Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Buying Meat On A Budget

Michael and I frequently have conversations regarding the fact that God takes care of us in all ways, including financially. One of these conversations happened two nights ago. We were marveling at how the money for Christmas has just fallen into our laps through different opportunities becoming available at the perfect time.

One of the hardest things to do when living on a budget that is stretched is buying meat. We don't buy meat based on the recipes I have planned for the week. We buy meat based on the Manager's Special stickers at our local grocery store and find a recipe. We have come across some pretty awesome deals throughout the years and are very thankful for these blessings.

You can do this too! It's simple...make frequent quick trips to your local grocer (preferably when you are already passing by for another reason...Michael stops by on his way home almost daily) and keep an eye out for those orange (or whatever color your grocer uses) sticker! Easy as that!

Yesterday we received an AMAZING blessing!


Michael made one of his daily runs to the store...this time to pick up ingredients for some Thanksgiving recipes I needed to whip up...and made his usual stop by the meat display. He saw a man standing by the case with a price gun printing up Manager Special stickers and started up a conversation with him.

This is where we struck GOLD!

There was a TON of chicken that had to be sold by the following day, but the store was closing early the next day. He asked Michael what all he would take if he could get a good price on it. My Michael, ever looking for the best bargain he can get, asked how cheap the packs would be.

The guy with the price gun said some packs as low as a dollar!

Michael told him he would buy it all if it was a dollar. The guy took him literally.

As the guy started marking every pack of chicken in the case down to $1.00, a crowd started to develop. There were some complaints from others that Michael was getting all of the packs handed straight to him, but a deal was a deal and the guy honored it. And as soon as he was done, Michael kept his head down and went straight to check out.

When Michael was finishing up loading the trunk, a guy he knows runs out with meat in his arms and says to Michael, "He's doing the pork now!" So, Michael ran back in, but all that was left was three full racks of ribs. And they were marked down to $2-$3! He was so excited and bought all three packs!

So that was how God blessed us with $180 worth of meat for $28! Here is the breakdown of what we got:

8 - 2 lb packs of boneless skinless packs
6 - packs of 14 full wings
4 - packs of 12 drumsticks
2 - packs of 8 thighs
3 - racks of ribs

That is at least 43 meals...coming out to $.65 per meal for BOTH of us for the meat portion! Guess what we are eating at our house for the next few months! ;)

I am so incredibly thankful for this blessing...reminds me of an old favorite..."Praise God from whom all blessings flow!"


Monday, November 25, 2013

Ryder's Battle with Fevers (Part 6)

Need to catch up?  Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5

The blood draws went on. Praise God for Nurse C! (I'll get back to Nurse K next time)

Nurse C started helping us out our second time in, but at first we didn't know her schedule and had to deal with some other nurses. Nurse C could usually get enough blood and with minimal trauma for everyone involved. She listened to me.

You see, every other nurse would not listen when I told them they were better off trying to get it while he was on my lap. Previous nurses had learned the hard way exactly how strong my little man was and how distraught he could get when held down on a table by 4+ adults. He became too scared and too distraught immediately when laid on a table and held down.

And can you blame him? Imagine being held down by four or more people 10 times larger than you, being stuck with a needle and you have absolutely no idea why it being done.

Not ONCE did they get blood by holding him down on a table. Not One. Single. Time. He was too strong to be held still. But what do I know, I'm just the mom.



I had rearranged my work schedule so that we could be at the office in time to have Nurse C do the draws each time. She left promptly at a certain time each day. If we were late, we were out of luck. We were very mindful of that and made sure we were early each time.

We were on week 3 at this point and arrived 10 minutes early. The line was to the door. I didn't think anything about it because we were early. We finally get up to the front, and I check Ryder in.

There was a note on Ryder's appointment that he was to see Nurse C. I reminded the lady checking us in that we were there to see Nurse C and that she needed to know immediately that we are there because she would be leaving soon. I was assured that she would be notified and instructed to go have a seat.

