From the Mommy Files…

Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

Hey there! How’s it going?

Yesterday was the last day of school. Like you, I’ve been mired in all the end-of-the-year events, shopping for teacher gifts, etc. Plus, I’ve been working on an exciting new project, which I will share with you soon. I didn’t want you to think I had succumbed to a new malady, so I thought I’d better check in! 😉

Boo and Bebs enjoying the beach on California's Central Coast.

Boo and Bebs enjoying the beach on California’s Central Coast.

 

Like you, I like to read blogs. (Thanks for reading this one!) Some posts really resonate with me, and I share them on Facebook or Twitter. I thought it would be fun to share them here with you.

Here are my 3 favorite posts from this past week.

1. Saying These 8 Things To Your Kid Every Day Could Change Their Life

I came across this on Facebook, from The Breast Cancer Site. It really hit home. Recently, I have experienced a mindshift in my parenting. I’d been reciting mantras, reading affirmations, trying to motivate, inspire, uplift myself — and boost my confidence. I realized my kids needed this too. These are some great tips to help your kids feel good about themselves, gain confidence, security, and courage.

2. To Build (or Break) a Child’s Spirit

This one comes from Huffington Post Love Matters, by Rachel Macy Stafford. This post reminds us that what we say and how we say it can have a profound impact on our kids. We do get frustrated. Absolutely. No one likes to be yelled at — not even us. We aren’t bad people. Sometimes we make bad choices, and make mistakes, but that doesn’t make us bad people. We have to find ways to turn these incidents into lessons of what not to do, and how to do better. Even something as simple as spilling milk — I know, even when it’s the 100th time — can get our goat. I’ve realized that we need to be positive and use these as teaching moments. We can make they feel awful, or we can teach them that mistakes happen, and remind them they are loved, and they can do better. Sometimes easier said than done, but we all need the reminder sometimes.

Now something just for fun! 😉

3. Bohemian Momsody

This one’s from Scary Mommy. If you don’t subscribe to Scary Mommy, go now and do it! There’s some great stuff there, and some chuckles too. I’m sure we have all felt like this at one time or another. Enjoy!

What are some of your favorite posts this week? What are some of the other blogs that you follow?
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The next morning I got that message. The one we dread.

Huh?

I called. “Can you come on Tuesday?” I tried to keep it in perspective, since I was warned that I’d likely get the call. “Tuesday’s 3 days from now,” I thought. Perspective. I set the appointment, telling myself I’m OK.

Over the next few days, I’d remind myself repeatedly, that it was a formality; I’m OK. I even tried visualization: The doctor says, “We had to double check, because we don’t have any comparison images. Everything’s fine. See you next year.”

That morning, my husband and I discussed the day’s events. “Last week was the “Panini Treatment.’ Today, ‘The Crusher!’” I said, in my most sinister sounding voice. I thought he’d laugh, but he gave me a bewildered look. “Glad you’re keeping a sense of humor,” he responded. Do I have a choice?

I got the kids off to school and headed downtown. I approached the women’s hospital and thought, “I really hate this place!” This is the same place I went for my D&C, and chemo. I reminded myself that my younger daughter was born there. I walked inside, and remembered waiting with my husband by the front windows for the tour of the then-new hospital. Smile.

Then there was that familiar feeling: “Here I am again on the damned 4th floor!” I gazed to the right—the cancer center—where I’d spent so much time a few years before. I’m OK. I’m OK.

This time it was a left turn. The sign greeted me: “Diagnostic Mammography/Breast Ultrasound.” Couldn’t miss the big sign on the back wall: Lynn Sage Comprehensive Cancer Center. Deep breath. I’m OK. A volunteer greeted me and showed me the changing room. Ahhh, the lovely green ensemble. This one had a different print. How chic! NOT.Imaging Sign

“You brought a book!” the volunteer said. “You’ve been told how things work here.” “No,” I responded. “I spent a lot of time on the other side of this floor. I know how it goes.” She looked puzzled, but then gave me instructions.

