Expect Delays...

Monday, February 29, 2016

I've been busy prepping for the new Blog Makeover for months now, and the time is finally upon us! 
I'm also re-branding all my social media stuff this week, so don't freak out if things start looking a little wonky. 
This face - means you're still in the right place. ;D

What you can expect in 2016...

Monday, February 22, 2016

I'm sure no one remembers this, but my resolution waaaaay back in 2014 was to Be Myself. (hence the pink hair.) After all the craziness that has happened over the past year though, it really feels like I have changed. Well, not changed exactly...kinda just become more comfortable with myself.

Strokes are the 2nd leading cause of death worldwide, and the #1 cause of long term disabilities in adults. I try to gloss over those facts and pretend that what happened over the past few months was no big deal. Most of those stats are for the over 65 crowd anyway right? Right? I'm not a doctor, so I have no idea. What I do know is I was very lucky not to have any lasting physical or mental side effects. I mean, I could be re-learning how to read right now instead of writing this to you!

That's definitely a life-altering experience, and it seemed only right that the blog should change as well. So here are a few of the changes that you can expect around here during 2016.


Most notably - the blog is getting a makeover and a new name! Sugar Tart Crafts will now be know as Stitch and Pink.

I've contracted the amazing Sarah from Spun Monkey to migrate all the STC goodness from Blogger over to Wordpress, and give it an amazing face-lift. Sarah's a very busy lady, so the changes wont go live until March, but I promise to give you plenty of warning and sneak peeks before then.

Tip of the Week:

That's right - Tip of the Week posts are coming back, and this time they are going to be videos! 

Almost since the beginning, I've wanted to share my Sewing 101 binder from college. Most of the students who were majoring in Fashion Design were doing it because the loved shopping. They had absolutely NO idea how to use a sewing machine, and this class weeded out the kids who needed to change their majors to Fashion Merchandising instead. ;P 

The binder however was awesome for those of us who actually knew how to/enjoyed sewing. It's full off plastic sleeves containing our own examples of different sewing techniques. Ex. We would sew a sample patch pocket and file it in the pocket section. This would let us practice a bunch of techniques and use them later for reference. 

My plan is to make a Youtube series showing you how to create your own Sewing Binder that includes; seams, seam finishes, hems, zippers, darts, facings, pockets, collars, closures, and any other useful stuff I can think of. Fun right!?
All that info will probably take us well into next year since it's only one video a week, but it's an invaluable reference for any seamstress, so I figure it's worth the wait. And if I'm being completely honest... most of my blogging income comes from ads on my Youtube channel. I'm not ashamed to admit I have medical bills that need all the help they can get!. ;D 

Etsy Collections:

If you've been around for awhile, you've probably noticed that I like to make cute kid's clothes collections. (say that 5x fast!) If you're new - here's the Nautical one from 2013 and the Indie Pattern one from 2014. A LOT of work goes into planning and creating these sets, so I've decided to go all out and sell them as Limited Edition collections on Etsy. 

Each season I'll curate a group of 8-10 pieces and sew up 1 or 2 of each size. I'll do a launch on the blog showing the different outfits, and a few related tutorials. Then I'll add the looks to my shop and once they're gone, they're gone. Then we'll move on to the next season and start it all over again. 

Collection development is actually my favorite part of sewing, so if these turn out to be really popular, maybe I'll expand them. We'll have to see how it goes. First launch should be Early June! *fingers crossed*

My Style:

I'm pretty sure you guys can sense some of my quirky/sarcastic attitude in the way I write my posts. You can hopefully tell when I'm rolling my eyes at my children, or laughing at myself for being a huge dork. And let's just say, there's gonna be a whole lot more of that! 

Who knows what the future may hold, but these are my plans as of today.

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Update For those of you not already following on Instagram: My heart surgery took place on the 4th, and everything went perfectly! The doctors have already done a post-op echo that shows everything is working as it should. Now I just have 2 more checkups (on the 25th & in 6 months) and I'm completely done!

What's it like to have a stroke in your 30's?

Monday, January 11, 2016

I know this is a SUPER long post, and you really wont hurt my feelings if you don't read it. I just needed to get it all written down for posterity's sake, and to have somewhere to direct folks who either want to know about my stroke or have had one themselves. Also, the pictures have nothing to do with anything obviously. Puppies & kittens are just cuter than hospital rooms & their unwashed occupants!

I planned to post this last Friday, but since I had my surgical consult with the cardiologist that morning, I figured why not wait til I had all the information, right? But let's start from the beginning...

Monday November 23rd, I woke up just before 6am with the headache from hell. There was so much pressure in my head that I could barely think straight, but I remember wondering if this is what it felt like to be stabbed in the eye. 

Ant was already awake & getting ready for work, so I stumbled downstairs and mumbled that I needed Tylenol. Badly. I wasn't trying to talk since I was still half asleep, but I must have gotten the message across that I was in a lot of pain, because he helped me back to bed, and set up a show to keep the kids busy when they woke up.