The line took up the 10 minutes we were early. From where I was sitting, I could see Nurse C at the call-in desk. I watched as 10 more minutes went by. I went up and said something again, but nothing was done. Another 10 minutes passed. I skipped the lady at the front and went through the door and around to the side. By this point I am practically frantic. I could not go through a repeat of the first time. There were only 10 more minutes until Nurse C left and we were still waiting. The lady that I talked to that time did actually get up and go tell Nurse C.

We were called back and a different nurse came in. I asked where Nurse C was and was informed in a very snippy tone that since we didn't get there until 20 after and Nurse C left at 30 after, we were not going to see her.



I did burst into tears at this point. I told her that we had been waiting for a HALF HOUR, that I had told the lady Nurse C needed to be notified immediately and that was not our fault.  I think my tears unnerved her at little because she softened considerably.

Another nurse came in that was supposed to be just as good as Nurse C, so I relaxed until she demanded that Ryder be put on the table or she would not even attempt to draw his blood.

I refused. I tried telling her everything I had told Nurse C. I explained that it wouldn't work with him on the table. I explained that Nurse C did it with him on my lap very quickly and it was a system that worked. But she just simply refused. So they left us to discuss it.

After 20 minutes, they came back and Michael had convinced me that they were professionals and know what they are doing. I was giving them two tries and that was it. I know that seems harsh, but they had been sticking the same vein in the same arm Every. Single. Time. I was sick of seeing Ryder go through this.

Needless to say, the nurse did not get blood from Ryder, and I had had enough.

To be continued...(Continue reading here for part seven - part eight)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ryder's Battle with Fevers (Part 5)

Need to catch up?  Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

The specialist wanted us to have blood draws twice a week for two weeks in addition to a blood draw the day of our appointment. We weren't really sure what exactly she was looking for, but she acted like it was the norm and the only way to figure out which of the three categories Ryder had.

So we go down to the Riley's blood draw station on the day of his appointment. These ladies are amazing at what they do. And even they could only find one vein in Ryder's arm that they would even attempt to draw from. She was in and out in less than five minutes. It was hard to see Ryder so scared, but we didn't think we had any other choice.

On the way home, Michael and I talked it over. We weren't too sure about going for a full six weeks. That would be 13 blood draws in just over 6 weeks. We decided to talk to Dr. D about it.

We had no idea how bad it would become. The first time we went in to have his blood drawn at his pediatrician's office, it was beyond a nightmare. I can't go into the details. It was the worst hour and a half of my life as a mom...and honestly, I still can't tell the details without sobbing uncontrollably. So please just take my word, it was something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.



The end of the first attempt was called by us and by Dr. D, no blood was drawn. Enough was enough. They weren't getting anywhere, and we were done watching Ryder go through it all. Dr. D came in and talked with us. He gave us some recommendations of nurses that we could request for the blood draws and listened to our concerns. He did not see why we needed to come in twice a week for 6 weeks or why it couldn't be a heel prick. He assured us that his office would call the specialist's office and try to get that straightened out. He hated seeing Ryder go through that as much as we did and wanted to get the necessary data while not traumatizing Ryder or us.

I received a call from Dr. D's office the next day saying that the specialist would not budge on what she wanted. Dr. D had even talked to her himself and she wouldn't change her orders.

Michael and I talked it over and decided we would give it a try for a short period of time so the specialist would know that we were trying to be cooperative, but we were not going the full 6 weeks.

I received a phone call at the beginning of the week after our appointment from the specialist herself and felt a little reassured by our conversation.




However, in the following three weeks, I was only able to get the specialist's nurse, Nurse K, on the phone...and there were many, many phone calls. Each time I spoke with Nurse K, my confidence in the specialist, in what we were going through with the blood draws and about what to do about all of this plummeted.

To be continued...(Continue reading here for part six - part seven - part eight)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ryder's Battle with Fevers (Part 4)

Need to catch up? Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

Red flag #1: When I asked questions regarding some research I did online. She seemed defensive. I can't imagine I am the first parent to come into her office that had done their research.

