Cyrs

Cyrs

Monday, August 22, 2016

Memories and BFFs


When I moved to New Hampshire as a 12 year old, red headed, freckled, young pre-teen, I remember wishing I could relate to my fellow classmates who shared stories of their times together in kindergarten and early elementary school. I had changed schools due to moves a number of times as a kid and so, with the new friends I would make, our history would begin with 8th grade. 

As Cameron starts first grade this week, and we officially leave a hard kindergarten year behind, there will always be this small, Caellan-sized hole in our hearts, where the memories with him sadly end with kindergarten. The two boys were creating what very likely could have been a lifetime friendship, and though Cam has been lucky enough to make new friends, it will be hard as he starts first grade without his BFF. Losing a friend is hard, but losing your best friend at 5-years-old, when nothing makes sense and everything is supposed to be block towers, trucks and dinosaurs, is really, really hard. 

If you hadn't had a chance to read about Cameron's spunky, fun, curly-haired BFF, Caellan, here is your opportunity:

Caellan's mom, Anna, wrote this about Caellan:

"Caellan was born a fighter. He came into this world 2 1/2 months early and right from the get-go had numerous medical conditions from extreme GERD to chronic lung disease. He underwent a fundoplication surgery, at just 4 months, which also led to him needing a g-tube placed which he relied on for a little over a year for eating. Over the years I had to rush him to the ER for many different reasons and as a single mother with 2 sons it became overwhelming at times, especially being halfway across the US from my family. I can remember not being able to sleep watching my son's back slowly lift and fall, making sure he was just breathing ok. After almost 3 years of going it alone and fighting with Kansas doctors about thinking there might be something else medically that they weren't catching with my son, we traveled back east, where I grew up, to be surrounded by family and hopefully find some answers. We had been in Keene, NH a little over a month when I had to bring Caellan to the ER and we were rushed by ambulance to CHaD in Lebanon, NH to receive more age-appropriate care and try to figure out what was going on. After a stay at CHaD, traveling to many different specialists from all the various Cheshire medical facilities, and a brain MRI, later we got the answers we were looking for. Caellan was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and periventricular leukomalacia, along with needing to get a brace on his left leg to help with his tip toe walking due to hypertension. Caellan never let any of this stop him. He was the brightest light and his love of all life, creatures big and small and plants. He lit up any and everywhere he went. Sadly, despite all the medical attention and doctors/specialists, nothing could prepare us for what occurred on New Year’s Eve of 2015. Caellan became very sick, very quickly which was normal for him, but this time was very different. By the time we rushed him to the ER, it was already too late, we were told later. In only 12 hours, Mom by his side for most of that time and a helicopter ride to Mass General Hospital, he was gone. The surgery that saved his life at 4 months was ultimately what took him from us and created a huge hole in so many people's hearts."



In Caellan's memory and as a way to raise funds for the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, where Caellan did and Cameron still does receive care, we created the Inaugural Virtual BFF Run/Walk for CHaD. Many of you, if you're reading this blog post, have probably seen this event posted over and over on Facebook during the last two weeks, but if you haven't, here is your last chance to join the #BFFwalkforCHaD! The deadline has been extended to Tuesday, August 23rd at midnight EST. 

Simply click this link: https://bffchad.itemorder.com  
Chose your event apparel (make an additional donation if you are willing/able)
If you are local, feel free to chose to pick up from me or from Bulldog Design in Keene, NH
Then go out and run/walk/bike/skip/hop along any distance you'd like with your BFF
Take a photo and share it with hashtag #BFFwalkforCHaD
Proceeds from the event apparel go directly to CHaD.

If you'd rather skip this event, but would still like to make a donation to CHaD in Cameron and/or Caellan's name, please feel free to do so here: http://chad.donordrive.com/participant/thecyrs 

Caellan and Cameron in Mrs. Arrow's Kindergarten class
Be on the look-out for more CHaD HERO FUNdraising opportunities later this summer and early fall!


Saturday, July 23, 2016

When marathon training takes a back seat and a new running belt!

After last year's marathon, I instantly knew that I would do it again. I knew I could do better. I knew I could push harder and cross that finish line in less time. I had been gearing up for it since I could comfortably walk again after last year's race. Then I ran a 15 minute half marathon PR (that's personal record) a month later and continued to show myself that I could move my legs faster! I knew I'd blow my first marathon time out of the water, if I kept it up.