He left for work around 7:30-ish, just after the kids wandered down and started watching tv. I heard all that happening, but laid in bed for awhile still feeling like crap. Sometime after 8:00 I pulled out some clothes for Aurelia, packed her lunch, and threw some pop-tarts on the table in hopes that the kids could fend for themselves while I laid back down for another 20 minutes. 

When I turned off the tv and told Aurelia what to do, she looked at me like I had six heads, so I rolled my eyes and repeated myself s-l-o-w-l-y. (If you have a kindergartner, you know the drill.) She was still looking at me like I was a doofus and said "Mommy, I can't understand anything you're saying." I tried one more time, and realized that she was right. I was slurring like nobody's business! 

After I got the kids to the table, I called Anthony and slowly stuttered out "Aurelia...doesn't...understand." To which he replied "No crap, Aurelia never understands!" So I struggled "No.   Head...pain.   Home...now." Until he finally realized that something was wrong and turned his car around to come home.

 It's funny looking back, how my biggest concern was keeping Anthony and the kids from freaking out. I really didn't want to scare them, but it never occurred to me that I might be having a stroke! We dropped the kids off with our neighbor and headed to the ER anyway.

In the ER, nurses kept asking me the same questions over & over, and I felt like an idiot as I haltingly struggled through the same replies, with Ant as my interpreter when necessary. My vision also blurred completely in my right eye. Keeps getting better, right?

The ER visit was such a whirlwind that I don't remember everything, but I know I was covered in electrodes, iv tubes, and heart rate monitors, and had a CT scan, CTA scan, chest x-rays, and a skype type interview with a neurologist in another state. 

The results from those tests claimed that I was suffering from something called a Cluster Headache, and they were preparing to release me. A few minutes later though, a Dr. came by claiming that one of the multitude of Drs thought he may have seen a clog in my artery, and I needed to stay for an MRI too. A whole hour in a loud thumping head cage for someone who is slightly claustrophobic - Good times!!

The MRI confirmed that I did indeed have a stroke, and would be staying the night at the very least. While all that was happening, my speech was very slowly returning. I could say short sentences of very small words by the afternoon (think Spot books), and Ant kept giving me larger words to practice. Of course the smart-ass thought it was hilarious to have me try Supercalifragilistic, but even something as simple as Portland Cement was impossible to repeat. It definitely made me understand why toddlers throw tantrums when they can't get their point across. :/

Finally, they admitted me into the hospital proper and let me chill for the rest of the day still hooked up to electrodes, iv bags, and heart rate monitors. Ant was nice enough to order me a pizza since I hadn't eaten all day, and then I began the process of calling all the family. Of course they were utterly shocked by the news (and later told me that I sounded totally drunk on the phone), but I assured them I was ok and would call back as soon as I was out of the hospital.

The next morning, it was like my brain had completely reset itself over night. My vision and speech were totally back to normal, and everything was lookin' great! I felt SO ridiculously lucky!

Until the doctor came to send me for an echo-cardiogram after sharing the news that; "When someone so young and healthy has a stroke, it can usually be attributed to a hole in their heart called a patent foramen ovale (PFO). Everyone has this hole at birth, since it allows blood to by-pass the lungs in utero. It's supposed to close shortly after you're born, but for about 1 in 5 people, it either never closes, or pops back open as they get older. It's normally not a big deal... BUT this little hole allows blood clots to jump from one side of the heart to the other, and go straight to the brain where it can cause a stroke." How awesome is that!?

So... I went for my first contrast echo which showed nothing and went back to my room. Then the echo-cardiologist requested that I have a second "bubble" echo. They hauled me downstairs again and squirt little air bubbles through my veins this time, to watch if any of them jumped through this possible hole. They did, and the echo-cardiologist requested that they do a third transesophageal echocardiogram where they knock you out and shove the ultrasound wand down your throat to get a closer picture. I can feel your jealousy from here. -_-

Unfortunately, since you can't eat or drink before hand, they had to put that off until the next day. Instead they sent me to have ultrasounds done on my legs to check for blood clots which luckily weren't there. 

A burst IV vein and another night with nurses taking 8 viles of blood at 4am later...and I was ready to get the tests over with! I still had to pass the communication one though, to see if I would require speech, reading, or writing therapy. They just showed me pictures, had me remember a few words, and read and write a little bit, but like I said, everything had reset to normal. I thought the therapist was going to cry she was so happy to have a patient recover so completely. ^-^

Then they finally wheeled me away. I obviously don't remember anything from the last echo since they knocked me out, but I know I woke up with a slightly sore throat, and wanted to go home. Now! But no - I had to sit around for hours while I waited for this or that doctor to visit, write more prescriptions, and fill out more paper work. Of course my second IV vein burst while I was waiting, and when they finally told me a wheelchair was coming to cart me out, I said "forget it!" and just got up and left on my own.

So November 25th around 6pm (the night before Thanksgiving) I finally escaped the hospital.
And all I wanted in my whole life was a cheeseburger! :D

Since then it's been a merry-go-round of doctors, but luckily most of the results have been positive!

