Our Shepherd Center Trip – January 2017

Zach and I are always all about making the best of every situation. He had to go to Atlanta for his first visit at Shepherd Center and I, duh, was going to go with him. Since we had to be in Atlanta for the appointment anyway he was able to find a group he needed to work that happened to be very close to Shepherd. We decided to go up together, he’d work the group, we’d stay the night, then go to the appointment and go home. Solid plan ๐Ÿ™‚

It was SO WEIRD being with Zach for work. I’ve never gotten to see him in action but he was exactly as I’d assumed he’d be. Zach is very personable and very good at reading a room/situation/person and knowing how to best respond in it. He’s just really awesome at what he does and it made me SO proud to see him doing his thing! It went from a tough situation work-wise to a day that ended up being a huge win for him.

I felt really, really awkward being there while he was talking to people so I kinda hid around a corner and just looked through some magazines for a little bit!

I stayed at the hotel with him for a 15-20 min or so then I hit the road! I was super pumped b/c there was a Clothes Mentor location super close to where Z was working. I brought a couple bags of clothes with me and headed there as soon as they opened. The ladies who worked there were SO nice! I got only $26 for my stuff but hey it’s $26 I didn’t already have! It was funny b/c at Clothes Mentor they said my stuff was a little younger than what they tend to go for and recommended for me to go down a few stores to Plato’s Closet. Well, not surprisingly, they told me my stuff was a little too mature haha. I swear early 30s is a WEIRD age range!

I spent a couple hours at those stores. Ended up getting a couple cute things for myself and then decided to check in with Zach about some lunch. He opted to work through lunch so he could get everyone seen and we could go to an earlier dinner. I was tempted to pick up Panera Bread and was also SUPER bitter when I looked it up and saw they had like a million locations nearby. How come Atlanta can have 50 Paneras but Valdosta can’t have ONE?

Instead I opted to grab him some Taco Bell and take it to him and then figure out something for myself! 

When we had pulled in the hotel I saw a froyo place directly across the street. I’ve been craving froyo like something fierce so I was ALL about it. Until I pulled up and realized it was located inside a gas station. As I got my froyo I thought about many of my friends and how they would not dare to eat it. The candy was all out in the open. Not covered. And it was OBVIOUS that a lot of the items were stale (I would totally dare someone to try the FRUIT sitting out too…barf). I got a few gummy bears and they about broke my teeth. I told one of the workers about the gummy bears being spoiled and I watched him take the tub of gummy bears and dump them into a larger tub of gummy bears and then take a scoop from that tub and put it right back in the one for guests to choose from. Just recycling the yucky gummy bears for future guests! The froyo itself was also not froyo. It was much more like a weird soft serve? I did notice at other gas stations while on our trip that this seems to be a new trend. Froyo and gas? It’s a weird mix b/c with froyo you want to SIT and eat it. And gas stations really aren’t the most inviting. I scarfed mine down pretty quick b/c yall know me: I freak out about strangers. And this was ATLANTA. 

I had some more time until Zach would be done working and I really wanted to get some things for Britt’s new room and look for stuff for Tab’s nursery. There was this big store right by the hotel called At Home so I checked it out!

I’m assuming it’s a chain and I did feel like I’d been in one before but omg yall it was a disaster. It wasn’t even a FUN shopping experience because it was just overly crammed with tons of over-priced items. I did want to walk through the whole store because I’m NEVER able to go to home goods type places and we legit need stuff! But it was overwhelming. And exhausting. And put me in a pretty cruddy mood. I was OVER IT. 

I wanted to find a cool picture for Britt’s room but that was super annoying and overwhelming so then I hit the lamp section and thought I’d find some lamps. Again. Just so unorganized and such a mess that it was beyond annoying! I had a hard time finding bases that went with shades. I’d find a combo I liked then realize they were mismatched in sizes. Ugh. 

I was really doing good with making decisions on my own (such a struggle for me) but after an hour I broke down and texted some friends for help regarding Britt’s lamp. At least I chose Tess’s without any input ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

When we had the appointment scheduled for Shepherd they told us they have a list of hotels that offer discounts for their patients. I called like 8 of those hotels and it was beyond frustrating. Most of them didn’t know what I was talking about and those that did didn’t offer the same discount that Shepherd’s site had listed. Shepherd’s is located in the HEART of Atlanta which means EXPENSIVE. We had several friends offer for us to stay with them, as did my Dad and Audrey but they all live SO far north of Atlanta that it just wouldn’t make any sense to do all that driving and be stuck in super bad traffic. Now that we know it’ll be a monthly thing we will HAVE to figure out something because we can’t afford spending over $100 per month on a one night hotel stay! We agreed to get a hotel this time because we wanted to be as close to the center as possible. I finally found a hotel that was $104 with the “discount”  so I went for it. But wasn’t too happy about it!