Then 2016 happened. 
One thing after another this year has turned my focus to many other aspects of our lives and away from my running goals. Toward the end of May/beginning of June, when I should have been getting ready to start training for the DeMar Marathon, I was starting to realize that I really couldn't afford the physical stress of marathon training added to the mental stress that had already surrounded us. I wanted to relax. 

And so, after many healing tears, I opted to put off my second marathon, run when I want to, sip coffee on Saturday and Sunday morning, go camping, spend time with my family and not worry about fitting in long runs. I've been given a number of opportunities that I'm hoping to pursue with  my blog and know I couldn't focus much on them while also trying to fit in 3-4 hour long runs, 4 early, getting-darker mornings per week and ya know, life! I'm thankful for the support of my husband, Shawn and my cousin Meaghan, who I was supposed to be training with, for helping me feel comfortable with my decision. <3 

On that note, keep an eye out for some exciting events coming up this summer and early Fall! I've got some awesome things in the works as CHaD HERO fundraising really picks up and I can't wait to share!
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On a completely different note, and a running-related one, I am thankful to have partnered with Level Up Runs who have just created an awesome new LED belt for your running/biking/walking/hiking adventures! I was able to try this baby out and couldn't be happier with it. 
Ironically, I had wanted to get a simple belt to carry my phone, some chapstick and my keys (on Scores Running Club nights!) and so when Level Up Runs told me about their new belt, I was thrilled! My favorite part about it, is the LED light that runs across the front of the pouch. 
It's super soft, flexible and doesn't move around a whole heck of a lot while I'm running. The best part is - you can get 50% off this belt with code RCE5FGY8. Just click on the link above to order it from Amazon, and you're on your way to a flashy (literally - the lights can blink too!) new belt to carry all of your goodies in while you're running around town!

Thanks for all of your support friends! Here's to hoping the latter end of 2016 has better things to share! ;)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Quick and Easy Recovery Nutrition AND Giveaway!

As marathon training begins, and longer, earlier runs commence, free time becomes even more precious and the need for quick, essential recovery nutrition is even more important. I made it a priority last summer to aim to finish all of my long runs by 9-9:30am on whichever weekend day I ran them (usually Saturdays, but this summer it looks like most will fall on Sundays), so that it wouldn't interfere with our weekend much at all. As a wife, and mom of both a young boy and young pup, the time post-run used for recovery and to prepare and eat something that would both aide in recovery and provide the necessary energy to power through the rest of the day, was limited. The weekend hours are still too few, and the demands of having a family remain. Marathon training takes up A LOT of time, and unfortunately, registering for one doesn't add hours to your days. (darn!)

On a mission to find something quick, easy and affordable for my post-run eats, I didn't have to go far. My trusty pals at Fit Approach offered me the opportunity to try a new product through an awesome company called Amazing Grass. If you're like me, and had never heard of Amazing Grass, you're probably thinking...grass? She's eating grass? In fact, the founders, Todd and Brandon, developed this company after harvesting the grass on Brandon's farm and realizing the benefits (more energy, less illness, quicker recovery) of green, plant-based drinks. While the process of developing the products from Amazing Grass sound scientific and brings me back to my college chemistry days, it's pretty simple. The greens are harvested, dried and naturally preserved as pellets until they are ready for use. The pellets are then ground and formed into a powder, which is what you receive as the product. Pretty straight forward, if you ask me!

Their newest product is the Protein Superfood, and I was so thankful to be able to try it myself. The Protein Superfood contains all of the awesome green-food blend as found in their other products, plus an added protein-punch including chia seeds, hemp protein, quinoa and pea protein. One of my favorite parts of the powder is that I recognize and can read every ingredient on the package. Imagine that!!
Chocolate Peanut Butter, Pure Vanilla and Original
I'm a chocolate lover, so any time someone suggests I have chocolate after my workout, I jump at the opportunity! Because of the ease, and speed of throwing a few things in a blender to make a smoothie, that is the main way I have used the powder so far, but you can find more recipes on their website. For someone who eats a vegan or vegetarian diet, the products are all vegan, kosher and certified organic. As a non-vegetarian, I did not go out and purchase vegan smoothie mixes for myself. I added a scoop of the powder to about 1-1.5 cups of regular milk, a tablespoon of peanut butter and a half of a banana (you could replace the cows milk with almond or coconut milk, and the peanut butter with any other nut butter, if you'd rather). I added a few ice cubes and blended it all up! Honestly, it's a chocolate shake with lots of bonus energy-giving, muscle-fixing goodness inside. It has no sign of the sometimes chalky-dirt taste that some plant-based products have. It smells and tastes like chocolate and peanut butter! What more could I ask for!?
Just on Saturday, in a rush to get to Cameron's tee ball opening day, I was able to get changed from my run, wiped down, make my smoothie and be on my way to opening day in eight minutes. I wasn't starving an hour later and didn't feel like I was dragging, plus I didn't miss a thing. As a mom of a non-enabled picky eater, I couldn't help but also notice the Kidz Superfood and really can't wait to try it for Cam! (I'll get back to you all on how that goes. ;))

