Hello! I am Shauna, very happily married to my soulmate, Jarrod. Proud mom to 3 boys, and proud step mom to 3 girls, and a much bigger family beyond just that... as well as furry and feathery family members. I am currently a stay-at-home mom.
I am a big believer in free self-expression. I am heavily tattooed, and I enjoy being able to wear some of my favorite images on my skin to see every day. I have always been an artistic, hippie soul. I take lots of photos, draw, sculpt, and whatever else I can get my hands on.
I am a peace-lover. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good debate, and learning about other points of view. But when it is all said and done, I don’t hold grudges or resentments. I am good at letting go the things that upset or anger me. But I always learn from those lessons. I believe war and any type of discrimination is ridiculous, and as cliche as it may sound, I wish we could all just get along.
Anyway, to find out more about me, our family, and our life, read my blog! Follow it if you like what you read, and feel free to share it with your friends. Thanks for reading!
I went to the Infectious Disease specialist, Dr. Kumar, and he noticed right away how knowledgeable I was, and how much research I had done on my own. In a way, I think that helped him communicate with me. He was showing me scholarly articles that I had already read on my own to better explain my situation. Jarrod and I both agreed it would have been a bit more encouraging if he had just been able to tell us the information rather than site articles, though.
Between Dr. Kumar, Dr. Coster, and another doctor, we worked up a plan to get rid of the infection the safest, hopefully fastest way. But it won’t be pretty: After showing improvement with the 2 antibiotics, it was decided to bring it down to one for safety, removing the Cipro. I continue to see gradual improvement with just the one, and it has been a week since it was changed. Next Thursday (a week from today), Dr. Coster will surgically open and debride the infection, removing all fluids and infected tissue, and then leaving the wound open to heal from the inside out. This is to eliminate the environment where the bacteria are thriving, and make the single antibiotic as effective as possible. (Don’t worry, I won’t post photos.) Once the open wound has healed entirely, and the infection is 100% healed as well, Dr. Coster will then surgically remove the scar tissue and make my breast cosmetically correct again.
My estimated treatment will be approximately 6 months long. I’m hoping though, with the slight improvement I’ve already gotten, that I won’t have to be on meds that long. I hope it heals faster than that.
Another piece of this puzzle won’t be figured out for a few weeks yet either. We know I have the rare atypical mycobacteria infection, but we don’t know which strain or which medication it is most sensitive to. Those tests take about 6 weeks to get results back. Once those results are back, perhaps I can be on the one antibiotic that will knock this out the fastest… still hoping for a quicker recovery.
But I know these things take time. I’m trying to keep myself out of the intensive research and anxiety, keep my eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel and the wonderful man supporting me, and remember this too shall pass. I have a great team I’m working with, and this will get better.
As most everyone knows by now, I had a breast reduction on September 1, 2017. It was a pretty drastic reduction, but was deemed medically necessary because of the pain it was causing my back, shoulders, neck, skin, etc. I was excited to get it done! The surgeon, Dr. Coster, assured me he wouldn’t go too small, since I felt it was a part of my identity. However, immediately after the surgery I was extremely unhappy with the results. The pain from having large breasts was gone right away, but I felt he went WAY too small. He again assured me that with healing, they would settle and be exactly what I wanted. I had no choice but to take his word for it. As the settling of my breast tissue progressed, it felt lumpy and bumpy and sometimes painful. But overall, it wasn’t a terrible process. I must say though, still not too thrilled with how small he went, I would have been happy with about another cup size larger. But there’s really nothing to be done about that now but accept it and move on.
Fast forward to 6 months later, in March of this year. There was a painful lump about maybe the size of a large marble that was not going away in the top part of my right breast. I made an appointment and talked to Dr. Coster about it, and he told me it was still settling breast tissue, and not to worry too much about it. But it didn’t go away. And it continued to be painful.
In April I had an unrelated illness, a tonsil infection, for which I was given 3 weeks of antibiotics and steroids for the inflammation. To my surprise, the lump in my breast went away as the tonsil infection went away. I really didn’t think much of it until the steroids and antibiotics were done. About a week later, the lump in my breast came back. I made an appointment, and in the 4-5 days it took until that appointment date, the lump quadrupled in size and became much more painful.