Well. It just so happened that Zach’s group WAS a hotel. It was brand new and not even open until that following week. The actual hotel chain owners were there that day looking things over and checking on everything for the grand opening. Zach hit it off super well with the manager of the hotel and he told us to just stay there. Be the first guests EVER and to live it up! FOR FREE. Y’all! How much of a blessing is that?!?! I called the hotel we’d booked and they were SUPER nice in allowing us to cancel especially when it was past the point of their cancellation policy. 

The manager took us to the room himself and it was so cute how proud he was of the hotel. It’s his “baby” and he’s worked for 2 years to get it ready for opening! It was a weird feeling to be the ONLY people in a hotel. No desk staff. No cleaning crew. No. One. It was also funny because we couldn’t use the main doors to the lobby as they were locked for the night so we had to use side doors. We kept getting nervous that our key wouldn’t work b/c if it didn’t, we’d be out of luck!!!

After my shopping adventure I was EXHAUSTED haha. I don’t understand how Zach drives so much for work. Like we drove three hours and then he worked all day? No. Way. I was BEAT and debated getting an ice coffee so I could push through or just napping. Napping won! I got a SOLID three hour nap and it was glorious! 

Several years ago Zach and I went to Ikea and then tried to find my favorite Italian restaurant, Provino’s. It ended up leading us on this wild goose chase to a different Italian place called Sarifinos. We loved it and had an awesome experience and it just so happens that it’s located only 15 min or so from the hotel where we were staying! DUH we had to revisit!!! (You can see about our first visit here!) This time there was a lot less drama, and less customers. We were the ONLY people there! And the same mobster owner was there and said he recognized us which was pretty good for it having been so long ago!

It’s funny how things change. Zach still LOVED the bread but it was overkill for me. I just didn’t like it! SO crazy!

But the manicotti? A-Mazing. 

We really had a great dinner. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to have FUN with all my anxiety about the appointment the next day but I was able to! We have a LOT going on and while some of it is more stressful than the appointment, it also does make it easier not to focus as much on Zach’s health situation. When we got back to the room I posted a pic on Insta/FB and asked for specific prayers regarding our appointment the next day. Specifically to pray that they are aggressive in their plan of action to keep a second episode from happening for as long as possible! 

Right after I posted the pic we decided to read over all the info they had us print off prior to the appointment. And yall, it was such a GOD moment because in their paperwork they said that their mission is to “work aggressively to slow the progression of the disease” I mean how great was that? I felt SO good after reading that!!!

We hit up Publix after we had dinner and got some cookies and chocolate milk and had us some How I Met Your Mother chill time before bed (I was AMPED b/c that nap haha)

Zach and I had bought this shirt together on our Christmas trip (and had worked out what all I’d wear with it when I bought it! Ha!) so I wanted to wear it on a day we’d be together a lot ๐Ÿ™‚ 

I also wore my pineapple necklace, that Katie gave me, for good luck!

I wrote all about the appointment and my feelings regarding everything here! 

Check out all the blood they got from him though! They tested him for EVERYTHING under the sun to make sure he’s good to go for the infusions! (Not gonna lie…I was pretty glad he’s the one with the MS in that moment. I HATE NEEDLES)

They gave us a ton of great info about MS to read over together to better understand the disease. 

We are hopeful that this medicine is going to be a great blessing for Zach!

We were at Shepherd for almost 3 hours. We had expected it to be an hour long thing. We figured we’d hit up Ikea right when they opened then head home and be back in time to get Kye off the bus. We debated going ahead and heading home right then but we did have several things we needed from Ikea with all these bedroom rearrangements and it was the best time to do it since we were TOGETHER.

We only had a 5 min drive from Shepherd to Ikea so I was able to call his mom and give her the run down of the appointment but I felt bad I couldn’t call anyone else or really send a very good text at that time because we were in rush mode!

I told Zach while at Ikea that I’m SUPER thankful we went right after the appointment. Having something else to focus on right then was what I needed. Driving in the car for three hours with all that on my mind wouldn’t have been a good thing! 

Nursery chair!

I really like these knobs! Trying to think how we may incorporate them into the nursery too!

