STRAWBERRIES IN CHAMPAGNE IS BACK IN STOCK!

June 3, 2023

One of my most popular soaps is strawberries in champagne. This bar is larger than the usual to accommodate the strawberry embed, it weighs between 5-6 ounces so this one will last quite a while. I'll have this batch on hand at the Northfield Riverwalk Market Fair on June 10th so if you are around stop by and take a sniff πŸ“




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HURRAY FOR BISON REINTRODUCTION IN MINNESOTA

May 31, 2023

We use to drive down to Mankato every year to see the bison herd but now the animals are much closer. Spring Lake Park Reserve has a small herd right now but there are plans to increase that number up to 500. This year a few babies were born so they are slowly working on that goal. It was wonderful to see them out there basking in the sun with their babies. 




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PRIDE MONTH IS ALMOST HERE!!!

May 29, 2023

A few years ago my daughter kept begging me to make a batch of soap for Pride month so I finally did it. I was surprised at what a hit it was with all of her friends so I've made a batch every year since.  This year I'll have my rainbow soaps available at the Riverwalk Market Fair on June 24th. I used one of my favorite summer fragrances for the scent; pineapple papaya. 

Hope to see you there! 🌈

Note: the proceeds will be donated to OutFront Minnesota

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OUR FIRST FAWNS OF THE SEASON

May 28, 2023

After our really sad fawning season last spring I wasn't looking forward to babies this year. It's hard not to worry knowing how many people continue to let their dogs run off leash and chase the deer, but deer fawns warm my heart each time I see them. Yesterday after we got home from Northfield I sat on the deck to eat my lunch and I heard that familiar cry reverberate across my back yard. My heart instantly went into my stomach until I looked up and saw a doe on the other side of the fence. She clearly had parked her baby, as they usually do, in my yard when she went out to eat and just returned home but from the wrong direction. She was panicking to get onto our side so she could feed her baby but my neighbor attached several feet of chicken wire to the top of my fence, extending the height to about 7-8 feet. Mom was desperately pacing back and forth trying to figure out how to get over it so she did what any devoted mother would do, she tore right through it. It was quite the sight. It almost looked like she was going to lose her back legs but she made it. That had to hurt!! She went to feed baby and then suddenly there were more cries from the complete opposite side of the fence. Mom parked second fawn in another yard so she made that one wait while she fed fawn #1 and then once done she made her way over to fawn #2. 

So here is my first fawn photo of spring 2023. It's a little blurry because I rushed to take the shot before they ran out. 



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IT WAS A GORGEOUS DAY AT THE NORTHFIELD RIVERWALK MARKET FAIR

May 27, 2023


The weather couldn't have been better for selling at the Riverwalk Market today. It was a sunny 80 degree day with a light breeze and lots of people walking about. 

To stay on brand my daughter Maya chose to dress as a fairy this time. As a professional artist she loves to get into costume every once in a while and this seemed to be the perfect venue for it. She's my little assistant soap pixie 😁

It was great chatting with customers and their children. We had a lot of kids visit our booth this time which was fun. They are always a joy to interact with and it makes me happy to see how much they love my uniquely designed soaps. 

We won't be back at the market next Saturday but we'll be there again on June 10th and every other Saturday after that. Next time I'll have Pride month soaps and some really cute cupcake soaps so come out and see us if you get a chance! 

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WE HAVE A REGULAR SPOT THIS SUMMER!

May 22, 2023


Come see us at the Northfield Riverwalk Market every other weekend starting May 27th. We'll be there selling our soaps and some other goodies. You shouldn't be able to miss us, our table is bright pink and my daughter will be dressed as a fairy. We hope to see you there!

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OFF TO WISCONSIN TO GET A DIAGNOSIS



The only sign that I’ve not been well to most people is how thin I am. Some have even questioned whether my weight loss is deliberate, that maybe I mask it by claiming I have a chronic undiagnosed health condition but in reality I am choosing to starve myself. One time someone even questioned why I was counting the number of grapes I was allowing myself to eat. When I explained that eating more than 10 caused me to bloat and suffer severe abdominal pain and reflux she raised her eyebrows and rolled her eyes. That was insulting, especially because it took me months to figure out how many grapes I could actually have without harming myself.

