Tag Archives | doctors

I’m A Mess

This past year and a half has been very difficult for me. I had five surgeries within 14 months, starting in 2016. It’s why I haven’t really been blogging as often as I’d like. I won’t bore you with the details of the surgeries but they came in such rapid succession and that’s what has made me go from anxiety with occasional panic attacks to my current state which has transformed to severe anxiety with frequent panic attacks, including the dreaded anxiety attacks first thing in the morning.

I didn’t take as good of care of myself as I should have with each recovery from surgery and it’s definitely taken a toll on me. I feel so anxious all the time and my body still feels like it’s in recovery mode. It’s been frustrating for me because I’m still not 100% physically and the frustration leads to anxiety which leads me to have panic attacks.

If you’ve never had a panic attack, you’re very lucky. Mine starts out with feeling a sense of dread. My heart starts pounding. It’s difficult to catch my breath. My mind starts racing. I feel dizzy. My heart gets to where it feels like it’s going to beat out of my chest. I feel like I’m going to give myself a heart attack. The sense of dread increases. My heart’s beating so fast, my mind is racing, I’m feeling dizzier, and there are times I even get so worked up that I throw up from the anxiety and panic. It feels like I’m a prisoner in my own body and want nothing more that to escape myself.

So, for the past 18 months, my anxiety has grown to where it can be debilitating at times. I’m getting more concerned now because this is the time of year that my depression starts rearing its ugly head.

Since I cut out all news out of my life last month, the anxiety has become a little more manageable. I’ve been trying to ride out the panic attacks without reaching for my xanax prescription but that can be really difficult. Hmmm, would I rather feel like I’m in a fight or flight state of panic for half the day or should I take something that I know in 20 or so minutes will have me feeling more in control of my thoughts? But, I don’t want to have to depend on medication every time.

The problem is, I still have an ongoing medical issue and while I’ve had two surgeries for it where I thought both times that I’ll finally be feeling healthy again and won’t have to deal with this problem anymore. Low and behold, once I’m confident it’s finally not an issue anymore. the fucking thing pops back up. I feel like there’s no end in sight and my ENT doctor has been calling this “unusual and rare”.

He seems to be at a total loss about what to do and mentioned sending me to Boston. For now though, he’s waiting to see if medication will help. I know it’s not going to because in the past it never did.

I’m just feeling so frustrated and at a loss.

What I’ve been missing is writing. I know that’s something that will help clear my head and help my anxiety while also giving me an escape from these ongoing medical issues.

I just don’t know if I can still keep up the blogging, not that I’ve really been keeping it up that often. But, I’ve been blogging for over seven years now and I’m not quite sure I can completely let it go. So, for now, I figure what the hell, even if I don’t have much to say, I should just write anyway. It’s such a nice vacation from my anxiety ridden mind and the physical pain I’m still in.

So, now you know what’s been going on since last year. It feels good to clear the air and talk about the terrible time I’ve been having.

I know I’ll get through this rough time but right now it feels like it’s going to last forever. I’ll leave you for now by saying thank you for listening to my issues.

I’ve got issues, you’ve got them too, so give yours to me and I’ll give mine to you.

Your welcome for getting that song stuck in your head.

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Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Since I had hyperemesis gravidarum with my first pregnancy, with the little hummingbird, I’ve called it “that Harry Potter sounding spell”. I’ve since had it with each pregnancy and let me say this.

It is NOT “bad morning sickness”.

HG isn’t anywhere in the same category. One of the ways that I’ve tried to describe it to my husband is that it’s like comparing a paper cut on your finger to breaking your hand.

I much rather refer to hyperemesis gravidarum as extreme pregnancy sickness. Not that morning sickness is a walk in the park but HG is horrible and something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

While I was thankfully never hospitalized for it, last year when I was pregnant, it was agony for many months. The only thing that I could really keep down was iced tea lemonade and I remember how my ob/gyn became really concerned when I lost over 10 pounds in just a few weeks.

As far as my experience with it, something as simple as water is completely and utterly repulsive when you have HG. Even smelling water was horrible. Yes, water had a smell to me.

