Thursday, February 23, 2017

living with chronic illness

so i posted on instagram a while ago that i deal with chronic illness. i wasn't expecting anything from it, but i had an overwhelming (in a good way) amount of response to it, + lots of questions about it.
hopefully this post helps answer some of those questions, + explain a bit of what it's like living with chronic illness.

i should start by saying that i deal with four chronic illnesses in total. not all of them are as severe as others, but they all debilitate (and aggravate) me just the same.

the first chronic illness: my first chronic illness started when i was in elementary school. i remember sitting in class when my head started to hurt. it got worse real quick, and it physically made me sick. i went home, crying because i was in so much pain, and my mom had no idea what was going on. i couldn't move without feeling sick, and every inch of my head and body screamed at me. it wasn't until she took me to the doctor that i found out i had had a migraine. he said it probably wouldn't be an often occurrence, and to go home and drink a lot of water.

i really wish he had been right.

ever since then, i've gotten more migraines that i can't even begin to guess how many i've had. in college they got so bad i was convinced i would never been pain free again. i was having 3-4 a week, and when i didn't have one, i was busy trying to recover from the last one. my doctor diagnosed me with chronic migraines, and although i'm not able to take medication for them anymore (more on that later), i've tried my fair share of migraine "remedies". none of them help, unfortunately.

if you've never had a migraine, please say a prayer of thanks. they aren't something you can really describe to someone who hasn't had one. your head literally feels like its on fire, that it's going to explode at any given second. you feel like you're underwater; the auras around your eyes make it impossible to focus on anything but the pain. the smallest amount of light feels like sun is 2 inches from your face. the nausea, oh the nausea. it's like morning sickness on steroids. you can't move because the pain literally knocks you back down or makes you throw up.

it's truly awful. if you deal with migraines, i am so sorry.

the second chronic illness: it was only a few months into my marriage when the second illness hit me. i had had a horrible week of stomach pain. i was going on day four of severe nausea, not eating or drinking, not being able to sleep, and horrible pain in my upper stomach. my husband said it was acid reflux, and i tried to treat it on my own for a few days to no avail. on the night of day four, i was in so much pain that i couldn't see straight. my body was literally shaking and i couldn't get it to stop.

i literally thought i was dying.

kyle took me to the ER, and thats when i officially had my first case of pancreatitis.

i say first because since then, i've been hospitalized twice, spent the night at the ER more times than i can count, and have had even more pancreatitis flares than that.

no, i'm not an alcoholic (the main cause of pancreatitis). i simply have chronic idiopathic pancreatitis. 20-30% of chronic pancreatitis cases have no known reason; it simply is. and i'm the lucky few of that 20-30%.

there's nothing anyone can do about it. i simply have to deal with it until it passes, and if it doesn't pass, i go to the hospital for fluids and pain medicine until it does. it's indescribable, just like migraines. the pain feels like you swallowed a knife and its stuck in your stomach. there are many days where i simply can't eat, can't drink, can't do anything but lay there and pray.

because of the number of times i've had pancreatitis, it has damaged my stomach in so many areas. the lining of my stomach is super sensitive, the acid reflux i deal with is insane, the stomach pains and cramps i get is sometimes as bad as a labor contraction. it's basically a waiting game until i get the next flare up. it's the worst game i've ever played.

because of the damage, i'm not able to take a lot of medications. they don't agree with my stomach, and they aren't digested properly. my body quite literally rejects them, so i stay away from any medication i can.

the third/fourth chronic illness: i say three and four, because they are intertwined with each other. some might not view either of these as an illness, and that's okay. but i do. because i deal with both of them on a daily basis, and they can be debilitating. and if you've ever dealt with either of them, then you know how i feel.

according to my doctor, its a generalized anxiety disorder. which basically means i have really bad anxiety, that causes panic attacks. sometimes something triggers it...sometimes my body just gets upset and there's nothing i can do to calm it down.

if you've never had a panic attack, it goes a bit like this: a sense of dread literally fills every fiber of your being. you can't calm it down, and you can't talk over it. you shake, and you can't stop. your body goes into some kind of mode that you can't control. you can't think straight, you can't move. a fiery heat goes through your nerves. your heart feels like its going to beat straight out of your chest. you literally feel like you're going to die right then and there. and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

my anxiety got significantly worse after my first episode of pancreatitis, which is some sort of weird side effect of severe trauma to an organ. who would have thought?