I thought my health problems started in 2018 but for the doctor I am seeing tomorrow I’ve had to examine my entire life going back to birth. It’s clear to me now that something has been wrong with my body since childhood. I reacted to foods as far back as I can remember. First it was tomatoes. I’d develop welts any time the juice would touch my skin. Then peas made me vomit, pineapple gave me hives. The pediatrician pulled red dye from my diet because it too made me ill. Then came the swollen spleen when I was 8 yrs old. Doctors struggled to figure out why my spleen was enlarged. I had to endure multiple tests to see if I had leukemia or some other disease and stay out of contact sports, then as quickly as the problem appeared it was gone by the time I reached junior high school, only to reappear in 2018.

There has been quite of bit of strange digestive issues and allergic reactions in between my childhood and today that I always considered normal but realize now they weren’t. Like my allergy to Potbelly’s restaurant. I had no trouble eating there several times and then one day my eyes started to itch and my nose plugged up so I had to leave. Once I was away from the restaurant the symptoms resolved. It happened two more times but it was the third time I came very close to an anaphylactic reaction. Eyes swelled, nose plugged up, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Leaving didn’t improve things so I had to take multiple Benadryl to calm my system down. I couldn’t figure it out. Was it the food or the establishment? The first couple times just leaving helped relieve symptoms but the last time I needed medicine. I no longer go there and just tossed off the experience to Potbelly’s and I not being a good mix. 

My health decline in 2018 became something I couldn’t just “toss off” though because I could have died. This is something friends, family and doctors have never really understood. Only if you’ve experienced what it’s like to waste away, be in chronic pain, along with multiple other crazy symptoms and be told over and over again “we can’t find anything wrong with you” and no effort being made to find out what's wrong, could you ever understand how terrified I have felt existing in my own body over the years. At one point I was unable to get out of bed and I was just existing on sunflower seeds, cucumbers, bone broth, and the physicians elemental formula. Doctors weren’t helping, they were continually hurting me more with their blasΓ© attitude about my food sensitivities, rapid weight loss and pain. If the answer to what was wrong with me wasn’t right in front of them on a CT scan or blood test then it was all caused by anxiety according to them, except I couldn’t get a single psychiatrist to diagnose a mental health condition and treat me and I saw several hoping it was my mind that was responsible for the mess I was in.

Well… it has been exactly 4 years and 7 months since the first night I woke up with the initial symptoms that would leave me bed bound for months and struggling to find food my body wouldn’t reject. There have been many ups and downs in between that time and now but having lost another 12 lbs between January and April of this year leaving me at just 106 lbs I knew if I didn’t get help now I may not last much longer. The signs of malnutrition are here. I can’t even go for a 20 minute walk without shaking uncontrollably afterwards.

Tomorrow, thanks to my friend Terry Gips, I am seeing a doctor who deals specifically with complex cases like my own. Initially when I contacted the doctor her assistant said she wasn’t able to see me until October 2023 but would give her my email regardless. A day later I received a call that the doctor had squeezed me into her schedule and could see me in May. That alone tells me she is different than every doctor I’ve seen (18+ doctors). She clearly cares, and that will make a huge difference in getting the help I need.

Once again I am leaving the state to see a doctor. I had to leave to Michigan for kidney surgery back in 2019 because doctors here in Minnesota didn’t know how to diagnose or treat nephroptosis, or I should say they didn’t even care to try (long story not worth repeating at this time). This new doctor is in Wisconsin and from what I’ve learned she has a stellar reputation. My acupuncturist and physical therapist even know who she is and both say I’ve found the right person to help me. 

I’ve been counting down each day to see her as if my life depends on it because it does. To say I’m overwhelmed with emotion right now is an understatement. 

No more naturopaths, gastroenterologists, endocrinologists, general practitioners, chiropractors… just one doctor that knows how to stop looking at my body in parts and instead will treat me as a whole. 
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2023 SHEPHERD'S HARVEST FESTIVAL: DAY 1

May 13, 2023


We spent the day selling our soaps at the Shepherd's Harvest Festival today and had a great time as always. We really love this festival for the variety of people we get to talk to, all the amazing vendors, and the entertainment. The organizers always do a fantastic job of putting the event together in a very structured way and from a vendor and patron (which we use to be) standpoint it all runs smoothly. 

