A Big Tight Hug & An Amazing Avocado Dressing

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On Monday we found out that my schizophrenic aunt, Nan, had been evicted from her apartment a week prior and had been taken to a shelter by the apartment management. The management had my mother’s phone number in her file and never bothered to tell anyone what they had done. Her things were packed and stored and will be kept for 45 days. Then, at 45 days the manager told me they usually “dispose of it”. Her apartment was filled with her mother’s, my grandmother’s, family heirlooms and antiques and everything Nan owns in this world. We were also told we would either need Nan’s notarized signature or a court order to remove any of her things from their storage.

After trying to track her down, Tuesday we found out that she was not at the shelter that the apartment manager supposedly said they took her to, nor at any other shelter in town, and we were advised to file a missing person’s report.

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The authorities told us that if “they happened to see her” they would pick her up, but they wouldn’t seek her out. Tuesday morning came and took us all on a fast track in the direction of the worst possible scenarios… that try as you might, you absolutely cannot get out of your head. I grabbed mom and we ran errands in hopes of trying to control the worry welling inside of us. Samantha, her oldest daughter, had to deal with these feelings while in training for a new job in Seattle and handling phone calls from the sheriff and mom and I. And the youngest daughter, Amanda, I’m assuming was trying to figure out the impossible task of concentrating in class in her first semester in college.

Yesterday, after a fitful night of sleep I decided to post a bit of the story and prayer requests here on the blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook. I had already been praying of course, but when people band together, miraculous things can happen. “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am among them”. ~ Matthew 18:20 This is where my BIG TIGHT HUG to all of you comes in. I was so blessed and amazed by all of the support, kind words, and prayers. You will never know what it means to our family that you took time from your own lives, busy schedules, and your own issues, to pray for our family and to pray for Nan’s safety. Your comments here and on Facebook kept the panic from getting completely out of control. Within 2 hours of posting those prayer requests, a story that could have ended in any number of terrible and life changing ways for our family, has a happy ending.

There were some conflicting stories with the complex management yesterday, but luckily my mother took matters into her own hands and visited the police station. An extremely kind detective sat with her for over an hour and did some serious detective work to try to figure out what had happened. Long story short, she had changed hands between a few police officers, shelters, and a hospital. She was dropped at a shelter by police, but then was not cooperating. New officers took her to the psyche unit at the hospital where she was evaluated. Then the hospital moved her to another psychiatric facility which I’m guessing is run by the state.

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She is safe and she is in a psychiatric facility where they are evaluating her. The facility was given her daughter’s number so that if Nan chose to, she could call us. With the current mental health laws, family members are at a complete loss when it comes to helping another family member with mental illness unless that person requests help. They wouldn’t even tell us the exact facility where she was being held.

The great news? Nan called Samantha yesterday afternoon. They are stabilizing her meds, she was thinking clearly, and she asked for help. Samantha also mentioned that Nan told her she loved her numerous times. Something Samantha hasn’t heard in a very, very, long time. Nan agreed to sign the paperwork so we could get her things that are being held by the apartment complex. Sam will be coming this weekend and Nan is looking forward to the visit. The facility will not let her leave until she has housing. All huge blessings and prayers answered.

There’s always a reason for everything. I have a difficult time remembering that when something so seemingly impossible to handle comes along. There is a huge dark cloud, but it definitely has a silver lining. The dark cloud of course, is that this isn’t the first time and most likely won’t be the last time we will have challenges with my aunt because this type of mental illness is relentless and evil.  The silver lining, is that had she not run out of money, had she not stopped paying her rent, had they not evicted her, and had the police not been involved, she wouldn’t be getting the help that she is getting right now.

The state does not intervene in any way unless someone is broke  and has proven to be dangerous to themselves or others. Now that she is homeless, broke and mentally ill (some of all of our worst nightmares rolled into one)…where you would think that prevention instead of waiting until things are in their worst possible state would be the way to go… this backward process of helping the mentally ill, will now after about 15 years of hell, be helpful to her. She will be assigned a case worker and will hopefully begin to get the counseling, medication monitoring, and housing that she so desperately needs. And this time thankfully, all of the pieces came together quickly and the outcome is so much better than what we were bracing ourselves for.

