Friday, September 25, 2009

It’s all fun and games until someone needs a tumor out.

I’ve been joking about my back issues. Really, what other option is there? Complaining? Not really my style. If I joke about it there is that little shot of endorphins to go with the chatter. Free high .

I hurt. I have medication that takes away most of the hurt, most of the time. Sometimes some as yet unknown combination of meds and food and life make me almost pass out and toss my cookies. Complaining about it really isn’t going to change anything there, so I won’t complain, gripe , bitch, bemoan or yammer on about it. What I will do is tell you the story of the day I got my results. It’s a lesson in keeping your eye on left field. And Juggling.

Before the doc called me with my MRI results, Bekah had a well child exam. We go every year, on schedule. We see the same doctor unless someone has moved - us or them. We get most of the recommended shots and tests. It’s very routine and other than needles, no one has any issues with going to the doctor. This exam was no different. Routine Well Child Exam. I was bragging about how healthy and well adjusted Bekah was as she careened through adolescence. Totally positive, completely routine. Up to the part where the doctor had Beks touch her toes. I looked at my child’s spine and thought “ what the hell is that”?

There was a definite curve to her spine in a direction that it should not have been curving. The doctor was very calm ( I adore this woman) and said “ see this? Usually shows up in adolescence” then she used the word that was already going in my head along with the image of Joan Cusack’s character in 16 Candles..” scoliosis”.

I really do think I heard a screeeech of brakes. I actually said “ wow, didn’t see this coming.” The doctor sent us right off to get x-rays. Beks and I kept up the light banter of the day. I taught her my “ new adventure” theory for medical tests. She embraced it and knowing that she got to miss school all day made the whole experience pleasurable for us both. Weird as it sounds, getting her x-rays was enjoyable.

When I got home I did a quick internet search, and tucked the whole thing into “ wait and see” in my brain files. Then the phone rang.

There was lots of medical mumbo jumbo that I wrote down but didn't understand completely, but the line that stands out is ' nerve sheath tumor, 7mm, most likely benign". It's on, or right next to my spine from what I can figure out. Someone that I told , who is a doctor, said it was probably about the size of a pencil eraser. Other than a little bit of internet research, and then a moratorium on internet research, I’m hanging on the word " benign" until my appointment with a neurosurgeon in a couple of weeks. I expect to find out that it is the neuro equivalent of popping a zit. Badda bing, snippity snip, here is your bill. Have a great life.

I also expect that when I tell people I will get a whole list of people who know, or know of someone, who had the same thing. That it wasn’t a big deal. Happens whenever anyone has any medical problems. I do it myself to offer encouragement and proof that excessive worry might be unnecessary. Truth is, that from this seat, I have mixed feelings about this phenomenon. On one hand it’s reassuring to know that it isn’t a big deal. On the other hand , it’s my back, my surgery, and in my world it is a very big deal.

“ How do you feel?” Someone asked me that. I feel the same but, yet, a bit different. I still hurt but now I know it isn’t a herniated disc or a pulled muscle. It isn’t anything that is going to get better on it’s own or with ice or muscle relaxers or anti inflammatories. I physically feel the same, the same hurt, but knowing that there is a pencil eraser on my spine is a different feeling than a week ago.

I have a recurring memory of Brain telling me it was probably a pulled muscle, as in “ you just hurt yourself, lots of people do, where is my dinner, Edith?”. In a brief moment I thought “ it’s probably a tumor, wouldn’t that make you feel bad!”. Once he was teasing me and actually said “ what if it is a tumor? That would suck.“ That’s how I feel. I feel like when I didn’t know what was going on and let my mind wander over to Worst Case Scenario Land I saw one word there: tumor. And then the frightening fantasy became reality. It feels bizarre.

I still have not heard back on Beks scoliosis screen, but I will take that as it comes. Today I am nursing Noah who last night began a nifty “ Spike fever to almost 104, barf, barky cough, bring fever down repeat” routine. I sent Luke to school with a borderline sick cough . As parents it really is always something. Just gotta juggle as best as we can while looking at life through the filters that work best for us.

The night of the X-ray and the Phone Call I was tucking Beks into bed. She looked a little worried about the bizarre theme day we had. I gave her a kiss and sang one line from a song that got her smiling…“ baby got back..”. I think I have my filter in place. Commence juggling.

Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Friday, September 18, 2009

One more hat for my rack.

Today I went for my MRI on this stinkin' back issue. Now it is more of a back/leg issue. The vicodin takes the edge off of the pain in my legs so that I can sit or drive for more than 2 minutes. It also is doing a nice job on stopping my monthly bosom pain, so that is a delightful added benefit.

