Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Judgy mommies: stay away from them

I was so excited this weekend to attend my sister-in-law's baby shower. My little brother's wife is about 7 months pregnant with my nephew, Freddie, and is due around May 18. She and my brother have been living in Seattle, WA for about a year and a half now, so we don't get to see them very often.

The results from a Today Show poll show that moms often judge other moms.

I was also excited to see her sister W (using initials in case people don't want to be identified by name) and her three-month-old baby boy, J. I've enjoyed getting to know their family, including my sister-in-law's other sister A, who cracks me up routinely, and her parents, who are very sweet and loving and who have accepted me just as much as they have my brother, Derick.

At the end of the night, after stealing J and snuggling him as much as I could, I was able to talk to W about her parenting experiences. She made a comment that hit home. She said, "I know it's terrible, but he's still sleeping in the bed with us."

I thought, why do we have to qualify all of our parenting decisions to each other as mothers? When the twins were three months old, we were still sleeping with them on our chests, and I told her as much.

"W, it's hard to get a baby to sleep on its own, and he's only three months old," I said. "There ain't no shame in your game."

This launched a discussion about making parenting decisions. I told her the twins were 9 months old before we figured out how to put them in their cribs while they were awake and have them fall asleep on their own. That was six months down the road for her.

I also told her that parenting, especially for mothers, is all about instinct. There are a lot of mothers out there who judge each other. I've had friends who have become parents and then un-become my friends because of how judgmental they've become about parenting. Some new moms read a book by a popular author and follow that ONE book's advice. They then preach to other mothers about everything they're doing wrong.

Don't get me wrong, it's not just new mothers who do this. Some mothers who have been moms for decades do this also. I call them Judgy Mommies. They're awful. They will pick at you until they've picked away every ounce of confidence you have about being a mother.

W told me she had one friend who had done everything for her baby for roughly 10 months (I believe she said 10 months, if I remember correctly) by the book, without ever thinking about instinct. I think moms who do this are maybe missing out on something. I don't know if it's a connection or what. But every baby is different, and I think it's sad to believe that every baby can be raised with a single method. I also think it's sad that moms go around criticizing other moms who choose to use a different method to raise their children.

OMG! Did you hear she's NOT breast feeding? Her poor child!
I didn't breast feed the twins, and I think that's the biggest issue that moms pick at each other about. I caught some criticism from some people for that. Luckily, it didn't come from medical professionals. When Mitch was born, I had postpartum psychosis. If you don't know what that is, it's like postpartum depression on PCP. I wanted to breast feed him. I had an adequate supply. He latched fine. But after a week and a half, I wasn't eating, and he wasn't getting any nutrients out of my supply. In addition, because of the PPP, I didn't want him near me. I was having bleeding issues because of how often he had to feed, which was basically all the time, and when he wasn't latched on, I had a pump latched on. Why did I continue to torture myself? Because my OB's nurse told me I had to do it or I was depriving my child. My friends told me if I didn't do it, my child would be shortchanged. I held out for six weeks because that was what I was told was needed for my child to get the health benefits. And then I fed the poor baby with formula. He was starving. In less than two weeks from that time, he was on baby food. He was nine and a half pounds at birth. He was a big boy. He needed to be fed.

This was another issue that surprised me. W told me her pediatrician told her to feed her baby less because he was too big. I thought she should get another doctor. I'd never heard of such a thing. J looked healthy and adorable. He was eight and a half pounds at birth. That's bigger than normal. We talked a lot about that. Babies don't eat more for the same reasons adults do. They eat a lot because they're hungry. They don't eat because they're depressed or bored.

All my children began eating baby food, mixed in with their formula, before they were two months old. I was criticized for that, as well, by other mothers. Because the American Association of Pediatrics doesn't recommend solid food until six months. I'm sorry, but all three of my boys were big. And hungry. So I fed them. Instinct again. It worked out. They're healthy.

The point here is this: if you're a new mom and you want answers about what to do with your kids, it's fine to ask your friends for advice. But if the answers sound like something you wouldn't be comfortable with, don't do it. Choose another route that's comfortable for YOU. Modify your friends' suggestions in a way that fits your family. Use your instincts. And if your friends come to you with unsolicited advice, tell them thanks, but that doesn't work for our family. And if the judgment that comes from your friends is too strong and too negative, disconnect yourself from it. Stay away from Judgy Mommies. They're not healthy for anyone.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Just an update on my health.

And it's yucky. I know I started that sentence with a conjunction, but right now I'm not the Annoying Grammar Lady. I'm just Mere. And I'm in pain. All the time. So I'm going to start sentences with conjunctions and maybe even stick some fragments in here. Deal, people.

