Sunday, November 12, 2017

Game Night with Friends

I've been friends with Jules for years...14 years to be exact.  We met on the big bad internet but since we live practically right down the road we met in person and she has been stuck with me ever since!
Jules and I have been trying to plan a game night for years.  Really YEARS!  A random stop at the local game store resulted in finally planning a game night that night.

The kids (her 2 and my 1) had full run of my house while we played games all night.  I think I will be finding nerf darts and elastic bands ( I have no idea how this happened) for months.  We set up in the dining room and proceeded to play for hours.

First we played Pandemic Legacy: Season 1.  Since my husband and I played January, we started the night playing February and we managed to win!   Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 is a co-op game that changes each time you play depending on how well you and the other plays do.  You actually change the game board by adding stickers, rules, and upgrades each time you play.  Sometimes it helps you and other times it hurts.
The world is on the brink of disaster. In pandemic legacy, your disease-fighting team must keep four deadly diseases at bay for a whole year. Each month will bring new surprises, and your actions in each game will have repercussions on the next. Will you let cities fall to the diseases? Will your team be enough to keep the viruses at bay for a whole year? Craft your own unique pandemic experience with pandemic legacy.  - Description from Amazon
 We love playing the original Pandemic and this just adds a whole new dynamic.  I'm looking forward to the next time we get together and play Pandemic Legacy: Season 1!

The second game of the night was Mansions of Madness.  The setup of Mansions of Madness took a very long time but the artwork is great and the game play was so much fun!  I love how the game changes each time you play it as well depending on how the keeper sets up the board.  It was a bit slow for us at first but I think it's a game that you have to play a few times to get the setup and rules down pat.  I definitely want to play this again.  
Mansions of Madness is a macabre board game of horror, insanity and mystery for 2-5 players. Gather your fellow investigators and unravel the dark mysteries within before it's too late. Based on the horror fiction of master writer H.P. Lovecraft, Mansions of Madness creates an engrossing new narrative every time you play. Each game takes place within a pre-designed story that provides players with a unique map and several combinations of plot threads. These threads affect the monsters that investigators may encounter, the clues they need to find and which climactic story ending they will ultimately experience. One player takes on the role of the keeper, controlling the monsters and other malicious powers within the story. The other players take on the role of investigators, searching for answers while struggling to survive with their minds intact. Both the engaging plot and the stunning components will draw you in to a world of cosmic horror. The beautifully rendered modular map tiles show every intricate feature of the rooms you'll search and the monster figures represent the otherworldly forces of evil in horrific detail. The bases for each monster figure even have slots into which you can insert that monster's token, displaying only the pertinent statistics. All together, the thirty-two included figures, over 300 cards, over 200 tokens and markers and nearly 70 puzzle tiles,will help immerse you in a sanity-bending story of terrifying mystery. Do you dare enter the Mansions of Madness? - Description from Amazon

We had a blast during our game night and I can't wait to get together again soon and play again :)

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Meal Delivery Services: Blue Apron & Hello Fresh

Taking a break from my AERD posts to talk about the Meal Delivery Services that are out there.  This is not a sponsored post, however may contain affiliated links.  I was given free boxes from friends who love the service.

Over the last month, my family has tried 2 different meal delivery services, Blue Apron & Hello Fresh.  These are my honest opinions.  I have been curious about all the different companies out there but the cost has always been the deciding factor but free?  SURE!

The first box we received was Hello Fresh.   Before I brought the box in the house my UPS driver commented on how he delivers a ton of these on his route.  He asked me if I ever tried it because he is curious himself.  I let him know that it was my first box but I'll report back.  Upon opening the box, I love how each meal's ingredients are separated in it's own mini box (minus the meat).  The meat is on the bottom of the insulated box with a large ice pack directly on top guaranteeing the freshness of the meals.  The meals we prepared during the week were Meatballs on Top of Cavatappi with Broccoli and Pesto Cream Sauce & Dukkah-Crusted Cod with Cranberry Couscous and Roasted Veggies.  The recipe cards were a little confusing, though I didn't find it too hard to follow.  Both were pretty easy to make and tasted WONDERFUL!  But to be honest, I don't think it was worth the cost.  I have a lot of what I would need in my pantry and if I didn't it doesn't bother me to buy it at the store to stock my pantry.  The time it took to prepare the meals were on point however and there is very little cleanup.  The separate boxes were a great timesaver!  I would make both of these again, but on my own without Hello Fresh's help.

The second box we ordered from was Blue Apron.  This one came packaged in an insulated box as well but the ingredients were not as organized as Hello Fresh.  The produce did look wonderful though like it was picked right from the farm and sent to my house.  On the menu this week,   Mushroom & Swiss Cheeseburgers and Greek Lemon Chicken.  Again, both easy to make but the recipe cards with Blue Apron were a lot easier to follow.  I did miss having a separate box for the ingredients but that isn't a deal breaker for me.  What I didn't like about the box was that out of all the recipes to choose from none really stood out to me so I chose the 2 that were the least eh. That being said they did taste great.  I probably wouldn't make them again though.  The cost was also a bit steep for what I could have purchased on my own.  Overall, it was pretty good!