Of course, the very, very, very best part of the festival is always the sheep, alpacas, llamas and goats 😁

If you couldn't make it out today then we hope to see you tomorrow!







 

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TODAY IS A GOOD DAY

May 1, 2023




Today is really good day. The first in a while. I had an endoscopy today that came with good news! I am so happy. Esophagitis is just one of several things I've been dealing with along my health journey. There is no explanation for why I ended up with esophagitis, no underlying cause to be found yet, but the endoscopy results are good. *fingers crossed it stays that way. 

Shout out to Dr. Levine at Minnesota Gastroenterology in Eagan for being an excellent gastroenterologist. He truly is a really nice guy and a great doctor. As far as my experience goes, there are very food doctors I can call good out in this world, but he is one of them. 

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LET'S TALK ABOUT MEDICAL GASLIGHTING

April 30, 2023



Back in early 2018 was the first time I started to experience symptoms of being quite ill. The things that happened to me were nothing like anything I had ever experienced in my entire life. At that time I was 47 years old. The very first symptom I experienced was heart palpitations, air hunger, and a dry cough that went on for weeks. I saw my primary doctor, received no answers, and had my symptoms completely disregarded aside from giving me an EKG and told "drink more water." Next symptoms were anemia, acid reflux, severe abdominal bloating (looking like I was 6 months pregnant 90% of the day) on top of the heart palps and cough. Went back to primary doctor, received no answers, and had my symptoms completely disregarded aside from "take tums and iron." There was never any effort to find out why my health was suddenly changing. I even questioned if I was in perimenopause but was told I was too young for that and according to my doctor "those aren't symptoms of perimenopause. Hot flashes, low libido, dry vagina are symptoms." 

In September 2018 when bloating started to include constant flatulence, pain in chest radiating down left arm, and tingling in left hand, I returned to my primary doctor. She sent me to a cardiologist who disregarded my symptoms aside from saying "we could put you on beta blockers and see if that helps." There was no effort to find the underlying cause of anything I was experiencing. 

Mid October 2018 I was cleaning house when suddenly I experienced a sharp stabbing pain in my lower right abdomen. It was so intense I dropped to the floor. I thought maybe it was an appendicitis but both my sister and mother had their appendixes out and the only symptoms I shared with them was that sudden pain and nothing else. For several days following, the pain would come in waves. This was now added to the acid reflux, bloating, flatulence, pain in chest and left arm, tingling in hand, and heart palpitations and cough that would come and go. I downplayed everything as having to do with aging even though perimenopause was disregarded by my doctor. I stopped ignoring my symptoms when a week later I woke up in the middle of the night with what I thought was the stomach flu except it wasn't just severe nausea, it also came with horrific stomach burning. It wasn't the flu. Over the next few days I tried eating lots of yogurt and a bland diet but the feelings didn't go away. I made the mistake of asking Dr. Google what was wrong with me.

Dr. Google told me I had ovarian cancer!!

Since my grandmother died of ovarian cancer that information sent me straight back to the doctor to ask for an abdominal ultrasound. She laughed and told me to calm down. After listening to my symptoms she decided maybe I had a kidney stone and ordered an X-ray. When that came back clear aside from it showing a ton of air in my colon, she then handed me a prescription of lexapro (an antidepressant) and said that since she had seen me 2 other times in her office over the past six months that she believed I had health anxiety because of my mother having a heart attack and grandmother dying of cancer. I insisted she was mistaken and that there was something seriously wrong with me and I begged "could you please just do an ultrasound." Nope. She wouldn't. So I insisted she do a pelvic exam. She was openly annoyed with me but reluctantly agreed and then says "I do feel something but it could be a fibroid." Yet she still wouldn't do an ultrasound. I left in pain and afraid. I tossed the script for lexapro in the trash.

I made an appointment with my sister's doctor and he agreed to order the ultrasound. For good measure he also ordered a mammogram since it was due. Both tests came back clear. He diagnosed me with gastritis and told me it was probably caused by health anxiety and he too tried to prescribe lexapro. Ugh! I bought into the gastritis diagnosis since I had been under a lot of stress in the past few years but I didn't suffer from health anxiety so I refused to accept the lexapro! He told me to go home, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, drink lots of water. I did as he instructed and I continued to get much worse. So he prescribed Zantac. It didn't help and symptoms were increasing. I started getting total right side abdominal pain, severe acid reflux, horrid nausea, dizziness, brain fog, hair falling out, and I lost the ability to have a bowel movement. So he prescribed Prilosec (omeprazole ppi) and then my health took an even bigger nose-dive. 