Primary Dr. -  Put on Asprin & Lipitor because all stroke patients apparently take cholesterol meds.
Neurologist - Cleared of any permanent issues
Hematologist - Cleared of any genetic or protein based clotting disorders & taken off blood thinners
Psychologist - Obviously stressed out but not sinking back into depression gold star
Gynecologist - Surgery to remove my tubes since birth control is no longer an option 
Cardiologist #1 - Wants to close the PFO but doesn't do that surgery himself - referred to #2
Cardiologist #2 - Tested the size of the hole & surgery is being scheduled within the month

Now I just sit and wait for the nurses to call and pick a date for the surgery.  Apparently I won't even be put under this time. They'll just drug me a little and then go through my femoral artery, up the pipes, and put a stint thingy in to close up the hole. Then I'll have one night in the hospital for observation, and so they can double check the stint is in the right place, and this whole ordeal should be over. They said I'll be back in action the next day.

Considering everything that's happening - I actually feel pretty great. I'm a bit worn out from the holidays, the stress of running everywhere and listening to doctors ramble on about the same things over and over, but physically I'm good. 

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Want to learn the more about PFOs? 
This article from the American Heart Association is a great start.

Let's talk about depression...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

On Monday I explained what has been happening around here for the past year and shared a little bit about my struggle with depression. I kinda glazed over everything in an attempt to condense 15 months into a few short paragraphs that wouldn't bore everyone to tears. Today though, I'd like to go a little bit more in-depth about my experience. I know it has absolutely nothing to do with sewing or crafting, but depression and anxiety has become something that's part of my life now, and it's really important to me that you know that. 

Since most sewing/craft blogs love to create for babies, there are always posts here and there bringing attention to postpartum depression. They all say that we need to take care of ourselves and accept help so we can get better. There's never any talk though about regular ol' depression. Don't get me wrong, I think it's wonderful that we've go a conversation going about postpartum, and it's become more "acceptable" to struggle with it and ask for help. I just want to start the same kind of discussion for depression and anxiety...and all the other disorders like them too.

When I was at my lowest point (achy, crying over every. little. thing, and never leaving my bed), I called a friend one evening crying about how I wanted to kick my husband out of the house. What had he done you might wonder? My friend even asked if he might be cheating on me? Nope. Nothing like that at all. I was just so desperate to be alone with my misery that I wanted him gone! Trust me, I'm well aware that's probably one of the dumbest things you've ever heard. But the first thing you need to understand is...
Depression doesn't make sense!

Most of the time, people who suffer from depression know that they are being unreasonable. There's just nothing they can do to stop it. Knowing that you're depressed makes you anxious...that anxiety makes you more depressed...more anxiety, more depression, more anxiety, more depression, and Ta Da! Now you're on what I like to call the Carousel of Doom. *muah ha ha ha ha*

Getting off this carousel takes either a whole lot of motivation (which is hard to come by obviously) or the intervention of someone on the outside. In my case it was my husband's agreement that I should visit the doctor to have my thyroid checked. At the time, I KNEW I needed to go to the doctor, and I KNEW I was likely suffering from depression, but I couldn't admit it out loud yet. 

Anyway, back to my story... A little while after the doctor had ruled out a thyroid condition and started me on antidepressants, I called that same friend to apologize for my hysterics and update her on what was really going on. I knew this particular friend had suffered from postpartum after her first child but was floored when she acknowledged that she, and most of her family, were all on one medication or another for mental health issues. Wait. What!? We're practically on the same meds! 

Only days later, when I confided in one of my blogger groups that I needed to take some time off to straighten myself out, half of them heartily agreed and acknowledged that they had suffered the same issues in one form or another. *let me pick my jaw up off the floor* 
I had no idea!

Blog-land is so full of perfection - perfect pictures, perfect clothes, perfect food, perfect families. We all know that blogging is a stressful job, and raising kids is no picnic either. It's not a secret that our pictures are staged, and our homes/laundry/kids/etc. are a hot mess when they're not in front of the camera lens. Whenever one of the popular bloggers are asked how they "do it all", their response is always that they don't. We simply don't see the craziness that's going on behind the scenes. 

Why did it never occur to me that this applied to their mental stability as well?
And if so many of us are dealing with the same issues, how comes no one ever talks about it!? 
So here I am...

I'm not pretending that I'm going to be the spokes-lady for mental illness or anything like that, but I'm not gonna bother keeping it a secret either. I grew up in a family where weakness was frowned upon. In the end, our family dynamic completely disintegrated because people who genuinely needed it, either refused to admit it or wouldn't accept help. I grew up like that, and to be blunt - It sucked. 

I don't want my kids to grow up thinking that they're the reason Mommy's always miserable or that taking medications makes them any less awesome as a person. I take the highest dosage they allow of my particular antidepressant every. single. morning, and some days I still feel like crap. But at least I got out of bed and gave it my best. 

If you're in the same boat and want to chat, or maybe have questions that I might be able to answer, I'm here. I definitely don't know everything, but sometimes you just need someone who understands to commiserate when you're having a bad day. That friend I was talking about has no idea how much she helped me just by letting me know I wasn't alone. Now you know that you aren't either.

I'm crazy and I'm not ashamed of it! 

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