I waited with 2 other ladies, all in lovely green gowns with different patterns. No one spoke. We all waited. One lady was called for her test. The other was told she would need an ultrasound for verification. No one made eye contact. Everyone seemed to do their best to keep calm. I opened my book, but then took out my notepad instead. I wrote: We just had to double check, because we don’t have any comparison images. Everything is fine. See you next year for your regular mammogram. I recited the mantra over and over. Everything is fine. It HAS to be.

Then it was my turn. “Microcalcifications,” the tech explained, showing me the original mammogram. “We don’t know why women get them, but usually they’re harmless. Oh, and it has nothing to do with how much calcium you get in your diet.” She also informed me that 1 in 4 women are summoned for further imaging, and of those, 75% are first-timers—meaning it’s the baseline mammogram, and they require additional imaging to see all angles so they have images to compare in the future, and also to get a closer look at anything suspicious. Both breasts were to be imaged, because both had these pesky, tiny “white” calcium spots. Again, I’m one of the “Chosen Few.” I’ve already been one, twice already. Enough.

Disrobe. Approach the torture machine. Be twisted, flattened (even more so than the last time).

I think she took four images on each side. She interchanged different pieces of the machine, then mushed and crushed, and basically put my breasts in a vice. “The Crusher” for sure.

Deep breath, hold it and don’t move. OK. Step back. Now come straight in, hold the other breast away, lean in, sorry I have to make this really tight…

The images would be viewed by the radiologist, and then they’d discuss them with me. I would leave with results! I was escorted back to the waiting room. Woman #1 was back, and was soon called to be told she needed ultrasound. A new woman was in there waiting. Was it the same routine for all?

Twenty minutes later, a new tech came, calling my name. “Come with me. We’re going for ultrasound.” She showed me the images, and told me they needed a closer look at several areas. As I lay on the table, arm behind my head, all I could think of, was “I hope my pits don’t stink too bad!” No deodorant is allowed day, as on the imaging, it can resemble something daunting.

I watched the screen. I was curious. I’d watched all the ultrasounds I had with my pregnancies – even the molar pregnancy. But these images were foreign. She clicked, measured, moved around. I don’t know how to read all the abbreviations on the screen, but it sure added to my anxiety level. At one point, I thought I saw a face, formed by things in the scan. I’ve seen this face before — in the ultrasound where we first suspected the molar pregnancy. I was sure my eyes were playing tricks on me.

“The radiologist is waiting. Just stay here and try to relax. Likely, she’ll want to come and double check.” A few minutes later, the tech and the radiologist entered the room. “The microcalcifications are nothing to be concerned about,” the radiologist said, and gave me the “baseline speech.” Phew! I’m in the clear!

Not so fast!

“This is the area that I wanted another set of eyes,” the tech said, pointing to the right side of my right breast. Using the ultrasound wand, the radiologist scanned. I didn’t know what she was looking for, as she click-clicked to capture images and measure things.

Then the other shoe dropped.

“It may likely be just an unusual convergence of the ducts, but something looks suspicious. I can’t really tell by the ultrasound. You have two options: scan again in 6 months, which I don’t recommend, or biopsy,” the radiologist explained.

Are you kidding me?

“It may be nothing. The only way we’ll know is to check. It’s small. We need to know what’s in there, and we can’t wait. Let’s do a biopsy.”

“Now?!” I murmured, trying not to freak out.

“We can’t do it today. Our scheduler will schedule it for the next few days. Let’s not wait.”

I walked the long hallway back to the changing room. It felt like the last mile. What just happened here? This can’t be happening. Slightly numb and feeling sick to my stomach, I changed and waited for the scheduler.

She wanted me to come back tomorrow. No-can-do. “OK, come back Tuesday at 2 pm. Arrive at 1:45, and plan to stay 2-3 hours. We never run on time.”