If you're ready to try your own Amazing Grass, head on over to their website and enter this code: SWEATPINKCassie16 to get 30% off your first order! (Note, this is a ONE TIME use discount code for 30% off, expiring 5/31/16. Discount codes cannot be used for gift cards, recurring orders or holiday blends. You must register to use a code at checkout, meaning you cannot checkout as a guest.)

I am able to give away ONE FULL-SIZE Protien Superfood product to a very special reader! All you have to do is comment below and tell me which flavor you would chose (Chocolate Peanut Butter, Pure Vanilla or Original). One winner will be chosen randomly on Monday, May 2nd at 12pm EST! 
Disclaimer: I was compensated for my reivew of the product. All opinions are my own.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Here we are again.

Every CHaD parent has a story.
Often, a heart-wrenching, tear-jerking story that lead them to becoming a CHaD parent.
And every CHaD kid has a story, some of them too young to remember when it began.
April 2011 - 7 months old
Unfortunately, our story is not much different than many of the ones belonging to the children and families walking the halls of The Children's Hospital at Dartmouth today. If you haven't read it before, I suggest jumping back a few years and checking out this post. I remember writing that post as one of the first times in Cam's three years of life that I had publicly shared Cameron's struggle with epilepsy. At the time, we didn't know a lot, and life went on its merry way, with med dosage increases here and there, finger pricks to check levels every once in a while and our every-3-month visit to Pediatric Neurology always planned out on our calendars. When I wrote that post, we were just starting the months of testing leading up to his surgery in October 2013.
October 30, 2013 - Temporal lobectomy
As we enter, what feels like, new-old territory, with Cameron having two uncontrolled, non-responsive (to his rescue medications) seizures within two months of each other in January and March, we're beginning again to talk with Dr. Richard Morse about what we can do going forward. With our recent overnight stay at CHaD, and the struggles that 2016 has brought, it fueled our fire going into this year's CHaD HERO. I've shared before that, while this is our sixth year as CHaD parents, I was never out of the water enough to pay attention to the incredible things happening around us at CHaD. I didn't realize we were part of a community of loving families, surrounded by the incredible care provided by the most wonderful, caring clinicians. Luckily, I do now and MAN, am I thankful!
March 23, 2016 - Our most recent CHaD stay
This year's CHaD HERO has kicked off, and we couldn't be more excited to make this a family-affair! Last year I ran the Baystate Marathon the day of the CHaD HERO, so we were unable to attend the events of the day, though it was on our minds. While I was thrilled to have been able to raise money as a virtual participant, I knew I didn't want to miss out on the day again.

Shawn will be joining 49 other cyclists to venture on a half-century (50 mile) bike ride.
Cameron is registered to kick-butt on Cam's Course Fun Run (we can pretend it was named after him :-P )
And I will be running the 5K, all on October 16th!

We hope you will join us for some fundraising events over the summer and I'll continue to share updates and information here. We're upping the ante this year and shooting for $1,500 as our goal! Thank you to all of you who donated and helped me reach my $1,000 goal last year.

Don't worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

BeFit Nutrition Review and Giveaway!

If you're checking this post for weight loss results and a 30-day program to get you the body you've always wanted, don't stop reading, but thats not what you're going to get. The first thing I want you to do, is head over to my dear friend Caitlin's recent blog post all about body acceptance. Once youve read that, read on here:

I was presented with the opportunity to review BeFit Nutrition's package, which includes a protien powder, pre-workout drink mix, pills to promote fat-burning, and a workout calendar with access to their workout videos. I had initially debated on whether or not I wanted to participate in a campaign for a program encouraging you to burn fat to better yourself. That said, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to share my thoughts on the issue of "fat is bad". Note: I am not a dietician or nutritionist of any kind. These opinions are all my own. I am compensated for my written review.

