welcome to my jungle

hey guys! okay, so this won't be a "how-to" on growing your own jungle, because quite honestly, i'm not a plant expert. growing my own jungle has been a lot of trial and error, and honestly full of surprises. what kind of surprises you ask?

- one: i didn't expect some of the plants that have thrived to do so and vice versa.

- two: overwatering can welcome a swarm of fruit flies into your home...yuck! this one was a hard one to admit publicly. please don't judge me. ;)

- three: plant maintenance, when you reach jungle status, can be a bit overwhelming at times. it's so worth it though and not that bad once you find your groove.

- four: i absolutely love being surrounded by these beautiful, green things i get to assist in the growth process!

i've learned, or rather i'm learning, just how many plants i can personally handle. i have more than appear on my instagram because they're spread throughout our home, and in rooms i seldom photograph. i am often tempted to add armies more, but i'm trying to focus on a few now that seem to need extra tlc. i basically water weekly and bi-weekly, depending on the plants. a little love goes a long way in the plant world.

now, let me share with you the #1 reason i have so many plants...for my health. yes, we all know plants increase the air quality in our homes, but if you caught my instagram stories a while back you discovered i have severe and dangerous allergies. mine are mostly environmental, but i do have some food ones as well. i know, i know, we're all suffering with spring allergies right now, but mine are the kind that have baffled even my allergist and his team. i literally experience anaphylaxis at the most random and inconvenient moments, and yes, i've gone into anaphylactic shock on occasion. if you are familiar with anaphylactic shock, you know it can be terrifying. basically, in just minutes you go from healthy and happy to literally fighting for your life. i share none of this for sympathy, but rather because i have been feeling like i want to do something for others who are suffering with their health as well. i don't know what that is...yet, but i've been doing a lot of researching, testing, brainstorming with my allergist, praying, and now it's this great big thing that i don't want to just figure out for myself, or my daughters, but for other people who live with the same fear that they'll keel over at any moment. you guys, i am not afraid of death, nor is death a stranger to me. of course, i prefer to stay on this earth and see my daughters continue growing into the amazing girls/women i know they are/will be, and i want hold my husband every single day, but i really hate that my family and friends have to constantly worry about me. it kind of kills me that they do. you see, my husband and daughters have been there when i've swelled up (visualize hitch - ha), had my airways close up, and stopped breathing. my daughters were there when my husband had to take control as my precious girls cried, screamed, and prayed, and as my dogs barked incessantly at the chaos and at my passing out cold. they were there as he decided that after my not breathing for an entire minute he would need to start cpr, and as i came to (before cpr, fortunately) as my youngest daughter screamed (a scream from the depths of her soul that i'll never forget) for her mom. they're there when i'm itchy, battling hives, homebound, when we practice epi pen administration and make sure everyone knows my many epi pen locations.

so, after a few years of research, trying many things, and being forced to stay indoors on windy days, or days my allergies are flaring up, and so much feedback after my instagram stories, i want to be even more pro-active somehow. maybe it's by simply "talking" about it this way. you see, after having an official allergy test a few years, mind you it was given with very close supervision, and the test had to stopped after only seven minutes. typically they run the test for about twenty minutes, but because my body began to have a very bad reaction, the staff worried it would become uncontrollable, if not stopped then and there. when my test results came back, my allergist came into the tiny sterile room and said, "congratulations, you're allergic to the world!" the crazy thing is that he was telling the truth. he and his team get very excited with my case because apparently it's a rare one. obviously, allergists see allergies all day long, but my allergist said to see a patient who actually goes into full anaphylactic shock is supposedly rare and the reason they usually go into the field they do. so cases like mine make them giddy. if you've had an allergy test you know that you get your ige levels (ige = immunoglobulin e) back from that test. the majority of things they tested me for (again, mostly environmental - various grasses, trees, weeds, etc) came back with the majority of my ige levels over 1,000. if you're not familiar, that is extremely high and dangerous. i won't bore you with more medical jargon, but all that to say, in my research, i kept being reminded that plants help purify the air and should be introduced to your home if you suffer from allergies. of course, i have to slowly introduce each plant to ensure i'm not allergic to one of them, but for me, i also knew that not being able to go outside when the stars (or pollen) didn't align for me, would become downright depressing. so, i knew i had to bring the outdoors in - for my mental health, as well as my physical. i have to say - it's been a very good thing! my kids are older now and not home nearly as often as they once were, so having "life" still constantly around me is good for the soul. people, plants, and pups - a fabulous combination in my book!

look, i know, we've all been dealt some tough stuff in life. i know my health woes are soooo minor in comparison to so many of yours, and in comparison to some other things i've had to face in my own life. it's mostly a big ol' nuisance, but i often worry it'll be something my girls will have to deal with - genetically, because some of my allergies were acquired genetically. both of my parents have had struggles with some strange allergies, but i grew up in an old school home where "you suck it up, tough it out, and don't go to the doctor's unless you're dying" ;) i do have to say there is a lot of good in that mentality, but i've had to do some retraining and remember i actually have been at death's doorstep far too often now, so i need to go see my doctor when necessary. i also worry about other kids, kids i've never met who deal with life-threatening allergies. i feel compassion towards them and their parents. i often feel like "the nerd" in every 80s movies - you know the one with his pants hiked way too high, the big glass held together by tape, and the one who was allergic to everything! ha ha! it's hard to tell people i can't go somewhere or do something because of my allergies. it's too hard to explain to each person the severity, so often the reaction i get it is, "oh i know, my allergies have been horrible too." i don't fault people for that response, of course. the limitations of my allergies often make me feel ridiculous and honestly like a wimp, which i hate, but i've had to come to the terms with the fact that they are indeed real. i can deny or pretend they're not , that is until i'm in trouble again, but they exist. if you know someone with life-threatening allergies, take their allergies seriously, and be thankful that you can enjoy a peach, while lying in the grass this summer, under a big beautiful tree - because all three of those things can potentially kill me. ;) please eat a peach for me! i miss those greatly. i also miss running outdoors - another thing that simply became too risky, but let me tell you, i am soooo thankful for my life, so full of hope, and beyond grateful that my family is healthy, and aside from this, so am i. i have definitely learned to live more intentionally, and that is a priceless thing.

so, there you have it - a glimpse into my own little jungle, and why i created one in my home. this is my current "thorn in my side". people have worse ones, i've had worse ones. it's a pretty wild ride, this thing called life, and i'm glad i don't have to take the ride alone. i have such an amazing and supportive husband, daughters, family, and friends. i have my faith. if you're struggling with allergies/health problems, i encourage you to:

- find out what is going on first and foremost, whether through testing or however you deem necessary.

- find a good doctor who listens to you and is engaged.

- research...a lot. be your own advocate.

- have whatever you need to remain healthy and have it close at hand - i.e.; epi pens, medications, inhalers, etc.

- keep record of your health woes - for instance when i experience anaphylaxis i try keep record of the date, what i ate, if i exercised (yes, another trigger for me), any medications, weather, etc.

- figure out what your triggers are (journaling/record keeping helps with that).

- surround yourself with others. we aren't meant to do life alone - so don't. it's really important to have live life with people, not just plants. ;)

let me know what your struggles are. i care. it's nice to know we're not alone. hang in there! consider doing something for someone else today. taking my eyes off of myself is always a helpful thing. :) thanks for journeying with me through my jungle today, friends!