I have to wait a week until the biopsy. One week of all kinds of things running through my mind. One week of agonizing over the possibility of throwing my kids’ lives into chaos – again. As I drove home, I prayed. I asked God. “Am I missing something?” “Am I not grateful enough?” “Am I not doing something fast enough, and you’re trying to light a fire under me?” There’s a reason here. I just kept thinking about my kids—I don’t want them to suffer through another malady.

Now, I wonder: For a baseline, why aren’t women brought in for the full gamut of images from the start, instead of scaring the beejeezus out them by summoning them for further imaging? That would make sense, but nothing makes sense in the world of medicine and insurance.

Have you ever been summoned for further testing? Have you ever had to ponder the what-ifs of a life-changing or threatening illness? How did you react? Have you ever had a biopsy that showed everything was fine? Do share in the comments below.

I’m not talking about lunch.

If you’re over 40, you know what I’m talking about.

MAMMOGRAM.

I hadn’t had one yet, even though I’m over 40. With all my health issues, I think my doctors thought I was being monitored closely, and if anything were going on, it would show up in the CT scan and x-rays I had prior to beginning the chemo resulting from the malignancy of the molar pregnancy, and then later the many MRIs and MRAs I’ve had to have over the last 2 years due to the vertebral artery dissection.

In December, I went for my annual check-up. You know, the glorious visit with the gyne, in which you count the seconds until it’s over? My doctor asked, “When was your last mammogram?” “Never,” I reminded him. “Well, you’re overdue!” he said, and wrote the order.

Fast forward to the night before the appointment. As my husband and I discussed the events of the following morning, I informed him that I was going for a mammogram.

“Ah, the old ‘Panini Treatment!’” he joked.mammo

We’ve all heard the stories of having your breasts flattened like a pancake and squeezed like an orange. I couldn’t imagine.

Now, you will survive this, like every other unpleasant exam. And early detection saves lives! It’s pretty quick. You may have red marks from the machine. Some who are very sensitive will actually bruise. But one thing is for sure. It hurts.

I once compared a breast pump to a Chinese torture device. But let me tell ya, the pump’s got nothing on a mammogram machine. Yowsa!

You get one of those fashion-forward green gowns, and are told to undress from the waist up. Then you get to show off your lovely new outfit in the waiting room until your name is called. The tech explains what will happen, even makes small talk to distract you. Then it comes. You must disrobe in front of this stranger, and stand there with your boobs hanging out. Literally. Talk about feeling vulnerable.

So as your breasts are squished and manipulated into this machine, here comes the “pancake maneuver” —  it pushes down to flatten you out. This compression allows for a better picture of the breast. Fortunately, you only have to hold this pose – and your breath – for a few seconds. It feels like an eternity, but then it’s over. But wait! You have to do the other side! And then there’s the side view – both sides! And if your bones are “high up”, the technician will press on them, to move them out of the way.

The things we have to go through!

While I put on the lovely green ensemble and prepare to be dismissed, the tech asked me if I wanted to see the images. So we had a look. Interesting.

Then came the warning: first time screens many times are called in for a follow-up screen. Huh? Apparently, there are some false readings and since this is the baseline and there are no previous images to compare, many women receive a letter or a call (scaring the crap out of them), summoning them for further imaging.

So I likely will have to repeat this little adventure in the next couple of weeks? Ugghh.

That breast pump is looking more fun right now!

And I shudder to think that I will have repeat this experience regularly for the rest of my life.

As I prepared to leave, the tech reminded me that this will be a regular occurrence, and explained that it will get easier. “Right now you have nice, firm breasts. As you get older, they will be less firm, more jiggly, and it won’t hurt so much.” Like that’s supposed to be something to look forward to? Well, at least I have that going for me right now – nice and firm. LOL

And if the men want to poke fun at this humiliating, uncomfortable and often painful experience, I invite them to envision the same type of machine used to scan their body parts for cancer. Then they may change their minds! He he

A hint for the men: do not tease women about these diagnostic checks. We are submitted regularly to basically being violated in the name of health. And there is no dinner or drinks before, or a cigarette after.

Now excuse me while I get the ice pack.