On omeprazole the area over my ileocecal valve (lower right abdomen) looked like I had an egg under my skin, it was constantly swollen and when I'd press it would gurgle like it was full of air but as soon as I'd let go it would fill right up again and boy was it painful. The entire lower right side of my body felt like I was being stabbed with a knife constantly. That area from my hip to my liver was in chronic pain. My whole abdomen made noises all day, loud enough that people across the room could hear. The brain fog was intense, I developed tinnitus, my vision was worsening, food would make a full transit through my body in 6-9 hours and come out undigested. The scariest symptom of all was I was rapidly losing weight. Between October 28 and end of December I lost 25 lbs. I was misdiagnosed with IBS, Gastritis, a stomach ulcer. When I started having hour long panic attacks and my research led me to finding out it was the omeprazole, even though the doctor denied it, I took myself off.  

I ended up jumping doctor to doctor looking for help. Each doctor would run tests, in total I had a colonoscopy, endoscopy, anorectal manometry, multiple X-rays, multiple CT scans, numerous urine and blood tests, all of which produced no answers. I was wasting away, living off of bone broth, sunflower seeds, cucumbers, and oatmeal. Thankfully at one point a nutritionist gave me the physicians elemental diet to help me stop the weight loss and get nutrients back into my body. At one point I ended up at the Mayo Clinic. In 8 months I saw 14 different medical professionals ranging from gastroenterologists, general practitioners, surgeons,  family medicine doctors, functional medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, and even 2 psychiatrists. Most of them disregarded my symptoms as health anxiety and wanted me to take an antidepressant or just go away. The ones that didn't think it was health anxiety gave up on figuring out what was wrong with me (excluding the surgeons and naturopaths). The doctor at Mayo even suggested I was deliberately starving myself. 

The most difficult part to explain through all of this to my friends, family, and doctors was yes, I am anxious but I didn't start out that way. I wasn't a hypochondriac. I am the girl that suffers for weeks or months before I go to the doctor. When I was first diagnosed with hashimotos back in 2015 I had suffered with symptoms for years before I finally decided to get checked out. I'm a fantastic excuse maker. I told myself that the changes in my body were from stress and age long before I decided I'd better get examined. I wasn't anxious about the symptoms and didn't even become concerned until they impacted my quality of life and the anxiety crept in when the doctors started gaslighting me when I knew damn well that something was wrong me. 

After being medically gaslit and being left mostly bed-bound from pain for months I was finally diagnosed by a surgeon with nephroptosis and a naturopathic doctor diagnosed me with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). I had to do my own research by digging through medical journals to find symptoms that fit mine in order to find someone to help me. I fortunately found a surgeon in the state of Michigan who had me come out as soon as he received my email explaining my symptoms. Once the SIBO was treated to a point that I was strong enough to handle the operation I had kidney surgery (nephropexy) in August 2018. I was convinced the kidney fell into my pelvis and caused the SIBO so I was hopeful once I had surgery I'd make a full recovery and get my life back. I was wrong.

From June 2019-December 2022 I remained under the care of the naturopathic physician that diagnosed me and treated the SIBO (multiple times). I thought he was my savior but turned out he failed me too. Over those years each time SIBO was treated it would return. I was never able to gain my weight back or return to eating a wide variety of foods. I lived strictly on the Simple Carbohydrate Diet to keep the diarrhea, bloating, and pain away. I would question the naturopathic doctor many times about why I never seem to get back to eating more foods or gaining weight, a question he'd always ignore. In summer 2022 I started mentioning to him that I had constant mucus in my throat and by November it felt like I was swallowing a rock. He didn't offer anything new. In December 2022 the heartburn started, I was having abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, and food sensitivities against so end of the month I ended up getting an endoscopy and was diagnosed with grade c esophagitis. I was in shock! All that time instead of getting better I had actually gotten worse. I was losing weight rapidly AGAIN and dropped from 118 lbs to 106 lbs. The naturopath started gaslighting me. Downplaying the severity of my symptoms. Honestly, he was making it obvious he didn't want anything to do with me anymore. He had me misdiagnosed for years and now he obviously wanted to jump ship.

