Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Say Flu, Get Flu (Plus A Whole Lot of Mommyblogging)

I got cocky in my last post. Saying I hadn't been sick since August. Naturally, that meant the very next day my hubby stumbled home from work with a fever of 103.

Yikes.

Knock on wood, the flu shot seems to have protected the kiddo and I. Same as last year, I had a weaker version of the bug. Back then, I got 1/2 the flu, this time I would say it was at an 1/8th.
However, I think next year my hubby will be required to get a flu shot. Even flu at 1/8th power is still enough to mess with my lungs and make me miserable.

I've been treating it as his decision, like it doesn't affect anyone else and that's not true. So it's the flu shot or bust next year.

I will say my hubby is the one person on the planet who I don't think the flu can hurt.Being sick as a dog doesn't stop him. He could barely bend over due to all the muscle aches, but went outside anyways to see if toothpaste would clean the grime of his car's headlights like he'd heard (he was thrilled to find that it works very well, fyi, I was subjected to an entire 'man monologue' about it). Then he did laundry. Ordered and picked up takeout. Day three, he went for a walk, even though he had to hold the small of his back like a pregnant woman.

He just doesn't stop! It's kind of amazing to watch, actually.

Okay so now for some mommyblogging. Do you remember the mean mommy episode from a while back? The saga continues, but I think I figured out something important...

I swear I'm going to write a memoir titled Mean Mommies one of these days. The nastiness I've witnessed from adult women is worse than anything I saw or experienced in High School. Although it does approach some of the severe bullying I experienced in 5th grade.

Let's go back in time for a moment...Picture a budding sociopath at the age of 10 controlling whether or not the entire class would return from recess. That was my bully. One day, she kept us outside for an extra half hour, much to the teacher's chagrin. Can you imagine such subversion of adult authority? The poor teacher was literally ignored by their entire class.

If you disobeyed her orders, she sent a lackey (yes, she had lackeys) after you to beat you up on the walk home from school. I was a frequent target, but being smart enough to walk (after school) next to someone's mom like we were together, the lackeys usually gave up on trying to beat me up. Although I did get between them and another victim once, refusing to let them hit the other kid. Like most assholes, the second I showed any serious resistance, they turned tail and ran away.

Once, she demanded one of her all-girl posse steal something from another student and put it in my locker, framing me for theft. Another time, they followed me home and sprayed water through the windows of the apartment I lived in.

No one was allowed to be friends with me, not even kindergartners. Kids were punished if they sat with me at lunch or spent time with me at recess.

Thanks to her, I developed persistent, stress related stomach pain that magically resolved when I changed schools for middle school. Quelle surprise, eh?

I've not seen someone with that chick's level of group control since, not even as an adult, and I've met some nasty people. I often wonder what happened to her. I can only imagine how scary awful she must be as an adult.

The other thing I've questioned a lot is, why did people follow her and how do they feel about that as adults? Knowing how people are, they've probably brushed it off as 'kids being kids' and turned a blind eye to just how vicious it all was. And I bet they've had life long tendencies to get mixed up with other bullies.

With that backdrop in mind, let's look at the mean mommies of my adulthood. The first one I did not see coming, she was competent/together enough to mask her psycho bitch tendencies. The second mean mommy was not a surprise. I spotted her a mile away. I was friendly with her, but I purposely kept things at a light acquaintance level. It was only a matter of time before she went nuclear bitch on me. I could just tell.

And she proved my instincts right, just recently. I'm in the process of cutting all contact.Our kids are in the same school, so I've left our social infrastructure in place, i.e. I haven't unfriended her on Facebook or anything drastic. Yet. As soon as the school year is over, she's gone. The only reason I wait is to try and preserve a facsimile of social niceties as I'm not really interested in any more drama.

I'll also be cutting off another mommy who hasn't actually done anything. She's a perfectly nice mommy....So why cut her off?

Well,here's the thing, I started asking myself, 'Why am I running into all these mean mommies? Where are they coming from?'  The first answer was they were all in the same mother's group I joined, but that didn't really tell me anything. I did find it odd, though that two women on the extreme end of nasty would be in the same group willingly. They didn't like each other, and it was a small group that didn't have enough room for them both to play power games.

It wasn't until I looked at who had brought these women into the group that I found a possible answer: The perfectly nice mommy. She was the fulcrum on which the mean mommy dynamic hinged. Her mother was quite toxic and abusive to her, and as a result she had/has low self esteem. Guess what pattern she seemed to be repeating in her adult friendships?

For the longest time, I couldn't figure out why she pursued close relationships with either of these women. The one mean mommy actively and openly made fun of the nice mommy and put her down. When she detonated her inner bitch all over me, the whole mother's group took a big step back and told her she was being a bully (an unprecedented confrontation, most of the time no one says anything). Yet nice mommy continued to stay close to her and value her 'friendship.'

That always puzzled me, and it caused me to distance myself from her because I really questioned her judgement. But having recently dealt with the second mean mommy losing her shit for no apparent reason--other than she needed someone to drop kick and it was my turn--I've come to the conclusion that nice mommy can only relate to these kind of women. This dynamic must be what feels normal to her.