I have never had an MRI before. When it comes to new-for-me medical procedures I generally put on my Adventurer Hat and go in brave and bold. I like to think of it all as a new experience and how can that be bad? Sure, it might be uncomfortable, but I try to talk myself into thinking of the discomfort as part of the experience. This manner of thinking has carried me through my first pelvic exam, child birth, broken bones and stitches. It seems to work for me.

I put on my adventure hat ( and Bruce Springsteen, Hard Rock T-shirt I thought it gave off a certain vibe) and went to the hospital. Adventurer Susan filled out her paperwork, took off all her metal jewelry, slipped out of her bra and into some jammy pants. Each instruction and step I took like I was learning how to rappel down Kilimanjaro. All very important to the experience.

The tech took me into the room, after I carefully selected my music. He tried to sway me toward Latino Classic but I held firm with 70's and 80's tunes. He asked if I wanted an eye shade so that I couldn't see that I was in such a tight space. I passed. Adventurer Susan didn't need no stinkin' eye shade. Even in the coffin they put me in. That is the first thing I thought when the table was slid into the MRI tube. Coffin. Great.

I sort of heard the first song in my headphones. The MRI machine is pretty loud. Carpenters. Great. She's dead. In a coffin. Just like me. The next song was Wind Beneath My Wings. Another chick in a coffin song. I didn't hear the other songs, so I can't tell you if there was some sick theme going on. The machine got very loud, and I took every ounce of brain power to go lay on the beach on St Johns. Then I prayed. I heard we should do that without ceasing. Sounded like a good thing to do at this point . It helped keep my breathing at a steady level and keep my head free of images of House episodes where weird things happen to people in machines just like this one .

Somewhere mid prayer I realized I had to pass gas. Big decision here. Try to keep it in and ladylike or let it fly? I opted for the latter. I had been told to lay still and sucking in toots requires some movement. I let it rip. Loudly. I even heard it over the machine noise. I did have a brief moment when I imagined one of the techs just outside of the machine. Certainly I wouldn't be the first, or last, person to have gaseous intestinal by-products during an MRI.

Then I did it again a few minutes later. This one was silent though. I took a moment to try and figure out how many ways to say " fart:--cut the cheese,anal salute, pass wind, poot, toot, stinker.. that's about how far I got before the tech announced through my headset that we were done and I would be slid out in a moment.
I was done and out with my souvenir disc ( " In case your doc wants you to see a specialists you will have a copy."). Back in the Mystery Machine and home. Another adventure completed. Except that it is Friday. I have to wait all weekend to hear back from my doc. And this, dear reader, is why they call us PATIENTS! I wonder if I can get a pith helmut through as a medical deduction?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Not a whiner nor a worrier be

I try not to whine. Much

I am not a natural born worrier. Really.

Right this very moment I am going to do both.

Four weeks ago I was sitting on my porch, having coffee with a couple of friends when I felt a twinge in my back. I thought it was because I had been sitting in a cheap plastic chair for too long( I gave up the good rockers to the company.. I'm nice like that). I shifted in my seat, and finally stood up to relieve the pain. I didn't really give it too much thought at the time. However over the last few weeks I think of it a lot.

My friend Tracy, in jest, might say that it was karma biting me in the back. I had teased her about this very coffee meeting. She wanted to come but couldn't. I exploited that fact. We took that picture just to tease her. I'm not nice like that.

My friend Jennifer, also joking around, might say she would trade what happened to me over what was happening to her at that time. She was in lock-down at an area Walmart that had received a bomb threat.

What happened to me? I have no idea. But over the last four weeks I have gone from thinking I had pulled a muscle, to scheduling an MRI for later this week. After going my usual medical route ( posting on facebook and seeing what the old wives and others have to offer in the manner of therapies.. and trying THEM ALL), I finally went to see my doc. The pain was still in my lower back. She tested me for kidney stones and sent me home with muscle relaxer and anti-inflammatory meds. I took them for about a week. Well, I took them at times when I could be stoned for 4-6 hrs. Ok, I really didn't take too many of them. And really only recreationally. The only thing they did for the pain was make me not care that I hurt.

Over that week ,the pain began to spread from my back to my hips and then shot down my thighs whenever I sat for more than 2 minutes. This was no pulled muscle. I eat all my meals standing at the kitchen counter. I blogged once, twice now, kneeling at my desk. I watch TV laying on my stomach and spend the night waking up whenever I roll to my side or back. I never realized how many times I make the drive to my church and Noah's school. 12 minutes. Sometimes ten of those were spent with tears rolling down my cheeks.

When I finally fessed up to my friends the horror stories began. No one can tell horror stories like moms. We are jaded to most medical ailments, either having had them ourselves, or know someone who did. We flip medical terms and worse case scenarios as easily as we flip pancakes. They scared the poo out of me and made me worry. I called the doc back yesterday. After a very painful exam ( this from the woman who had a hair caught in the OBs speculum once... I know pain) she is thinking herniated disc and scheduled me for an MRI. She also prescribed another, stronger pain med.