Sounds and movement even aggravate HG. Like when I would lay on the couch and my daughter would hop around by me. I would be in agony. Or I would still be in bed and my husband would be talking to the hummingbird and his deep voice would seem amplified and actually make me sick.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is like when you drink too much and get the spins and say “I’m never drinking again”. But instead, you have this awful motion sickness feeling 24/7 for several months.

Pregnancy should be such a happy time. Being excited about seeing the beautiful life that you’ve created and hopeful when it comes to the future with your child.

Every single day, I felt like I wanted to die when it came to having HG. Sure, I thought I would die because of how sick I felt. But at times, I would think being dead would be much better than dealing with the day-to-day sickness that was completely overwhelming when it comes to having hyperemesis gravidarum.

The so-called “happy time” in my life was such a nightmare for me. I tried everything possible to help with this awful pregnancy sickness. I’m allergic to the more common anti-nausea medication but would take another kind and still, it did very little to ease the HG.

Nothing helped my issue with hyperemesis gravidarum.

I have given so much thought when it comes to having another child because of dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum. It’s truly the hardest decision I’ve had to make. Especially with having a 6 year-old to care for.

Despite wanting to have another child more than anything in the world, having HG with my last pregnancy was more brutal than the previous times and that concerns me.

Time is ticking away to try one last time. I’ve been trying to convince myself that it will be perfectly fine if I just have one child. It makes me feel ungrateful at times to want another, especially when so many people go through heartache and many years to try for a baby.

But honestly, I long to have another child… even if it means my head will be in the toilet for 9 months.

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Guest Post: When Cancer Hits Home. The Blog Post Emily Hopes You Never Need To Read.

