Determination. Got things to do – people to see – work to deliver. Yesterday, I joined my husband at a local restaurant and our daughter along with her boyfriend, joined us. I had a “spell.”  That’s my word for something weird happened, but not enough of something for me to go to the hospital.

There were physical and mental things happening, but nothing too serious.

No hospital. Why? Because I’ve been often enough to where I know/intuit what they can investigate and what might be life threatening and what is just my lupus body being weird. Very little is more disheartening than being told “Yeah, you seem to have something wrong with you, but nothing we can find. As you are allergic to most pain meds, take some Advil and don’t call us.” I don’t take unreasonable risks.

The determination in the title comes in this morning. I have goals; I have a job. I got up, slowly, and got to my office for work – the commute up the hall is brutal. real story. I also made it to my physical training. I was 5 minutes late and went very slowly. low weight with fewer reps. But I did it. A couple of hours later, I felt back to “normal.”  Maybe a little exhaustion like the body went through some hard, physical labor yesterday, but that’s all.

My conditions may get me down from time to time, but they are not taking me down without an epic battle. So far, I’m winning.  Yeah, I change up the plan, but don’t we all?  It’s not giving up the end goal, it’s just changing tactics according to the environment changing around us to get to the goal in the best manner possible.


Pleased to be your Queen!


This past week, I competed in the Mrs. USA Universal pageant in Reno, NV. You may recall, that I have competed in two prior pageants starting just last year – Mrs. AZ America and Woman of Achievement. LOVED all experiences.



I started because I needed to lose weight. I am not saying skinny is healthy, nor am I saying overweight is unhealthy – but my extra weight is unhealthy. It is diabetic weight. I do NOT want to be diabetic and I had about 50 pounds to lose. I have lost 34. woot woot!

Due to losing weight, eating healthy, and being more active – I am now building muscle and am off what was supposed to be lifetime meds – plaquenil and methotrexate. Can we say “good googli moo?!” This is amazing progress. And I feel better than ever!

The pageants motivate me. I don’t lose weight to compete, I compete to lose weight. And I was the highest scoring woman over 45, so I won Ms. North America Universal Elegance (Elegance being their new division for over 45 years old). I came incredibly close to placing overall, competing against young, gorgeous, intelligent, talented women. I felt like I held my own and not totally a fish out of water.

In fact, I am DANG proud of how I did.

and now I get to go to London to compete for Ms. Universal Elegance. Regardless of how I do there, I now represent this fabulous continent from Mexico to Canada. wow.


I did hair! I haven’t braided hair since I was a younger teen, because my fingers just wouldn’t manipulate well enough. I was obsessed with braiding when I was little, but then my hands got a point where they just wouldn’t do it, and it was so sad I didn’t try again until a week ago, and…. success!

Oh, btw, married now, have a three year-old stepdaughter.

On Mother’s Day

I remem18447021_10212646691513353_7522463041141553912_nber a special moment when I was a single mom in nursing school.  My girls were in the bath one morning. Charis was 1 & Dazlin almost 3 and I was brushing my hair or something when Dazlin said, “Momma, you’re so beautiful.”  Charis, who could not talk well (yet), was nodding her head yes – emphatically. It gave me a warm, loving feeling. I would do anything for these two girls. I felt that then. I feel it now.

At 20, the doctor told me I had a pre-malignant tumor on my ovary. We did surgery and found other complications. I was in my junior year of college on my journey to a PhD.  My doc told me if I ever wanted kids that I needed to get pregnant now. Nope. That did not fit my grand life plan. People joke that I must’ve immediately gone off birth control. Nope. I went on more. And apparently, God knew better than I did – I discovered I was pregnant in the first few weeks of my senior year.  This was after an earlier miscarriage.

I’ve posted about being pregnant before, so I won’t go into those details here. Rather, let me reflect on being a mom. My girls define me. They make me a better person. They make me fight to always do the right thing.

In my daughters’ eyes, I am a hero. I am strong and wise and I know no fear. Though the truth is plain to see [they were] sent to rescue me, I am who I wanna be in my daughters’ eyes. ~ Martina McBride.