A few months ago, I befriended someone who frequented the same blog as I did. In case you're interested, it's called imbringingbloggingback.com, and it's hysterically funny. The guy who writes it recaps reality shows and is a wonderful writer. Anyway, I met Linda Li in the comments section, and we began talking to each other. Then we befriended each other on Facebook.

If you don't know who Linda is, she was on an episode of the television show Intervention. The show made her look really bad, and I was glad I hadn't seen her episode before I met her because I think it would have colored my opinion of her. At first, we just discussed trivial things, like Grey's Anatomy (we're both huge fans) and ice cream (also, both huge fans), but I began to see her posting about her EDS support group. I had no idea at the time what EDS was. I knew Linda was in pain much of the time because I saw her posts to her group, which was an open group at the time. If a group is open, it means everyone can see the interaction going on within it. She was saying how much her fingers hurt all the time.

At some point, I grew curious and asked her what EDS was. She told me EDS stood for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and it was a connective tissue disorder that caused severe pain. It also caused dislocations of joints and subluxations of joints. I'd had tons of subluxations my whole life, but I'm including a definition in case you don't know what it is.

From echiropractic.net: In simplest terms, a subluxation (a.k.a. Vertebral Subluxation) is when one or more of the bones of your spine (vertebrae) move out of position and create pressure on, or irritate spinal nerves. Subluxations are really a combination of changes going on at the same time. These changes occur both in your spine and throughout your body.

So, essentially, it's the things that get out of whack that your chiropractor shoves back into place. My chiropractor told me years ago I was fixing my own subluxations, that were happening at an alarmingly fast rate, on my own and there wasn't much she could provide for me that I wasn't providing for myself.

Okay, back to the story. I told Linda I understood what she was going through with the pain because I, myself, had an undiagnosed pain condition. She asked what my symptoms were. I told her, and she said, "Dude, you have EDS." 

I was blown away. I began to research the condition, thinking it could be a possibility but not wanting to put all my diagnostic eggs in one basket. Out of the many, many symptoms of this disease that I found, there was only ONE symptom I could find that I didn't have: stretchy, velvety skin all over my body. I did have this kind of skin on my torso, but only on my torso. 

One of the main symptoms of EDS is dislocations. Because of the lack of collagen in your body, your joints are held into place more by your muscles than your ligaments. I thought back as far as my teenage years. When I was 18, I remembered my hip dislocating and my mom taking me to the chiropractor she used. I was in so much pain and when they shoved it back in, I had instant relief but was still left sore for days. It happened a number of times over the years, but I just kind of shoved it back in. 

After Mitchell was born, it got worse. My hip didn't really hurt, but my shoulder began to hurt like nothing I've ever felt before. It was, like, so much pain it put me out of commission, and nothing made it feel better. I tried ice. I tried heat. I tried alternating ice and heat. By the time we were living here in San Antonio, I was ready to drive off a bridge I was in so much pain with my shoulder. I was still having problems with my hip, but I was dealing with that pain. 

And then I got pregnant with twins. That took the pain from the level where I wanted to die from it to the level where I wanted to die 10 times over from it. Both of my hips and pelvis were jumping around all over the place. My shoulder dislocated around six months into my pregnancy. It was the first time that happened. I didn't tell anyone because I felt like I was already complaining enough. I thought maybe it had to do with being pregnant with multiples, so I didn't even ask about it. I did, however, ask about my pelvic and hip area. The OB said many women had problems with their pelvises during a twin pregnancy but he'd never seen dislocations from it, so he gave me Darvocet. 

I didn't want my body or the babies' bodies to become chemically dependent on the drug, so I only took it when a hip dislocated. That generally only happened when I walked further than the bed to the bathroom, so I tried to stay in bed as much as possible. 

After they were born, I decided I needed to find out what was causing my shoulder pain. I had MRI after MRI and they found nothing wrong. I was sent to a neurosurgeon who was very offensive and told me I needed to see a psychiatrist and get on Wellbutrin. If you ever have to see a neurosurgeon and want to know who NOT to see, contact me. I'll tell you.

From there, we went to a pain management doctor upon the advice of my psychiatrist. She immediately saw how much pain I was in and wrote me a prescription for pain meds. She then devised a plan, starting with physical therapy.

Physical therapy tore me up. The exercises they had me do had my shoulder dislocating and subluxating all the time. It was hell. But I stuck it out and did it because they said it might get better. The PT told me I was "hypermobile," a term with which I would later become very familiar.

After three months of PT, I wasn't better. I was worse. She sent me to a shoulder guy. An ortho who specialized in shoulders. He saw nothing wrong with my shoulder. I popped it in and out for him. It hurt like hell, but I did it. he said, oh, that's weird. You should have that looked at. IDIOT. That's what I was doing. He said he couldn't help me because it wasn't surgical and he didn't know how to fix it.

