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Well, fuck! (Part Three)

Bullous pemphigoid: an autoimmune disease in which your body basically decides that your skin is a foreign object that must be destroyed. It tends to begin as itching and, after about a month, the blisters arrive. There is no definitive cause, but medications, skin irritants, and stress are suspected causes.

STRESS! That thing I had been experiencing at an insane level for months! That was it! It sucked…realizing that I had a horrible disease with a painful, lengthy, and uncertain future…but there was finally a diagnosis! I 100% had bullous pemphigoid and we were going to get it figured out! The ER nurse said she was admitting me because they had a dermatologist on staff. I didn’t get a room until the next morning because they were super busy, so I was put in a “quieter” ER area while I waited. But, despite the constant ER noise and the numerous wake-ups for blood draws and meds, that was the best sleep I had had in months. I had an answer. Things were going to be okay.

Then, once in a room, I met the attending doctor. The guy who, over the next 2 days, would rip that small amount of hope away. First, I was informed that the ER nurse had been mistaken. There was no longer a dermatologist on staff. Okay. That was fine…we could still get the tests done to confirm what I and the ER nurse knew I had, right? Wrong. The attending doctor informed me that he *knew* what I had. Poison ivy. Despite not going into any wooded area, I 100% had poison ivy. And, given that it had been ongoing for months and had not responded to treatment, it was clear that I had been re-introducing poison ivy into my life. No tests were done. Well, correction, LOTS of tests were done. Lots of blood was taken. Lots of results were spouted at me. But no tests were done to confirm or rule out bullous pemphigoid. I was completely shut down. I KNEW I had bullous pemphigoid. I KNEW it was only going to get worse without treatment. But no one would listen. The discharge nurse suggested I leave their hospital and go directly to another one 30 minutes away. Which is exactly what I did. THERE, I was told that, while they would not be admitting me, they had called a dermatologist just a few blocks away and they were expecting me.

I arrived at the dermatologist’s office in tears (and realized I was becoming a natural at this whole ‘public crying’ thing) hoping they would listen but expecting they would shut me down like the hospital doctor. However, after some skin scrapings and a biopsy I was sent away with this: “We will, of course, have to wait for the results to confirm, but I am pretty sure this *is* bullous pemphigoid. The next few weeks will not be easy. It will get worse before it gets better. but we will get you better!”

To be continued…  

Uncategorized

Well, fuck! (Part Two)

It began as tiny red bumps on my arms. Constantly itchy. No over-the-counter creams or pills worked. After a week and a half, I went to the ER. Contact dermatitis, they said. Take these pills, use this cream, it should go away within a few days. I had *maybe* a day of mild relief before the itching came back more aggressive than before…and brought more spots with it – this time on my torso. Four days later, I was crying in bed at 3 a.m. because of the itching. I woke my husband and told him I was going back to the ER. Eczema, they said. “You weren’t given strong enough steroids the last time.” Got a steroid shot and a stronger dose of steroids and was told it would for sure be gone after the round of steroids was complete. False. After brief relief, again, the itching and spots came back more aggressively. Instead of tiny red spots, I had huge red patches. And raised areas on my wrists. And, now, it had spread to my legs.

With two failed ER trips behind me, I decided to try a different approach. I downloaded one of the many telemedicine apps and began a consultation with a dermatologist. There, I was prescribed several more medicines: one for scabies “just in case” (even though the ER doctors had already taken a scraping and ruled that out) and even stronger steroids. This time, I was also instructed to do wet-to-dry wraps on the wrists. This helped a little. Briefly. I met with the dermatologist again. More medicines. At this point, I was also doing any and everything suggested on the almighty interwebs. Oat baths. Bleach baths. Various creams and oils. Anything that anyone claimed worked for their great-cousin’s best friend’s grand-sister. In hindsight, that was probably a terrible idea. But I was desperate.

At this point, we had officially started our travel journey. We had stored our important possessions, loaded our SUV with travel necessities, sold everything else, and left Tallahassee, FL (where we lived) for Jacksonville, FL, the first stop on our trip. MOSH (Museum of Science and History) had a dinosaur exhibit that our son was excited to see. The morning we woke up for the museum, I realized I had developed blisters on both wrists, arms, and toes. We went to the museum, as planned. Halfway through, I sat on a bench while the husband took the kid to do dino thangs. I’ve never been a “public emotions” kind of person, so that may be the first time I had ever cried in public. While sitting there, I felt SO hopeless. I had a mystery rash, no answers from the many medical professionals I’d seen up to that point, and now blisters. They were on my TOES, for fuck’s sake! Do you know how painful it is to walk with blisters on and between your toes?! When husband and son returned, we decided that I would drop them off at our hotel and return to yet another ER.

At that hospital, I got the first answer that made sense: bullous pemphigoid. The ER nurse told me how rare it is and how, when it *is* seen, it is almost always in geriatric patients. “While it may sound crazy, I think it’s that.” Before she even walked away, I was googling this rare, old-person disease.

To be continued…

Uncategorized

Well, fuck! (Part One)

I’m back! What a whirlwind it has been!