This. This is what it means to me to be their mother.


Things I don’t know: to the hospital and beyond.

medicalOne of my doctors once told me that I am so bad about never slowing down, that when I do call her and complain that I don’t feel good, I usually should have been in the hospital two weeks ago. I think she may be right. In February, I did not feel good. And I developed a kidney stone in my left kidney.  I’ve had kidney stones before (in my right kidney) and I don’t go the hospital for them. I take meds to knock me out (note I am allergic to almost everything good, so I have limited choices), drink a gallon of tea, and go to sleep. I wake up. I pee. No more kidney stone.

But this time. the next day, both sides hurt. Right at the waistline – called the flanks. It’s where you put your hands on your waist… that’s the kidney spots. They hurt the next day too. And then I started feeling cold. In Arizona. In 80-90 degree weather. Oops, no thermometer. So my husband bought one on the way home and my temp was 101.9. We went to the ER at Mayo’s – conveniently 2 miles up the road.

Now why the ER? Well, kidney pain. Need fluids likely. Cannot get IV fluids at an urgent care, so ER it is.

I felt kinda silly, walking in on my own, just some kidney pain. But hey, they took my vitals before I could even write my name down – BP was 123/100. whoo boy. temp over 101. pulse 140’s. They took me back, free flowed two liters at a time into me. took lots of blood. They were gonna send me home, but my BP with fluids, dropped to 78/40. So they admitted me.I had pyelonephritis.  I also had sepsis, but they did not tell me that. I knew the symptoms of sepsis and that I met the criteria.

That was Friday. Heck, maybe it was Thursday.

Saturday, Ii was begging to go home. I mean, the ER doc was gonna let me go when I came in except for my blood pressure and my BP was fine now. But see, my pulse wasn’t. It had never lowered below 110. even with IV dilaudid on board (one of the very few I am not allergic to).  I also was having chill spells (shaking, teeth chattering) for about an hour every time the dilaudid wore off. So I swore off the pain meds. Turns out, the dilaudid was keeping those chill spells under control.

So here we go. Saturday night. And my face got numb. And my chest started squeezing. I started getting really hot. And sweating. I don’t sweat. I have sjogrens (in addition to lupus and fibro and celiac, blah blah blah). So I was worried. My husband was sitting in the room with me and I did not want to worry him, so rather than calling the nurse, I just waited for her to come by. Yeah…judgment was a tad off.

When she did come by, she quickly got the doctors and they ran all kinds of tests – heart attack, etc. My platelet count is never high and in stress, it lowers to below 100 (not good). So there could have been any number of things going on. My temp was up to 103 something. I was shaking, short of breath, pain in chest, face numb, not thinking clearly. BP up, pulse up. it was simply ugly. I was truly afraid I was going into septic shock. And sepsis kills otherwise healthy people. The dangers to someone with lupus or other autoimmune issues? – exponentially higher odds.

And then everything stopped.  I went to normal. They gave me one more dose of rocephin IV the next day and discharged me home.

And I was exhausted for three weeks. Not back to “normal” yet. But I did read my discharge summary conveniently posted on the Mayo patient portal. Turns out that in addition to sepsis, I also had acute renal failure. WHAT?

That kind of freaked me out. No one told me that. Um. hello. still a little freaked out, but gonna do the right thing and follow up with docs. I don’t want to die now.

This is what people with lupus, sjogrens, etc. etc. etc. live with. I suppose we all do. You cannot count on the future. You cannot live in the past. We live in the present and should treat it as a gift. I got lucky, by the grace of God.

Excercise bike

Some changes in my life: now have prescription glasses and a fiancé.

Also, giving up the gym membership, got an excercise (stationary) bike from someone off of Facebook marketplace, which is like Craigslist with a built-in communication system. Medium-low quality, 85 bucks. Digital tracking stuff, resistance knob. Orange. Whoo.