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Every. Thing. Happens. For. A. Reason. Even when it seems awful, even when it is awful. Even when it doesn’t happen the exact way you want it to or the timeline or the details don’t make sense. Things must work out a certain way to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. That is a simple enough statement to understand, yet an enormously complex reality when you’re in the thick of something terrible.

Thank you again for your generosity of heart and prayers. From those of you we know well, and those of you we have never met. You will never know the depth and impact that kind of love has on us.

Blessings and Big Tight Hugs, from my family to you.

~ April

Cilantro Lime Avocado Dressing

This recipe is adapted from my mom’s recipe.

2 Ripe Avocados

1 1/2 Cups of Cilantro

Juice of 1 Lime

3 Cloves of Garlic

1/2 Cup of EVOO

2-3 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar, depending on how tart you like your dressing

1 1/2 teaspoons of Coconut Sugar

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1/2 Cup (maybe a bit more to thin it out) of Filtered Water

Place all the ingredients in a Nutribullet, blender, or food processor and blend until smooth. You may have to shake and scrape the sides once or twice to get it all incorporated. Serve on anything you like, it’s absolutely delicious!

A Special Prayer Request & A Shameful Mental Health Care System

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My schizophrenic aunt has been missing for two weeks. She was evicted from her apartment two weeks ago, and none of us were informed until two days ago. Evidently, she told the apartment complex she could no longer pay her rent and they supposedly dropped her off at a shelter. Yet, none of the shelters in our town have any record of her.

You may or may not know someone with schizophrenia or mental illness, but they can be very difficult to deal with. For a while she was in contact with the family and then began to go through rages and not wanting to speak to us. Her daughters haven’t heard from her in months and couldn’t get a hold of her. I talked to her one month ago to check up on her and our conversation was less than 2 minutes and she hung up on me because she didn’t believe what I was telling her. Prior to that, the only time I would hear from her personally, was when she would leave long incoherent messages on my voicemail. Her cousin, who has checked in with her monthly for years, called my mom sobbing two weeks after that because my aunt would not believe that she was who she said she was and became very violent. She can be horrible to deal with, unpredictable, and scary. She has been taken over by an illness that has stolen everything we knew and loved and cherished about her. She is a completely different person that the woman we grew up with. After years and years of trying to reason with her, get her to help herself, and monitor her behavior, we all had to come to a place of acceptance. People with schizophrenia don’t think clearly, obviously, so to get them to cooperate by taking their medication, keeping in touch, and taking care of themselves is mostly, impossible. Sometimes the best you can hope for is a check in. So you at least know they are where they are supposed to be and are still alive. Imagine that being what your biggest hope is for a family member? I know that we are not the only ones having to deal with tragedies like this and the mental health care system in the U.S. is absolutely shameful.

The worst part is that the government has given the mentally ill person all the rights, and the families and loved ones have none. She refused to give my mom power of attorney for medical care. So even when she is checked into a psyche unit, emergency room, or shelter, the only way we’ll know is if she wants us to know. Her phone isn’t always working and all of our numbers are stored in it. So, no phone, no numbers to get a hold of us. We have zero rights and zero resources to be able to get her the help she needs. The fact that the government would put a person who is not capable of making logical decisions on their own, charge of their own health care is mind boggling and absolutely devastating to the family members who are trying to help them. It is like watching a slow and excruciating horror film where you know the ending is not going to be a relief. Her 25 year old daughter who just started her dream job two days ago, told me yesterday that she feels that she is now at the point where she will get the call where she will have to identify her mom’s body. Her youngest daughter has just started college. Having an ill mother has changed their lives in innumerable ways and waiting for the other shoe to drop for years and years while having NO rights to help their mom has been devastating to say the least.