BeFit Nurtition's mission is not to tell you that you shouldn't have fat, but they do benefit from the media and fitness industry making you believe that you should have chisled abs and 2% body fat (or simply just be smaller and more lean than you already are, no matter your current size) to be healthy and happy. I WAS happy to read that their mission is "BeFit Nutrition is dedicated to developing best-in-class nutritional supplements to support your health and fitness goals." and is not "Do our workouts and take our supplements to become skinny." Over the last few weeks I've made a few recipes with the protein powder (many which can be found on their website), used the pre-workout drink mix before most of my runs, and ignored the weight-loss supplement.

BeFit PRE:
I have to say right off the bat, that this was my favorite part of the BeFit package that I received, and I'll likely buy it myself. The flavor of the powder is fruity, but can be sour if its not mixed with enough water. It only requires 6oz of water per scoop though, which is the perfect amount to drink right before a run or workout, without having to worry about getting stomach cramps. Its main ingredients are elevATP, a extract from peat water and apples which stimulates the production of ATP, which is the body's energy source. Also, betaine, which is a derivative of sugar beets and helps improve muscle indurance. I found that, for early morning runs or workouts, when most of mine happen, having the PRE while I woke up and got dressed (I made it the night before), helped me feel energized and ready to go by the time I got downstairs to get moving.

WHEY ISOLATE & CASEIN PROTEIN POWDER:
I have never been a protein powder kind of girl, so I don't have much to compare this too, but it has been something I look forward to now. Generally in the past when Ive made post-workout smoothies, I take the time to use real ingredients - greek yogurt, spinach, fruit, etc. I was pleased to quickly put this together in my blender, and have a delicious, chocolatey (Obviously a plus!), treat, knowing that it was helping repair my muscles and keep me working toward my goals. Often times with smoothies, I still crave eating something for breakfast. Ive learned to listen to my body and understand that if I'm not hungry, I dont have to eat, even if I haven't physically chewed something. The protein powder smoothies kept me feeling full until lunch, even after an awesome morning workout. One side note: Listed at the end of the descripton of the protein powder on BeFit's website is "Promotes weight loss*" - there is an asterisk next to this because that statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. No, protein powder does not promote weight loss, but if you listen to your body and not eat when youre not hungry, you won't gain extra weight and the smoothie will be enough to keep your body fueled through your morning routine.

WORKOUT CALENDAR AND VIDEOS:
If you're the type of person that doesn't want to think about what to do for a workout, then the workout calendar and videos are perfect. I definitely go through phases where I want to do whatever I feel like any given day (specifically if I'm not training for anything), but sometimes I need a schedule for motivation or to keep on track for training. The videos are excellent and available on YouTube, so you don't need a DVD player to watch them! None of them are very long (all are 15 minutes or less) so you can do one or two, or supplement a run with the abs & arms workout.

A word about the BURN supplement:
Most people cannot sustain weight loss long-term, because your body will always bounce back to a healthy weight for you. Taking a supplement to increase your metabolism will likely set you up for failure once you stop taking the supplement because your metabolism will naturally slow again and potentially slow down even more to compensate for all of the fat you just burned so quickly.

I'm glad I was able to try the BeFit products and am lucky enough to be able to give this entire package away to one reader! Before you enter this giveaway, please first know that you DO NOT NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT! If you're looking for some simple supplements to get yourself moving and keep you moving, please enter! :)

Head over to my Instagram to find out how you can win!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Social Anxiety as an Epilepsy Parent

I wrote this post on July 30, 2015 and, with some updates, I felt like it was a good time to share it.
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I've been thinking about this post for awhile now, especially with all of the activity that we've had going on over the last few weeks. I recently saw this little study posted on one of the Epilepsy Foundation pages that I follow.

I don't know that it's a fact, but I'd like to think I'm not the only human who went from being mostly laid back to suddenly becoming uptight and anxious after welcoming an infant into the world. Those teensy tiny babies create worries and anxieties that non-child-rearing folk might laugh at. You worry about their eating, their pooping and their lack of pooping, their sleeping, their lack of sleeping, their crying and everything in between. The worries and anxieties increase as the little cherubs get older. You still have the same concerns about the eating, sleeping, pooping, but now add on falling down the stairs, swallowing a penny that dropped on the floor, getting stepped on by the dog. Then another year goes by and you also start to think about behavior at daycare, is s/he making friends, the new-found independence, etc.

Now throw in a condition as unpredictable as epilepsy. You drop your baby off at daycare with the fear that he could have a seizure while she is refereeing an argument with the older kids. Will she notice he's not crawling around anymore? What if she doesn't? What if she assumes he's playing quietly in the other room? As he grows older, you fear a seizure on the playground - what if he falls? What if he has a seizure in the classroom? What will the other kids do? Will the teacher notice?