those who deal with any kind of anxiety disorder are more prone to any kind of depression. which is where my "fourth illness" comes in. my doctor had told me that i would be significantly prone to postpartum depression after i gave birth to my daughter. he said if it got bad, he would simply prescribe some medicine and i would be fine.

but as i said ^^ up there, i'm not able to take 99% of medications, so it was back to the waiting game.

i didn't get hit with it right away, and i actually thought i had dodged a bullet.

but then one night, lilli stopped breathing and was taken to the children's hospital. she came so close to death that night, and that's officially when my postpartum depression started. it's not near as bad as it once was, but i still have my moments.

i don't want to go into details with this one, because it's a lot more involved than I have time to explain, and its quite frankly a really difficult subject for me to talk about. there's a lot of people that judge way too harshly when it comes to PPD, and i don't want to be the start of any battle. one day, i might talk about it more. but i don't feel led to talk about to right now. so for now, i'll move on.

this is about the extent of what i deal with day to day, every day of the week. to anyone that doesn't deal with a chronic illness, it's okay if you don't understand. i'm sure there are many that will read this with judgement or confusion. and that's okay. i don't understand things that i don't understand, and that's okay. there's no point in being bitter over something i can't control.

i thankfully have had quite a few friends enter my life who also struggle with chronic illness, and some that don't, that i can vent to, and my husband is the most understanding man i know. he takes care of me more often that i care to admit, and then he turns right around to take care of lilli. he never complains, never gets mad, never holds it against me. he simply lives out his vows every day, and he's my hero for that.

if you do have a friend who suffers from a chronic illness, i hope that you are understanding of them. understanding that sometimes they can't go somewhere, have to cancel plans, have to leave early. they aren't doing it on purpose, and they definitely aren't doing it to hurt you. trust me, it sucks just as much being on this side. it sucks being someone who is completely dependable, but her body isn't. who has to cancel plans because they physically can't go. and feel terrible for days, weeks afterwards because they had to be undependable. instead of being angry with them, love them. offer to come over and watch a movie. offer to watch their kid, make them dinner, or just come over to talk. chronic illnesses aren't contagious, and the only thing you'll catch from us is friendship.

if you struggle with any sort of chronic illness, know that i'm praying for you. i'm praying that one day you won't struggle with any illness anymore, and until that day, that you have the strength to overcome any battle you have. our Heavenly Father is one of miracles, but He's also one of strength. and He is way bigger than any illness that overcomes our earthly bodies.


"I don't want my pain and struggle to make me the victim. I want my battle to be a light to someone's darkness."

xoxo, Brandi

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

valentine's day

happy hump day!! how was your valentines day?! i hope it was {lovely} ;)

we are still recovering from our sugar high from yesterday, but we don't really mind. :)

i didn't capture as many pictures as i wanted to because we literally didn'
i think we still got some pretty good shots though!

we started off the day with attempted heart cinnamon rolls. (see photo below)

hahaha. good thing the taste doesn't change with the way it looks. ;)


oh, and kyle left me this super "sweet" surprise on the kitchen table before we ate:

lilli grabbed over half of them.

after we went out for lunch, we came home and read our valentines day book, did our craft, and made some yummy pink valentines day cookies! i'm so sad i didn't grab an after picture of these, because they were so pretty when they were done cooking!

after lilli ate her dinner, we put her down and kyle made me a special dinner, complete with bacon wrapped steaks, green beans, baked potatoes, and my favorite candy for dessert. he also surprised me with a rose in an antique-looking bottle, which he said was the whole reason he bought it, which made it absolutely perfect. :)

we ended the night watching fixer upper and stuffing our faces with sugar. it was really the best way to end the day. :)

and of course, i had to capture lilli special valentines day outfit:

my heart can't even handle her.

tell me all about your valentines day in the comments!! what was your favorite part?!

xoxo, Brandi

{ps... be sure to check out my post about my favorite small shops, valentines day edition!}

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

anniversary vacation

hi guys! waving hello from reality, haha!

we just got back from our {late} anniversary vacation! if you follow me on social media, then you saw that we had to postpone because lilli got the stomach flu the weekend we were supposed to leave. we were so disappointed, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise!

we just happened to end up rescheduling for the weekend of the town's winterfest, so there were a ton of events happening around the town we visited that we got to experience that we would have missed had we went on our actual anniversary.

but, enough chit chat - i have too many pictures to share!


kyle and i are huge fans of road trips, so we were actually excited to be in the car for 5 hours.

