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Category Archives: trauma

One year.

I love you, Mom.

Every moment, even the difficult ones, were a blessing for me because they were spent with you.

I mark this day in honor of a woman whose life mattered.

I mark this day in honor of a woman who loved her family beyond what words can express. It was immeasurable.

I mark this day in honor of a woman who is loved beyond her time on this earth.

I mark this day in honor of a woman who was generous, intelligent, compassionate, and downright amazing.

I mark this day in my heart and soul, like a tattoo that can never be removed.

2014-07-02-16-12-13

 

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Sleep? Why bother…

Apparently this is what my body and brain has decided. Sleep unnecessary.

I know that for real it has to do with my mental, emotional, and physical pain. All of those wrapped into one, split into pieces, kneaded into each other, and then rolled into a throbbing ball of oneness. I’m so on edge that one small scrape and I’m raw and bleeding profusely, figuratively.

I cried on the way to the grocery store this morning. Not because I had to go to the grocery store, not because I was worried about being able to afford the trip to the grocery store, not because I was afraid I was going to have an anxiety attack in the grocery store… I cried because I couldn’t not cry. I’m tired, I’m not sleeping, I’m worried about Hub and I’m worried about Butthead. I’m worried about myself, too. My grief is overwhelming every part of my life and I can’t seem to dig my way out of it.

Hub is agonizing over a job offer–in part because it might mean less flexibility and he worries that he won’t be able to come home if I need him–that he received on Friday. I’m worried for him because I don’t feel that the company was being up front with him…they kind of bait and switched the job position (which they apparently did to the guy before him, someone Hub knows). I am concerned he won’t have any backup on his work, and I’m worried because if this is how they treat potential employees, how do they treat current employees. But Hub is unhappy in his current job and looking for a way out. Our health insurance changed due to the buy-out, so he’s both unhappy with the new corporate owners and unhappy with their shitty health insurance. Unfortunately, the potentially new company has equally shitty health insurance…so that kind of cancels out the pro/con in that category. Now they’re not budging on a concession he asked about (a minor concession on their part!), so that might be the end of that. I only hope that his current corporate overlords don’t decide that he’s no longer needed before he finds something else.

Butthead is randomly puking again. I mean, it’s good news that she’s not persistently puking like the last episode where we ended up rushing her to the vet hospital and coming home with anti-vomit pills… But this randomly throwing up (twice in the last four days…one of which was this morning which was another reason why I was so upset) is so frustrating. We don’t know if she’s sneaking and eating bad things outside or has gastritis and so her stomach hurts her or what… We’re at the point where we’re acclimating her to a basket muzzle that she’ll have to wear anytime she’s outside so she doesn’t eat crap off the ground and make herself sick. It’s hard and sad to make her wear a muzzle because she’s a good dog, not aggressive, shouldn’t have to wear it. I know it’s uncomfortable and bulky and just plain weird for her, but we don’t know what else to do with her. We can’t figure out what is wrong with her. And if it’s that she’s eating stuff outside that’s making her sick, there’s nothing else we can do other than the muzzle. For the past month or so we’ve been out there with her every minute, following her and standing over her and making sure she’s not eating things. But with the snow and ice, and my physical capabilities being limited at this point…I couldn’t keep up with her and I think she might have eaten something that made her vomit last Thursday when I wasn’t standing over her. We just don’t know what to do with her… So I’m worried that she’s going to vomit again like the last episode. Ugh. So far it’s been these two random episodes and today I spent time on and off modifying the basket muzzle to try to use a quick-snap collar to hold it on her head versus the old-fashioned buckle which is a pain in the ass to get on and off of her, especially with her floppy ears and long hair.

Even though I’ve been feeling ultra shitty and exhausted, we had to do a bunch of things this weekend. Most of which we accomplished. Unfortunately, one of the things was cleaning up the caulk in our master shower which seemed to be growing mold behind the caulk at the joints of the floor and wall. Hub is not flexible, so he had trouble sitting on the floor and scraping at the caulk, so I did 90% of it. Which, of course, hurt my arms, shoulders, and hands more than they were already hurting. The end result, though, is that we need to call in a professional to look at our shower because this is the second time in a year that we’ve ended up with this problem. Last time my brother helped me strip and re-caulk the shower, but now we’re in the same place again… There’s something wrong if there’s mold and mildew growing behind the caulk, especially since we bought mold-resistant caulk. This all means that we don’t have a shower in our bathroom and we have to haul ass to the shower on the opposite end of the house…past all the windows in the front of the house and over the foyer area of the house. It also means we have to haul all our paraphernalia into the other shower, which is smaller than our master shower. It’s not a huge deal, it’s just more stress. And more stress in having to find someone who knows what they are doing to come into the house to fix whatever is happening. The stupid sub-contractor that our builder hired to do our bathrooms did not know what they were doing. They screwed several things up in our master bathroom and ruined a lot of our shower floor tiles by having to go back and chip out all the wrong grout they put in. So we were left with grout over top of grout, and chipped tiles. And the slope of the floor is really bad, which causes water to pool in different spots in the shower and leaves our grout with water stains where the water sits. It’s shitty and depressing and frustrating. That’s all in addition to whatever this caulk situation is.