Final Thoughts
Both Hello Fresh and Blue Apron were both convenient and easy to prepare.  I can see how a busy individual who didn't have time to shop but wanted delicious easy to prepare meals would benefit from the services.  I do love to shop and my pantry is stocked with many staples.  I can't justify the cost of the delivery service.  I think the recipes may be limiting for me as well.  If I have to pick between the two, I would choose Hello Fresh as my go to box.  

If you would like to try either of them here are the links!

Hello Fresh ($40 off your first box)  Ask me about a free box!
Blue Apron (no coupon at this time)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Living with AERD: Sinus Surgery Day

Wednesday, the day before my surgery was a very busy day.  I went to work to finish up last minute tasks, clear out my email, and make sure things were squared away for the time I would be out.  My father came down from New Jersey to help out with me and around the house which was such a blessing. Per doctor's orders, I couldn't eat or drink after midnight which was actually difficult for me.  I usually sleep with water next to the bed thanks to the fact I can't breathe thru my nose and I wake up throughout the night with a wicked dry mouth.   I ended up barely sleeping the night before because I just couldn't get my mind to shut off.  I have never had surgery of any sort so I really didn't know what to expect.  
Post-Op...about 5 hours after my surgery
Thursday, surgery day.  My dad drove me to the surgery center for my 6 am check in.  The women in the office were so nice and reassuring.  I really couldn't ask for anything better.  They put my mind at ease while I waited to be called back to be prepped.  Once they called me back, it was like a whirlwind.  Between answering the same questions multiple times, changing into a gown, getting an IV, getting multiple meds for nausea***, time seemed to just fly by.  Soon my dad was sitting with me while I waited for the to wheel me back to the operating room.  
About 10 minutes after my ENT came over to speak with me and my father, I was wheeled back.  From here on I don't remember much.  The anesthesiologist told me she was going to put the medicine in my IV and I would feel it pretty quick.  The next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room!  I wasn't in there that long.  I came out of the anesthesia pretty quickly so the put gauze under my nose, gave my father instructions and off we went.  The best thing about it was that I CAN BREATHE!!

Later I would find out that what was originally going to be an hour surgery ended up being 2.5 hours.  My ENT had to do more than he anticipated.  It turns out my upper sinuses have never been opened.  NEVER!  and my deviated septum was worse off as well.  It wasn't from a break like we thought it was, it has been like that since childhood.  

***Meds given to me:
in my IV: something to calm me & an antibiotic
Nausea: a pill ( don't remember the name), a patch behind my ear, and a pressure point wristband

A recovery post will be posted soon.   

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Living with AERD: CT Scan and Surgery

The last of my appointments were a CT Scan and a follow up with my dr afterwards.  I wish I had a copy of my results, though I will be asking for them in the future.  The CT scan was a quick process.  I think it took me longer to drive out to the office then it did to wait and have the test done!   
Once I came out of the imaging center we went right across the hall to my doctor's office.  We went over my symptoms again now that I finished a cycle of Prednisone and Augmentin.  Which while I did feel better for the short time on them, as soon as I went off the Prednisone I was right back to square one.   I really enjoyed being able to breathe, sleep and smell again!  
At that time we were able to take a look at my CT Scan results.  My goodness they were scary.  It was very obvious that I had no ability to breathe.  Both sides are inflamed and blocking the nasal cavity.  The left side, the polyps are so bad they are actually OUTSIDE of my nasal cavity.  After seeing this, there was no question in my mind what had to be done.   My dr did discuss the options with me.  
1) go on living like I am now and just stay away from Aspirin & NSAIDS.  Eventually when I'm in my 70s this will/should go away.
2) Start taking Prednisone daily to reduce the size of the polyps and swelling.  As good as that may sound, Prednisone has many risks and I don't want to create more health problems in the future.  
3) Surgery.  

I opted for Surgery.  I know that these polyps may come back but that is a risk I am willing to take.  Once my sinuses are cleared out we can begin treatment to hopefully keep them at bay for a long time if not forever.  My surgery is scheduled for 2 weeks from the appointment!

I wanted to blog about this to get my thoughts out, track my progress and possibly help others as well.  There isn't much about AERD on the web and what is out there is mostly medical sources, not much in terms of first hand accounts.  I hope I am able to help fellow AERD patients.

If you have any questions feel free to ask!  I'm happy to talk about my life with AERD and all that comes with it!

New to AERD?  check out my links

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Living with AERD: Allergy Testing

This week is a busy one filled with 3 appointments.
1 - Allergy Testing
2 - CT Scan
3 - Followup

Allergy Testing.  