Have you had a mammogram yet? How was your experience?

 

Been away for a while dealing with my elderly parents. I’ll update you on their situation another time. So much has happened.

 

Let’s shift back to those small beings living in our home…our kids. 😉

 

Bebs is home sick today.

 

Again.

 

On Monday, I heard about this stomach bug that lasted a day, causing vomiting.

I thought, “Phew. Dodged that one!”

 

Spoke to soon.

 

We were up all  Tuesday night.sick_clipart

Just when you think you’re done changing the bed linens for the night…

You know what I’m talking about!

Bebs stayed home from school on Wednesday.

 

Uggh!  I had things to do!

 

 

I’ve got a very full schedule, and not including pick up/drop off, I have about 5 hours, 5 days a week without kids to accomplish it.

I’m singing your song, yes?

 

You’re worried, feel awful for your sick child, and you tend to him/her.

 

But what about the other stuff?

 

I began complaining about all the things that wouldn’t get done that day.

 

You too?

 

Well, there’s my trip to the gym.

I have health issues, and this helps me keep those in check, not to mention it curbs stress, improves my mood, and gives me a sense of “Yeah! I did this just for me!”

I also use that time to read.

Scratch that from the list.

 

Then there’s the grocery shopping, and errands.

 

Oh yeah, I was planning to write.

 

And there is, well, that part-time job.

The one that helps me to celebrate my Greek heritage and culture every day; keeps me involved in the community; gets me published regularly; has been responsible for great learning; offered me the opportunity to meet some really great people (including a mentor!); and, well, I’ve garnered some fans along the way, and their praise and encouragement feeds my ego, and eases my writer’s doubt. It’s more than a job to me.

 

Then there’s volunteering. These days, we must be involved in our kids’ schools.

We have to know who’s in the schools, what they’re doing, and well, if we want activities for our kids, we have to be there to organize and work them – you know. We must also be the teachers’ partners in our kids’ education.

My girls go to two different schools. And Boo attends Greek school on Saturdays.

That’s three schools/PTAs requesting my time.

And I serve on a school board.

You know those days when you have to call and cancel out on something because your child is sick, and it just happens to be the day that everyone else is canceling for the same reason? Yes. We feel guilty when that happens.

 

I’m doing a lot of things, but they’re all very important to me and I make the time for them.

Except on days when I have a sick child at home.

 

NOW WHAT?

 

Most of the to-do list doesn’t get done, and it makes me stressed, and I’ve lost my sense of accomplishment for the day.

Those little things like checking off parts of your to-do list go a long way.

 

I started to complain, and then I stopped myself.

 

I pulled out the to-do list.  to do list (4)

 

Time to re-work it.

 

What could I accomplish with my child home?

Is there anything on tomorrow’s list that I could do at home, and shift some of the other stuff to tomorrow?

 

As my daughter slept, I took the opportunity to write.

 

I made some phone calls, did some work.

 

CHECK. CHECK. CHECK.

 

Then I switched to some household tasks.

– Planned dinners, made the shopping list.

— Cleaned out a cabinet, then started to file some papers.

Those were much lower on the list, but I’m here, can’t go out, so might as well.

 

I couldn’t get to the store that day, so I had to plan something else for dinner with what we had.

 

No gym.

– Watched what and how much I ate that day.

–  Since I was stuck in the house, I made a few more trips up and down the stairs for good measure.

 

I moved my “outside” tasks to the next day.

 

When Thursday rolled around, I got up a little earlier.

– I took care of my writerly tasks before the family woke up.

– I took the kids to school, got that workout in right away – and did a little extra.

– Work

– Volunteered at Boo’s school

– Attacked those errands that I couldn’t do

 

Then it was time for pick up.

 

I actually thought I had caught up from the sick day, and was ready to attack today.

 

GUESS AGAIN!

 

I got up at 5 (These are Golden Hours. I do whatever I want!). Wrote. Answered emails.

 

Then it was time to get ready for school.

 

Boo went to school.