I have my mammogram on Wednesday. We finally got our health insurance cards from Hub’s new corporate overlords. I opened the mail, found the card, and called for my appointment all within about ten minutes. The first they had was a week away (now this Wednesday) and I took the appointment. I am pretty paranoid about keeping up with my mammos, so I’m glad that it’s only about ten days overdue from the day I had it last year.

I was supposed to have a relaxing massage last week. I had it scheduled in between two trigger point appointments…I normally go to TP massage therapy once a month (ish). So I scheduled the relaxing massage exactly two weeks after one TP appointment and two weeks before the next TP appoint. And then it snowed, and my relaxing massage appointment got canceled. And I really really wanted it. I mean, not enough to endanger my therapist or myself, but I’m so disappointed. I knew this was going to be a difficult month (technically, it’s been a difficult year so far), so I had planned for the relaxing massage–which I never get–and then plans went pfffft. Since my massage therapist only works two days a week, there were no openings for me to do a make-up massage. I don’t know when I’ll be able to fit it in again.

I told T on Friday that I want this grief to have some kind of end date. But with every day, every month, it stays. It’s a solid burden that I carry with me every. This month is especially difficult as it’s the (one year) anniversary of Mom’s death. And with every calendar day I think of what I was doing on “this” day last year. How we had no idea what was coming. How we took her to an arboretum in the city trying to perk up her spirits…not knowing how soon it would get so bad. How it happened so fast. How I was late to Hub’s birthday dinner last year because I was with Mom and Dad helping them with something. How it was only days after his birthday that she was in the hospital and then hours later that she was gone. Grief has no end date. It plays by no rules. It doesn’t give a shit who you are or what you want. It lives and breathes and grows and growls and harps and hammers and changes and does whatever the hell it wants. And it sucks.

 

 

 

 

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Post colonoscopy refresh

Well, here I am, back on my recliner trying to recover from the last two days. The last five days?

The prep, while not as bad as it was for my surgeries, still sucked. I would definitely use this prep again in the future because it was less liquid to drink, and most of the liquid required was plain water. Also, it was split into two days, so that made things easier all around.

The colonoscopy, as everyone said, was the easiest part of the whole thing. The anxiety before (and now some after), is harder. The prep is harder. The half hour before going in is harder. Screw that, the hour before going in is harder. I still feel woozy-ish from some of the drugs, but I also think some of that is the lack of nutrition I’ve had over the last five days. I’m trying to go slowly back into food, both last night and today, so my intake is still smaller than normal. So I’m tired, I’m woozy-ish, and I’m anxious a bit.

Why anxious?

Well, let’s talk about the second worst part of yesterday (the prep was pretty bad for TMI reasons)… We get to the procedure center a few minutes early and checked in. They took me back only a few minute later than I had expected but not bad, really. I go to the bathroom one last time and they take me into a curtained cube area. There are seriously like 12 or 14 beds in this whole pre- and post-procedure area. It started feeling a lot like a cattle call. Get ’em in and get ’em out. So I get into my designated cube area and I undress and pull on my lovely gown, open in the back of course. I tuck my bagged clothes under the gurney as instructed and I get onto the gurney. I’m there about ten seconds and I get an excruciating abdominal muscle spasm. I start gasping and I hear the nurse on the other side of the curtain “you okay, hon?” So I say “uh” and she comes in and I tell her what’s happening. She seems sympathetic but not entirely interested. Says it’s probably from the prep and could she please have my arm to get my blood pressure? I tell her my BP is going to be through the roof because I’m in terrible pain and she just takes my arm and hooks me up. Shortly after taking my BP (which was high, of course), I get another spasm, and then another, and then another. It’s so painful and I want to cry and go home and I want Hub but the nurse says I’m up next and there’s no time for Hub to come back. I’m clutching my stomach and there’s a huge hard baseball sized lump under my skin and she’s asking for my OTHER arm so she can get the IV in. She promises to tell the doctor about the spasm but doesn’t seem distressed. Finally, the spasm gives up and the IV is in and the anesthesiologist comes in to talk to me. Then the doctor comes in and I tell him about something else and then alert him to the spasm. “Probably from the prep” he tells me.