Still, when I saw the Dr. Coster toward the beginning of May, he told me it was just settling breast tissue, and I explained what happened with the course of treatment I had for my tonsil and stressed the pain and concern I had. So he gave me some stronger antibiotics. They did no good, so after a week I was prescribed the same antibiotics I had been on for my tonsil. So another week later, the antibiotics had not worked, and he did an ultrasound. He found a pocket of fluid, and aspirated some of it with a needle (NO fun at all, I say!!). He sent me home with more of the same antibiotic and low-dose steroids. It started to do a little better with the steroids, but as the dose decreased, the swelling increased again. No relief.
1 day before my next appointment I got a call from the nurse saying the fluid they aspirated had been sent to the lab and cultured. The nurse said the result was a super-rare bacteria in the same family as Tuberculosis. She said to keep my appointment and the surgeon would explain in more detail and discuss treatments during that appointment. So yeah, if you know me, you know I want as much information as possible for whatever new thing happens to me or a loved one, medically. Science and medicine fascinate me. So I scoured the internet for information about TB-type infections of adipose tissue (fat tissue). I found a large number of options of what the infection could be, looked up case studies, and went to bed that night knowing this would be a very long process.
The next day at my appointment, Dr. Coster told me this was a non-tuberculosis atypical mycobacterial infection. That is basically a long way of saying this is a very, very stubborn and medicine-resistant infection that will take anywhere from 3 to 12 months or more to heal with the proper antibiotics and the potential for surgery to remove infected tissue. Seems it has a slightly rising occurrence in post-surgical patients, but usually with breast augmentation rather than reduction. No known cause other than just environmental exposure. He had only ever seen one other case in his entire career, and he’s a pretty experienced surgeon. He also said NO PREGNANCIES because nothing about the treatment is pregnancy-safe. He gave me two antibiotics which have some pretty severe possible side effects – Ciprofloxacin and Clarithromycin, and this note.
This was on Wednesday, May 30th. Jarrod and I had been actively trying to get pregnant, so there was a very small chance that I could have conceived during the 2 weeks since his vasectomy reversal. I took an early-detection pregnancy test that day, being only a couple days from my expected period, and it was very clearly and plainly negative. So I started taking both medications immediately.
As of today, 6 days later, there has been no improvement. The lump is a little bigger, and now takes up about 1/3 of my entire breast. It is painful, and I can no longer go without wearing a bra to bed, which is miserable for me. My skin is discolored where the lump is, and without the medical knowledge of this possibility, I am concerned this infection will come through the skin.
I have an appointment with a specialist at the Center for Infectious Disease tomorrow (Wednesday), and hopefully he will have answers as to what medications will certainly work. Hopefully the lab culture results have come back to show what medications this bacteria is sensitive to, and we can hit it hard and kill it! At this point I am open to anything, even surgical, to get this gone as fast as possible. Neither Jarrod nor I want to wait an entire year or longer to get pregnant, considering our ages and the financial and emotional investments we’ve made in our reversal surgeries. But I know being healthy first should be my first priority. I just want this bacteria out of my body!!! It’s not welcome here, dammit!
It is also very important to mention here that Jarrod has been amazing through this all. In our 9 months together, he has been there for me through my tummy tuck and breast reduction, a couple nasty tonsil infections, of course my tubal reversal surgery, and now this. Seems I just can’t stay healthy these days. But he is absolutely amazing, supportive, helpful, and always listens to my rants and anxieties, and puts up with my ridiculous amount of intensive research that is admittedly entirely excessive. He’s the absolute best husband and best friend, and I don’t know what I would do without him by my side.
To be continued in “Part 2” once I have some more answers, and perhaps some progress in the right direction…..
Earlier this week I had my tubal reversal follow-up appointment with the doctor I chose to be my OBGYN here in our hometown, Dr. Johnson. He’s new to the clinic, and has quite a lot of experience in his field.
To back up a little bit, I did have a consultation with him before my tubal reversal. I wanted to get a check up with a doctor and discuss my overall health and age in regards to going through another pregnancy or more. He informed me at that time that a tubal reversal is not a simple surgery that I will have an easy time finding a doctor for (he didn’t know I was looking into Dr. Monteith yet), and that it wasn’t cheap. He recommended I look into in vitro instead. He also said that natural fertility decreases after age 35, and even more after 40… And that there is a risk with pregnancy after c-section (which I’ve had 2), no matter how long it had been. That the scar tissue can cause a problem with placenta attachment, and even embryo attachment. He wasn’t necessarily discouraging me from being pregnant, but he was laying out all the risks for me, which is exactly what I wanted. No nonsense. I told him I was already looking into a specialist to reverse my tubal, and he wished me good luck.
