us had any, and my mom had tons of random, extra fabrics in her sewing room). On Christmas day we got to skype with my brother, Banks, who lives in Thailand. Then the family went to church while I stayed home with Ellie. When everyone got back, we opened presents.

My sister Sydney with our niece Violet (who is "smiling" for the camera)

Also, we made Christmas cookies. Jason made George Washington.

We also had a photoshoot with Ellie. My mom works at a company that makes costumes for little kids and matching costumes for dolls (18-inch dolls, like American Girls). My mom bought a couple little doll dresses, and Ellie fit in them! So here she is being a princess. :)


So sleeeepy. :)

I love this one because she looks so scandalized, like we walked in on her changing or something.

Holy cow, I love her.

And here she is in between dresses, just being adorable like usual.

So yeah, sorry this is almost a month late, but that's what we did for Christmas!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I'm baaaaaack!!!

Hiiiiiiiii everyone! Oh, I've missed you so much! I really, really have. I am so happy to connected to you again! I know that to you it just appears that I haven't posted in nearly three weeks, but really behind the scenes Jason and I have been pretty much cut off from the world, living on a isolated little island of isolation-ness.


How did this happen? Well, we moved. You might remember that I've mentioned before that Jason will be doing an internship down in St. George from January to June of this year. And so, just a couple days after Christmas (the 28th and 29th, to be exact), we packed absolutely everything we own into a trailer and drove down here from Provo. It was a lot of work, but we had lots of help - my dad lent us his trailer, my uncle let us borrow his truck, my mom and stepdad drove down with us and helped us unpack, and friends at both locations helped us load and unload.


I have to say, though, I had a hard time adjusting to being down here the first week and a half or so. The problem, like I mentioned above, was that we were very cut off from everyone we knew. Our family and friends were four hours away in one direction, and six hours away in another. We didn't have internet. And Jason was out of minutes on his phone for the first five days we were down here. And my phone was out of commission for that same time because I got a new one and was switching providers. So, after my mom and stepdad drove off into the sunset, we were here, with no family...and no friends... and no internet...and no phones...and really no way to contact anyone we knew. Yeah. That was fun.

It was also hard because I wasn't able to go to church and meet people, like I normally would, because I've been staying home with Ellie (since she's so little and we don't want to take her out in crowds quite yet).


But! Things have been improving on all fronts. We both got phone service again after a couple days, so we've been able to call and talk to family and friends. We finally got internet this week, so we can be a lot more widely connected. And, I was able to make a couple friends! Jason watched Ellie last Wednesday night, and I was able go to a church activity for women (Relief Society) and meet some people. There are some girls in our ward (congregation) that are also young mothers with young kids, and they seem really nice and cool and I'm excited to get to know them better. I was also able to go to  sacrament meeting (the first hour of church) this Sunday because Jason stayed home and watched Ellie. It was sooo nice to be able to go; I haven't been in like a month, and I missed it so bad!


So yeah! I'm excited to have internet and be connected with you all again. I'll post more soon, but for now, just know that Jason, Ellie, and I are alive! (And Ellie is so darn cute! And we love her so much! I'll post lots of photos of her soon.) Woot!