So I went back to my doc, and she said, that's all I can do. You just may have to live in pain forever. I told her I was undermedicated for the kind of pain I had. She said since nothing was wrong with me, like she didn't have proof that anything was wrong with me, she couldn't give me stronger meds.

This is where Linda comes in. She pointed me in the right direction to get the literature to bring to my doctor. I highlighted all the symptoms I had, again, all of them except the stretchy skin, and I even charted dates and names of chiropractors where dislocations were fixed. I took it to her. She looked straight at me and said, "You don't have this because you don't have stretchy skin."

Here's the deal with the stretchy skin. Two decades ago, that was the indicator for this disease. In the last decade, new research has been conducted showing you don't have to have stretchy skin to have this disease. I had that research with me and she wouldn't look at it.

 - I broke here on 2/15/2012 at 9 p.m. to go to sleep -
 - I started writing again on 2/16/2012 at 8:45 a.m. -

She wouldn't look at it because, as I've found, there are a lot of doctors out there who think they know it all. They refuse to take the patient seriously because the patient is not a doctor and has not been to medical school.

There's a saying they're taught in medical school: When you hear hoofbeats behind you, do you expect to see a horse or a zebra? They're trained to look for the most obvious solution to the problem. We, as EDSers, call ourselves zebras.

While my doctor's point was valid, the patient has a lot more time to act on her own behalf, and what she finds should be taken seriously. What she told me was this, "You could take all of those symptoms and put them together and find any number of diseases they would fit." What I wanted to tell her was, "No. No you can't. I tried. I scoured the Internet for other diseases that fit my 20-30 symptoms, and there were no other diseases that fit them all perfectly. This is the only one." But I couldn't because at that poinit, I was in tears. That's the way I left her office. In tears.

Now, I don't want to paint her as all bad. Like I said before, she at least gives me hydrocodone for my pain. I'm learning to work through it with things like meditation (when I can do that with two toddlers) and deep breathing. I'm also learning to turn the pain around and use it for fuel. I've done a lot of research into that, and, believe it or not, it's possible. My neighbor, who is also a friend and someone I look up to as a total inspiration, has rheumatoid arthritis, and she runs every day. She says the first part of her runs are hell because they hurt so bad, but ultimately, it helps her. I'm finding the things that help me. Some of them hurt at first but by the end, I know they've helped. Yoga helps because I know my body so well now that I know how to modify the programs in a way where I won't dislocate or subluxate. Walking helps. Walking helps so much. Just getting into the fresh air, stretching my legs and standing up straight helps a lot. It's more mental than physical. Scoliosis is also part of this disease, and my spine is already showing scoliosis curvature. So trying to stay upright is good for me.

So I'm learning to get by on just a couple of pills a day and substitute regular Tylenol or Naproxen for the rest of the day. That way I'm kind of hoarding the rest of my meds for when I have a dislocation or particularly bad subluxation. Because I'm undermedicated, that's the only way I can do it.

Even though I wasn't supposed to, I'd seen a second pain doctor months ago for a second opinion. He was an injection specialist. He gave me several injections and they didn't work. He said my muscles were extremely stressed because they were all being pulled, and he didn't know why. He couldn't see anything in my MRIs that would cause them to be so stressed and he couldn't see anything in the way my body worked that would make them be constantly pulled. He told me to do lots of stretches and exercise more (this could be very dangerous for someone with EDS, but at the time I didn't know about the disease), so I tried, but it hurt and the subluxations were coming on more and more. He even sent me back to PT, and two PTs there told me I was hypermobile. I never knew what that meant, just that all the PTs kept telling me I was hypermobile.

Let's backtrack a bit to when I met Linda. When I was telling her my symptoms, it was more conversational, but these were the ones I told her I had (and I by no means listed them all):

Random dislocations
Constant subluxations
A spine that wouldn't stay aligned even right after the chiropractor aligned it
A high heart rate that wouldn't stay in the normal range
Lower GI problems (Some say Crohn's, some say IBS, mostly a clinical diagnosis and doctors disagree)
Upper GI problems (Gastroparesis)
Extreme pain all over my body, mostly in my joints
Joints that popped over and over again, and when they popped, it relieved my pain

These were just a few, and, like I mentioned before, she said, "Dude, you have EDS." Now that I look back on it, it would have been very obvious to anyone who has Type 3 EDS (there are six types of the disease, mine is type 3, hypermobility), and now I can see signs of it in my kids and wonder if I'll ever get a diagnosis so I can help them.