To Jarrod and I went to North Carolina, as I’ve already written about. We had a fantastic experience with Dr. Monteith at A Personal Choice, and he sent my surgical records and after-care instructions to Dr. Johnson.
Then, as I was saying, I had my follow-up with Dr. Johnson this week. He took all of Dr. Monteith’s instructions very seriously, which I’m very pleased with. Said everything was very thorough, and read to me exactly what I am to do when I get a positive pregnancy test. Which is: get in to see him as soon as possible, start getting regular blood draws to check my hormone levels, and when they are high enough have an ultrasound to check for proper implantation of the embryo. From then on, take care of myself and prepare for a baby!
Jarrod’s vasectomy reversal is scheduled for May 16th, so it won’t be long at all now! He will post about his experience when it’s all said and done. We’ve heard different things about how it will go afterwards. Some people say it could take months for his sperm count to climb up to impregnation levels. Some people say he has the chance at getting me pregnant right away. But Jarrod and I both agree – it will happen when it happens. We aren’t concerning ourselves with following a calendar or stressing out over any of it. We both believe we will conceive soon enough. If, after a year or so, nothing has happened yet, we will talk to the doctor about testing. At this point, I think we would deny any fertility treatments if it came to that. But that’s so far into the future right now… we figure we will cross that bridge if and when we come to it.
Jarrod and I got married very quickly. Within 10 days of making our relationship official, we had run off and eloped without telling many people until it was already done. In the days leading up to our marriage, the entire trip there and back, and the months since then, we have discussed the possibility a few times of having more children. The first couple times it came up, we knew we wanted to have a baby together, but we also knew our relationship was very new, and we needed to have some experiences and life together before we made any more life-changing, permanent decisions. Not to mention our 6 kids needed to live together and get to know each other as well. Lots of changes occurred all at once, and we all needed time to adjust to that new life as a family.
Earlier this year, the topic came up again, and Jarrod and I really got into the details of it all. We talked about how having a baby of our own would affect our relationship, our kids, our careers, and all other aspects of our lives. We discussed how we both yearned to have a baby together, in a stable and healthy relationship where we would share parenting responsibilities 50/50. We know we are a great team in the other aspects of our life together, and we decided we would be amazing parents together to a new baby. Not to mention the great help we would have from the six older siblings!
The problem with this plan: I got a tubal ligation when I had my youngest son Cory back in 2005 (a decision I regretted immediately). And Jarrod had a vasectomy a few years ago when he and his ex wife divorced. So, I started doing research to get those surgeries reversed. Within a few days of starting the research, I had applied at 3 tubal reversal clinics with my surgical report and medical history. I was denied by one place because of previous c-sections and scar tissue. I never heard back from one. And the place that accepted me was the one I wanted to go to anyway – lucky me!! For Jarrod’s reversal, there really was no acceptance process since vasectomies are typically all done about the same. We just chose a reputable place closer to us at an affordable price.
And that, my friends, is why we went to North Carolina this week! I think everyone was just under the impression we went on a small vacation. But really, it was for my tubal ligation reversal surgery. The rest of this post will be about the story of our trip, so read on to know how it all went!
Jarrod and I flew out to Raleigh, North Carolina to go to A Personal Choice‘s surgeon Dr. Charles Monteith. When we arrived in Raleigh, we checked into our studio suite at Hyatt House, which we got for a very reasonable discounted rate through A Personal Choice. The room was absolutely amazing. The bathroom had a very large walk-in shower, it had a very comfy king sized bed, and there was a living room area with a couch and TV, and a full kitchen complete with stove, microwave, fridge with freezer and dishwasher! The neighborhood was urban, but new and clean. There was plenty to do right within walking distance. Movies, restaurants, entertainment, and even a pharmacy for my post-op pain meds. To get to my appointments, there was a driving service set up through the clinic. I was able to get rides back and forth to my pre-op consultation on Tuesday, my actual surgical procedure on Wednesday, and my post-op check up on Thursday through their service. They were prompt and courteous, and made Jarrod and I both feel important.