Then we came to possible treatments. Dr. F was pretty sure he had PFAPA, and was very set on steroids being the only option until Ryder turns two. When he turns two, he can have his tonsils and adenoids removed, which has a high success rate of eliminating the fevers. 

Red flag #2: When I mentioned another form of medicine used, she paused and just looked at me...then said, "How did you know about that?" She said it with a kind of wonder and edge in her voice that let me know she was not pleased. I found that so odd. Why did it seem like she didn't want me to know about any other options than the ONE she was placing before us? 

Red flag #3: When I started asking questions regarding the steroid treatment. She brushed them aside and wouldn't answer my questions directly. Now keep in mind that the steroids used for treatment of PFAPA aren't the same steroids you hear about in the news that body builders and athletes use illegally. But the word itself can strike fear into a parent who has a child in the most crucial years of physical development and is being told the only way to make them better is to use a steroid. I truly needed some reassurance that there was no possible way this medicine could hurt my child in the here and now and in the long run. I was offered nothing more than a, "Oh yea, it is fine." Not an ounce of reassurance.


There are three different categories of Periodic Fevers. Genetic, Cyclic Neutropenia and PFAPA. All of them sounded terrifying in their own right.

Genetic

With how Ryder was growing and developing on track and because of our ancestry, she told us that the genetic category was highly unlikely. He didn't show any signs that were specific to the genetic category at all. They could also rule this category out by checking his SED rate. So they did a SED rate blood draw that day. He had just finished a fever one week before (which means his SED rate could have been more than double) and is rate came back slightly elevated. Dr. F said this was completely normal since he had just had a fever and she would just get another one later, so she wasn't concerned.

PFAPA

There is not a test for PFAPA. It is a diagnosis of exclusion..meaning that if they ruled the other two out, then it is PFAPA. PFAPA is the most common though...and the one that is treated with steroids and later with the surgery.

Cyclic Neutropenia

Cyclic Neutropenia is the one they were looking to rule out at this point. If Ryder had CN, then taking the steroid would lower his already lowered immune system and cause him to be more susceptible to becoming seriously ill. However, when we found out how exactly they determine if he has it or not, we were in the place that no parent wants to be. 

Do you trust the physician without question or do you trust your gut that something isn't right?


Monday, November 11, 2013

Momma's Drop Chicken 'n Dumplins

I am not very good at planning out what is for dinner. You would think that as much as I cook that there has to be some kind of plan behind it.

Nope. Fly-By-The-Seat-of-My-Pants McGee here.

There are many nights where I have Michael pick an ingredient up on the way home from work (so much for having dinner on the table for him when he arrives! ha!) because I haven't thought ahead and planned.



Luckily, I have a few recipes that are my go-to recipes for when I really haven't planned. And Momma's Drop Chicken 'n Dumplins is at the top of that list.

Momma's momma actually taught her this recipe and it is on at least it's third generation as a family favorite. I don't know if Gramma learned it from her Momma or not. She passed away before I had any interest in cooking or asking her about her recipes, but her wonderful recipe and contagious laughter live on with us thanks to my Momma.


This is seriously easy.

Fill up a large pot 2/3 full with water, drop in 4-5 bullion cubes and bring to a boil.

While the water is getting to a boil, cut up 3 large chicken breasts into small pieces.

Once you have a rolling boil, put the cut up chicken in the water to cook.

While you are waiting for the chicken to pop to the top, cut up your biscuits into fourths.

Once the chicken is floating on the top, throw in your biscuits making sure they are separated.

I usually have to stir them in because I like a LOT of dumplins.

When all of the dumplins have plumped up, you are ready to serve it up and enjoy!

Momma's Drop Chicken 'n Dumplins












Ingredients
  • 2-3 Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 3-4 Tubes of Regular Biscuits
  • 4-5 Bullion Cubes

Directions
  • Fill up a large pot 2/3 full with water
  • Drop in bullion cubes
  • Bring to a boil
  • While the water is coming to a boil, cut up chicken breasts into small pieces
  • Once you have a rolling boil, put the cut up chicken in the water to cook
  • While waiting for the chicken to pop to the top, cut biscuits into fourths
  • Once the chicken is floating on top, throw in biscuits making sure they are separated
  • Stir to make sure all dumplins get into the water
  • Serve when all of the dumplins have plumped up

Note: I am participating in Indiana's Family of Farmers Table Talk Series and received a gift in exchange for my participation.