It is kicking my butt y’all. Initial goal was 3 miles a day, but I don’t really trust the mileage tracker. Next goal was 20 minutes a day…. which I quickly (embarrassingly quickly) discovered was unsustainable. New goal is ten minutes a day, which I can do in 2-3 sessions. To be fair, it’s been raining constantly and it’s shark week (aka period time), so my knees are all swollen up and awful right now. Eventually I want to up it to 15, then 20. Music helps tremendously. 

Realistic goals are key, otherwise you get all discouraged, and that doesn’t help anything. Break it into manageable chunks, and don’t be embarrassed- only me and my dog see me huffing and pudding and quitting before that red got chili peppers song is actually over (it was almost on the fade out, I swear). 

I’ve already used this bike in three days more than I went to the gym in four months. 

Active Shooter (FBI Civilian Prep & Response)

fbi-active-shooterRun. Hide. Fight. The local FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association hosted a program on Civilian Active Shooter Preparation and Response by the SWAT Senior Team Leader – and it was a packed room. What a terrifying, but amazing program. (He definitely looks better in the picture than yours truly!) The very first lesson was  “No Names.” One of the few consistencies among shooters is the desire for fame. So when talking or teaching, no names of shooters are discussed. They get no fame.

SA Gallante reviewed some of the more prominent active shooter cases in the US, such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and Fort Hood and included incidents from India and Paris. We watched videos (and listened to audio of 911 calls) that were really hard to watch as they were recordings of actual events. One video was of Kristina Anderson, a college student who survived the massacre.

Some of the key points we learned is Run, Hide, Fight. Video Pocket card DHS website This is not a sequence of events necessarily. Its the foundation for options and plans. The following is my recall.

Run: If you can run away, do so. Know where your exits are. The Station  nightclub fire in Rhode Island in 2003 killed 100 people because most tried to get out the same door they came in when there were other exits available – one behind the stage (not viable once the fire took off), one behind the kitchens that was largely unknown, and another exit on the far side. So…know your exits. You don’t have to be paranoid, but when you go into a building be it your work, a restaurant, a theater, whatever – identify your exits. Consider non-traditional exits – windows, punching through drywall, etc. The story of Rick Rescorla is largely unknown, but after a 1993 truck bomb in the world trade center, he practiced escapes with co-workers – who probably teased him unmercifully and got impatient with his drills. However, his plans and preparations saved over 2000 lives on 9/11 and he was last seen going back in for others. So run. Take others with you, but if they won’t go, don’t delay arguing with them – run. Get out, call 911.

Hide. If you can hide, hide well. Get somewhere that you can put up barricades in the entrance. The more barricade the better – heavy items, lots of items. Lock the door, turn out the lights, and turn off phone sounds. Let the attacker think it is an empty room and/or one that he/she cannot get into easily. If it is a door that open inward, find a way to stop it from opening. If it opens outward, restrict the hinges from working. You can even use a belt, rope, electric cord, shirt, plastic bag – anything to put around the handle to pull against to prevent it from opening. And don’t stand in front of the door. But also don’t stand on the other side of the room either (unless you are trying to get out. If the shooter tries to enter, you are a target who cannot fight back if you are on the other side of the room. which leads us to…

Fight. Fight for your life, because it likely is. If you can run away, run away. If you can hide, hide. But if you need to fight, do so with every tool you have and with commitment. If you are hiding in a room and the shooter tries to enter, stand to the side of the door and attack with everything you have. The shooter is there to shoot. If you are where you cannot run and you cannot hide, then you fight, because your life likely depends on it. It’s the last option, but if this is the option you are left with, then commit fully.

SA Gallante was very polite when asked the inevitable questions of civilians with guns. He is trained. And would not likely want to be in a situation with an untrained civilian who has a gun.

What we learned was to have a plan, be prepared. Practice. Don’t be paranoid, but when your brain goes into fight or flight mode – the hands start shaking and those are the ones who die in the horror movies because they cannot get the key in the door of the house or car. Don’t be that person. Learn to calm breathing and think.

Incredibly impactful program.



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