After Linda told me she thought I had EDS, and after I was shot down by my doctor, I felt a great sense of depression. I kind of wanted to give up on chasing a diagnosis. I was ashamed of myself for trying ot self-diagnose. How dare I? At this point I had joined Linda's EDS group on Facebook. The people's stories in this group, well, they all could have been my own when they were my age. It was all so similar.

They introduced me to things like the Beighton scale, which measures flexibility. It scores on a scale of 9. You get one point for each "thing" you can do. The reason it measures flexibility is because if your body is lacking collagen, you'll be naturally more flexible. I scored an 8 out of 9 on the Beighton Scale. That put me right smack dab into the EDS 3 category.

Here's the thing that irks me: you can be tested for the gene for this disease in addition to being clinically diagnosed. Any EDS specialist would clinically diagnose me from all of the symptoms I have, but if a doctor doubted me, all he'd have to do would be give me a genetic test.

The thing is, there's no cure or even treatment for this disease. The only "treatment" is to treat for pain. There are multiple ways to do this, but many EDS patients are treated with opiods, which are pills that are a combination of an opiate and an analgesic. I've been on Vicodin (also called Norco or Loritab) since the twins were born.

Because of the fact that they are pain pills and commonly abused, there are a lot of people in my life that became worried I was an addict. At a couple of different points, my body became chemically dependent on the pills, but I was by no means an addict. There is a huge difference, and people don't know that.

I later learned that many people with chronic pain conditions face the same kind of accusations from their friends and family. What people don't know is when you have a legitimate pain condition, you don't get high from prescription pain pills. The pain is too strong for the high to come through.

In addition, I have the tolerance of an ox. A big ox. Like a monster ox. A prehistoric ox from the past that would make a modern ox look like an ant. I don't know why I have it. My former psychiatrist theorized I have a metabolic condition that causes me to metabolize medication faster than other people. She says it's genetic and wondered if anyone else in my family had the same high tolerance to sedatives and pain medications. I told her I had no idea. So even though the doc was giving me the maximum dosage she could give me, I still had to hoard medication to save for the days when the pain was too bad to manage on my own because the amount she gave me wasn't enough to handle the pain every day.

I went through several periods where I had withdrawal symptoms because I foolishly didn't give myself time to wean myself off the pills if I knew I was going to run out before my next refill was allowed. It was horrible. I've learned since then to take myself down slowly. I've also learned to reset my tolerance with either complete breaks from the medication for four to six weeks or taking a very small amount of it for four to six weeks. I know a lot more about pills than I used to. I've ended up taking a lot of pills in the last two years. I now know that my life will be different forever. I'll likely have to have these pills in order to make it through some days for the rest of my life. That's so disconcerting to me.

I've asked a few other doctors for referrals to a specialist and two of the docs told me they didn't even believe the disease existed and the others said the same bit about the stretchy skin. The people in my online support group said they got that a lot, too, while they were trying to get a diagnosis. For some of them, it took up to 30 years to get a diagnosis. I'm so blown away by that. It's such a little known disease that it actually takes that long to get diagnosed. I just don't understand why doctor's have this rationale: It's incredibly rare, so you don't have it. Maybe it's incredibly rare because people who have it can't get a freaking diagnosis. And just because something is incredibly rare doesn't mean NO ONE has it. It means a few people have it. Why am I not one of those people?

My gastrointerologist said he'd heard of the disease because a lot of people who have it have the same GI issues I have. He said it's definitely possible, but, again, no referral. He said he didn't know enough about it to give me one.

So that's where I am. This one disease explains all of my symptoms, right down to the exhaustion and pain. I'm not sure where to go next. I'm taking a break from chasing an official diagnosis. I'm going to give it a couple of months and then get back on it. One woman in one of my support groups has a good list of specialists in the area, so I'm going to call the offices and see what I can do. I'm just so worn out from all this. It's been a hard couple of years since the twins were born, and the implant I just had put in to stop all the vomiting is causing painful gas bubbles. I have to get some testing done for that tomorrow morning. I hope to find out why this is happening soon. It's really painful.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Potty training twins is like herding cats.

This is the one time in my life where I actually feel sorry for Octomom. Yeah, you heard me. I feel sorry for her.

Hey, did you know that's what that thing down there was for?

Harry has been doing a grand job. Early on, he showed signs of wanting to sit on the potty and do what Mommy does. So we started with him and tried to start with Hank, as well.

The first time I put Hank on the pot, he screamed bloody murder. He has continued to do it 75 percent of the time I have put him on the potty since the first time. Harry, on the other hand, is coming to us and saying, "Peepee, Mommy!" and we go, and he pees. Easy. He even pooped in the potty once. We've come a long way.