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This guest post is from Emily Fowler who doesn’t have a blog (she should!), but you can find her on Twitter: @Ladyaero3. If you’d like to guest post, email me at elle dot mommyhood at gmail dot com.

~~~~~

My husband was diagnosed with cancer three years ago when my son was nine years old. In the time since then I have had to muddle my way through figuring out how to help our son deal with the fact that Daddy has cancer. While I fervently hope none of you will ever need to learn the lessons I have learned, I think they can actually have a much broader application for some of the other family challenges we all face.

1) Your kids know when something is wrong, so don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes

When my husband first went to the Dr, we didn’t know for sure it was cancer (on that Friday afternoon we were only told “It doesn’t look good, come back for more tests on Monday”…seriously?!). We decided to wait to tell our son until we had more information. The thing about kids, though, is that they’re so much more aware than we think they are. Despite our attempts to keep things as lighthearted and normal as possible, on the way home from the Farmers Market that Sunday, my son asked from the backseat “Mom, why are you so sad?”

We carry a lot of stressors as parents (family illness, unemployment, loss, divorce) and while we don’t want to make our kids carry those burdens, we can’t hide them from our kids either. Letting our children know (in age appropriate terms**) what’s happening and how you are going to handle it can make them feel much more secure- “Well, it sucks, but Mom & Dad know what’s happening and they’ve got it covered.”

2) Build your kids a safety net

For most kids, they have an innate belief that if something really bad happens, Mom or Dad will be there to catch them when they fall.  When our children are faced with the sudden awareness that Mom & Dad might not always be there, it can throw their whole world off axis. No matter what is causing the tilt (having dual homes after a divorce, learning that parents are not immortal), one way to help kids regain their footing is to show them in black and white what their safety net looks like.

To alleviate my son’s fears of being left alone (‘cause he figured if Dads could go away, Moms might too), I sat down with him and wrote down who would take care of him if something happened to me. Because my son is a “what if” kind of kid, I had to make the list about 12 people deep before he felt secure that all the bases were covered, but it did the trick. Having that list also made him feel safer when Dad was in the hospital and someone else had to pick him up from school for me- he knew who had his back.

3) Remember that your kids are still growing

There is a very big difference between how a nine year old deals with things and how a twelve year old deals with things. That’s true no matter what is happening in your life, but it’s something that really hits home when you have a situation that stretches over the span of years. It means that every once in a while you have to stop and really look at whether you’re still meeting your kids’ emotional and intellectual needs when it comes to dealing with a family challenge.

While we have had the help of a school counselor the past couple of years, we  recently decided (including input from my son) that it was time to get my son a different level of support (in our case, a counselor who specializes in working with kids and families with a major or terminal illness).

Being a pre-Teen (oh, the fun of hormones and mood swings!) is hard enough- trying to deal with that and a family crisis at the same time is just adding fuel to the fire. Where my son’s nine year old self was more comfortable venting to me, his 12 year old self needed an additional outlet. Sometimes he asks me to stay and sometimes wants to talk to the counselor on his own. It’s all good. And in a few years, he might need something else- I’ll need to keep checking.

Also, remember that your very smart kids are getting smarter all the time. While we have always given our son the facts about cancer (except for life expectancy, since even our Dr. can’t tell us that right now), over the years the detail level of those facts has had to increase to meet our son’s age and intellectual curiosity.

Dumbing down the answers just leaves him frustrated and confused. So, every once in a while check in with yourself (and your kids!) to see if you are trying to help them in their understanding of their world or if you are trying to hide it from them. If you find it’s that latter, go back and read #1 again.

4) Take care of yourself

Wait, what? Yes, this is a list of ways to help your kids, but you just can’t do that when you’re so worn out or sad or empty that you can’t even crawl out from under the covers. During my husband’s stem cell transplant, my sister helped organize a list of folks that wanted to be of service. One of the things she organized was time off for me.

One night every other week, someone would take my son for a fun night out and another person would bring dinner for my husband while another friend got me out of the house for a couple of hours. I didn’t think I needed that, right up until I left the house.  Suddenly, my shoulders didn’t feel quite so weighed down and my mind had something besides worry to focus on. I came back from those couple of hours with my batteries recharged and my empathy back in place (it can wear down when you’re a constant caretaker). When the road is rough, don’t forget to pull off at a rest stop now and then.