If it’s the prep, then why have I had them before? If it’s not the prep, was it dehydration? I don’t know, honestly, and I doubt I’ll ever know WTF they’re from. What I know is, they hurt like a motherfucker and having four in a row was so painful that I was actually GLAD to be getting anesthesia. (Maybe it was dehydration and being slumped over on the toilet for two days. Hmm…)

Even after the colonoscopy, last night, and today, my stomach is so sore from the spasm. Cramp? Maybe it’s a cramp. Stomach charlie horse? I have no idea. But moving at all is uncomfortable because that muscle is apparently involved in every-damn-thing I do. And of course the fear that it’s going to happen again, because it actually takes my breath away it’s so painful and so out-of-the-blue.

Meanwhile, post-colonoscopy, I’m told I was very nice to the nurses and kept thanking people. Literally, as they were putting anesthesia into my IV before the procedure I blurted out to the two nurses “thanks for taking care of me!” and then I was out. So when Hub assured me that I was nice to everyone even before I was really conscious afterward, I said, “Well my mother would be proud of me.” My stomach was really inflated with air from the test, so I was really uncomfortable. They made me go to the bathroom and drink, then Hub helped me get dressed and we left. Less than two hours from when they took me back to when we got out to the car. When we got home, I walked around the main floor of my house and passed air for half an hour. I know that I kept asking Hub questions about what the nurses and doctor said after I “woke up”, but I couldn’t seem to retain the answers at the time. Every time I lapped around near Hub, I would ask him another question that I KNEW I had already asked, but the answers just kept eluding me. After being on my feet for thirty  minutes straight, I was done, so I went upstairs and changed and got into bed with a small container of yogurt to get some probiotics into my system. I had some apple juice, a small omelet and some jello for dinner. After a couple of hours the air seemed to have left my system, so my intestines felt better but my abdomen still hurt from the muscle thing. I was still kind of woozy and out of it, but I managed for the evening.

I didn’t sleep great, but that’s not news. This morning I didn’t want to get out bed, but I did it because I knew I needed to be moving around. And I knew I needed to get eating again, and drinking.

The doctor said they found one small polyp, which they removed and will send for pathology (2 week wait for that). They also found internal hemorrhoids, which I can have treated at a later date if I decide to do so. “A few” external hemorrhoids, too. Otherwise, I’m told there was nothing else of note, and my prep was “good”. Once they get the pathology back, then I’ll hear if I have to go back for my next colonoscopy in five years or in ten. I’m assuming it’s not cancerous, but I don’t know if I’m being naive about that or not. Either way, won’t know for sure until the report comes back.

Onward to my next job for this week…help my dad go through his mortgage refinance on Thursday. It’s supposed to be hella cold, single digits…yay.

 

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On tests and techs and pain

I saw a breast surgeon, she said to get a bi-lateral breast MRI.

I waited to hear from her office, but really all they ended up doing was faxing the MRI order to the radiology center. She also emailed me a copy so I would have it on hand. I called and made the appointment myself, which is what I preferred to do anyway. I called and spent like twenty minutes on the phone with the scheduler trying to make sure I was getting in for the “wide open MRI”. I asked the same question about forty thousand times… you’re sure it’s the wide open MRI? Are you sure they let you do that for a breast MRI? It’s wide open, right? And that’s what you scheduled me for? I think the woman thought I was nuts, but the potential that I could get into a “wide open MRI” was enough that I was willing to wait over a week for the appointment.

I had the option to use anti-anxiety medication. I had some old-ish meds on hand, so that’s what I planned to take with me. But I hoped to not have to use it, considering the “wide open MRI” was supposed to look like this (based on the picture on their website!):

oasismri

Yeah, best laid plans.

I waited pretty well for the test. A few days before, I saw T and we actually did hypnosis (which she recorded and I listened to for the next two days) so I could get through the MRI test pain and anxiety free. I didn’t start getting nervous until the night before. The day of, I cried a couple of times, but when I went into the facility, I was okay. Nervous, but okay. They took me back and had me change into scrub pants (I had to ask for a size up because I’m just too bootilicious–actually, I needed more room in the thighs) and a hospital gown top open in the front. Then they made me sit and wait outside the MRI technician’s room, where I could see the techs performing the MRI before mine.

