Health


5
Jun 13

Normal

All my labs came back totally and completely normal. Normal = good. So, apparently I just need to do things like eat balanced meals at regular intervals, hydrate, exercise, and (duh duh DUH) sleep. Sleep! I miss sleep. I was being good about going to bed early and getting as much sleep as possible. Don’t ask how Lily sleeps; I actually think that she is a pretty good sleeper, all things considered. She definitely sleeps better than Anna did at this age (but, then again, so do about 99% of the babies that I have heard of). Yes, we are still up at night a bit but I am, in general, okay with this. I don’t need suggestions about getting her to sleep through the night. I do believe that she will get there when she is ready. She actually was sleeping through the night (miracle of all miracles) for a while and then she just stopped. And now what I suspect is that she is so super busy throughout the day that she is not taking in the amount of milk that she needs so she wakes at night to compensate. So, anyway, point being, I need to get myself in bed earlier at night (so hard! There is always so much to do! And I enjoy having my grown up, no children time–both with Adam when he is home and alone when he travels), I need to nap when possible. Sleep, sleep, sleep.

Part of me feels like a silly hypochondriac for ever worrying about my exhaustion. The other part of me, the part that is more gentle and forgiving, understands that once someone (me) has had cancer, it’s hard to not take any health complaint seriously. Because there was that time, you know, that time when it seemed like no big deal but actually it was. So kudos to me for being proactive but sorry for being a drama queen. See? I feel mixed about it. I do feel a little embarrassed.

I feel like the new baby fog is starting to lift so that is good. Now that Lily is eating solids in addition to nursing, there are more times when I am able to leave her with others without feeling like I have to rush immediately back home. I am gaining back a little bit of that all-important “me time.” I am a little sad about this, truth be told! Not too much longer before Daddy will do just as well as Mama. It’s all a part of the growing up. I’m excited for this, but it’s bittersweet. We are moving on to the next phase of our lives.

Normal. It’s all going to be okay. I have all confidence that I will reach that 5 year CURED mark, come January 2014. Cured! Cured, people! Can you believe it????


23
May 13

tired

I’ve been feeling extra extra extra super tired lately. The kind of tired where every single activity of the day takes way too much effort. Where I feel like I could close my eyes and sleep at the drop of a hat. Where I wake in the morning and feel like I could sleep another several hours in a row (even on a “good” night). This is beyond the baby-still-waking-at-night kind of tired. This is like my whole body aches like I have the flu kind of tired.

My mind can’t help but go to that place, that place that wants to google “cancer relapse” but I know that that doesn’t help anything, either the worrying or the googling. Tomorrow I’m going to get blood work as my doctor promises that there are lots of other possible reasons for why I’m feeling exhausted.

It’s been a month. I’m sick of feeling like this.


22
May 13

Home

The naptime dilemma:

When I’m cleaning, I’m feeling like maybe I should be resting instead.
When I’m resting, I’m feeling guilty that I’m not cleaning.

I usually err on the side of cleaning but then I get chastised by my (wonderful, loving, well-meaning) husband, who reminds me that taking care of myself is important, too. I have a hard time with this one. It feels almost impossible to do the most basic of self-upkeep. I’m averaging 2 haircuts/year (YEAR!!!). I haven’t been to the dentist in mumble mumble I don’t want to fess up how long it’s been. I have a couple of doctor appointments this week that have felt nearly impossible to make happen. Not saying this to complain, just to state that this is how it feels right now. I don’t come first. Parenthood isn’t about coming first. It’s about always keeping your children in mind first. It’s about selflessness and it’s about sleeplessness. Someday these priorities will shift but for right now, I’ve got my head down and I’ve got my hands full.

And sometimes my house is clean and sometimes I’m rested, but it’s rare to have both.


14
Mar 13

allergies

I wrote a whole long thing about this but when I re-read it, it made even me bored. And it’s about me and my kids and my life and I wrote it. So I erased it. I’ll sum up.

Anna is allergic (anaphylaxis) to walnuts and pecans. So….she can’t eat those. Eating those is very bad.

Lily started getting a skin rash that, as it turns out, is eczema. We had her tested and she is allergic to peanuts and eggs. So….she can’t eat those. Doc says it isn’t necessarily an anaphylactic allergy but, hey, who wants to test that out on a baby? We are told to avoid these for her and for me (since I’m breastfeeding). We will have her retested in a year and see if anything has changed. It only took a couple of days of her and I avoiding the allergens for her face to completely clear up. Crazy.