This was a must buy for the nursery! It’s crazy to me that this is the LAST nursery we’ll ever decorate! We hadn’t even really sat down and made hardcore plans. I had an idea and Zach really liked it so we’re rolling with it!

Ready to shop till we drop! 

Casey mentioned to me that we HAD to get some Ikea cinnamon rolls! Zach was so sweet to buy a whole box for the kids ๐Ÿ™‚ 

We had a little issue with a chair. We bought a yellow chair for the nursery but then when we got it it wasn’t the right yellow (it was one of those Ikea items where they have to go get it from the back so they required us to pay for it before we even got to see it!). I did the return of it and Zach went and purchased the black. Otherwise we found everything we needed with very little issues and we did good not buying too much random stuff either (hard to do at Ikea!)

Loaded up!

On our way to the car I told Zach we should make an IG Story once we got in the car. I thought it’d be funny to say “You just got diagnosed with MS, where is the first place you want to go?” And Zach say “IKEA!” haha But our plans got ruined when we got in the car and it wouldn’t crank. We realized I’d left an interior light on and that the battery was dead. We had just had it die a week prior due to Zach’s cooler being plugged in. It was a BAD situation. Our car was forward parked in the parking space in-between two cars so there was no way anyone could come beside us and jump us. 

Zach was able to get it into neutral and I had to steer while he pushed the car down the parking garage and into a handicap spot by the entrance. Y’all. People just are terrible. I remember one time we were at Ikea and saw a lady with her child and she seemed to be struggling carrying everything so Zach took her to her car and carried her stuff for her. Hello. That’s called being NICE. Yet here we were, clearly struggling and NO ONE OFFERED TO HELP. Finally Zach made a comment about it and I said very loudly “yeah it’s like everyone thinks you’re just pushing your car for fun!” And a lady walking by heard me and offered to help. Which we’re thankful for! It’s just sad that SO many men walked right by and didn’t even offer to help Zach push. 

I went inside to ask Ikea customer service for help and they called someone to come help us but by that time the same lady who offered to help had found jumper cables in her car and helped get us rolling. It was SO nice of her. Seriously with a young child in her arms? I probably wouldn’t have offered and wasn’t really thinking bad of her for not offering to begin with. I just love that I’m married to the type of man who ALWAYS offers to help and I want to raise our children to be that same way! 

We got the car going and headed straight for an Auto Zone. Reminder: IN ATLANTA. Y’all. It was a rough, rough area where we got off the exit and Zach was wishing he’d had his gun on him just in case. They did a battery test and it was shot so we had to get a new battery. Guess it’s good we got that free hotel room b/c we more than paid for it in the battery cost!

It was after 2 by the time we actually got going. And we still hadn’t had lunch (we had a super quick MCD on the way to the appointment at 7:45!). We stopped at an O’Charley’s to eat. 

By this point my emotions were coming out. I was upset about the diagnosis. The label. I was overwhelmed with all the news (good and bad) and just needed to cry a little. It was struggle city and def wasn’t as much as a fun lunch date as dinner had been!

I seriously am the emotional eater type person. I told Zach I just wanted to get a bunch of junk food. We had to get gas and I grabbed a super size bag of skittles haha I was pumped that his meal included a slice of pie!

On our drive up to Atlanta we went over questions about Shepherd and made a list of things we needed to look for at Ikea. On the way home we read over every single booklet the dr had given us on MS. It was very easy to read and understand and was good for both of us to have that knowledge. Which, by the way, I don’t plan to research much outside of that information. I love hearing PERSONAL advice and experiences from others but I don’t want to overwhelm myself with the internet. It’s just TOO much when you start down that path and it usually ends up not even being productive anyway!

We also read through all the lists of recommended adoption agencies! Of the 10 that Casey Z sent us we had one with a ? to ask her more, 2 no’s and 6 that would be a possible good fit for us! Yay! 

It was a pretty eventful little trip for Zach’s first appointment! I felt SUPER bad how late we got back. We’d originally hoped to be back by 3:30. But then with the dr appointment taking longer, Ikea, AND the battery saga it ended up being right at 6. I was BEAT and seriously have so much more appreciation for my traveling husband now when he has to drive a long way for work. He puts over 40,000 miles on his car a YEAR. I can’t fathom driving that much and having to work too!

I’m thankful for any quality time Zach and I are able to have together. I love that even something as simple as a dr appointment turns into an adventure that we’ll always remember ๐Ÿ™‚ 


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