I took my first dose and it sorta worked. yay! So I took a second dose before I went to bed thinking I might actually have a good nights sleep. And I did. It was getting out of bed that proved problematic.

I was dizzy. Not my usual, blond dizziness.. really woozy. (yes, I am blond. Dark Ash Blond.. that's what the box says!) As the morning progressed I added hot sweaty flashes to my dizzy fog. I got dressed because we had our annual furnace check up scheduled for 9 AM. Once I got through that I could lay down.

At 8:30 my body decided that the best course of action would be to vomit. Violently. As wave after wave hit me, Noah pulled on my shorts. " Mom, why is there a guy at the door?"

If anyone wants the number of the AC /Furnace repairman that comes early for appointments, give me a call.

So here we are, later that day. Of course sweats and vomiting were on the " CALL DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY" list of side effects. I spent the rest of the morning horizontal. I got up to make Noah lunch and ate a bagel. I've been flushing my system with as much water as I can. I have spoke to my doc and there is a reward waiting for me at the pharmacy: vicodin. That should hold me over til we can figure out what this is and take care of it. I'm pretty sure that is another med that will require me to time my Mom-taxi duties. I'm ok with that.

My goal for this little medical episode is that I come out the other end without any labels.I don't want to be thought a Whiner. Or a Superhero. Or a Martyr. Or a Worrier. I just want to come out with no more pain. Quickly. I hope that's not asking too much. And when I do, I'm going to have another coffee to celebrate. And maybe Tracy and Jennifer can make it into that picture.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Get Down, Get Grubby

When the kids and I arrived home from our vacation, I saw that the whole yard was brown. " It's just dormant" said Brian. My gut told me something different. Upon closer inspection I almost lost the contents of that gut. An easy tug and the brown grass came up like a carpet revealing the enemy. Grubs. The war was on.

Like most wars, this one began long before the first shot was fired. I'm the Lawn Master around here. I take pride in my attempts to keep a sea of emerald...ok, it's not that emerald. But it's my yard. Ours. No, mine. I fertilize it and weed it and mow it. My yard.

Last fall is when the back-story to this war began. I had decided that my yard would not contribute to global warming, and pollution and all that other nasty stuff that chemicals do to the environment. I was going to go green with my yardcare. It just sounds so wonderful. doesn't it? All natural, not harmful to kids or animals or our water source. Who doesn't want a green yard.. just for the color alone?

I began with internet research which led me to this site: Organic Lawncare for the Cheap and Lazy ( Bells rang, angels sang the whole thing made so much sense. I can do this!!

I didn't jump in 100%. I took the suggestions and did some test patches on my lawn. Compost, topsoil, tall fescue seed, I did what this site suggests and was rewarded with beautiful patches of perfect grass. How easy! I could do this for my whole yard!

Come spring, empowered by the winter of yard planning, I set forth to become the first on my block to have a fabulous, and eco friendly yard. I was even contemplating placing little signs like the yard care companies do " This fantastic yard was treated with tender loving care and no chemicals".

I laid down compost, and fresh topsoil and many many pounds of tall fescue seed. When that germinated and was mowable I put down organic lawn food instead of chemical fertilizer. My grass really liked it and was rewarding me. However, the dandelion ( those yellow weeds), henbit ( those little purple weeds) and bindweed ( that viney white weed) loved it even more. The theory that the grass would ultimately take over the weeds spurred me on... for a bit.

Finally, I could take it no more and fell off the wagon. I applied (GASP!) Weed-B-Gone. Weeds died. YAY! I applied more grass food. Then life got in the way of my best intentions and the yard was on it's own .

With all the work, all the product ,all the care I put into my yard I forgot one important element: I did not apply grub killer. I didn't even think about grubs. I was wrapped up in nurturing the grass. I was so involved in my image of a ( cue echo) Green Lawn . I had complete control over the life of these larvae ( of the japanese beetle) but I ignored them. And they rewarded me with destruction when I turned my back.

I spent a week tearing up the yard, peeling away the dead grass, hauling it away and dumping 30 lbs of grub killer on the remaining yard. The next week was spent laying grass seed and dragging sprinklers around until God helped out with some much needed, and nitrogen rich, rain.

Thankfully, the work that I had done earlier this year had enriched the soil and the grass was sprouting and growing to mowing length within a couple of weeks. Even though there are weeds present, I don't mind as much. I know that the soil is good, the grass is strong and eventually I will be rewarded with a pretty decent looking yard. Maybe not the GREEN YARD I had imagined and had been so wrapped up making happen. Definitely not in the time frame I had given myself. But the yard that will grow with what I have been given: the sun, the shade, the dirt, the knowlege I posses, the time I have to spend on it, the money I have to spend on it, and the energy I have to spend on it

Kinda like parenting, huh? How often do we get so involved in OUR image of what our kids can be that we ignore what is festering inside of them? We might be encouraging and nurturing our little ones to become the people we imagine, concentrating on what the neighbors see... but there might be some unseen element inside of them that will eat away all our misspent work. It is a lesson in looking at the whole picture, not just the visible.