The male tech came in to talk to me about the test and why I was getting it. I told him I was nervous and asked if the MRI was indeed open on both sides. He frowned and said no, it was just wider inside than the old-style MRI. When he saw me shudder, he said, “I’ve had a 550 pound man in there, no problem! Does that make you feel better?” I said NO. He said, “Well, at least you’re honest! Haw haw haw.”

wide_closed_open_mri

The one on the left is the wide bore. It’s wider where you go in and shorter in length. They also send you in feet first so your head is closer to the air. Well, except I was getting my boobs MRI’d, so really I wasn’t that close to the air. More on that in a minute.

The male tech said the female tech was due back shortly and would be the person to get me on the table. I asked how long the test would take and he said once I was settled on the table it would be 35-45 minutes. He put my IV in (he wanted to put it in my hand, but I declined because YOWCH) and left me to sit while he finished with his current MRI patient. I sat quietly, I breathed, I went through the hypnosis stuff in my head. Then the female tech came in and announced, “This is going to be painful.”

WTF.

I said, “What?” She said that a lot of women have trouble with keeping their arms over their head for the whole test, and that it’s pretty uncomfortable. I said I understood, and she left to clean up the MRI from the previous patient and set it up for me. See, online you get this picture of a bi-lateral breast MRI:

breastmri5

So comfy. She’s got a pillow and a blanket and she looks like she could nap. Aww, isn’t that amazing?

Instead, what you are confronted with is this table, sitting there, staring at you, taunting you, just waiting to fill you with pain. It wants you to cry. I’m telling you, it wants you to weep.

mri2

Let me explain further, for your torturous enjoyment. You see those red arrows? They point to where your boobs go in. Nice and roomy, no problem. All good, yeah? But wait, look in between where your boobs go. See that white plastic piece there? Yeah, that one. The one that feels like it is made from concrete and is going to support the entire weight of your upper body for 35-45  minutes. Pressed solidly against what? Your sternum. You lay there, with your lower body slanted downward, but you have to have the majority of your body over that area where your boobs hang down. And it’s all resting on your sternum, on hard plastic. Narrow hard plastic. Narrow, unforgiving, hard plastic.

I had to climb onto the table and kneel down (both knees are bad, I don’t kneel on anything anymore), get positioned and then lay face down. And I nearly screamed out in pain. I have a very sensitive sternum and the muscles around it are also sensitive. I cannot even wear an underwire bra for more than an hour or two. I basically shot back up to my knees (my poor poor knees) and looked at the female tech for help. She said, and I quote, “I told you it was going to be painful.”

WTF.

I have never, in all the years I’ve been going through testing–and I’ve had a long history of lots of different and unusual tests–backed out on a test. But I looked the tech in the face and said, “I can’t do this.” I couldn’t put my weight down onto that plastic piece for more than a minute, how was I going to do it for 35 or 45 minutes? The tech offered me a narrow pad to cover the cross piece but I barely felt it. She said too much padding and I’d be too far out of the boob slot to get good pictures. So we stuffed a pillow up under my stomach and I laid down and I suffered.

See the area where you put your face, like a massage table? Yeah, they cover that with one of those caps you wear into surgery. So you’re face down into a blue plastic-papery non-breathable cap. And when you breathe? You get a face full of your own hot air. There’s no place for your air to go. And because you’ve got your full head weight all resting up there, it all gets put on your face, cuz your head be heavy like a fucking bowling ball. All on your face and cheeks.

Then they readjust your gown out of the way, shove gi-normous earplugs into your ears because the MRI machine is SO LOUD I could hear it out in the hallway with the doors closed. They shove a rubber ball thing in your hand and shout into your ear (because you’re wearing earplugs) “Squeeze the ball if you have an emergency.” And then they leave you.

I’ve had MRIs before, and normally they tell you when the test is going to start and how long that section will take. I heard the tech do it for the patient before me. But I got none of that. The only time she said anything to me during the test was, “You have four minutes left. Stay still.”

I had my arms extended over my head the whole time, I didn’t move, and I breathed so shallowly that I thought I would hyperventilate. If I breathed any deeper, the pain in my sternum multiplied by a thousand. I do not exaggerate. I know pain. I live with lots of it. This was so horrendous, it was worse than post-surgery for my hysterectomy.

At no point did I look like this:

p-mrimachine

But rather more like this:

breastmri

See that hyper-extension of the arms and shoulders? Yeah. For 40 minutes. Ouch. The MRI tube was wider than ones I’d been in previously, but it was hotter than I remembered. The MRI waves affect me. Not everyone feels it, but I feel the heat and I feel the magnets. They move across my body, making it feel like the flesh is rippling…which some people describe as “vibrations”. At some point I felt the cold slither of the contrast go through the tube she’d wound around my thumb so the tubing didn’t fall off the table, but no other warning for that. At least at that point I knew I was close to done.