On Tuesday, my pre-op consultation was pretty simple. I got all checked in with my ID and a few remaining papers to sign, as most of the paperwork had already been done from home with their guidance. Jarrod and I met with a couple nurses and Dr. Monteith himself, and we had the procedure explained to us. Then we went back to the hotel and found a few things to do to keep busy. We went out for supper, and went to a movie, and enjoyed the much warmer weather.
On Wednesday morning I checked in at 8:45 am for outpatient surgery, and was released around 12:30 pm. It was a very quick, easy process. All of the nurses, anesthesiologist, and doctor were very knowledgeable and proficient in the process. It was like clockwork. As I was being prepped for the operating room, I was given a pin to put in the patient map. Jarrod was given detailed instructions on how to take care of me postoperatively, and was even tested on it when I was in recovery. As I was getting dressed and preparing to be released, they let us see the clamps that had been on my Fallopian Tubes, but they wouldn’t let us keep them.
Once back to the hotel room, Jarrod and I ordered lunch through GrubHub and just layed in bed and watched TV most of the day. At on point we went and sat on the patio outside because I didn’t want to miss the delightful weather. At supper time we ordered in Italian food and Jarrod ran to the pharmacy and rented a couple of Redbox movies to keep us entertained. Unfortunately I couldn’t sleep that night more than just a few minutes here and there, though the pain really wasn’t too bad at all. It just felt like bad menstrual cramping.
On Thursday morning we got up, got our stuff all packed up and ready to go home, and took advantage of the Hyatt House’s complimentary hot breakfast buffet, which was delicious! Then we went to my post-op appointment where they changed my bandage and made sure I was set to travel back home. I was okay until we spent several hours in airports and airplanes… by the time we got home I was in a great deal of pain. I went to bed very early and slept over 10 hours. Jarrod woke me up a couple times overnight for pain meds. He really has been absolutely priceless. The best caretaker I could ever ask for!
Anyway, so we kept the whole process hush-hush because we didn’t tell the kids about it until today. Now all the kiddos know, with mixed reactions. So we decided to release a blog post about it for all our family, friends and followers. Jarrod will write a post about his reversal experience when his happens in May, so stay tuned for that.
We’re super excited that we’ve been able to start on this process, and are looking forward to what our future holds. Thanks for reading along!
It also needs mentioning here that flying out to Raleigh and back was my very first time ever in an airplane! I had never before experienced flying and I must say, I really enjoyed it!
The USA is buzzing with excitement over tax returns right now. Everyone gets to go out and buy a brand new TV, new video game systems and other electronics, they’re getting new tattoos, clothes, vehicles, etc. Most other years I was right there with the general public and giving all that tax money directly to the local retail stores. But this year, it’s different.
Yes, we got a tax return, but we aren’t going and getting all the latest gadgets.
The ONE thing we had promised the kids we would do this year is go on a vacation. We were discussing Florida, and everyone was quite excited about it. Unfortunately, when we found out that my unemployment payments in 2017 cut into our refund more than I ever knew it would, we had to flush the dream of a family vacation on the beach right down the toilet (along with creating some guilt for both Jarrod and I for having to break that promise).
We had to face facts: the best we could do is keep paying our monthly bills with a small boost so we didn’t fall behind, and plan a mini-vacation closer to home. So now we are looking at resort-style hotels within Iowa to go spend a night or two. There is one place a couple hours away that has laser tag, bowling, go karts, an arcade, and an indoor water park that we’re looking into. It sounds pretty fun to me, and the kids all seem to be on board with that idea. But if for some reason that doesn’t work out or ends up being out of our price range, we’ll just stick to the Iowa State Fair later this summer, and perhaps a visit to Adventureland, our local amusement park.
I’d be lying if I said I was not disappointed, myself. I have visited Florida the last 2 years, and I LOVE it there. The ocean is spectacular. I know for a fact 2 of my boys were really looking forward to going, and the girls seem rather let down that we aren’t going, as well. But as it stands, we will just have to settle for Iowa. As long as we can have fun together as a family, that is what REALLY matters, right?