**Over the last three years I have had many folks ask me how to explain cancer to younger kids. With so many people living longer lives these days, it pops up more than folks might think (especially with Grandparents or even Great-Grandparents).

I have seen instances where people just try to hide it (“Grandma’s just under the weather” but then she ends up in the hospital, leaving kids panicked that their next cold is going to be fatal) and some where the clinical explanation given to kids would have been hard for pre-med students to follow.  And so I offer up what I told my son on that very hard day three years ago.  I hope you never need to use it.

“Cancer cells are regular cells that have gone wonky (or weird, or crazy, or whatever word your family uses for something that just isn’t quite right). The cancer cells then try to make lots of other cells just like them. That can get in the way of our healthy cells doing their jobs, though, which can mean our bodies won’t work right anymore.”

In response to “Does cancer make you die?” (The second part is chemo specific, so change as needed): “If certain parts of our bodies can’t do their jobs any more, then, yes, it can make you die. But we’re fighting those cancer cells. The Dr. is giving some medicine that kills fast growing cells like cancer so we can keep it from going places it shouldn’t be going.

Our bodies have other fast growing cells too- like the ones that grow our hair- so they might lose their hair for a while, but it will grow back. They will need lots of extra rest to fight the cancer, but we’re all going to be sending lots of love to help. Would you like to draw them a picture or write them a letter? I know they would like that.”

*Dixie Chicks

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My first thought was “Fuck me gently with a chainsaw!”

Making sure she has the essentials for her hospital stay, including her drill.

Making sure she has the essentials for her hospital stay, including her drill.

So, as you may know, the little hummingbird was hospitalized at Stanford for an 18 hour controlled fast a few weeks ago (thank you all so much for the support!). I’ve had the hardest time writing about if because it triggers my postpartum PTSD but I’m forcing myself anyway.

We had to get up at the butt crack of dawn the day of to get to Palo Alto and I was in a panic the whole time. While waiting to be taken back to her short stay room, my husband was turning in paperwork and my xanax that I took earlier was kicking in.

Then, out of nowhere, this major hottie comes out into the waiting room and he was asking for the hummingbird. Apparently they put her down as a male so he went up to a little boy who was playing by the bird.

I was trying to get the words out that the hummingbird was my daughter but oh my lawdy, this male nurse was so unbelievably hot. He was tall, dark, and handsome and looked like he belonged on the cover of GQ magazine.

Seriously people, this guy was fucking gorgeous.

The hot male nurse. Oh, yeah!

The hot male nurse. Oh, yeah!

Then he introduced himself and said that the hummingbird is his only patient for the day and I was thinking halle-fucking-llujah and heard angels singing.

The hot male nurse was the perfect remedy for this panicky, stressed out mama.

Long story short, the poor hummingbird had her poor fingers pricked to death for most of the day. Finally at the 17th hour of the fast, her blood sugar started dropping and they were able to get the vital blood work that was needed.

Then, to get her blood sugar up, the hot male nurse gave her a shot of glucagon. It’s the stuff we’ve had on hand for years in case her blood sugar drops really low. We’ve never had to use it before though.

Sticker fun!

Sticker fun!

Guess what? This shit didn’t work and her blood sugar dropped even further. That’s when the room started to fill with more doctors and nurses and I was about to flip the fuck out because that was my biggest fear. That her blood sugar would drop really low and they wouldn’t be able to bring it back up.

I had to step out of the room for a few to try to pull my shit together but I was in tears.

They tried another shot of glucagon after 15 minutes and nothing happened. That’s when they got out the sugar-water and finally her blood sugar started going up to normal levels.

Whew!

Finally the hummingbird was stable but we had an appointment with her doctor at Stanford the next day so we stayed in a hotel that night.

First we hit a Mexican restaurant so this mama could down some margaritas and then we had to listen to an older couple in the booth behind us have this huge argument. It was intense and the guy was dropping f-bombs like crazy.

Sure, my favorite word is fuck but damn, he was doing it in a public place with families all around. It took all I had not to say something to this guy.

Come to mama!

Come to mama!

Back at the hotel, the hummingbird wasn’t quite sure of her new surroundings for the night. The hubby and I were about to drop dead from the stress and exhaustion from the day and the hummingbird just wanted to zoom around the room.

I was crashed on the bed and woke up to the bird running around the room and turning on and off the lamps. Then she would run to the cheapo microwave, turn it on (it was on defrost) with the knob, let it run for a few seconds until it beeped, and she would continue this routine several times.

Finally when we got her to bed, she slept with me and I spend the night with her kicking the shit out of me. That girl is a violent little sleeper.

The next day, we went to see her doctor at Stanford and we found out after all of this time of thinking she’s hypoglycemic, she’s actually not but could have something that’s similar but rare.