When they finished, the tech came in and started sliding the table out. “Don’t move yet!” she said. GREAT. Then she unhooked me from the contrast machine and tried to warn me about sitting up slowly, but I still had earplugs in. When I pulled away from the torture device, onto my knees again, my entire sternum and chest area SCREAMED. The tech yelled at me not to stand up, to roll to a sitting position and wait. Then she approached me and yanked the earplugs out of my ears. I’m sitting there, dizzy, half blind because the room is so bright after being enclosed for so long with my eyes squeezed shut…and my chest is just so painful that when I breathe, I want to throw up.

The tech stands there while I try to get my bearings, then I push to my feet. The tech gives me the key to my locker, says, “you’re cube six” and then disappears. Doesn’t tell me where the cube is or how to get out of the maze of rooms and hallways back to the waiting room. I basically hobbled around the corner to find my cube, got dressed really slowly, then went back into the hall. I had to stop someone to ask how to get out to the waiting room. When I got out there, I hobbled to the exit and waited for Hub to meet me there. Then he helped me out the doors and as soon as I got outside, not even onto the parking lot, I started sobbing. Which hurt my sternum like a motherfucker. Hub helped me into the car and asked if I needed to go to the urgent care or ER and I said I just wanted to go home. I cried all the way home.

When I got home, Hub helped me upstairs and brought me ice packs for my chest, and I just laid in bed for three hours, trying not to cry. I had trouble sleeping last night–no surprise. This morning–one day later–every single muscle in my body hurts. My back and shoulders and arms… OMG so painful. My sternum still hurts. I can’t bend over without sucking in air from the pain.

I have no idea when I’ll hear from the doctor. I have no idea when any of this pain will subside. I’m so tired and so weary. I don’t know that I could do another MRI like that again. I wish I had been able to really tell the tech how I felt about the whole experience, including her attitude, but I didn’t have the energy or the strength at the time. I wanted to get a CD copy of my test, but I couldn’t stay in that building one second longer. I’ll have to call and order it, then pick it up. Hopefully just for record-keeping sake. Hopefully this will be nothing and I’ll have a good base-line for any potential future issues.

I’ve mostly been sitting around today. It’s taken me most of the day to write this email because my shoulders hurt so much. I don’t even know psychologically how much this trauma is going to affect me. Ugh.

(Happy update. My breast surgeon called about twenty minutes ago to tell me that the area was just “normal glandular tissue” and there was nothing to be concerned about. No follow-up needed, but to keep up with annual mammograms as usual. Yay.)

 

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Good news, bad news

Which did ya want first?

Remember how I said that G-d didn’t want me to exercise? I’m pretty sure that was reiterated to me Tuesday night. How? Well, thanks for asking.

I decided that since I had trouble with the bike, and I was feeling somewhat better after a weekend of rest and antibiotics, that I would try the treadmill instead. I was going to start off easy, like with the bike, and just get on and go for a few minutes. As I’m walking, I feel my plantar faciitis flaring up but I try to ignore it. I knew it would be an issue. My knees, too, but I keep going for just the few minutes I wanted to accomplish. When I’m done, I’m a good girl and I go right into the shower to clean up and I climb into bed for my evening. About twenty minutes later, I’m sitting up in bed with my legs stretched out in front of me. I twist hard and far to the left with just my upper body, bend at the stomach, and reach for the outside of my ankle where it feels like something is biting me. I can’t find anything, so I start to straighten and zzzzzowie!

My stomach to the left of my belly button twists viciously, making it feel like my innards are being grabbed and twisted hard in opposite direction from my outer flesh. It’s, like, the worst pain I think I’ve had in recent (all?) memory. It feels like my stomach or my intestines or something got yanked and twisted around. And it scares the crap out of me. I get out of bed and try to stand, but I can hardly breathe I’m so terrified. And then it’s over in less than two minutes. And I’m standing next to the bed and I don’t know what to do. I know Hub is downstairs, but he’s busy recording a podcast for at least another twenty minutes. So I try to get back into bed carefully and I wait for him to alert me that he’s done. When he does, I ask him immediately to come upstairs and I try to explain what happened.

He looks mildly alarmed (and upset that I didn’t call him right away) and asks me if I want to go to the hospital or what. It’s now after eight p.m. and I know the ER is going to suck, as it always does. Hub suggests the walk-in clinic, which is close to the hospital, so if they can’t help me it’s a short ride to the ER. I call my dad and tell him Hub is going to bring the dogs over in case we get stuck out for hours at the clinic or ER. I don’t really like leaving the dogs over there now that Mom is gone, because Butthead eats stuff in their yard and then pukes it up (either there or here) since her stomach is so sensitive. No matter how many times I tell my dad and brother about it, they don’t seem to take us seriously. Anyway, I get dressed, then meet Hub downstairs and we go out to the car.