i don't have too many photos of the hotel, but i did grab one of our view. this is technically a lake, you just aren't able to see it because of the snow! it was a beautiful view, and even more beautiful when the sun was setting!

since we arrived so late, we didn't do any exploring. we ordered room service, and watched the rest of This is Us (which, by the way, is AMAZING. have you seen it?!)


saturday we had breakfast at the resort, and then we went exploring around the resort - specifically around the ski slopes and mountain top!

we unfortunately weren't able to go skiing, but we did find the perfect spot to watch. there was a competition going on, so we got to see some pretty amazing skiers and we had a blast watching them.

we also went ice skating, which was so much fun - i love to ice skate, and the rink was right in front of the tallest slope, so we got to skate while watching people ski. they had the radio on, and everyone had a drink in their hand. it was the best time!

saturday night we went to a local restaurant that is one of the most popular in the area, and that's when we stumbled upon the winterfest activities.
people from all around the country come to this town and carve a bunch of different things into a big mountain of snow. it was freezing, but it was beautiful to look at with all the lights. 

there was also an ice bar, and i'm so sad i didn't grab a picture because it was gorgeous. it was this giant igloo inspired snow globe with a bunch of lights all around it and reflecting off the ice. there were people everywhere and they had music playing. it was definitely a scene to see!

dinner was really good, and we had a lot of fun relaxing at the restaurant and enjoying dinner. my favorite drink ever is an amaretto sour, and they had one of the best ones i've ever tasted! if they weren't so expensive, i probably would have gotten more, haha!


sunday we went back to the town area to explore it in the daylight. we saw the lake at night, but it was nothing compared to how it looked during the day. it was completely frozen, and they let people walk on the lake, within the marked areas. it was one of the coolest experiences i've ever had, and we stayed on the lake for a good 30-45 minutes. i couldn't get over how beautiful it was, and kyle had to pull me away to go to lunch!

after we ate lunch, we went to look around the downtown district. we went antiquing, and saw some of the cutest (and coolest) little shops. 

sunday night, even though we were on vacation, we still watched the Super Bowl. it's one of my favorite events and weekends of the year, and we definitely weren't not watching it, haha! we ordered room service and drinks, and hung out in our room and yelled at the tv, lol! it's a good thing we were in a corner room because we were definitely upset. we aren't falcons fans, but we supremely dislike the pats. but, it was a good game and kyle and i had a blast watching it from the comfort of our king size bed and being waited on by room service, haha!

we had such a great vacation, and although it's going to be rough getting back into the normal swing of things, we are so happy to have our lilli back in our arms! it was our first chunk of time without her, and we missed her. but it was great having "us" time :) {thanks grandma and grandpa!!}

have a happy week!!

xoxo, Brandi

Thursday, February 2, 2017

little shop love | v-day edition

if you're new to my blog, i should just tell you one thing up front:
i'm a huge small shop lover and supporter.

i frequently talk about small shops here on the blog and on my instagram, + i'm going to be starting a new series on here called {little shop love}, because if you know me, you know i use the word {little} like it's my last name.

oh wait. ;)

so here's my very first {little shop love}, valentine's day edition:

i love you more sign from hand lettered hope || this sign is beautiful, so well made, + the shop owner taylor has the sweetest soul, + the best handwriting ever! you can see her instagram here, + her shop here!

teething necklace from the vintage honey shop || i've talked about the vintage honey shop sooo many times on here, + my love for them continues! they are the shop to go to if you need a cute teething necklace. you can see their instagram here, + their shop here!

bow from marty and penelope || brittany from marty and penelope + i have been in close collaboration for the past few months, and her bows are so unique, affordable, + beautiful! you can see her instagram here, + her shop here! {use code XOXO20 for a discount off your purchase!}

cozy from little stitches by brandi little || yes, this is my shop, but i had to add it in! it's my first year doing a valentine's day line, + it definitely put me in the valentine's day mood! you can see my shop instagram here, + my shop here! {use code LSBBL for a discount off your purchase!}

earrings from pearls and prim || amanda from pearls and prim has some the most gorgeous, handmade jewelry pieces i've ever seen. her druzy pieces are some of my favorite, + they add the perfect accessory to any outfit! you can see her instagram here, + her shop here. {use code BRANDIJO10 for a discount off your purchase!}

clip from tokyo blossom || i use these clips for literally everything, from bookmarks to planner clips to cook book page savers! julie from tokyo blossom has so many cute items in her shop to make your life just a bit prettier :) you can see her instagram here, and her shop here!

xoxo, Brandi