My aunt was hospitalized for I think the 4th time about a year ago because she was arrested for hitting her brother (whom she was living with) in the head with a water glass, my mom was told that the state would do absolutely nothing for her until she ran out of money. At the time she ends up broke, if she had the wherewithal to seek help, she would then need to apply for state support and then would begin to get the resources she needs. Just absolutely unbelievable. We are assuming that because she cannot pay her rent that she is now out of money.  The sheriff’s department and the crisis center are now involved, but they won’t actively seek her. If they see her, they will pick her up and if we see her and she won’t willingly come with us, we can supposedly call them to take her against her will. Only at that point, now that she is homeless, broke, out of her mind, and missing, will we be able to begin to hopefully work within the system to get her what she needs. One can’t help but see the cruel irony in this.

Prayers for her safety first and foremost would be so deeply appreciated. Prayers that we find her quickly, and prayers for strength and peace for our family are needed.

And because I know that I have the kindest, most caring, followers in the blogging world, I know that I can count on those of you who pray.

 Love & Blessings to You ~  April

Update:

We have some serious prayer warriors! One hour after posting prayer requests on FB, Twitter, and the blog, my aunt has been FOUND! Mom went to the spokane valley police dept. and a detective there worked on it for an hour with her. They tracked her down. She was taken to a shelter, then was non compliant so the city police took her to the hospital. She was there for an evaluation and then was moved to one of their psychiatric facilities called for further evaluation. They cannot tell us which facility, but someone will call when she is going to be released. Now that she is in the “system” and homeless, the state will intervene and she will hopefully get some support and they will let us get involved. Thank you so much for your prayers, you will never know how much it means to us. Blessings to all of you!

Pulsing & How To Plan A Road Trip When You Have Food Allergies

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Last week my mom and I spent some girl time in Montana. It was really nice to have a little getaway with just the two of us. As most of you know, with allergies and a chronic illness, there’s a bit of planning that needs to be done if a trip is to be enjoyable. Food allergies can throw a wrench in eating out when you’re on vacation, even if the restaurants you choose have “allergen free options”. I can eat out once or twice, but any more than that and the food allergy symptoms begin to mount.

Prior to boiling, poke a tiny hole in the fat end of the egg with a push pin and the shells will just peel right off.

Ignore my botched manicure and prior to boiling, poke a tiny hole in the fat end of the egg with a push pin and the shells will just peel right off.

Hard boiled eggs are a great option for traveling. Healthy, full of protein, and easy to eat on the run or sliced over a salad.

Hard boiled eggs are a great option for traveling. Healthy, full of protein, and easy to eat on the run or sliced over a salad.

Typically, when we travel I try to bring as many healthy snacking and meal options as possible. This means a lot of food prep before we leave. Spending a couple of days in the kitchen requires “feel good” days and a lot of energy. I’ve been in a Lyme flare since late November. Flares are unpleasant, and unpredictable. Some days I can feel decent enough to run errands and do other things and other days I’m either on the couch, in bed, or just feeling all around sick. The past 6 weeks symptoms have been on the incline.

I brought along the Nutribullet and individually bagged veggies and fruits for easy breakfast smoothies. Mom brought oatmeal and coffee and I added home made bread, honey, and tea to the breakfast mix.

I brought along the Nutribullet and individually bagged single serving veggies and fruits for easy breakfast smoothies. Mom brought oatmeal and coffee and I added home made bread, honey, and tea to the breakfast mix.

So last week I felt it was time to head to the doctor and discuss my options before things got out of hand. I was really looking forward to our trip and did not want to have to cancel.

I love to roast a whole chicken and then slice the meat for snacking, sandwiches, or to add to salads.

I love to roast a whole chicken and then slice the meat for snacking, sandwiches, or to add to salads. I put the white and dark meat in separate baggies and it travels very well.