Hank likes to sit on the potty with his clothes on. After Harry goes, he gets treats. I can't give Hank treats because that would devalue the treats for Hank when he's ready to begin potty training. However, every single time I give Harry treats, Hank throws a HUGE tantrum because he doesn't get any too. It makes me feel horrible. I hate it.

If I DO get both of them on the potty at the same time, they both get up and run around naked in the house peeing on things. I'm cleaning up pee forever. It's impossible to catch both of them when they're naked and running in opposite directions. It's like chasing greased pigs.

Any of you other twin mommies out there have any handy tricks for any of this kind of stuff? Ideas? Solutions? I'm so lost at this point. I'm frustrated about Hank not wanting to use the potty, and I'm frustrated about the treat issue. Help!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sharing is Caring.

Especially when it comes to germs, in our house. Both of my boys have croup, something I remember having been called "The Croup" when I was a child. It's a mild case: no fever, barking cough only at night, hoarse voice during the day.

The croup is actually a monster that works its way into your child's respiratory system. It looks like this in the head: 

And it has a wormlike body, so it can wiggle all the way up through its throat and produce mucous that they hack up as they bark like a seal. That's Mr. Croup. Right up there.

In addition, we've also found out Hank has to have surgery. If he were older, I'd keep it to myself for fear of embarrassing him. It's on his boy parts. Part of the skin around the tip of it has grown together, and they have to cut it apart. What he has is something called penile adhesion. We noticed it a couple of months ago, and I kept meaning to call the doc and never did.

When I finally got up to calling, he'd developed croup, so it seemed fortuitous that we went. Harry had it, too, so I'm glad I had them there together. I think I have a touch of it as well. I have that hoarseness and difficulty breathing.

I'm nervous about Hank having surgery. He'll have to be put under general anesthesia, which bothers any mother of a young child, I'm sure. It'll also be quite a financial burden on us. I'm overly worried about that. Hoping we get money back from the government this year on our income taxes so we can pay for it that way.

Life just stays interesting around this joint, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why are there so many bad medical professionals in the world?

I use the term professional loosely. See cartoon below.

As most of you know, before I got pregnant with the twins, I was a relatively healthy person. I had some back pain, but it wasn't yet unbearable. I rarely got colds. I got the flu once a year and kind of looked at it like a tradition. It sweated all the toxins out of my body. I didn't get tired easily, and I ran around and did what I needed to do from day to day. I'd never had a surgery.

Getting pregnant with the twins changed everything, from day 1. I had horrible morning sickness, sometimes leaving me bedridden. I found an excellent OB, and I loved the staff he had in his office. Not having had to have dealt with many doctors before (only with my OB with Mitch, really, and he and his staff were pretty great, aside from the head nurse who was really pushy about breastfeeding), I didn't know what a great find I'd come across. Dr. Cox was brilliant. He remembered my name. He remembered I was having twins. He remembered my husband's name. His nurse remembered all of this, too. And when the day came for me to deliver, I showed up for my 6:30 a.m. ultrasound appointment, obviously in labor, and still sat through the ultrasound. The tech took me up to the office in a wheelchair and snagged Dr. Cox, who immediately came to my aid. He said, wheel her on to the hospital (the buildings were connected by a tunnel, how cool is that?) and by 10:45, Dr. Cox and his partner were cutting my babies out of me.

My babies were 7 pounds each at 35 weeks, so it was expected that carrying them would cause me pain. Having 14 pounds of baby in you hurts. Looking back, what happened to me during that pregnancy should have clued me in to what I think is wrong with me now, what's been wrong with me all along, what's caused my hip pain that I've had most of my life, my shoulder pain and my pelvic pain, my finger pain and even the pain in my feet and knees. All of these areas are where major joints are located. More on that later. What happened during my pregnancy is that the ligaments and bones became detached in my pelvis, causing extreme pain. Like nothing I've ever felt before. It was such bad pain that my doctor put me on Darvocet for the last six weeks or so of my pregnancy. He warned me not to take it very often or the babies could become addicted, as it was an opiate. So I took as little as possible, and he said with the amount of refills I had, I was doing fine.

Pretty much every woman who's had a baby in a hospital knows that the nurses in the recovery unit suck. I don't know if they get tired of new mothers whining about how much they hurt or what, but they're mean. And nasty. Up to that point in my life, the labor and delivery nurses in the recovery ward were the only really bad medical professionals I'd really met. I had some particularly nasty ones with the twins. One was too fat to wear scrubs, so she wore a scrub-like dress. waddled in and out and scolded me for not wanting to keep Hank in the room with me overnight (Harry was in the NICU for our entire stay, but he went home with us the same day we all went home). I told her she was rude and the reason I didn't want Hank in the room with me was because I had twins, and I was about to have to go home and take care of two newborns without too terribly much help, so I wanted to get my sleep in while I could. The next time I called her for pain meds, she took almost an hour getting to me. When I asked her why, she said, "Well, I was in the nursery taking care of YOUR baby," with an ugly sneer. Seriously? What a nasty human.