Ryder's Battle with Fevers (Part 3)

If you are just joining this journey, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 and catch up.

Dr. D wanted to see Ryder during his next fever so he could examine him thoroughly. We didn't have to wait too long. Two weeks after his appointment, Ryder started another fever. 

Unfortunately, his fever started after Dr. D's hours on a Monday and Tuesday is his day off. I was told that he was booked solid on Wednesday. I explained that he had requested we come in during his fever and that Wednesday would likely be the last day. The nurse said she would check with Dr. D on Wednesday morning and see what he wanted to do.  Dr. D worked us in on Wednesday morning...he is awesome like that.


After examining Ryder, Dr. D was even more confident that he has some kind of cyclic fever...what is more widely know as Periodic Fever Syndrome. He explained that it is very rare and that he usually sees one case of it every few years or so. While we were in the office Dr. D called Riley to talk to a specialist there that dealt with Periodic Fever Syndromes on a regular basis. The specialist confirmed that the symptoms suggested that Dr. D was correct. So Dr. D's office put in a request for us to go to the specialist at Riley's.

We were contacted the following week with an opening on that Thursday. They had someone cancel on them and wanted to know if we could make it. Fortunately, we could. So we loaded Ryder up and took him to Indianapolis for his appointment later that week. 

Sidenote: Ryder took his first steps in the patient room at Riley. He had taken 3-5 steps together before that, but while we were waiting for the doctor, he walked about 10 feet. It was the bright spot of the day.


We met with the nurse...then the lady doing her residency (sorry...not sure what to call her)...then finally with Dr. F. She took her time with us and seemed to be very well informed. There was so much information thrown at us that I honestly couldn't take it all in. I tried writing things down as best I could..but there was simply too much information. 

She seemed very knowledgeable. I thought we were in the right place and going to get this figured out...but then a red flag went up.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ryder's Battle with Fevers (Part 2)

If you are just joining me...check out Part 1 first.


After I took Ryder's temperature, I took him inside the restaurant to wait on Michael. I figured that the air conditioning inside would be better than the June heat outside. 

While I was inside waiting for Michael, the ladies behind the counter noticed Ryder's fire engine red cheeks and asked about him. And of course, as it always seems to happen, one of the ladies had an absolutely terrifying personal story from her childhood that involved a high fever. I was close to panicking. 


I called Ryder's pediatrician's office. Yet again the nurse (and it was never the same nurse) seemed unconcerned that his fever was above 105. I thought they would send us packing to the nearest hospital, but they gave us instructions on how to cool him down and told us we were far enough out from the last time we gave him Tylenol that we could give him Iburpofen, but to definitely not give him Tylenol at this point because it was too soon. 

So we stopped and got some Ibuprofen, did our best to get Ryder as cool and comfortable and possible and we hit the road. Luckily, he cooled down enough that he could nap while we drove, and we got home as fast we could. Ryder's fever was in the 102 range by the time we got home...I never thought I would be so happy to see 102 on a thermometer! And by Monday evening it was gone.


We already had his one year appointment with his new pediatrician scheduled for the week after vacation, so I was biting at the bit to discuss everything with him. And the day of Ryder's appointment I received a call that the doctor was sick and we needed to reschedule. I was disappointed, but knew he couldn't help it. Then they told me that the soonest they could reschedule it was over a month out. I was livid to say the least. Momma bear came out and after talking to three different people and threatening to go to a different office from here on out, magically an appointment became available less than a week out.

I am glad we were able to get in with Dr. D. We fell in love with him on our first visit. He had them do a more thorough exam than I had ever seen done and really took time to interact with Ryder and get to know him. He seemed to be caring and protective of our son instantly. It was amazing. When I described to him what had been happening with the fevers, he didn't blow me off. He didn't tell me that I was paranoid. He said two words that put definition to what was changing how normal was defined in our house...