The bad news is that there are no tests available that give a concrete answer as to whether antibiotics are successful at killing off the Lyme bacteria. This doesn’t mean they don’t work, it just means there’s no testing yet that proves that they do…or don’t. There’s really only the list of symptoms that get better or don’t. So rather than get obsessive about a “cure”, the goal right now is to get things under control and back into remission.

I booked us a hotel room with a full kitchen. I prepped marinated chicken and steak prior to leaving as to not have to fuss with bringing along a lot of ingredients.

I booked us a hotel room with a full kitchen. I prepped marinated chicken and steak prior to leaving as to not have to fuss with bringing along a lot of ingredients. I also brought along two sweet potatoes and we baked them in the hotel oven.

I do a lot of reading and research. Spending too much time researching and inside my own head, leads to higher stress levels and more and more questions. It’s imperative to have at least one person who can help you make some decisions. Thankfully, my doctor who originates from the east coast, is educated about Lyme and knows all the in’s and out’s of how it affects your body. She has a very calming presence which is a huge blessing when you are stuck in that swirl of “what should I do”.

I sauteed my favorite veggie combo, cauliflower and broccoli with olive oil, garlic, and spicy peppers. We just reheated it in the hotel room and it was fantastic.

I sauteed my favorite veggie combo, cauliflower and broccoli with olive oil, garlic, and spicy peppers. We just reheated it in the hotel room and it was fantastic.

At this point, the thought of going on 2-3 antibiotics at once for 1-3 years, along with dozens and dozens of supplements seems like a giant leap into a very scary realm where guessing is the norm. That regimen along with a whole host of other drugs is very common treatment for chronic Lyme. I’m not there and hope to never be, so I try to set those worries aside and leave those decisions on the back burner for when they may be necessary.

Three bean salad is one of my favorites, travels well, and is so simple to make! It was quite a treat as I've been abstaining from legumes.

Three bean salad is one of my favorites, travels well, and is so simple to make! It was quite a treat as I’ve been abstaining from legumes.

What we’re focusing on now is, “pulsing”. You wait until flare symptoms are very heightened and then you pulse antibiotics for a few weeks rather than staying on them long term. This method is done in hopes of killing those buggers while they are in a cycle roaming around outside of their biofilm protectant. Then you wait a few weeks and pulse again.

A mixed green salad is always a must. I made a nice avocado dressing, but I liked my mom's recipe better. I will share that with you this week!

A mixed green salad is always a must. I made a nice avocado dressing, but I liked my mom’s recipe better. I will share that with you this week!

It can help with symptoms too, so it can be win-win if it’s successful. That’s the plan for the next few weeks, then we’ll reassess and go from there. I’ll keep you updated as I go because as you already know, I feel that sharing information is imperative! I wouldn’t have even thought to ask my doctor to test me for Lyme Disease had someone else not shared their story with me and urged me to get checked.

Mixed activated nuts and seeds with vegan chocolate chunks for that something "sweet".

Mixed activated nuts and seeds with vegan chocolate chunks for that something “sweet”. Another treat I’ve been abstaining from.

The good news is that I’m a week into the antibiotic and the flare symptoms are lessening a bit. Mom and I had a great trip. We survived the sadness of two foodies not being able to eat out three meals a day every day. We saw some neat stuff and I took lots of pictures for you. So over the next few days, I’ll take you to see some of the sights.

And my all time favorite, watermelon slices. So good with a sprinkle of sea salt.

And my all time favorite, watermelon slices. So good with a sprinkle of sea salt.

See you soon!

Love this.

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Tick #7~Give A Girl A Cookie!

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Yesterday afternoon, I found tick #7 while I was trying to relax and read a book in the tub. It was crawling up the tile right by the faucet. Right by my foot. Tick #1 was on my son’s knee, under his jeans a couple of weeks ago after he had come in from playing outside with the dogs. Tick #2 was crawling up the wall in the living room. Tick #3 was crawling up the sheers next to the front door, tick #4 was found crawling up the backyard slider screen door. Tick #5 was spotted crawling around on the blinds behind the kitchen sink, and tick #6 was found by our son, crawling up the wall in the same vicinity as tick #2.