It’s kind of a bummer but that’s life. We’re pretty well used to Anna’s allergy, living with the epipen and the benadryl and the asking questions at restaurants and people’s houses and the avoiding of baked goods that we can’t verify.

We’re really interested in this article that Adam found. What would it be like to be able to effectively “cure” our kids’ allergies? Why are there so many more kids diagnosed with them? Is it because I ate too much or not enough of something when pregnant or breastfeeding? Is it because we introduced food too early or too late? It’s such a mystery.

I’m hoping that Lily’s allergies go away. From what I’ve read, we have a good chance that she will outgrow the egg allergy, at least, by the time she is 2 or 3 years old. Peanuts? Well, that’s more of a crapshoot. I can hope that she does, but there is no way of knowing whether it will get better or worse in the next few years. Until then….no PB for my baby girl. And no walnuts or pecans for my big girl. It is what it is.


18
Oct 12

By myself

Today as we left the house to walk Anna to school, I suddenly felt completely overwhelmed. Adam saw my distress and told me to meet him back at the house after drop off. I went off, by myself, for a 10 minute walk. I won’t lie and say that these 10 minutes were all that I needed to cheer my restless, sad, tired self….but I found myself on the Bunny Trail (short path near our house where we often see little cottontails), doubled over, crying with relief because these 10 minutes were the most “myself” I had felt in many, many days. These days (and nights) have been, so often, filled with doing for others and the core of me is feeling lost and lonely and resentful. I don’t know how to resolve it. I’m trying to learn to ask for help. I’m trying to focus on what matters. I’m trying to not get caught up in the messy little details of life that can drive me crazy. But I still feel like I’m going a little bit crazy, in the way that lack of sleep and the intensity of caring for a newborn and an older child can make one feel crazy.

I don’t know what I need.

Maybe I need more of these 10 minutes–stolen briefly out of my day–to collapse and weep. To be brought humbly to my knees. To acknowledge that this is hard. That I’m imperfect and that I struggle.

I went back home this morning, of course I did. I might joke about running away, but my little (and big) blessings are at home. It’s hard. But love brings me home, every single time.

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6
Jun 12

Crazy is as crazy does

It’s my philosophy that we all have a little bit of the crazy in us. Some of us more than others. Some of us more visibly than others.

My own particular brand of crazy is a little touch of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Once I (via a therapist many years ago) figured out that *that* is what my crazy is, it started to all make a lot more sense. I sought additional, intensive therapy (in my case, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which has an excellent track record in treating this condition) with a Psychologist who specializes in anxiety disorders like mine. For weeks, I practiced techniques and exercises. It sucked. It was hard. I really, really didn’t like doing it. But in the end, it helped. I got so much better. I was able to hold conversations again and do tasks that once used to paralyze me with fear. As time went by, I was even able to (mostly) forget about it.

But there is something about the hormones associated with pregnancy that make my OCD rush right back in. I’ve been able to hold it at bay, but I feel it there. I have more trouble sleeping. I have these crazy thoughts come into my head–thoughts that, while still there, I’ve been able to dismiss for years now without having to do crazy rituals to “make it better.”

I’m embarrassed about it, even though I know that I can’t help it. My obsessions are mostly surrounding thoughts of bad things befalling myself or people that I love. They are things that don’t make sense. I cringe and have to take deep, calming breaths sometimes when I see Adam cutting food with a knife (even though he has excellent knife skills–did I ever tell you about the time that he was testing out new knives at Sur La Table and the guy helping us asked if he was a professional chef?), or when Anna is running towards me (I imagine her falling and cutting herself open on….what? the ground? I’m not even sure, but I know that in my imagination it is bad), or even just as I’m trying to fall asleep (what if there is an earthquake and mirrors break and cut me and I die and then Anna is left as a motherless child????). It’s not like I’ve even ever been traumatized with a knife or anything. See? They’re kind of crazy, these thoughts. I know this. It doesn’t mean that I can help it, though. My rituals are, similarly, kind of crazy (some of mine are tic-like: I shake my head–to erase the thought, or make a little noise–almost without thinking, for some reason this makes me feel better; my other big one is totally textbook OCD: counting).

I was like this when pregnant with Anna, and for a while after she was born. I think that it is hard enough having a newborn and I’ve read (and had my therapist reassure me) that it is totally normal for a resurgence of OCD symptoms during this time. I mean, SIDS is scary enough, even without an anxiety disorder! So I’m carrying on now, leaning heavily on my tools (confronting myself with the odds of these things *actually* happening, reminding myself that it doesn’t help prevent them to either dwell on them or do rituals to try and prevent them, etc).