So I went home. With the pain meds they gave me. I found out shortly, that like most of the pain meds I'd been given in my life, they didn't do me much good. The way I have to take pain medication is save it up and take large quantities instead of taking small quantities over a lengthy period of time. So I don't have pain control for the entire period of time it's needed. I've explained this to countless medical professionals, and NONE has offered to help me. None has offered to help me figure out WHY this happens. None has offered to give me a stronger medication than Vicodin, or something without Tylenol so I'm not hurting my liver.

So I'm sick of it. I'm tired of it. I'd been planning to talk to my pain management specialist about it tomorrow. I see her once every three months, so I'd been planning on it for a couple of months. I figured this surgery was going to take me out and cause me a lot of pain and that I wouldn't be able to control the pain. But today, oh, today, and yesterday, two medical assistants made me contemplate assault and murder.

I'm not a snob. If you've gone through a few months or a year and become a medical assistant and have a certification instead of a degree, that's fine. You've done something good for yourself and are making better money for your family than if you'd been waiting tables. I have friends who do that kind of work and family, and they're sweet people.

These two women took it upon themselves to tell me they knew more about my medication than I did. I have no idea what's taught to a medical assistant when he or she goes through school, but I've been dealing with medication in my own life for about 20 years. For someone my age, that's a long time. I know they have no way of knowing that, but I told them. I told them I have a condition that causes chronic pain, therefore it takes more pain medication to ease my pain and nothing makes my pain go away completely, at least that I've found. The first one I talked to told me I was wrong. That if I took two Vicodin, it would completely get rid of my pain and if i took three it was just because I wanted to get high. I told her she was being ridiculous. That on my bad back days I took far more than that. I won't say how much because it's unwise to put that online. But there's obviously some condition my body has that doesn't process medication normally. It's not just me building up a tolerance, either. It's been like this from the first time I took a pain pill and it did nothing. Doctors have to give me quadruple or quintuple of the sedatives they use to sedate me. Anesthesia in normal doses doesn't work on me, and when I come out of it, I jump right up and put my clothes on and say, 'Let's go."

The point of al of this is that I called on Monday to ask my surgeon's office to refill my pain meds. They gave me 40 Vicodin. Before the surgery, I told the surgeon that I have an extremely high tolerance to medication and the pills don't do me much good in small doses. He said he wished he could do more but since I was already under pain management, he could only give me 40 pills and had to write the script to take 1-2 pills every 4-6 hours, but he wanted me to take two pills every four hours. I told him that was fine. He said if you're still in pain after they're out, call the office and ask what to do about a refill and also describe your pain to ensure that what kind of pain you're having is normal. Honestly, I'm used to surgeons being assholes, honestly, and he wasn't.

When I called the doc's office, I was trying to tell the medical assistant all of this and her words were, "Making up all of these stories won't get you more drugs." Seriously? I mean, no doctor has ever taken me seriously with this, but that's rude, and I'm pretty sure unethical. I mean, who says that to a patient who's just had surgery? So I said, look, I'm telling you, I took the meds like Dr. X said, and I'm following his instructions, and you're being really rude. Can you just talk to him, please? This was Monday morning. She said, he won't be in until tomorrow afternoon, so you'll have to wait.

Am I missing something here?

I've had my guts cut open. The gas hasn't gone away, and it's causing me a ton of pain. One of my incisions looks infected. I'm running a fever all the time. I'm exhausted, and I need time to heal. I'm one of those people who believes that if you're in extreme pain it delays healing.

After a beat, I said, "Look, I'm not making up any stories, all I"m asking you to do is to ask Dr. X if I can have a refill because that's what he told me to do. I'm thinking you fancy yourself a gatekeeper, but it's not your job to pick and choose who gets through to the doctor. It's your job to take the messages and get them to him, so do that, ok?"

She said, "Well, he's in surgery a lot, so I don't even know if I can get him." And then she hung up.

I was pretty pissed, but I had enough pills to last me through to the next day, so I let it go for that day.

The next day, I called again and got the receptionist on the phone. This was yesterday. The receptionist said, "Didn't you call yesterday a couple of times?  And they still haven't taken care of you? You poor thing! You sound just awful. You must feel awful.." Pretty sad when the receptionist has a better bedside manner than the medical "professionals".

She passed me on to Thing #1's cohort. Thing #2 was no better. I told her what had happened and she said,, "Why are you trying so hard to get more drugs? You shouldn't have gone through 40 pills so fast. These are the strongest strength and you can't take them that fast."