Recently Cameron had his Preschool graduation and I discovered, (admittedly, not for the first time) that while I was excited for him, I constantly feared he would have a seizure during the presentation. In situations like this, I often devise a plan in my head about what I would do if I noticed he was looking particularly unsteady, or if he fell over. In the back of my mind, I'm always planning - if we're in Target, would we rush him to the bathroom to give him the Diastat, or just lay him on the floor in the middle of an aisle? Would everyone stare at us, or would they try to help?

When we're safe in the comfort of our own home, my heart still races when Cam sits still just a little bit longer than normal or if he says he doesn't feel good. Luckily, I know that if he were to have a seizure, he's safe. We know what to do and we can handle it. What the study above describes is the social anxiety and the impact it has on the patient and families, and in particular, the mothers of children with epilepsy. I know that there are so many children with much worse conditions that are fighting for their lives, so I do feel lucky that in the grand scheme, Cameron's epilepsy is not life-threatening, provided all safety precautions are taken.
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On January 18, 2016, the above statement somehow doesn't ring as true as it was when I had written it about 6 months ago.  On January 18th, in the comfort of our home, Cameron had a seizure and the "we know what to do" went out the window because Cam's emergency medicine did not work. For the first time, Shawn had to call Dartmouth to get permission to administer a second syringe of Diazepam and was given orders to call 911. At this point, sick to my stomach and nearly 20 miles away, I drove (safely) to the Emergency Room in Keene to meet Shawn and the ambulance. I had no idea what I was going to walk into. I didn't know anything other than that Cam's seizure hadn't stopped and they were rushing him to the hospital via ambulance.

Thankfully, just prior to my arrival, Cam's breathing normalized and his oxygen levels remained at 98% - they had warned Shawn that they may have had to intubate him due to all of the muscle relaxers slowing down his breathing. When I walked in, I leaned over and touched him with my cold hands, which caused him to flinch. The doctor was happy about that, because he had previously been unresponsive. After about 45 minutes (from the time that it started around 9am), Cameron's seizure finally stopped. The details leading up to Cam's eventual discharge around 3pm are unimportant at this point, because our boy is okay and that's all that matters.

I had not felt fear like that in my life prior to that drive to the ER and waiting for Cam to wake up. Sitting in the same ER where Cam's best friend, 5-year-old Caellan, had been just two weeks prior, knowing his mom had been feeling a similar heart-wrenching, gut-gripping fear, and knowing that Caellan did not get to go home, left me feeling completely helpless, numb and paralyzed. The thought still brings me to tears.

Shout out to Shawn, because while everyone was sending me texts and love, he was the one shattering in the background helplessly calling 911 and waiting for the ambulance to arrive. <3
It's been a tough start to 2016 for us for more reasons than just the end of an 8 month, 14 day seizure hiatus. I'm hopeful that the next few weeks and months bring less exhausting moments and more, generally relaxed time with our friends and family. Thank you again to all of you who shared well wishes, hugs and prayers last week. They all mean the world to us!

Don't worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Seven Months

A lot has happened in the last 7 months.
Like, a lot.



We closed and moved into our first house.
I registered for my first marathon.
Cam played tee-ball for the first time.
Shawn took up cycling.
Cameron was casted for and received his first AFO.
We all had birthdays.
We got our first puppy together.
Cameron finished Preschool.
He started Kindergarten.
Together we raised $1,000 for CHaD.
I completed my first marathon.
We hosted our first Thanksgiving in our new home.

Lots.

But there is one thing that hasn't happend.

Cameron has been 7 months seizure-free.

For the first time ever in his life.

Those of you who know Cameron well might remember that he had his first visable seizure at about six and a half months old, in March 2011. He was officially diagnosed with epilepsy about a month later, in April 2011. Since then, the longest he had gone seizure-free was 5 months, last September to February. 

He last had a seizure on April 4, 2015. Today is December 4, 2015. 
This milestone doesn't mean anything in terms of the future of his epilepsy or whether he is "cured", but knowing that this is the first time in his life that he hasn't been plagued by seizures for over six months, feels like a miracle. We don't normally talk about how long it's been, and if we do, we spend the entire time we're talking knocking on every piece of wood we can reach. It usually comes up when we are up at Dartmouth for an appointment with the neurologist, and even he'll knock on wood when it's mentioned. I think the last time I wrote a post referencing the "last time he had a seizure", I had to write another post a week or two later saying it didn't last. (knock on wood)

Here's to hoping we can add many more things to our list of going's on, without adding to the list of dates that Cameron has had a seizure. 


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