 

Bebs didn’t feel well. Slight fever, lethargic.

 

Staying home…again.

 

As I began stressing about all the things I’d have to give up today, I stopped.

 

Time to re-work the schedule…again!

 

– Fortunately, I checked several things off the list this am.

– Gym? Nope. Extended workout on Monday.

– Lunch with a friend? Raincheck.

– Grocery shopping? Will have to wait until the evening.

 

That frees up some time.

 

What’s on tomorrow’s list?

 

Oh yes.

Laundry. Cleaning.

Let’s go.

 

I’ll be so happy tomorrow. Then I can just play!

 

As winter approaches, we’re all going to have those days when our kids have to stay home from school, and it throws off our day(s).

Try to remember that it’s OK to re-work your schedule.

 

This is a great reminder to not put things off, because you don’t know what the rest of today – or tomorrow – will bring.

 

It’s a reminder to prioritize.

 

Remember that saying, “Man makes plans and God laughs?”

 

It’s so true.

 

Life is unpredictable.

 

We have enough stress. Don’t add to it.

 

Some ideas:

– Make sure you leave some flexibility in your day.

– Schedule the most important tasks early in the day so you’re sure to accomplish them.

– Don’t put off going to the gym until tomorrow, because who knows what the day will bring, and why feel awful that you let yourself down?

– Make that trip to the grocery store today, while you can.

– Don’t leave all the errands for one day a week. Do these throughout the week, when time presents itself.

 

Check these off the list!

 

Take a moment to remind yourself that you aren’t perfect, you are a mom (or a dad), and life is unpredictable.

 

You know what?

 

You’re a superhero already.

 

Know why?

 

Cause you are MOM. Or DAD.

 

Plain and simple.

 

Give yourself a break.

 

Don’t stress.

 

Now, back to my housecleaning.

She was incontinent – hadn’t been in weeks.

The next morning, she had trouble breathing.

I told her if she continued to have issues, we should see the doctor.

She said she’d see how she felt as the day went on.

Later that day, she said she was fine.

Well, she wasn’t.

She was up all night, and kept Dad up for the next few nights.

She couldn’t breathe, wasn’t feeling well at all, but never said a word.

I asked Mom repeatedly if she felt OK, and she kept saying she was fine.

On her fifth day home, the phone rang.

“Hello. This is ADT Home Health Alert. We’ve received an alert, and an ambulance is on its way.”

Here we go again.

Back to the hospital…where we learned it was a very severe congestive heart failure.

Mom had it before, but not this bad. heartmonitor

Later, the doctor said it was so bad, we almost lost her.

My grandmother used to go to the hospital a lot for this, and would spend a few weeks in the hospital.

But that was 20 years ago, and things have changed.

Now, after 3 days, the hospital was ready to send Mom home, with a very intensive follow up treatment.

Each day, my father would need to:

  • Weigh her and log it: any gain of more than a couple of pounds would indicate she was filling up with fluid
  • Take her blood pressure and log it
  • Check her ankles several times a day for swelling
  • Measure and monitor her fluid intake very precisely: too much would put her over the edge, too little would dehydrate her
  • Provide a very strict diet: absolutely no salt
  • Get her to take her meds—all her meds—at the prescribed time and in the prescribed amount, every single day, no exception

We had been struggling for more than a year to get her to take her meds as directed.

There was no way Dad would be able to handle this.

He’d tell Mom to do something and she’d bark at him and he would give up and not mention it again.

It was just easier to do what she wanted than to try to fight her.

So we elected to send her back to rehab.

If she had the strength, she probably would have kicked my ass.

But there was just no way.

The doctor told us that the CHF would not improve, we only try to keep it from getting worse.

Enter a nephrologist – she hadn’t seen one previously but the CHF put considerable stress on her already stressed kidneys.

Another doctor we’d have to visit.

This doctor concurred with the decision to leave the mass alone.

He would continue to monitor her kidney levels, and we’d need to see him every 2-3 months.

This was becoming truly overwhelming – taking her to all her doctors for follow ups was getting to be a full-time job.