Those are my thoughts for today. Not all blog posts can be sunshine and rainbows… this IS real life afterall. 🙂 And if you’re an Iowa native and have any suggestions for awesome family fun within the state, please leave a comment/suggestion for us to look into. Thanks in advance.
Several months ago, I got a perm. I wanted more volume in my fine, limp hair. The perm burnt my hair so bad that in the couple of months following the perm that I had handfuls of hair falling out every day. Then, when Jarrod and I went to Riot Fest in September, we were both admiring people’s dreadlocks, and I mentioned how I had tried dreadlocks a few times and failed, brushed them out, etc. I had installed them alone, or with a friend’s help. But they never seemed right so I never kept them long. But Jarrod was really into the idea of me having them because he appreciates that style. So we decided I would go get them professionally done to ensure a long future with them. We decided to use real human hair extensions with them so I wouldn’t lose too much length, and they looked pretty good once done.
Over the first couple months things went well. Once I got over the initial shock to my scalp and the itching faded, I was quite happy with them. I was getting monthly maintenance to keep them tidy-ish and make sure they were locking up properly. At my 2nd maintenance session, my stylist started expressing concern for my roots. My hair was already fragile from that perm a few months prior, and the weight of the dreaded hair + extensions was making my hair break off an inch or two from my scalp. But she remained optimistic and told me we would just keep up on the maintenance and keep reinforcing it, and it would likely be fine.
Last week when I went in for my 4th tidying, she wasn’t so optimistic. She said my fine, brittle hair wasn’t doing so well, and I had a lot of factors working against me for a future with the dreadlocks. At that point, I felt I needed to make a tough decision. I could either keep going, paying her to maintain and strengthen my hair every month with no guarantee it was going to be successful, I could brush them out and have “crypt keeper” remains of my hair, or I shave my head and have a clean slate. Jarrod and I discussed all the pros and cons of all options involved, and came to the very difficult and painful decision to just shave it all off. And rather than stall that decision, we decided to do it as soon as possible so it can start the process of growing back. Before shaving. The final pic with dreadlocks.
I’m honestly okay with it. It feels good, like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I know it’s just hair, and will grow back. And Jarrod seems to be okay with it too. He said he was more concerned with my reaction to shaving my head than how he would feel about it himself. But since I am okay with it, he is too. The kids really don’t seem to care all that much. The girls were in disbelief that I’d do it, but the boys already know how spontaneous I can be.
For now I’ll wear plenty of hats to keep warm since it’s still the middle of winter here in Iowa. I plan to keep from dying my hair indefinitely, and certainly won’t be perming it ever again. I’d like to see what it does when left to grow naturally. It’s been decades since I’ve just let it be. I’ll find some decent quality shampoo and conditioner to keep it healthy. And I’m already taking Biotin and other vitamins to make sure it grows back stronger.
How can people live such fake lives? They wake up in the morning, paint on makeup, bathe in perfume or cologne, put on uncomfortable, restrictive clothing just to appear a certain way, slap a fake smile on their face, leave their sterile house, hop into a shiny, fancy car, and go about their day. Everyone they encounter that dresses and behaves the same as them, they are fake-friendly with. Everyone they perceive as above them, they brown-nose. Everyone they perceive as below them they sneer at and ridicule.
In groups they laugh loudly and act as though they own the place in which they sit. Each trying to prove to the others that they have a good life and make good money. In their world, no one else could possibly understand or live up to the way they attempt to keep up with each other. There’s no consideration. There’s no empathy. There’s no true joy. Just competition. And possession.
Why? Just why?
Myself and my family may not have a ton of money, a mound of debt for things to prove we’re better than others, or brand name shiny “things.” But I don’t want that. I love my life of honesty. I love my genuine, opinionated, down-to-earth, honest self. I love that I tell people what I think. I love that I don’t feel obligated to paint on a happy face every day. I love that my life is not a competition to me, with my peers. I love that I comfortably and freely exercise my right to self-expression. And I love that I’m raising my kiddos to do the same. Furthermore, I love finding like-minded people because they are some of the most fun and interesting people I’ve ever known!
I can’t imagine living a life of fake smiles and dinner parties, overly high mortgages and designer belongings. It’s so stuffy, boring…ordinary.
I love being unique, colorful and full of adventure. It’s the only way I could imagine a life worth living.