Posts Tagged: illness

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.

Mar 11

Sick Day

Anna was up coughing and crying, congested and miserable, all night last night. Well, up every 1 1/2-2 hours, which really does feel like all night long when your child is four years old and usually sleeps a solid 11-12 hours straight. When she woke up still stuffy, coughing, and tired, I declared it a “watch movies on the couch day.” It was a weird day. It is 5 pm now and I have cabin fever. I stayed in my pajamas until noon. I baked cookies and bread. I made a bunch of phone calls and sent in paperwork to get reimbursement from our health insurance company and I made a baked pasta for dinner, but pretty much I spent the day obsessively checking my email, thinking about how much I wanted to get out of the house, and watching movies, some of them better than others. (Oh, geez, are there some BAD children’s movies out there).

Anna is still in her pajamas, milking this “movies on the couch” day for all it is worth. All she has done today, seriously, is eat, drink juice (special treat, usually not something we do in our house), go to the bathroom, and watch movies. On the couch.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings. I hope hope hope that Anna is better tomorrow. I need to get out of here!!!!

Feb 11

Absolutely the only thing of any consequence around here

I have been feeling Terrible. For, oh, approximately three weeks. Give or take. This weekend it morphed from low-grade “fever-lite” (you know, 99.change) + body aches + general malaise and fatigue into holy crap have I ever got a fever (103???) and “I absolutely cannot move my body anywhere of my own accord.”

So. That wasn’t fun.

I am very grateful, on this day, like very many other days of my life, that I am not a medical doctor. Doctors are cool and necessary, but when I contemplate that there were at least three doctors (Dr. Mimi, the ENT, and my oncologist) consulting with each other, during dinner time no less, about little ‘ol me and my big ol’ fever…..well….let’s just say I’d rather be eating dinner.

They all think that the antibiotic I’ve been on for more than a week possibly isn’t working (duh). Apparently the nasal probing produced a non-significant sampling of my nasal disgustingness, so….maybe they aren’t treating the right thing? I meet with the ENT tomorrow to discuss options. I do know that one of those options is more probing of my sinuses, this time with me under general anesthesia to spare me some “discomfort” (doctor code word for “we have to knock you out because otherwise you will be emotionally scarred for life”). Or…..? Staph infection was thrown around today. Who knows.

All I want is to feel better. And to not wake up at 3 am, alternately sweating and shivering, applying cold damp washcloths to my neck.

Oh–they DID check again for the cancer. Because….you know. Apparently my counts are all terrific, totally normal, 100% great. So hooray for that. But, in a way, this might all come back to the cancer, in a roundabout sort of a way, thankyouverymuch chemo for making me so immuno-suppressed. Damned sinus infection. At least it isn’t cancer. This is all so very…undignified, however. I am unused (well, in my non-cancer-patient-life) to having this little energy and feeling this generally like total crap. I would really, really, really like to be better now.

Also, my mom ROCKS. She didn’t hesitate for a moment when I invited Anna and I over to her house ALL day today, simply so that I could rest and she could entertain the child. And it was wonderful. And she sent us home with dinner. See? AWESOME. Best part of being sick, being taken care of by Mom.

Jan 11

I really didn’t like the part where she put that thing up my nose

I got in to see the ENT doctor on Tuesday and she looked at my CT with me and said, “Hey! Whoa! Yes, that is QUITE the infection you’ve got going on!” and then she stuck a light and a camera up my nose and then she swabbed disgusting mucus from somewhere way up near my eyeball (again, up through the nose) and THAT? That was not fun at all. This doctor mocked my coping mechanism, which was, in this case, making a humming sound and clutching my two sweaty hands together around a disintegrating tissue. “Is that noise helping you?” she asked me, as I nervously hummed and clutched and hummed some more, as she probed around up there. “Hmmmm” I said, “Hmmmm….Hmmmm….Hmmmm” (I didn’t want to risk talking as I might accidentally move my head to look at her and then that long thing might poke me even more).

So. Swabbing up the nose. Not fun. That got sent to the lab. I will get antibiotics and Prednisone (boo!!!!! and Booooo!!!! some more) and then, maybe, if my luck remains as it has been these last couple of years, maybe surgery to clear out the rest of the gunk that is apparently clogging up the works in my sinus (one side only, apparently). She said that she doubted that it would all clear up on its own. Thanks for the optimism, doc.