And no one else will take the time, advocate for her, ask the needed questions or do any research.

My children began to see their grandmother as the one who took Mom away.

It seemed like I’d make plans with them—even something like watching a movie—then my mother would have an emergency and I’d have to leave.

They would cry like I just took away their favorite lovey.

I don’t want them to remember their grandmother that way.

The sad truth is, they probably will, because she has never really engaged them or tried to do anything with them.

Anyway, Mom went back to rehab.

We checked her in that night at 9 pm.

Yes, 9 pm!

We started to wonder why this couldn’t wait until morning – there had been a bad snowstorm, and it was so late.

Apparently, they couldn’t wait to get rid of her. She was driving everyone crazy.

Well, it’s what she does best!

It took 1 hour to get home from the rehab center.

It was normally a 15 minute trip.

Before I even got home, Mom called.

“Why did you leave me here? They don’t do nothing for me! Get me out!”

This lament would be repeated over and over.

Mom prefers to be waited on hand and foot, and rehab is not like the hospital.

There are less nurses and aides for more patients.

The calls came every hour.

“I could have gone home. Get me out!”

She got meaner and meaner, but by the next day had settled in.

What she missed the most was not having anyone to be her personal slave.

My dad had taken on that role.

Someone she could yell at any moment to do something—and he would do it, even if it meant foregoing something important for himself, like sleep.

Mom would wake Dad up at night if she couldn’t sleep, which was often.

She’d wake him to help her to the bathroom.

She was capable of going alone but why should Dad sleep if she wasn’t?

I’m not exaggerating.

She’d wake up hungry and bully him until he got up to make her something to eat.

And I’m not talking a sandwich or warming up leftovers.

She’d want a fresh meal—she’d demand it.

And Dad would get up to do it.

Of course, he never said a word to us.

He just did it.

Later, we’d learn that Mom had always treated him so poorly.

Even more so than we had witnessed.

And he did what she wanted, because he loved her so much.

And wanted to make her happy.

It’s been more than 50 years, and he’s still trying to make her happy, but unfortunately, she has never allowed herself to be.

But that’s another story.

Did you ever have one of those days – or weeks or even years – when you said to yourself, “I didn’t sign up for this crap!”

I think I’m the poster child!

Life seems to get more complicated by the day.

Can we start 2014 again?

I seem to have lost half a year!

Let me explain…

I started the year all fired up… hospital sign

I had a meeting with my editor to jump start the rewrite on my molar pregnancy book.

I had set some goals.

I was going to make things happen.

It was going to be my year.

Then reality set in.

My 5 year-old, who’d spent 3 days in the hospital in November for Encopresis, had begun seeing a psychologist to help her get over her refusal/fear/aversion to poop.

These sessions resulted in hours more work for me.

Driving an hour to the appointment, an hour there, an hour back.

Then there was the charts, and then coaching and cheering, and sourcing prizes and incentives.

I realized I was spending about 3 hours a day on this.

And I didn’t have 3 hours to spare.

I never thought I’d cheer for poop, sit so long in a bathroom trying to coax a poop out of my child.

It seemed we’d take one step forward, then five back.

Then I got a sinus infection.

My immune system has never been the same since chemo, and when I get sick, it knocks me on my rear, and for a long time.

There were days I could barely get out of bed.

To put breakfast on the table, make lunches and pack backpacks was a difficult thing.

My husband had to take the girls to school and pick them up – every day.

After three weeks, I went to the doctor. He decided it was something bacterial, and put me on pneumonia watch. Yikes.

Two different kinds of meds, and those ribs that I fractured a couple of years ago when I had a bad, enduring cough during chemo?

Those were sore again from the coughing.

It took about a month for me to recover.

Now you may know that my mother has had a lot of health issues, and we have been dealing with her refusing to take her meds, her growing meanness to my dad (the only reason she was not in a nursing home was because he put all his energies into caring for her, and waiting on her hand and foot, though it was never enough for her)

In the beginning of February, Mom was not feeling well.