I went to my new primary doctor who was actually someone I knew and thought I could trust only to have her gaslight me also. I'm standing before her wasting away and in tears and she had the nerve to say it was anxiety. It was deja vu all over again. I tried to explain the hives I was getting on my hands from water and how the water tastes like I swallowed some harsh synthetic chemical and she just looked at me like I was insane. So... I did what anyone who is constantly gaslit does. I agreed AGAIN to see a psychiatrist just like I had four years before, but this doctor said "oh no, you don't need to see a psychiatrist, I can prescribe something for you." I ignored that and sought out a psychiatrist on my own.

I ended up seeing a psychiatrist who has a stellar reputation and a lot of experience in my state. After sitting down with him he determined my anxiety is purely a result of being ignored by doctors. He offered to speak to any doctor that gaslights me in the future. I instantly messaged my primary doctor to let her know that he was willing to speak to her and she never responded. She later messaged me about something else I had mentioned in my message but completely skipped over the part about the psychiatrist. That told me all I needed to know about her.

So I'm back to square one with my health. Tomorrow I get another endoscopy to see if I'm healing or getting worse. Three weeks after the endoscopy I am scheduled to see a doctor that came highly recommended. She apparently works with complex cases and I am really holding out hope she can help me. 

So far I know I have SIBO again, low beneficial bacteria in my gut, and acid reflux induced esophagitis. None of those three are causes, they are symptoms of something else. To cure them an underlying cause must be found. To this day I've not received a definitive diagnosis, treatment, or even a small explanation for what I'm experiencing. If the doctor I see later in May has answers I will be back to announce what those are in hopes it will help anyone else going through the same thing. 

*****

Medical gaslighting is a term "used to describe a type of manipulation that is designed to make another person doubt their own judgement or question their reality. "Medical gaslighting" describes the experience of having a medical concern dismissed or arbitrarily attributed to a psychological or neutral cause by a healthcare provider."

Medical gaslighting, like social gaslighting, is a form of emotional abuse. It is traumatizing for patients, causing confusion, self-doubt, and helplessness, which, ironically, can lead to anxiety and depression.

My symptoms through all of this have been:

enlarged spleen, random swelling of lymph nodes in neck, abscess in throat that came and went after 2 weeks, mouth sores that come at random and go away after about a week or two, electric shocks in my eyes or back that hit at random, hair loss that goes on for months then stops and regrows thick and then starts again, hives that appear at random, itchy legs on and off that I scratch til they bleed, vertigo, plugged ear sensation, tinnitus, dental pain, nausea like morning sickness, acid reflux, esophageal spasms, gurgling throughout abdomen, pain and swelling over ileocecal valve, typical IBS type symptoms (IBS M), sharp pains that hit in the abdomen at random that makes me scream in pain, reactions to water at random, water tasting like hairspray, extreme sensitivities to food, air trapped in stomach (can't burp), joint pain, interstitial cystitis, insomnia, shoulder pain that radiates down arm, phantom cramping, lower back pain making it difficult to bend over, middle back pain, chronic right sided abdominal pain from hip to liver, tons of air in abdomen 24/7, severe weight loss. 

^But apparently all of that is caused by health anxiety and no cause for concern. πŸ˜– It's a terrible, terrible feeling to be optimistic about seeing a doctor you believe will diagnose and treat whatever condition you have to ultimately just have them look at you like you're crazy and hand you an antidepressant. If you've never experienced such a thing I hope you never will. 

I once saw a doctor about the weight loss. It was after losing 7 lbs in a week and discovering I fit into a size 00 pants (after being a size 8 just a couple months before). At my appointment the nurse checking me in said she needed to get the children's blood pressure cuff to take my bp because my arms were so small. I was horrified. I knew if I couldn't eat I'd die. When the doctor came in and I told her what was happening to me she suggested I eat a donut or two, then kinda laughed. At the time I wanted to ask her "if I can't eat 99% of fruits and veggies, what makes you think I can eat a donut? Are you truly suggesting I eat junk food to get better?" But I didn't ask that because I'm not a fool. I know who has the power at medical appointments. If we advocate for ourselves too forcefully they'll label us crazy or worse, have us removed from the property by security. If we sound too snarky or annoyed we could end up being banned for good from the clinic. 