On a brighter note, I no longer have an instrument of any kind up my nose. They’ll save that for later, for the recheck in a few weeks. But Yay Me! for being brave enough to survive this. I think I found this much more horrible than having needles stuck in my arm (maybe I’m just used to having IVs inserted and blood drawn, but I would never say that it is my favorite thing), but perhaps not as terrible as the time that the other ENT doctor approached my neck with a gigantic needle (to take a biopsy) and said, “Now hold, on, this might hurt a little.”

Nov 10

In the times of desperation

What do you do, in those moments of quiet desperation? I imagine that we all have them. The moments when you look around and feel overwhelmed with the magnitude of the to-do’s in life. The moments when noises seem to loud, colors too bright, people too near. The moments when you are undecided, between so many possibilities, paralyzed into inaction.

Today I woke up, felt great, went for a hike up Jesusita trail. I felt good, strong, healthy, grounded. And then I got in my car, drove home and arrived in the chaos that I had left behind: dishes in the sink, thank you notes to be written, various things to be dealt with. I sat down at my computer, got up, sat down again, got up and ate. And ate. And ate. Trying to fill the cavernous hole inside with food.

I feel ashamed that I do this sometimes.

And the terrible thing is that it did not help. It only made me feel worse. Worse to know that I finished off Anna’s Halloween candy. Worse to know that I had “undone” my hard work of the morning exercise. Worse that I hadn’t really listened to my emotions, but tried to stuff them down. Worse to know that I didn’t just deal with the things that needed attending to, only putting them off until later. Worse that I wasted away my morning like that, just eating, eating, mindless eating.

It really wasn’t that much, but I really wasn’t hungry, so it was too much.

I stopped. I drank some water. I walked away. I took some deep breaths. I gave myself a stern talking to, yelled at myself as myself shrank and cringed. And then I backed off, told myself that I deserved some kindness right now. That I am obviously struggling. That I am going to learn to use other ways to deal.

This is stripping me down naked here, but this is me.

I weigh 25 pounds more right now than I did a year ago. Granted, I was a 110 pound weakling a year ago, but I didn’t necessarily need to gain back all the weight and then some. I just needed to get back to being healthy.

I’m seemingly healthy, but I’m haunted. I eat when I remember how I couldn’t eat when I was in the hospital. I eat when I remember how I didn’t feel like eating, all those months that they pumped me full of toxic chemicals. I eat (furtively) when Anna is whiney or impossible to deal with. I try to use food to regulate these feelings inside.

I did the same thing, years ago, when I was in grad school, except then it was so much worse because I was alone so much more–I could do more damage. And I did. Extreme dieting, extreme binging, extreme exercise. You name it. I yo-yoed myself right into an eating disorder. I went to therapy. I got better.

I wonder why I have this tendency to tip into….I want to write “mental illness” but I’m not sure that I want to put that label out there. I’m not sure that that is exactly what it is for me right now because I don’t feel quite as messed up as I did back then. But I do wonder why I am wired the way I seem to be wired. Is it a woman thing? Is it simply a legacy of my family heritage, a proneness to psychological processes that are different than the majority of the population?

I am attempting kindness towards myself. It is what I try to practice towards other people, after all. But I am, as are most, my own worst critic.

I don’t know if it is worth focusing on losing weight alone–I am actually a healthy weight for my height (not model skinny, but healthy enough)–but it doesn’t seem healthy (psychologically) to be the way that I am right now. To stuff feelings down. To try and bring myself up with sugar and caffeine and (rarely) alcohol.

I know I am not alone.

So many of my women friends have shared these same things with me. I still hesitate to write, speak, delineate the specifics. I dialed a friend’s number this morning, when I felt the feelings coming on, then hung up, feeling silly for calling to say that my feelings just got so big that I think it will take some chocolate to bring them down. Afraid of…what? Sounding…pathetic? Needy? Disordered? Stupid?

And here I am, for the world to see, all 135 pounds of me. I’m ok, and yet…what is it when I panic with the memory of spewing stomach bile over and over into a basin? Dream of weeping wounds and insertion of IV lines? Swallow over a lump in my throat when I recall the exquisite painfulness of a three week separation from my child, a separation so distressing that I would push the pictures of her underneath my computer, to spare me from the thought of her, as I lay in that hospital bed?

I have to put this here because, as much as this space has become more happy-to-lucky everyday living type stuff (thank goodness), this is still the space for me to write about the real, the raw, the uncomfortable. This is me.