My first thought after hearing this was “Fuck me gently with a chainsaw!” and it took all I had to not blurt it out in front of the doctor.

Her doctor really has no idea what could be wrong and now we are back to square one. She’s contacted a metabolic specialist at the children’s hospital in Philadelphia and that’s where we are at now.

The one new thing they want us to do though is give her uncooked cornstarch every night before bed. It’s a carb that slowly releases into the blood stream that can help prevent the occasional dips in the hummingbird’s blood sugar.

The real kicker is that they want us to build up and give her four fucking tablespoons at night and mix it in yogurt or pudding.

Yes, four fucking tablespoons. Ummm, we haven’t succeeded yet and I’m not at all surprised. That shit is nasty, yo.

So, while we thought this fasting and hospitalization was going to give us more answers, we are now left with more questions than ever. Fortunately the little bird has been back to herself and we haven’t had any issues with her blood sugar dropping yet.

She has a 4th birthday coming up next month and is so excited. I very much welcome the distraction from all of these medical issues.

Plus, damn, that hot male nurse really helped. Also, everyone at Stanford was excellent!!

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The Panic: Postpartum PTSD

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It was supposed to be a simple doctor’s visit for the hummingbird last week. She had pink eye, I know, ick, and I knew it would be an easy visit to her pediatrician who would most likely prescribe eye drops and send us on our way.

I usually try to have my husband come along to appointments for the hummingbird but this time it was just me and her.

Two hours before her appointment, the panic started. I tried to distract myself so the hummingbird and I started to play with her kitchen toys. Then the panic and anxiety got worse. I started to feel really nauseous  and my heart started racing.

An hour before her doctor’s appointment, I was a fucking mess. My heart felt like it was going to thump out of my chest and my thoughts become so irrational. I was worried that once we got to the doctor, they would find something really wrong with the hummingbird and I’d have to leave her there, just like after she was born and had to spend 3 weeks in the NICU for low blood sugar.

The panic and nausea became so bad that I threw up, twice. I was trying so hard to keep it together and took my anti-anxiety medication.  It never really kicked in and the panic grew stronger.

20 minutes before we were supposed to leave for the appointment, I was such a fucking mess. I was shaking, my thoughts were irrational, and it got to where I was about to call my husband to see if he could come home so he could take the hummingbird to the doctor.

He’s never really understood what I go through with postpartum ptsd and I decided not to call him after all.

Then the panic really hit its peak and I wanted so badly to call the doctor’s office and reschedule the appointment so my husband could take the hummingbird instead.

I felt like such a horrible mother. My child needed to see the doctor and here I was trying to get out of taking her.

I kept on telling myself to pull my shit together and rounded up the hummingbird. My hands were shaking so bad as I tried to zip up her jacket and I finally gave up.

We arrived at the doctor’s safe and sound but as I was unbuckling my daughter out of her car seat, I stopped for a minute. I desperately wanted to go back around to the driver’s side, hop in, and go back home.

It took all I had to force myself to get her out of the car and make the walk to the doctor’s office.

I completely blanked out from the time I got the hummingbird out of the car until we were about to open the door to the office. I honestly can’t remember anything about those few minutes.

All I know is when we walked into the office, I was carrying her and holding onto her for dear life. I didn’t want to set her down or let go of her but she found a toy in the waiting room that caught her eye.

Finally we were brought back to the exam room and I really thought about telling the medical assistant that I was in the middle of a panic attack and wanted to ask her if she could help talk me down from it.

Then I was worried that I would sound crazy because after all, it was just a simple visit to the doctor. The shaking started up again and I fumbled with the hummingbird’s jacket and shoes so the medical assistant could get her weight and height.

While waiting for the doctor, it felt like my face was on fire, my hands couldn’t stop shaking, and my mouth became so dry that when the doctor finally came into the exam room, it was hard for me to get much out.

My irrational thoughts started to invade my head again and I became so worried that the doctor would think that I was fucked up on drugs and call the police.

I know. It was completely irrational thinking and I even knew it at that time but with me in a panic and my mind racing, I was worried this doctor would somehow become a fucking mind reader and think I’m an unfit parent.

The doctor asked me a few more questions about when the pink eye started and I was barely able to make out the words and speak.

Finally, we were able to leave that fucking place and we safely went back home.

It took me several hours to calm down after the appointment. I even got to the point where I seriously thought I would give myself a heart attack because the panic and anxiety was so bad.

This is what I deal with whenever I take my daughter to the doctor. This is also why I try to get my husband to go with us since the intensity of the panic and anxiety I feel isn’t as extreme with him there.

This is Postpartum PTSD.