I’m putting this out there because in this, like so many other things, I know that I’m not the only one. I’m all about full disclosure. Not that this isn’t hard for me to write about; I have written and re-written so many posts about OCD, read and re-read them, and, in the end, just erased them, because, the truth is, I’m totally embarrassed by it. When I read about this, objectively, it just sounds so….weird. When I read what I’ve written about it, it feels so self-indulgent to go and possess a label for a disorder. I don’t want to obsess about my obsessions, but I want to acknowledge them and move forward. I want to be and do more than this. In the meantime, I’m working through it–it’s part of the challenge of life, isn’t it? The fact that we all have a little bit of the crazy. Maybe your crazy looks like mine, or maybe it looks totally different. Maybe you have trouble with relationships, or you are sad a lot of the time. Whatever it is, you and I, we are probably not so different after all. And, for me at least, that is a comfort. I think we are all a little crazy.


29
Apr 12

Ears and Eyes, oh my!

Last night was totally and completely ridiculous. Like something out of a parenting movie–an exaggeration of reality that, surely, could not exist. The only thing missing was the crying of a baby (I kept thinking, thank GOODNESS the most this baby is doing right now is kicking me and making me vaguely uncomfortable because I don’t think I could deal with one more thing).

Anna had a cold last week. Just a little one. My mom wondered on Thursday if perhaps it had caused an ear infection (Anna was talking REALLY LOUDLY!) and even though I saw this, I willfully didn’t do anything at all about it on Friday because she seemed….better? So what was there to do? Take her in to the doctor’s office because my five year old is talking loudly? That can happen without any physical problems.

So Friday she was fine. Saturday (yesterday) she was fine. She swam with friends and played and didn’t complain of anything hurting. She didn’t seem “off.” At 1:30 am last night, she started whimpering, then moaning, then crying. I gave her Tylenol. This bought us about 30 minutes of sleep. She woke back up, crying, “I just can’t take it! My ears hurt!” and I didn’t know what else to do (not enough time had passed to re-dose her with Tylenol and we were out of Motrin), so I tried a heating pad and then I resorted to the age old Mom’s trick: The rocking chair and a song. This brought about only marginal success, but at least I felt like I was doing something. I also felt like this was one of those moments where it is so physically difficult to keep doing what you are doing, but, as a Mom, you JUST DO IT because, of course! There is no other way. And even though I have virtually no lap left, even though Anna and Baby kept competing with each other for space, even though I was so tired my eyes kept dropping shut, because I just wanted to take away her hurt, we kept rocking and singing, all those songs that I reserve for occasions like this, the songs that are embedded in my psyche. Peter, Paul, and Mary. Simon and Garfunkel. Carole King. Raffi (only as a last resort). And then I start singing the songs that I don’t even know all the lyrics to. I sing fragments. I sing songs that are not child appropriate and hope that I remember to hum the parts that I shouldn’t say out loud (Pink’s song “F*ckin’ Perfect”, for instance). And I sit and I rock and I sing and I hum and I soothe because that is what mothers do. And it was hard but I had one flash (when Baby was kicking the bejeesus out of me and his/her sister) where I thought, I am caring for two children right now. Crazy.

Finally, finally, Anna wanted back in her own bed so I tucked her in. I went to the bathroom to relieve bladder pressure. I went to the sink to wash my hands and I pumped the soap and then OHHOLYMOTHEROFGODNO, the soap (Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap) shot straight into my damned eye. This is possibly some of the worst pain that I have ever endured in my life and I have gone through childbirth unmedicated and I have had cancer treatments and several painful surgeries. I screamed and Adam yelled, “WHAT NOW?” (NOT his finest moment as my loving spouse). To his credit, he did come into the bathroom to investigate why I was waking him up, but I shooed him away then asked him, through sobbing tears, to please look up if I had just blinded myself, as I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed my eye out. Shooting, blinding pain. I finally stumbled into bed with an ice pack held to my eye and slept fitfully for about 30 minutes before Anna woke moaning in pain again. I kicked Adam out of bed to help her (it still–unbelievably! wasn’t time for her next dose of medicine, still a whole hour left to go!) and I’m pretty sure that his help consisted of stumbling into her bed and trying sleep. My eye was still achingly, searingly painful. I slept fitfully another hour, woke at 5:30–oh glorious appointed time for more Tylenol!–and told Adam to please give her more (Anna was still not quite sleeping, crying out). I think Adam came back to bed then and we slept until (and rarely have I been so glad to have a sleeper-inner as this morning) 10 am. Thank goodness. But when I first woke up the, I thought, that’s it, I’m blind. What will it be like to be a blind parent of two? Because I literally could not open my eye. I have been able to open it a bit more this morning but NO contacts (duh) and it still aches and burns. Blinking is not fun. I hate blinking. My nose is running because my eye seems to be constantly leaking. I am pretty sure at this point that I am not going to be blind, but the moral of this story is SOAP IS BAD. No, just kidding. Just don’t spray it in your eye. Especially the same night that your kid has one of the most painful ear infection episodes of her life, for four hours straight.