The walk-in clinic is not too busy and they basically take me back in about five minutes after checking in. The medical assistant asks what’s going on, then says something to the effect of, “Gee, I hope your intestines didn’t get all twisted up, because that can happen!” in a kind of chipper voice. I wanted to punch him in the throat. Hub says, “Uh, hey, guy, she kind of has anxiety issues, so let’s not just throw random theories out there if you don’t mind.” The medical assistant nodded and smiled, then left the room. From there, despite the lack of patients, it takes over an hour for the doctor to come in to see us. She asks for bloodwork, pee, and an xray. Says she doesn’t know what it is. It doesn’t feel like anything is twisted when she does a physical exam.

I take care of the pee, the phlebotomist comes in to take my blood (Hub leaves the room, ha!), then we sit and wait (me in a gown and my underwear!) to be taken for an xray. The staff seems pretty nice, but slow-as-molasses. It’s already after 10pm, which is their closing time, and we’re basically still waiting for xray. They finally take me in, do the xrays, and we’re back in the exam room while the staff is cleaning and closing up around us. FINALLY the doctor comes in and announces “KIDNEY STONE!”

What-the-ever-loving-fuck?

So she tells me it’s going to be excruciating pain passing a stone, but that it’s already in my ureter and down partway, smallish in size, and hey, it might pass without any pain, but not likely. So you want vicodin or what? I say, in a small voice, I can’t do vicodin as it makes me nauseated and dizzy. She offers me tylenol with codeine instead and I take it. I ask how long to pass the stone and she says “Oh it’ll be gone by morning. Drink a lot…a LOT of water and be prepared to take the pain killers. Seriously, keep them right next to your bed and be ready to pop them.” We wait around another twenty minutes for xray films on cd, which I’m supposed to take to the urologist as soon as possible. We finally leave and get home, and Hub goes to retrieve the dogs. I shuffle to bed and spend the next three hours pounding down bottles of water as fast as I can, hoping to push the stone through. I also go looking for information on kidney stones (I know, it was dumb) and find that those who get stones (“stoners”) will likely continue to get them for the rest of their lives. Of course, my father informs me he had one once, but only one. So maybe I’ll be lucky like that. Or not. Who the hell knows.

I stay up until after 2am, peeing into a strainer they gave me trying to catch the stone so the doctor can have it analyzed and see how to change my diet to not get any more. Peeing into a strainer is awkward, ya’ll. And uncomfortable. And all the while I’m just WAITING for the excruciating pain. It’s coming at some point, and I am terrified. People say it’s the worst pain they’ve ever felt. Worse than labor without pain medication. Brings big strong men to their knees wailing like children. I put the trashcan right next to my bedside because vomiting is highly likely they say. I take off my necklace that I wear all the time so it doesn’t get in the way if I have to bend over to vomit into the can. I leave my hair tied back for the same reason. At about 2:30am, I give up and try to sleep, but lying down makes me feel nauseated (another symptom of stones!), so I prop myself upright and doze off.

At eight a.m. I wake up and call the urology office to make an appointment. They can’t see me until Thursday afternoon (it’s now Wednesday 8am). I ask the person on the phone what to do until then. She says “did they give you medication?” and I said just the pain pills. She asked about the strainer, I said yes. So she says she’ll see us Thursday. Uh, okay, thanks. I spend the entire day in bed, exhausted from the fear and the anxiety and the kidney stone. On and off I’m sure I feel the radiating “flank” pain they were talking about, but it’s mild. My back aches (another symptom!) but it, too, isn’t much worse than normal for me. Hub is taking care of me, making sure I’m still drinking a lot, and making sure I try to eat something. He’s working from home and spends most of the day in the bedroom on his work laptop so I’m not alone.

Still no hellish pain, so I go to sleep sitting up again Wednesday night, but middle of the night I toss the pillows and lie down. I sleep until Hub wakes me to say good bye…he has to be in the office for a few hours before my appointment. I spend most of the morning reading kidney stone stories on reddit, still waiting for the other shoe to drop (the horrendous pain) and wondering why the hell the stone hasn’t passed into my strainer and why I’m not having to pop pain pills like everyone else.

FINALLY we go to the doctor. They make me fill out stuff on a computer thingy even though I filled everything out online at home the night before. They give me a cup and I go pee, for the first time in over 40 hours, I’m not peeing through a strainer. Yay. Then back into the waiting room, where we sat for over 40 minutes until the nurse calls me back. She’s nice, we joke a little, she asks what we’re in for. When I say kidney stone, she cringes and says, “Ugh.” But tells me the doctor will be in shortly, then leaves my xray up on the computer screen for the doctor to see.