I then related my entire spiel about my tolerance to her. She said the same thing about making up stories to get more drugs. I was just in shock. I told her I had half a mind to report both of them to... someone. I don't know who you report medical professionals to. But I may find out. I told her she needed to find a solution fast, or I was about to get in my car and drive - something that wasn't safe for me right now because I was having stabbing gas pains, causing me to tense up and jerk my hands around - to their office and sitting outside the doctor's office until he showed up, at which point I would tell him what the two of them had said and done to me.

She said she would try to call the doctor while he was in surgery and ask him if they could give me a refill. I kid you not, she called back in less than five minutes, telling me that the doctor approved the refill and they' be calling it in immediately. She sounded really humbled and embarrassed. My guess is Dr X told her off when she called, and she wasn't expecting it.

Her mistake was assuming every patient is the same. You just can't do that. I'm not in the medical business, and even I know that. All humans are different. How hard is that to understand? This surgeon was exceptional. Most surgeons are assholes. If I have to have any other general surgery in the future, I really want to use him, but in my follow-up appointment next week, I want to make sure to let him know that his staff were really rude. Just the two of them. And I want to make sure to let him know his receptionist was amazing, although I think she was working for the entire practice, not just him. And she may be one of many, although I caught her on both days I called, so maybe she is the only one. I intend to find her and let her know how much I appreciate her kindness.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My holy underwear make me a bad mom.

If you've been following what's been going on with me lately, you know I had surgery two days ago to have an implant put into my torso that will help my digestion issues. It has already helped, and I'm thankful for the surgery and the technology that allowed me to have the Enterra implant.

Moving forward. We keep a key in a lock box outside our house with a special code so Mitchell can get into the house when I'm either incapacatated because of my health or gone at a doctor's appointment. Unfortunately, I have multiple health issues that keep me from being there every day to let him in the house, and if I'm off in another part of the house stuck in the bathroom, I don't feel comfortable leaving the front door unlocked, hence the lock box.

Today, I was exhausted. I was up all night last night and the night before in pain because I don't like to take pain meds at night. I wanted a nap this afternoon, so I needed to take the key outside to put it in the box so he could get inside in case I was still asleep when he got home. 

Holy Underwear, Batman! I wore mine outside to put the key in the box.

I was in bed when he got home. He asked to go to watch TV in our den. I said sure.

Ten or so minutes later, there came an insistent knock at the door. I was scared because of the guy who pulled the gun on me last week. I slowly and carefully got out of bed and hollered for Mitch not to go get the door because I didn't know who it was. The knock kept getting louder and more insistent. I kept hollering to hold on that I was coming. I was trying to get a pair of shorts on but it was hurting because of my incisions. 

I finally got a pair of low-slung shorts on. I hobbled to the front door and saw three men in what looked like Sheriff's Deputy uniforms. I cracked open the door and asked them for ID. They wanted to know why. I told them that I had been mugged down the street the week before and I was wary of people I didn't know. They said they were Sheriff's Deputies. I said that was all well and good, but I needed to see ID. They finally relented and showed me some, so I opened the door wider. They said they were in the nieghborhood responding to a call.

Immediately, I thought that meant someone else had been attacked and they were checking on people. I told them there was a problem, obviously, because I'd been attacked too last week. This conversation went on in this vein for roughly five more minutes until they finally came out with why they were there.

Someone had filed a complaint against me with the Child Welfare office. I'm not joking. For what, you ask? For going outside in my T-shirt and panties to put the key in the box. In someone's mind, this made me a bad mother. So the deputies had to check on me and my children. The ID'd me. They checked on my one child who was at my house and told me they'd need me to get my other two children back from my mother's house and to my house so they could see they were ok as well. I told them that wasn't possible because they were in Austin with my mother. But if they wanted to get in their police car and carry their happy little butts to Austin they could go check on 'em.

I was so angry. I wear less when  I go to the pool in the summer. I can't believe that person. It had to be a woman. What man would complain about a woman being outside in her underwear? I called my neighbor because she jogs in her jogging bra and shorts. I felt like she needed to be warned. 

It's the weekend. I'm going to think on it a couple of days and talk it over with my husband and fellow mommy friends and think about what I want to do. I think I want to take some time to calm down and call the child welfare office and ask what their policy is. I need to know why walking outside of my own house onto my own front porch in my own clothes is so bothersome to them that they believe it would be harmful to my children. I need people's thoughts on this. How is one linked to the other? How is me walking outside in a T-shirt and panties linked to child abuse? I'm just shocked. Please share what you think.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So much happening!

Before last week, a whole lot in my life was going right.I was really happy.