What. A. Night.


27
Jan 12

The good news: I’m 14 weeks and 1 day pregnant today! Whee! Time is flying by! AND (OH I hate to jinx it but knock on wood and all that) I think that maybe just maybe my morning sickness is starting to go away(?). I only had ONE gagging/dry heaving incident today (is it sad that Anna has grown used to this? She now casually remarks, “Oh, Mommy, are you just doing the throw-upping again?” and then goes about her business).

The bad news: I have a head cold and that is making me absolutely freaking miserable. Especially because I can’t take anything to make me feel better. I have been doing sinus rinse/neti pot 2x/day and drinking lots of water and trying to rest but the rest of the time I am complaining to anyone who will listen (namely, Adam) that I am so miserable and I just want to breathe out of my nose and waaah waaah waaah because I am a big baby, apparently. Adam has really stepped up and done a ton of the child management the last couple of days which has been really helpful. Makes it easier for me to lay in bed with a box of kleenex and moan.

So…sniff sniff. I’ll come back and write more soon, when I’m not feeling this way anymore. (There has to be an end, right?)


16
Jan 12

Deep breath

I owe my husband a debt of gratitude because not only did he keep a cool and level head on Saturday evening (when we took Anna into the ER with labored breathing), but he also slept (ha! like anyone actually sleeps in the hospital) right by Anna’s side all that night, while I had a restful 8 hours of solid sleep at home by myself.

Anna had a cold that did the thing that it always does with her–it went to her chest and lungs and triggered asthmatic breathing. We are used to that. We have all the tools to deal with that here at home: an inhaler, a nebulizer, Albuterol, Pulmicort (for when it gets really bad). What was different this time? We suspect that her little body got so dehydrated during the day on Saturday that it just wasn’t as strong as it needed to be. We couldn’t get on top of her symptoms at home, so in the car we went with our sick girl to Goleta Cottage Hospital ER, where they gave us prompt, courteous, and extremely helpful attention. Poor girl, there were so many things that were traumatic for her: just being in the hospital, getting an Xray, having an IV line placed (probably one of the funniest things here was when the nurse approached her with the alcohol swab and she started screaming “I DON’T WANT A SHOT! NO SHOTS!!!!!” like he was going to poke her with that little square of wetness), then the transfer to downtown and the night in the hospital). She’s a trooper and we knew she had definitely turned the corner when she asked (Oh, this is embarrassing and you have to know she has only had them ONE time before in her entire life!) for some Chicken McNuggets (of course we got them for her! She hadn’t eaten in more than 24 hours!). The prednisone sure has changed her appetite around!

After one sleepless night in the hospital, she was discharged, along with her prednisone, her inhaler, and her medications for the nebulizer. I, for one, am counting down the hours until the prednisone has left her system as it has made her not only ravenous (which is fine, I’m happy to provide food for my teensy one) but also agitated and, how do I best put this?, pretty damned bitchy. She woke us up at 4 am screaming that we had to bring her books and turn on her light because she could. not. sleep! BRING ME BOOKS RIGHT NOW! When we went to try and calm her down, she tried to throw things at us and started running around the house, still screaming. I took her lamp away (mistake? It was hard to back down after I threw down the gauntlet that there would be no reading of books at 4 am) and then that turned into her insistence that the lamp be returned. Right now. Immediately. And if I wouldn’t give it back, she would get it back herself (also humorous: watching her try and reach into one of the highest cupboards in our house with her 6″ tall stepstool). So that was fun. Especially because this all happened just 20 minutes or so before Adam’s alarm clock went off (he had a 6 am flight this morning).

But, the main point here is that she is breathing a lot better and thank goodness for that. It was scary for me to see her struggling to breathe. And I am thankful for medical personnel being there when we need them. What a relief to walk into the ER and have them say, Let me take you right back. What a relief to know that that is there.

These times of sickness are the trenches of parenting. The moments where you buck up and put your head down and run into the storm. Where you put on your battle armor and prepare. They are intense, they are heart pounding, and they scare the crap out of me so thank goodness we are on the path to wellness now. Deep breath.


15
Sep 11

Sick Day

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