Sep 09

Calming the emotional battleground

Anna alternately lights up my life and shoves me into a world of frustration and annoyance. I’m practicing my calm breathing and chanting the mantra “I am in control of my emotions” as we enter a new phase in which every rule is questioned and tested. I don’t want to have to be an enforcer, but some things are non-negotiable. Like wearing pants to the grocery store. I don’t care who you are: pants are a must. It’s just not okay to flash your private parts at Trader Joe’s (though, sidenote: weirdest thing! We went to the zoo on Sunday morning and there was this guy there who was TOTALLY cruising around the zoo in a tank top and boxer shorts. TOTALLY not acceptable. V. V. Strange). Though of course it’s okay to enjoy a little naked time in the privacy of one’s own home, the pants on rule is a line in the sand. Also non-negotiable: kicking or hitting Mama or Daddy, sitting on our poor, weak, elderly cat (who, by the way, is now at the point where he cannot eat unassisted. Jack needs to be propped up so that he doesn’t fall over while eating. How sad is that? Also, please don’t yell at me for this, but as sad as it is it’s also…slightly funny to yell, “Sorry, honey, I can’t help you wipe your pee right now, I’m helping the cat eat.” Giggle. Or is that just me?).

New tactic: CALM CALM CALM. And firm, when necessary, though I find that sometimes…it isn’t necessary. Problem is, you kind of have to know, up front, which things are necessary and which things aren’t or else it makes you a pushover parent. Not cool. Any matching of toddler ramped up emotional intensity equals trouble. Hours and hours of screaming, terrible trouble. So: CALM. Calm replies. Quiet answers. Respectful attempts to resolve issues without budging on those things that are necessary. Calm offers of help and/or time alone, when necessary.

I don’t actually think that she’s a terrible kid. I just think that she’s trying to figure out how to get all of herself under control. A big task! This time in her life feels so crucial. I want to get across the right messages. These are the things that I’m trying to be careful to say:

It’s okay to have big feelings, even angry or scared or hurt ones.
It’s not okay to hurt others.
It’s okay to take some time by yourself, if you need it.
It’s more fun to be with you when you aren’t being hurtful in words (“NO! GO AWAY! I NO LIKE YOU HERE!”) or actions (kicking, hitting, biting).
We love you, no matter what.

We’ve officially been sick for forever. I’m sick of being sick, sick of being home without my friends and without preschool. I’m ready to get back into the swing of things but I don’t want to be that mom that brings my sick kid around school or playgroup or a friend’s house or whatever. Anna, as of today, was still snotty and coughing and, really, if she were someone else’s kid, I don’t think I’d feel that great having those symptoms near my child. So…stay away we must. It’s just been really….intense at home. Not only is Anna having extreme emotions, she’s also very clingy and needy when not overtly emotionally upset (“Mama, play with me in my room” heard over and over and over like a broken record and YES, of course I do play with her but sometimes a grown woman needs a break from playing with My Little Ponies or reading “Everyone Poops” for the umpteenth time. To do glamorous things like prepare meals and fold laundry).

I know it’s just one of those things, like all other things: a phase. We’ll get through it. But somehow this last week has seemed interminable.

I miss my friends!!!! I miss the routine of getting out and about and in the world!

Sep 09

I didn’t fall off the face of the earth; we were in Vegas for my niece Lulu’s birthday party and….now I’m just sick. Anna started coughing and then puking on Saturday night, after Lulu’s party (thank GOODNESS she made it through the party before the pukefest and fever hit). Adam spent what I’m sure was a <sarcasm alert> VERY COMFORTABLE <end sarcasm> night on the floor next to Anna’s crib sized mattress on the floor (gosh, isn’t he a swell Daddy?), mopping her fevered brow and sushing her back to sleep when necessary, which, as it ends up, was many, many times during the night. We drove back home on Sunday. Monday I started feeling sick. Monday evening Adam puked and puked and puked his guts out, then woke up Tuesday and said he felt great! Never better! Except that it maybe feels like he did 500 situps last night!

The stupid thing about being sick with a kid is that often the kid, sick as they are, don’t scale it back in the activity department. They just become whiny and explosive PLUS the running around thing. Except, you know, you’ve got to stay home so as to avoid contaminating other people and making yourself a social outcast.

So, whee! We’re hanging out here at home. If it were just me I would be all about napping the day away in bed but, remember? Kid. So we’ve played with playdough and colored with crayons and read many books and I’ve even been known to hold long, animated conversations between stuffed animals for Anna’s benefit. Because I am awesome.

Also, I know I am truly sick and not just milking it because yesterday I told Adam we had to BUY a loaf of bread, I was too sick to bake. That never happens. We haven’t bought bread in months and months and months, I love baking that much.

Catch you all later, when I’m less snotty/run down/grumpy. With pictures! Of gorgeous Lucia!