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Not all in one day, of course. It’s been about 1-2 every week. The Good Lord knows me all too well and obviously that if I were to find 7 ticks in one day in my house….well, let’s just say, He never gives us more than we can handle.

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Instead of running out the front door screaming, I calmly crawled out of the tub possibly uttering a few (many) toothless trucker swear words, and Googled if it was possible to have an infestation of ticks inside your house. Oh, and I discussed it with my friends because that’s where all the real life information and support is anyway. Except one friend I have in New Hampshire who informed me they have professionals spray because one year, the entire side of their house was crawling with ticks.

O.M.G. That……..maybe I didn’t need to hear that.

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The internet or “innerweb” as my husband likes to call it, had a lot of really alarming things to say which did start to really FREAK ME OUT. I won’t share them with you, because both of us don’t need to be freaked out. I’m pretty convinced that they are coming in on the animals and we’re just missing them. Or, coming in by themselves because we are backed up to that huge infested 500 acres of tick field behind us. I’m trying very hard to remain calm and not think about larvae, and infestations, Lyme re-infection, and other words that make my hair stand on end and make me want to have a nervous breakdown.

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I had to eat an entire personal sized watermelon and balanced it out with a chicken leg because I was so stressed and there wasn’t one thing in this house that was sweet that fits into my damn diet. Whoever named it a personal sized watermelon, wasn’t joking.

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So.

Like any freaked out woman on a mission with watermelon juice running down her chin and a chicken bone in her mouth, I put my planning cap on and took the bull by the horns. I promptly grabbed our less than friendly cat by the scruff of her neck, and gave her a brushing like I’m sure she’s never seen the likes of. She only bit me twice.

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Then, I went upstairs and made sure there were no ticks in my bed. Then the dog beds. Every piece of dust and fuzz on our dark floors and every little nick on the wall screamed, “TICK!!!!!” and made me want to run for my life. But, somehow, I held it together. I scrubbed both dogs from head to toe and made sure nothing creepy was living on them. They crawled right into the tub for me with no hassles. They’re my sweet babies of course, unlike the cat who reminds me of a nasty teenager.  After watching me brush the cat with wide eyes and puzzled looks, I’m guessing they knew better

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After they were dried, I wiped down everything in the house. I loaded my Dyson with Eucalyptus Globulus oil because it’s supposed to kill ticks and they hate the smell of it, and then vacuumed every single square inch of my house that I could reach. I made a pact with myself that I would order white sheets with no pattern for our bed tomorrow and I would make the time to vacuum every single day, for the rest of the summer.  Then I went to bed with pulled muscles, armed with ibuprofen, Calm tea, Stress Away essential oil, and one eye open.

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Today is a new day, thankfully. So far, no ticks.

I’ve dubbed today, Cookie Day.

Because no one should ever have to self medicate with watermelon and a chicken leg. Oh yeah, and feel free to stop by unannounced any time this summer because my house is going to be freaking spotless. 

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Coconut Raisin Haystacks

*Makes 24 cookies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

1 8oz Bag of Organic Unsweetened Shredded Coconut 

1/3 Cup of Organic Coconut Sugar

3 Tablespoons of Cassava Flour

1/8 teaspoon of Sea Salt

3 Organic Egg Whites plus 1 Whole Egg

1 Tablespoon of Filtered Water

1/2 teaspoon of Pure Almond Extract

1/2 teaspoon of Organic Ground Cinnamon

1/3 Cup of Organic Raisins

2/3 Cups of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

1 teaspoon of Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil

Add the shredded coconut to a medium bowl. Add the coconut sugar, cassava flour, salt, egg whites, whole egg, water, cinnamon, almond extract and raisins. Stir thoroughly until the mixture is completely combined and thoroughly moist. 

Using a spoon, form mounds of dough and place on a parchment covered baking sheet. 

Place on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 20 minutes. 

While cookies are baking, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil to drizzling consistency. 

Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Drizzle with chocolate and enjoy!