That is something that is definitely not fun, not painful just extremely itchy. I think the worst part was not being able to take my typical allergy medication for 7 days prior to the test. I was stuck with 8 sets of 8 skin pricks, 64 tests in all!   There was also no surprises either.  I'm allergic to all grasses, molds, weeds, cats, and dust.  The tested common food allergies on my though I did not respond to them.  I do know that I need to stay away from foods that contain Salicylates. I haven't started that diet yet.  I will be starting that soon.  Molds & Weeds, however caused a lovely, delightfully itchy rash up and down my right arm that just kept getting more painful as the day went on even after cream and antihistamines were given.  While this didn't show any surprises, it's nice to know that when I say I'm pretty much allergic to every thing.  I am.  

Except my dogs :D  I'm not allergic to them!  My daughter was thrilled to hear that.  

This is just another step in my treatment.  My next appointment is a CT scan and then meet with my dr for a followup and to see where we go from here.  

If you have any questions feel free to ask!  I'm happy to talk about my life with AERD, Allergy tests, etc!  

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Living with AERD: Early on...

My doctor told me early this month that I was following the typical AERD timeline, including when I was diagnosed with Asthma in high school.  I wanted to share a condensed history in hopes this helps others.   You can read my AERD introduction post here.

When I was younger I had allergies but nothing that wasn't handled by just taking an allergy pill during the spring and fall.  However during my sophomore year of high school that all changed.  I was diagnosed with Asthma and slowly it became worse, affecting my ability to play Field Hockey.  It was "controlled" but not well enough where I could go back to my old daily life just treating the symptoms that I was experiencing.

Fast forward to my college years, I started to get migraines that seemed to stem from eating certain foods, but instead of changing what I ate, my doctor prescribed me the NSAID Anaprox.   I couldn't have aspirin due to an allergy.  The same allergy my mother had, which eventually caused her death due to an aspirin induced asthma attack.  That worked well enough and I went on with my life.   I still ate MSG and other related food and just treated the symptoms.  

During my early 20s, I had moved from NJ to Virginia with my boyfriend (now husband).  I was working at a bank in Northern Virginia when I started to get a headache.  My coworker had an Aleve on her so I took that and within minutes I started to have a severe reaction.   This was one of the worst asthma attacks I had experienced in my life thus far.  Thankfully I was able to recover, and a note was then added to my medical records saying I was not only allergic to aspirin but to NSAIDS as well.  Again, symptoms were treated but nothing else was really done. 

All during this time I was also suffering from severe sinus infections.  I feel like I've been on some sort of antibiotic to treat them most of my adult life.  After this experience with Aleve, I have had worsening Asthma, Allergies, sinus headaches, and other symptoms that were always just treated but never really resolved.  I was suffering daily and it was affecting my family, home life and work life.  

Monday, February 20, 2017

Living with AERD: Introduction

I recently went to to the doctors and was diagnosed with AERD.  I had a feeling I had it after finding it on a facebook page and playing with Dr Google but I was officially diagnosed with it last week.  I want to blog about my journey to get healthy so I can see how far I've come and to maybe help others who also suffer from AERD.


What is AERD/Samter’s Triad?
Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease (AERD), also known as Samter’s Triad or Aspirin Sensitive Asthma, is a chronic medical condition that consists of asthma, recurrent sinus disease with nasal polyps, and a sensitivity to aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Approximately 10% of all adults with asthma and 40% of patients with asthma and nasal polyps are sensitive to aspirin and NSAIDs
What are the symptoms?
Patients with AERD/Samter’s Triad usually have asthma, nasal congestion, and nasal polyps, and often do not respond to conventional treatments. Many have experienced chronic sinus infections and can lose their sense of smell. The characteristic feature of AERD/Samter’s Triad is that patients develop reactions triggered by aspirin or other NSAIDs.
Reactions include:

  • Increased nasal congestion or stuffiness  (I have!)
  • Eye watering or redness (yup!)
  • Cough, wheezing, or chest tightness (I have that too!)
  • Frontal headache or sensation of sinus pain (and this!)
  • Flushing and/or a rash 
  • Nausea and/or abdominal cramping (yup!)
  • General feeling of malaise, sometimes accompanied by dizziness (too often!)

I will update as I have appointments & information available.  

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Word of the Year: 2017

Last year I started off the year with one word to focus on.
I really tried over the last year to be present.  To put the phone down, to not let life's distractions take me away from my family, friends, and faith.  While I was not 100% perfect, I was more mindful over the last year to be present.  I will continue in 2017 to be more present in my life. 

That brings me to 2017's word of the year.  
This year I want to focus on what's important.  It uses last year's word as a stepping stone in my life and gives me the platform to grow.  I want to focus on my family, my family, my job, and my faith.  HOWEVER at the same time I don't want to lose the progress I've made over the last year.  Focus allows me to let update my goals as the year goes on and I grow in every part of my life.  

Along with choosing a word, I also chose a verse that will help me focus on what is important throughout the year.  

Colossians 3:2 

Today is the first page of a fresh new book.  Now is your chance to write a masterpiece.  

What is your word of the year?  

I try to use my own pictures when available and if I do use other pictures I cite the source.  There are times when I'm unable to find the source for the pictures I use.  If you find that I have used one of yours please let me know, I will gladly give you credit!