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No Radioactive Bunnies Were Harmed In The Making Of This Post. It’s Also A Ranty Post About Military Medical Healthcare.

military healthcareSo, I’ve been doing the radiation therapy and oy vey, I’ve been so wiped out. The long commute doesn’t make it any better. In really disappointing news, I haven’t come across any radioactive bunnies during my treatment. Such a bummer.

One really glaring realization is that the hospital I’m going to is exceptional. If you don’t know already, I’m a Navy wife with the crappiest insurance.

Yes, the insurance is for the most part free but you get what you pay for. I’ll tell you right now, it’s a sad state affairs when the men and women serving this country and risking their lives get screwed over when it comes to health care.

I had my daughter at a military hospital which was one of the worst experiences of my life. Sure, I might sound like a drama queen but these are the facts.

I’ve heard people say they just assume the military gets excellent health care. Wrong! Now, I’m sure millions out there will disagree with me but military healthcare blows. No, we don’t pay much but there have been several military medical fuck ups not only that I’ve been through, but also my daughter, and my husband.

Tricare, get your shit together. That goes for Walter Reed and the Bethesda Naval Medical Center aka, “the president’s hospital”.  Sure, our government gets top notch care when going there but the people doing the real work and putting their lives on the line have to deal with bad attitudes and incompetent doctors.

Wow, I wasn’t expecting to go in this direction with this post. What I really wanted to say was that it’s so amazing to finally go to a hospital outside of the military and be treated with compassion.

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PITA

*Hi all! This is a really busy week for me so I’m having some awesome guest bloggers. If you’d like to guest post, even if you don’t have a blog, drop me an email elle dot mommyhood at gmail dot com. This guest post comes from the always amazing Tricia over at Stream Of The Conscious. And reading her twin faq is an absolute must! It’s one of the funniest things I’ve read. You can also check her out on Twitter at TCStream.

PITA – acronym: “Pain in the [tushy]” (Insert appropriate synonym for tushy as appropriate.)

I have always been a cool, calm, rational and logical individual. I have never had a freak out over a simple matter or let a situation get to me. (Okay, friends and family reading this – once you have picked yourself up off the floor and recovered from hysterical laughter and finished rolling your eyes, please know the above statements are meant to be tougue-in-cheek.) But last night, I panicked (although, I actually did behave calmly and rationally – who knew, pregnancy hormones really do change your demeanor…)

With a collective “duh” among us all, I think we can agree this has been a unique pregnancy experience with ne’re a dull moment. We’ve reached the point where each additional day is a big win for the boys. Last night the contractions came back – yes, again. Around 10:30 p.m. I began to think that something was amiss. At 11 p.m. I called my nurse – she knew immediately something big was afoot as my normal request of the night nurse is “leave me alone!” The whiteboard in my room 16 cell specifically states, “Call your nurse for (1) pain and (2) increased contractions.” I followed directions.

Let me describe the pain. It sucks. A lot.

The nurse paged the doctor. As the clock struck midnight and we welcomed the official start of Week 27, I became convinced that they boys were arriving imminently. The nurse paged the doctors again when she came to check on me and found me mumbling, “No, no – I said June” repeatedly to myself. (I’ve told the twins that June is the earliest they are allowed to greet the world.) As I waited, I debated calling Jon but decided to hold off until I knew what was actually going on.

I had vast quantities of time to create various scenarios in my head. Although the first medical SOS was put out at 11 p.m., the doctor did not arrive to check on me until 2:30 a.m. Allegedly, I was upstaged by a large number of women actually giving birth to children. (Maybe they thought I wouldn’t go into active labor if they ignored me.)

Finally, the doctor arrived to examine me. The devastating conclusion? “You’re fine. We can give you some Tylenol for the pain.” Obviously I was delirious from the pain at this point and I must have heard her wrong. Tylenol? Women actually giving birth (again with their higher status) are given epidurals to completely numb their lower half; I get Tylenol. I suddenly pictured this scenario in an ER situation. “Well, you have seven fractures in your arm. Here’s an ice pack. Call us if any of them become compound fractures.”

Skeptically, I accepted this “miracle” Tylenol, horrified that it didn’t even appear to be the Extra Strength version! I warily eyed the nurse and doctor with a look I intended to convey, “I don’t believe this is an appropriate solution at all” but much more likely came across as “It’s just about 3 a.m.; I’m really tired and I know you’re still going to wake me up in an hour for more medications.”

Interestingly, I finally fell asleep after my 4 a.m. medicinal headcount (still mumbling about June) and when I woke up this morning, the contractions were completely gone. They haven’t been back all day. Maybe there is something to this Tylenol treatment after all. (Please note, when I am actually giving birth I still plan to ask for the epidural – I don’t trust the Tylenol to that degree yet.)

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