Cyclic Fevers.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ryder's Battle with Fevers (Part 1)

We've been dealing with something for a while now that I thought I would share with you. Please know that I do not share this with you to whine and complain, but to inform. Most doctors have never even heard of this.

What we have been dealing with is extremely rare and most have no idea what it is. Heck, we are still learning ourselves. While it is has been and will continue to be a trial and hard to go through as a family, we are extremely lucky. There are much worse things that we could be faced with. We praise God that our burden is as light as it is.


So what is it that we have been dealing with?

On May 28th(I remember the date because it was the night before a huge golf outing I was organizing) Ryder had a fever. I called his doctor’s office and was told by a nurse that we could bring him in if we wanted to, but we could also wait 3 days to see if his fever went away. If he still had a fever after 3 days, then call back and get an appointment. I even called back the following day when his fever went upwards of 104 degrees. Still they weren’t concerned even though I was near frantic.

I knew what would happen if we went in. They would do a strep test (he was drinking and eating, so I knew his throat felt fine), glance at his ears (he wasn't acting like his ear were hurting at all, so I was pretty sure that wasn't it) and declare that he had a virus and it would be gone by the third day.

You see at the beginning of May, Ryder had a virus. I didn't know this at the time. I just knew he was sick, so we took him to the doctor. We were actually between pediatricians at the time. Our wonderful Dr. H had moved to a different office and we were waiting on Dr. D to move into the office. This office has a ton of doctor’s, and I didn’t think anything of having an appointment with Dr. S (Enough initials for you yet?! Don’t worry, it gets simpler in just a bit.). That was, until we actually had an appointment with Dr. S. She did the strep test, barely looked at Ryder, didn’t listen to me at all, concluded that he had some kind of virus and scooted us right on out the door.

I was completely stunned. I had no problem with it being a virus, but I have had longer visits with an express checkout lady! Dr. H had always been so attentive and caring and always listened to us to find out what was going on with Ryder and looked him over head to toe, so I was knocked for a loop. Ryder was over his virus in a few days, and we went on about our lives. But when I heard what the nurse said at the end of May, I figured it was probably another virus and not worth it to get Ryder out when he was feeling lousy to just be basically ignored and shoved back out the door.


So we waited. Sure enough at almost 72 hours on the dot the fever was gone.(Thankfully, since Ryder’s 1st birthday party was on day four.) I doubted myself and my gut feeling that there was something more that wasn’t right. It was too soon after his virus. His fever went much higher than it ever had before. It just didn't seem right. However, the nurses at his pediatrician's office seemed unconcerned. I was counting the days until Dr. D joined their office so we could have someone to truly discuss our concerns with again. 

Fast forward two weeks and one day from the end of his last fever. We are on our way back from our vacation heading toward my best friend and her husband’s house in Tennessee. (It’s great when your best friend lives in the Smokies! You can always stop by on your way to and from Florida!) Ryder was getting fussy about two hours out from their house. We pulled over to see what was wrong. He was a little warm. It wasn’t bad, but we could tell that he was in pain, so we gave him some medicine. He took a nap and was alright by the time we got there.


However, in the middle of the night, his fever spiked up and we had one of those long nights that every parent has been through when your baby is sick. We took turns holding him while the other one slept. (I am very lucky to have such a wonderful partner in this parenting thing.)

Ryder’s fever went down a little. We were at least 6 hours out and had to get home. So we gave him a dose of medicine and got on the road. Before it was time for his next dosage, he was wailing. We pulled over and got him out. He was on fire. His skin was almost painful to touch. I quickly took his temperature while Michael ran inside a restaurant to wet a rag to try and cool him down.

His fever was at 105.3 and we were hours from home, hours from anyone we knew, hours from his doctor. We were terrified.

To be continued…(Continue reading here for part two - part three - part four - part five - part six - part seven - part eight)
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