We wondered if this was her way of bringing attention back to her (she’s done this before) following the death of my dad’s brother’s wife (my dad began calling Greece day and night, fearing his brother would soon follow his wife), and the issues with my little one.

I got a call from the nurse at her doctor’s office.

Mom had gone to see her.

I had no idea.

She had a UTI, and they were going to prescribe antibiotics.

I spoke to Mom, she said she didn’t go to the doctor because she thought she had a UTI, she just wanted to go.

OK, well, at least we found this infection.

She is a frequent flyer on the UTIs.

My guess was always poor hygiene, and a growing laziness to even get up out of her chair to use the bathroom.

Mom was always a difficult sort, and seemed to be her own worst enemy.

A few days into the antibiotic, she seemed to grow weaker.

My aunt—Mom’s sister—is a nurse, and lives a few minutes away from my parents.

She went to check on Mom and decided we should press the emergency alert button and summon an ambulance.

Mom couldn’t get up out of the chair.

She didn’t think she could make it to the door.

My mom seemed out of it.

When I got to the hospital, they were still running tests, working her up.

Finally, they told us her UTI had not responded to antibiotics.

Mom is allergic to many antibiotics and has grown resistant to others (since she takes them so much).

Her bladder was severely infected.

She’d have to be admitted, for some heavy duty antibiotics to be administered via IV.

We gathered her things to go up to her room.

As we got Mom out of bed, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before.

Mom had lost a ton of weight.

Now we thought she’d lost a little; we could tell in her face.

Mom was well over 200 lbs, and she’s only 5’3”.

She could stand to lose some weight, but wow, she had lost quite a bit.

Once in the room, the nurse brought in a scale.

Mom was 157 lbs.

Not two months earlier, she tipped the scales at 215.

What was going on?

She never got out of her chair, and never changed out of her huge nightgowns, so how would we know?

Mom was almost lifeless.

She was incredibly weak, and they started her IV antibiotics.

The next day, they told us the antibiotics weren’t working.

There was no change.

They’d have to increase the dose and the duration.

Hopefully that would do the trick.

In the meantime, she begged and pleaded with Dad not to leave her alone.

She was scared, thought she was dying.

Dad never left her room that week.

A psychologist took us out in the hall to speak to us briefly, and Mom freaked out.

Dad barely ate.

I took him home a couple of times to shower and change, and he wanted to go right back.

Mom expressed to him that she was afraid she’d die, and didn’t want to die alone.

And then of course she threatened that if she were to die alone, she’d haunt him forever.

So what’s a man to do?

So here we are, mid-February:

I’m not 100% well yet.

I’m dragging the Bebs to the psychologist, being a “poopy” cheerleader.

Boo is feeling a bit neglected, acts up. Rare for her.

Then one night, while sitting on the toilet, between poop cheers, Bebs blurts out,

“Is YiaYia going to die?”

I guess I hadn’t thought much about it to that point.

“Will you lose your Mommy?” Boo asked.

Honestly, I lost my mommy a long time ago…but that’s another story for another time.

I guess it was really possible that her body was finally giving up.

The phone rang.

It was the urologist who I’d been chasing for days to get more info on her test results.

 The news was worse than I anticipated.

 

So where did we leave off before I got consumed by moving?

That’s a whole other story.

Oh yes.

STROKE ALERT!

A quick trip to the CT room and back, revealed there was no stroke.

Thank God.

But…

Yes, there was a “but.”

Something on the scan didn’t look right, so the doctor ordered a series of MRIs and MRAs.

The doctor gave no clue as to what he was looking for nor did he share any of his suspicions.

I didn’t even know how many tests I was about to receive until later.

Meanwhile, the vertigo was still an issue, especially with all the tests.

Another doctor came in and told me in order for him to figure out what this vertigo was, he had to do a test that would probably make it worse.

He raised me up quickly and turned my head really fast.

Holy cow!

Talk about speeding up the spin!

“A typical case of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo.”