Luckily, the doctor comes in shortly thereafter and we go over why I’m there and how I was diagnosed. Then she sits at the computer and looks at the screen and frowns. Then makes a face. She asks again what happened to lead me to the walk-in clinic. She asks again about pain, nausea, backaches, fever, vomiting…none of which I really had in any major way, except for the initial “short” incident. Then she says… “it’s not a stone.”

WHAT??

She says, “Clinically speaking, if you had a stone in your ureter like they thought you did, you’d be on the floor crying and in pain.” And that I’d have been in pain the whole time, basically, even though it might have come and gone in waves. She tells me the spot is a calcification in a pelvic vein called PHLEBOLITHS. I ask her to please repeat that and she does (I still don’t get it but I look it up when I get home…of course), then she says it’s benign, nothing to be concerned about, comes with aging.

What is the meaning of PHLEBOLITHS are noted in pelvis?
A phlebolith is a small local, usually rounded, calcification within a vein. These are very common in the veins of the lower part of the pelvis, and they are generally of no clinical importance. When located in the pelvis they are sometimes difficult to differentiate from kidney stones in the ureters on X-ray.

Good news, no kidney stone. Bad news, I just spent the last 48 hours freaking out over nothing. Oh. My. Gawd.

We still don’t know what the initial pain was from. It was terrifying. She says she wants to get a ct scan to make sure nothing else is going on, just out of an abundance of caution. I tell her I have to get a ct scan for my 1 year post-cancer check next month, and can I combine the two so I don’t have to do two separate scans. She says “sure” and says to check with my gyn oncologist to get what he needs. She prints my referral for the scan and walks me out. She tells me to come back if I start feeling poorly, otherwise she’ll wait to see the scans.

It’s possible the horrifying pain was from a muscle cramp (in a weird fucking place), but I’ve NEVER felt anything like that before in my life. I just don’t know, and won’t know if anything else is going on until after the scan. I’m waiting to hear from my gyn oncologist to see if I can go ahead with the scan now, instead of waiting for the appointment next month.

Stupid treadmill.

 

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Diamonds in the sky

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It looks like there is a diamond in the middle of that bright green new foliage. Alas, it is a raindrop, caught just so on the plant…caught just so by my cell phone camera.

My brother asked me to hang out with him. It was such a surprising request that I stumbled over responding. Not that I mind hanging out with him, but his wife doesn’t really like it when he and I are together. I think she is jealous of him having fun…maybe because she doesn’t get along with her only sibling? I’m not sure. But when she is with us, she tries to keep us separated because she doesn’t like how he behaves with me. How does he behave? He has fun. It’s a sad situation.

Anyway, when he asked me to hang out with him, I asked if it he was expecting our respective spouses to join us, as Hub had plans that he couldn’t change. He said no, that his wife had plans, so it would just be us. He suggested we go to a local (large) plant nursery to walk around. I said sure, but I wanted to cry. Mom and I used to love to go to this nursery to walk around and, of course, to buy stuff. She loved gardening and plants, and we loved spending time shopping for stuff. But since my brother asked me to go, I figured he needed to connect with someone and I wasn’t willing to let him down. So we made plans and we went.

We haven’t had rain here in over a month, but when my brother came to pick me up it was pouring out. We decided to go anyway, with umbrellas, and just deal with the rain. By the time we made it to the nursery, the rain had mostly stopped so it turned out to not be a big deal. While we were walking around, I saw this plant with the “diamond” hovering in the center of the new growth. I took the picture because it was pretty amazing. But it made me sad that my mom wasn’t there with us to enjoy the beauty. It made me sad that my brother never  wanted to join Mom and me when we went out to these nurseries together. My brother and I walked around, talked, joked, laughed, and just spent time together. We occasionally spoke about Mom and about what was going on with her estate, but mostly we talked about the plants we were looking at. Plants we liked, plants we didn’t like, plants he already had that were thriving or not. My brother has kept himself somewhat removed from the family because of his wife…because of how she behaves. Because most of us tolerate her only because we care about him. Mom worried about him a lot. I know she wished he had been happy, but he never seemed to be. We wondered if it was because of her or if it was something else. I know now it’s probably a little of both.