We are always going to be slapped upside the head with crises with our kids. But if we lay the foundation, be ever vigilant, ever aware, do the work on issues below the surface we can turn things back on track. I probably won't be the path we had imagined, but it will be the best path for them, using the elements that make them up. They may have permanent scars, like the difference in my grasses, and the ever present weeds. But that is what makes them human. That is what makes them real. Just like us.

Deep thoughts conclude here. Now I present,for your viewing and educational pleasure...... the pictorial Battle of the Grubs:

" DIE GRUBS DIE!!" is what Noah kept saying as he picked up the gross, white larvae from the dirt I exposed. He would fill the bottom of his toy wheelbarrel with them, dump them on the driveways and stomp on them. Repeat. Part of me was disturbed that my young son was so violent-- but the bigger part of me was thinking exactly the same thing. DIE GRUBS DIE!

The largest patch on the front yard. Cleared, grub killer applied and ready for new seed. There are several smaller patches elsewhere in the yard.

Noah looking to make sure the grubs are gone. I laid seed, germinating fertilizer and straw that day. I watered it all in daily, keeping the soil moist.

God rewarded my efforts with a soft, day long rain. Did you know that your yard gets green after a rain because rainwater contains nitrogen? Not so much with hose water.

The first green grass shoots appeared within the week! I did a happy dance in the yard. It wasn't pretty. I also had to keep yelling " stay off the new grass!!!" to all the neighborhood kids.

Three weeks later, the new grass is part of the lawn... actually, the best looking part of the yard.

Another patch of new yard... already being played on by the kids.
About this time I was talking to my next door neighbor and told her the Tale of the Grubs. She laughed and said " I thought you were just doing another organic grass experiment." I might get that " this yard was treated with tender loving care" sign up one of these days. Maybe two signs. They would make a good goal marker for the kids games!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Coming soon to a page near you

As of this past Monday all of my children are back at school. Tiny Tot began his Pre-K year with very little fanfare. He did ' let" me take a picture of him at home before he headed off. He isn't wearing lipstick, he cut his lip playing wiffle ball with Daddy. (For those keeping score that is Wiffle Ball Injuries 2009: 2) He probably should have had a haircut, too, but we were so laid back about his first day of school this year, all he got was a new shirt and the things on the list the teacher hands out.

Our school district has had half day kindergarten forever. Since we moved here, 8 years ago, there have been rumors aplenty about full day Kindergarten. I have heard from a very good source that next year it might happen. I don't have mixed feelings about this. Yes, he is my youngest, the last child at home during the school year ( 2 full days and 3 half days now). But he's ready. I'm ready. I've been SAHMing for 13 years now. It's time. Time for what, that is the question.

At this moment I am hopped up on pain meds which allow me to sit here for a few minutes and type. I'm waiting lab results, and may just have injured my back. Talking. Who hurts themselves talking? I'll have to come up with a good story if that is it, because wow, not that interesting.

" I was having coffee with Sally and Skye and wrenched my back sitting on the porch."

This is AFTER my week plus spent restoring my yard. While I was on vacation Brian mistook Death by Grub for Dormant By August. I ripped up half our yard, hauled the debris away, killed the grubs and have replanted my yard. Without injury. I sit on my porch I get hurt? This is my life.

Oh, and Luke has Lyme Disease and my father is, right now, in the hospital with heart problems. No drama in this family.. nope. None here.

Anyway---- All I can offer up today is a list of topics I will be monologuing in the near future:

- My quest to find what the heck I am going to do with my time once all the kids are in school.

- A battle by battle description, of the War of the Grubs. I think there is a parenting lesson in that.

- My Oldest Child is a Teen. And it doesn't Suck.

- My Middle Child: Lovable Goof or Button Pusher?

-My Youngest Child: Where did you learn THAT??

- Halloween: Protecting my SAHM Cred by making yet another costume.

- Lots and lots of gushy stuff about the amazing people in my life.

- Rants about people who think RULES only apply to others. Or Drop Off Lane Drama

- My desire to get some sort of part time work so that I can afford a vacation next summer. We have tasted this life, and it is good.

- The many illnesses of the Family of a Germaphobe ( who already had us all get our flu shots).

Thank you for checking back in here. Like every other parent, I am amazed how quickly the " free" time gets filled up. The vision of me posting entries as soon as the kids went back, wasn't realized. What else do I have wrong???