Say that 10 times fast.

“Or BPPV for short.”

Apparently, we have crystals in our ears that regulate our balance.

When one comes out of place, it creates the vertigo.

The doctor explained that this was treatable.

He said there was a therapy I could do to gently move the crystals back into place, and then it should go away.

OK! So set me up!

Not so fast.

“We have to get the results from your other tests first.”

Meanwhile, Peter left to be at home when the girls woke up.

It would be several hours before I got any answers—or any relief for that matter.

I was given a pill and an injection to help stop the vertigo.

They helped, but didn’t relieve it 100%.

The ER began to fill up – there was a flu epidemic and people were flocking to the emergency rooms.

Eventually, this ER would be shut down.

I had been in the ER for more than 12 hours before I received more information.

Vertebral Artery Dissection.

What’s a vertebral artery?

The explanation I recall from the ER is not 100% correct, so I’m not sure if I didn’t hear it right or it wasn’t explained well.

We have two vertebral arteries—one on the left side of the neck, the other on the right. They are major arteries of the neck.

The one on my left side was torn.

Wait—there’s more.

I was told there was an aneurysm blocking the entry point.

VAD happens typically when there is an injury, or in many cases, a chiropractic adjustment gone bad.

I had neither.

The doctor asked me think back to what has been going on in my life.

We discussed the molar pregnancy, the chemo, the neurological issues I have had since.

It could all be related. They just weren’t sure yet.

This is a rare malady.

And for now, they would pronounce the cause as “spontaneous,” though we would revisit this again later.

So tell me, how did I get two “rare maladies” in a little more than two years?

Lightning struck me twice!

Then came more news.

I was going to stay in the hospital.

And my children?

The nurse said, “Let your husband take care of it. You can’t stress yourself out.”

Well, stress is part of this game we call Motherhood, no?

NOW WHAT?!

A chest x-ray, a discussion about therapies, and a four-hour wait in the hallway for a room.

Yes, you read correctly.

The ER was so jammed, I was moved from my room and had to wait in the hallway of the ER until I could get the x-ray and a room became available.

I was offered the choice of several drug therapies—all involving blood thinners with varying side effects, as well as follow up methods.

I chose Xarelto, which was a relatively new blood thinner, since I wouldn’t need weekly blood work, and my diet would not be restricted.

Then came the rules for this game.

“There are several things you will no longer be able to do, and some for now, let’s put on hold,” the neurologist explained.

“You have to take it easy, and no stress. You need to heal.”

I told him I was a mother, and that was an impossible task.

“Well, you have to try,” he insisted.

Then came the litany of activity restrictions:

No running, no jumping.

No prolonged movements of the neck.

“You know when you go to the hair salon and they put your head in the shampoo bowl?” the doctor asked.

“Don’t do that. It can give you a stroke.”

WHAT?!!!

“No quick movements of the head either. Use extra care when you drive.”

There was more.

“No neck massages, no yoga.”

How was I supposed to relax?

“No aerobic activity. Walk on the treadmill, but at a slow pace and only for a short time. Listen to your body. If you get dizzy doing anything, stop.”

“Take your meds once a day with dinner. Do not forget or you will be an increased risk of stroke.”

I asked how likely it was that I could have a stroke.

The doctor said it was VERY likely if I didn’t follow the rules, and somewhat likely even if I did.

He told me that I was lucky.

Lucky? How do you think this is lucky?

It seems that most people do not know they have VAD until they have a stroke.

If you hear of people under 50 having a stroke—this is most likely why.

So I was a walking time bomb.

“Oh yes,” the doctor said. “You might want to not play with the kids. No horsing around whatsoever. Do not lift them. Do not lift anything heavier than 10 lbs.”

“Are you kidding me?” I asked.

“I wish I were,” he replied.

17 hours after I arrived at the ER, I was finally on my way to a room.

Somebody wake me up from this nightmare.

This cannot be happening!

————————————————————————————————————————

Check back soon to learn what happened next.

 

 

 


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