My husband and I, after some bumps in the road, seemed to be getting along really well.

I was really happy with the routine I'd established with the kids at home.

I'd taken over paying the bills and managing our money at home and I'd been doing really well with it.When I took it over, we were in a bit of a hole, and within six to eight weeks, I'd had us whipped into shape. One of my friends who did the Dave Ramsey plan and was very successful with it has been offering to teach the class and let us take it for free for ages, but I thought we didn't have enough money to pay our bills in the first place, therefore making following Dave's plan impossible. But after I took over, I realized this wasn't the case at all. The only bills we have problems paying are our student loans. That's another story for another time, but in a few short weeks, I've managed to whip the rest of our finances into shape, and I'm hoping to be able to take my friend's class in the summer if she's offering it and I can fit it into my schedule.

Aug. 5 was my last day of work at my job as a reporter at the San Antonio Express-News working for the community newspapers they publish. I loved my job dearly. I was sad to have to leave it. But when their parent company Hearst bought Prime Time, the company that owned us previously, they froze our salaries, putting us working next to people who were making double and triple what we were. It felt awful, for one, but then they froze our salaries not only for that year, but for the next three to five years, and I could no longer afford to work there. I stayed for as long as I could, but after the twins were born, paying for day care took up more than what I was paid for my job. So it was costing me money to work. I knew I could make money freelancing with my writing because I'd done it before. It's not my favorite way to make money, but it's doable, and it was the only way we were going to make it, especially with recent health problems I'd had crop up.

Prior to last week, I'd finally settled into my routine at home, happily being a housewife and writer, working hard and managing our money, bringing in a little of my own but making out budget work even if I didn't bring any in. That way, whatever I bring in is extra, and can either be spent on me, the kids or the husband, or thrown into savings or toward something that needs to be paid off. It's a great way to live, and I'm happy with it.

Ro had just finished up his EMT training, meaning he can get a second job, the proceeds of which can go toward our student loans, which is a huge load off of our shoulders.

So everything was going along great. My surgery for my gastroparesis was scheduled for yesterday (which went great, and I'll talk about later), and everything was speeding toward fantastic.

Then, last Monday, I had a schedule I wanted to stick to. I had some work I wanted to do and then I wanted to take the boys to Target and Costco. When I grocery shop, I have to go to both because there are things I need from each. But the boys were being IMPOSSIBLE. So I decided to go to the stores first and then come back, put the boys to bed and do my work. That's when the mugging happened, all because I decided to stop at the mailbox first.

I still can't get the mail. I want my diploma. I've been waiting on it to come in the mail. My mom went to check the mail for me yesterday while she was here. I worked my ass off to earn that master's degree, and I want to see it! I guess I'll have to wait a while longer. I bet I can get my husband to check it for me every day for a while. He got his certificate in the mail for completing his basic EMT stuff. We both accomplished a lot last year.

I'm pretty proud of us. And on top of that, we're raising three pretty great little boys. We're also learning a lot about being married. Marriage is hard freaking work, and it has its ups and downs. We've had to work pretty hard at it this past year. This year, 2012, is going to be better. I know it. We'll make it better. Ro, Mitch and I have all learned a lot about being members of a family and working together to live harmoniously in a household. I don't think it comes naturally for anyone.

So just as I was getting past the mugging, which you never REALLY get past, I had to go in at 5:30 a.m. yesterday for surgery. It's not the hardest surgery I've ever had. The hardest surgery I had was my hysterectomy. This was probably the second hardest. I've only had three, with the easiest surgery I had being my C-section.

I felt great when I came home yesterday. They let me go around lunch time, which was fantastic. They gave me a wonderful prescription for pain meds. I already had some pretty good pain meds flowing in my system from my IV. So before supper I took some of my marinol (synthetic THC) just to calm myself down and help me sleep with the discomfort last night. It worked. I slept all night, only waking up a couple of times to use the bathroom, and felt fine throughout the night.

When I woke up around 7, though, I was in a TON of pain. I took a large dose of pain meds. A large dose for me, which is enough to take down a T-Rex. It didn't touch the pain. I was doubled over. And I have been for much of the day. I removed all of the bandages to clean the wounds and check out how big they were. I took photos, but I'll refrain from showing them. They're pretty foul looking. I can't get the adhesive off my torso where all the tape was. I got it off my arm and hand, but I could press hard on my hand and arm. I can't on my torso. It's way too sore. I was missing my children for most of the day, but I'm unbelievably grateful to my mother for taking my twin toddlers for a week so I can heal here at home.

Anyway, the last bad parts of 2011 bled over into the first parts of 2012, so I'm glad everything is now over. I just have to heal, and then we'll be done and ready to start fresh. Bring it on, 2012!

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