I am trying to stay connected with my siblings and my father. It’s awkward, which seems weird because we are mostly a close-knit family. My mother was the heart of our family. She was the one who connected all our lives. Although I try to talk to my father as often as possible, and stop in to see him, it’s difficult. We don’t have a lot to talk about except taking care of bills and Mom’s estate. I try to find things…but he doesn’t have any hobbies and he doesn’t have any interests. And right now, he doesn’t want to do much. I don’t want to step into Mom’s shoes and keep everyone connected or be the go-between for everyone. So I have to step back and allow everyone to find their own way to communicate. I know it’s difficult for them but it’s also difficult for me. Both stepping back and keeping in touch.

There are times when I forget for just a moment that she’s gone. When I remember again, it’s painful. I think of her often and that’s okay. When I talk about her, it hurts. When I think about how much I miss her, it hurts. I’m still finding myself in situations where I wish she were still here, that I could still talk to her, that I could still see her. That’s where the tears are. Just walking up to her house or seeing the spot where we used to hang out on her deck hurts. It’s like feeling the loss all over again…repeatedly. It makes it so much harder to go over and see my father, because walking through their doors hurts.

And mother’s day is approaching. Every commercial on television is for mother’s day gifts. The cards and signs in the grocery stores. The radio. It’s everywhere. And I want to curse and scream and I’m so jealous of people who get to spend mother’s day with their mothers. For the past fourteen years Hub and I have hosted mother’s day for his family and mine. Last year, Mom was in radiation therapy so she was tired, so Hub spent mother’s day with his mother while I spent it with mine. It was the first year we separated for mother’s day. This year I’ve told him to go to his mother’s and be with her, but he’s resisting. His mother understands, but really I want to be alone on mother’s day. I want to pretend it’s just another day. I want to be able to cry by myself if that’s what happens.

This is so hard.

 

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Living in it

This morning I had the opportunity to talk to Mom’s oncologist on the telephone. Technically speaking, the phone rang at about 8:30am and when I saw the caller ID I had a moment of panic. What was wrong? What had happened?

Then I remembered that there was really nothing left for me to worry about with her doctor.

The doctor had called to pass along his condolences. He’d been out of the country during Mom’s final crisis and death. He called to talk to me about what had happened with her final days, at the hospital, and then at home. I would guess some of this information would help him build his experience with this type of cancer–which is still pretty rare in the grand scheme of things–and some of it was closure for him. We’ve known him for almost two years, and I really do feel he had compassion for our situation all the way through. On the phone he said pretty bluntly that he wished this had never happened to Mom, that we’d never met, that he could turn back time and change things for us. I thanked him for the thought. Then I fought back tears as I told him how much my mother liked him, how much I like him, how appreciative I was that he fought so hard for Mom. I thanked him for putting up with my brother–who questioned him at every turn and threw tons of trials and homeopathy and other things at him–when he really didn’t have to. He told me it was part of his job, but I disagreed with him and I told him as much. Not every doctor could have–or would have–put up with my brother’s tactics or attacks. My mother’s doctor did so with aplomb, and with great understanding for what my brother was dealing with. I thanked the doctor for taking such good care of Mom, and for giving us two years to be with her. It certainly wasn’t a given considering Mom’s aggressive cancer.

When I hung up the phone, the tears were stuck in my throat. Later, I spoke to my father who had called Social Security to see what he had to do in regards to my mother’s passing. He told me how hard it was to have the conversation, and I told him I understood how he was feeling. It’s hard to talk about her. It’s hard to talk about what happened. It’s hard to talk about our lives without her.

Hub’s friend was coming over tonight to hang out. He’s been Hub’s friend for a lot of years. He’s helped us move a couple of times (and we’ve helped he and his wife move a bunch of times), and he’s even helped us with things at my parents’ house over the years. He’s a good friend to Hub, and vice versa. He and his wife know my parents pretty well. I couldn’t even stay downstairs to say hello, I just wanted to come upstairs and hide. I didn’t want to have to hear another condolence. Another “I’m so sorry”. It isn’t their fault…what else do you say? What else do I say other than “thank you.” It’s just another chink in the armor every time someone approaches with that face or that voice or that head tilt that tells you what is coming. Sympathy, empathy, kind words, compassion. I know why and I understand, but I just couldn’t take it again today.

I want to hide from everyone who knows me because I don’t want to hear the sympathy. I don’t want to hear the pity. I don’t want to be reminded every time I talk to them that my mother is gone. How are you? How’s Dad doing? One day at a time.

It fucking hurts, every minute of every hour of every day. And it isn’t anyone else’s fault. I just want to live in it by myself. I don’t want to tell everyone how I’m doing or how I’m making it through.

Is this the anger? I thought the anger would be at my mother for being sick, or for dying, or for leaving. Instead I just feel ANGRY. And I just want to be alone. I know there’s no wrong way to grieve, so I’m living in it and living with it. And it so sucks.

 

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