Every time I've gone to the doctor in the last 4 years I've been desperate for answers so the last thing I want to do is piss off the person I am begging to help me, but it seems it doesn't take much to trigger a doctor. Just disagreeing with their assessment makes them angry or annoyed. When a doctor decides our symptoms are psychosomatic there is little we can do to change their mind. The trust between doctor and patient is essentially gone at that point and it's time to move on. I've had to move on a lot. πŸ˜” 

BTW/I'd love a donut. I miss the nutty long John from Tobey's in Hinckley, MN. If I could eat a dozen right now I would. I also miss cherry cheesecake A LOT!!!! 

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BRINGING BACK AN OLD FAVORITE

April 28, 2023

Have you tried our electric lemonade scented soap yet? If you haven't, make sure you pick up a bar or two at the Shepherd's Harvest Festival over Mother's Day weekend. Electric Lemonade is a customer favorite. Sells out every single time I have a batch for sale. The scent is so fresh and clean and it last a lonnnnnnng time in a bar. It reminds me of the Meyer Lemons. So yummy!

 

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ANOTHER ONE OF OUR YUMMY FAVORITES

April 20, 2023

 Juicy Papaya Mango.

One of my favorite scents. 

One of these times I need to make a lotion or whipped shea butter with this fragrance oil because it's just so lovely you'll want to have it on your skin all day. 



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THE SHEPHERD'S HARVEST FESTIVAL IS BACK!!

April 18, 2023

Next month my daughter and I will be selling our soaps and other wonderful goodies at the Shepherd's Harvest Festival in Lake Elmo. If you get a chance please come out and see us. We love visiting with our customers and friends. Keep watching the blog because once I know where we'll be stationed I'll make sure to post about it and as we get closer I'll share which soap fragrances we'll have on hand. I hope to see you there!

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WHEN LIFE GETS YOU DOWN...START JOURNALING

April 17, 2023


I've faced many challenges in my life but dealing with a chronic health problem that has gone undiagnosed for years has been by far the most difficult. Instead of helping, 99% of doctors have just made it worse. The anxiety I struggle with on a daily basis can be debilitating which is why I see a psychologist. Not only do I have complex medical PTSD that requires EMDR therapy, I'm also dealing with debilitating symptoms and struggling to get a diagnosis.

I started seeing the psychologist to help me cope with the stress and anxiety that comes from being chronically ill and not getting the proper diagnosis so I can be successfully treated or at least helped to feel better. One of the most helpful things the psychologist suggested to me is to start journaling, especially before bed if my mind is racing. I'm no stranger to keeping a journal, I've done so on and off since I was a child, but over the past decade or so I stopped and so writing my daily thoughts again has been really therapeutic. One thing I've really been drawn to lately is journal prompts. Normally I'll write about my feelings, the weather, and anything new that may have come up in my life but I often like to get outside my own dark world for a second and be pushed into writing about something I otherwise wouldn't have thought of.  Journal prompts are really helpful for this and it keeps me from obsessing on my physical issues. 

Following are some of the prompts I've chosen over the last few months. If you enjoy journaling maybe you'll like these prompts too. 

1. I am proud of myself because...
2. If you were a feral cat, how would you spend your day?
3. On my worst days I want to remember that...
4. What 3 things (no people) that bring you the most joy?
5. My favorite memory from last year was...
6. What is the most valuable thing you've learned from life so far?
7. What is one thing you'd like to manifest this week?
8. Write about your favorite season.
9. How can I make tomorrow better than today?
10. What's something outside you are grateful for?


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NATURE FIND

April 14, 2023

My daughter and I were enjoying a walk on this beautiful day in Minnesota when we stumbled upon a pretty large owl pellet, about golf ball size. This is the first time we've found one in the wild. She dissected a few back when she was in elementary school and when I homeschooled my youngest I ordered some owl pellets for her to dissect but we've never located one outdoors. It was fun digging through to see what little bones we could find.  

Have you ever found an owl pellet in nature?




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