One day, during the summer of 2019, we (husband and I) had a crazy conversation…I’m not even sure which one of us suggested it now…we have fantasized for years about taking our homeschooling adventures on the road. We had a plan of getting an RV or a truck/camper combo…but that plan kept getting sidetracked. Because life. So, on that otherwise normal summer day, one of us blurted out: “Let’s just do it! Stop waiting!” We had no way of knowing when we would ever be in a position to fulfill the RV/truck and camper dream and there was a chance that it would NEVER happen. Again, because LIFE! It started as a joke. Sort of. Like a “unless you gon’ do it” kind of thing. It quickly snowballed into a “WE ARE DOING THIS!” plan for adventure! The three of us (husband, myself, and seven-year-old) were going to not renew our apartment lease and we were going to spend a year (at least) traveling. We were going to camp when conditions were nice and stay in hotels/Airbnbs when needed. We were also looking at house/pet-sitting websites as a loose guide to plan our journey…free-ish stays while also having animals to snuggle?! Yes, please!! It was going to be GREAT! Scary, but great.

Over the next few months, we did the obvious back-and-forth: “Are we really doing this?!” “Is it crazy?!” “Is this a bad idea?!” Most of those questions were posed by me and led to my husband having to talk me down. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet, but I’m a catastrophizer…meaning I play through every possible worst-case scenario when making decisions, planning trips, existing in any given day, etc. And I catastrophized the hell out of THAT plan. How could I not?! Animal attack. Creeps. Murderer. Car accident. Falling off of a mountain. That’s just a minute example of the scenarios I played out in vivid detail. Multiple times a day. On loop. For months. Most of it stayed in my head. Some seeped out. At least once a day, I’d blurt out a random fear (likely one that we’d already ‘worked through’ several times) to my husband. And, each time, he’d talk me through it. Repeat. FOR. MONTHS. Sleep felt non-existent. I felt like I was on auto-pilot. My mind was constantly spinning. I, the catastrophizing, forever-spiraling nutjob, had never experienced that level of anxiety for that long of a time.

Then, mid-July, the itching started.

To be continued…

education, homeschooling, parenting

I Took Us Both Out of Public School

I feel that I should preface this post by saying:

My experience is in no way indicative of the entirety of the public school system in the United States. I *know* that there are some amazing teachers out there who are striving to change the learning environment. And I also know that, with amazing and supportive administrators, they have the freedom to “mix it up”.  I *know* these wonderful people exist. I actually follow lots of them on Instragram and they give me hope. However, I feel that they are still a minority in “the system”. Too many feel the pressure of a rigid administration and/or district. Too many are (justifiably) afraid of straying “outside the lines”. As a result, too many are burnt out and, therefore, just going through the motions. With that said, let’s jump in!


For as long as I can remember, my dream career has always been teacher. I spent so many weekends and summer days bribing my younger brother into playing “school”. Throughout my college years, I spent quite a bit of time in local elementary schools and loved it. But, in retrospect, I was seeing the teacher side of the classroom through the rosiest of lenses. Even after graduating and entering the classroom full-time, I didn’t fully “get it”. It wasn’t until becoming a mom and watching a person grow and learn from the very beginning of life that I began to see clearly the wasteland that is our country’s public education system.

From the moment an infant opens his eyes, he is taking in stimulus from his environment. Once he discovers his hands, he begins grabbing and inspecting everything within reach. As soon as he becomes mobile, he explores all of his surroundings with the purest, most genuine curiosity. For several years, he runs wild and free and absorbs so much! Then, around age five, he goes to kindergarten where, more often than not, he’s no longer free to explore. There’s way more sitting and listening, and far less doing. Eventually, his curiosity and creativity dims, if not burns out completely.

We live in an advanced society with so much potential that we can’t even comprehend, yet we’re still teaching kids as if we’re shipping them off to a factory to work on an assembly line. This country needs forward-thinking innovators, not mass-produced recreators. And again, as I mentioned in the preface, there are teachers striving to make this happen: Their classrooms look much different than the norm; students are up, moving around, and learning through doing – fully immersed in the learning experience. But most students are not so lucky.

Most students are victims of an archaic system with a very limited focus. We are inadvertently restricting student potential by teaching only what some detached group of individuals deemed important and evaluating their success based solely on the standards that group concocted. I lost the desire to be a part of that system. And I definitely didn’t want it for my own child.

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Background image from Micah Hallahan at Unsplash

So that’s why I am a master’s degree-weilding teacher with a class size of one…and now teaching looks and feels the way I always dreamed it would. Don’t get me wrong, as an educator, I still make it a point to hit the standards…but we do so much more than that…and we make it fun.

Until next time.

-BAHM

education, homeschooling, parenting

Why Blank-at-Home Mom?!

My initial motivation for starting a blog was to share our journey in homeschooling. I am a certified teacher who has some major issues with the current state of the education system (expect an elaboration post in the near future). For that reason, my husband – who also works in education – and I made the decision to homeschool. And I thought a blog would be a great way to document our progress and experiences.

I spent a few days brainstorming blog names relating solely to homeschooling before coming to the conclusion that I should broaden my scope. I realized that, while the primary motivation for this blog is currently homeschooling, I will likely discuss other daily life topics along the way. Thus, ‘Blank-at-Home Mom’ was born. Because I spend my days filling in the blanks: teachworkcreateetc. (And also because it seemed like a silly way to pay homage to the fact that I’m SUPER forgetful!)

Until next time.

-BAHM