I could be wrong, of course. I don't actually know anything for sure and I'm not a qualified anything to be saying any of this. It's all just speculative observation.

But I'm trusting my gut on this one and cutting them all off. The mean mommies aren't going to change, but I hope the nice mommy figures it out. She's had some wake-up calls on these friendships, I hope she can heed them and find real friends who aren't bullies.

In my personal friendships, those that developed out of common interests vs. joining a random group, I don't have this drama. I don't purposely align myself with mean mommies. It's not my bag and not my natural tendency. (I wish I had been more aware of what was going on with the mother's group and recognized it wasn't for me, but I didn't get a lot of sleep back then and I kept expecting people to just be nice. Why I expected that, I don't know. Clearly the sleep deprivation--plus asthma and steroids-- messed up my critical thinking skills.)

The issue I deal with in my friendships is everyone leaves. Either the country or the state. In fact, my two closest friends right now are likely to move--one this summer, the other is job hunting out-of-state. Once they go, our friendship will fade. I've been through this several times now and it's always the same. Sure, we say we'll stay in touch, we might even get together once or twice, but eventually, the distance confines our relationship to Facebook.

So I've recently found myself reaching out and trying to broaden my social network. It's not easy though, because I find I distrust other mothers now. I tend to think they're all mean even though that's not true. Sometimes I think I should look for authors to be best buds with, except I'm finding that most authors are narcissistic jerks. It's all very air-kissy ladies-who-lunch-and-backstab-for-dessert in that world. Finding the few authors capable of a genuine, reciprocal friendship who also write in your genre and actually sell books, too...well, it makes the mommy minefield look pretty good.

Not to drag this post out longer than it has to be, but I've met some women recently who might work out. Plus, my kiddo is switching schools next year. It turns out she has a high IQ and is reading at a 6th grade level*. So we've transferred her to a school specifically for gifted kids. Since parents of gifted kids tend to be pretty smart (my claim to fame is 300 level college classes at the age of 16--I tested out of all the lower levels) I'm hoping I'll meet some interesting people. Or it could be a nightmare.

There were some parents on the school tour who were obviously feeling superior because of their kid's intelligence. They wore polished business suits and smirks a mile wide.I wore faded old mom jeans and a coat with dog hair on it (people with pets should just give up on fleece anything fyi). You should've seen the way they looked down their noses at me, like I was defacing the school. It was kind of funny. I feel a little sorry for them because I don't think giftedness means what they think it does.

*It's hard to quantify the exact level. I just picked a random grade because my kiddo is a secret reader. Lots of smart kids do this as a survival mechanism**. My kiddo doesn't want to be different and resists reading including getting things wrong on purpose so she'll "look like the other kids." But, given that I recently caught her reading the word 'exploit' on her own, and spied her reading a jargon packed comic book word for word, I think 6th grade is a safe bet.

**I never hid my reading on purpose, but my mother was quite surprised to recently learn that I read through all her college textbooks when I was 10. I read her entire feminism course lol. I was also left alone a lot, so my parents are just lucky I didn't decide to start cooking meth because they would have never noticed. They knew I was reading though as I got into trouble at school for reading through all my classes. My teachers eventually resorted to confiscating any books in my backpack, which totally sucked.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hey, hey, ho, ho...


My gallbladder has got to go!

The results from my second HIDA scan are in and my gallbladder is a piece of shit.

The first HIDA scan from a few years ago had an ejection fraction of 67% and it has since dropped to 37%. 

Also, I think I passed a stone during the last round of the 'am I getting pancreatitis again' game. My gallbladder contracted incredibly strongly, feeling very much like a fist opening and closing over and over again as hard as it could. It felt a lot like my own body was punching me on the inside. Meanwhile, what I assume was the biliary duct fluttered very intensely, as if it was trying to move something along. 

(Interesting side note, I could actually feel that the fluttering was on two distinct sides running parallel to each other. It's weird when you can feel the outlines of things inside you just from the way they move.)

I hadn't had those kinds of sensations before and I finally started to get better after several hours of that cramping and fluttering. In hindsight, I wonder if that was a stone.

Or aliens.

It could always be aliens.

Wee little things driving drunk in a tiny space ship and making lots of bad decisions about where to hit my internal organs with their highly advanced, futuristic weapons.

Pew, pew, pew, zaaaap.

$#)($*)(543

That's alien for 'oh shit.'

Anyway. Next step is to talk to the surgeon and see if they agree. 

About removing the gallbladder. 

Not the aliens.

Amazingly, since I maybe, possibly passed that stone, I feel pretty good. I have hardly any pain. I've been able to lay on my right side again. So the drive to have surgery is pretty low.

However, I haven't had any significant asthma since August 2013. I haven't been sick with any respiratory stuff since August 2013. I haven't taken steroids for over a year. My HPA axis is as good as it gets. This streak will not last, so I probably should do the surgery now while all the other health crap is stable.

But forgive me if I'm not thrilled about the prospect. This is the absolute last thing I want to be doing with my body.

I'm never free of the medical stuff for long. I suppose the gallbladder is normal middle aged (fat, fair, forty) type stuff, but I used up all my tolerance coping with asthma since I was a kid and the horrible things steroids have done to me. I don't have the patience for this, but I'd better get my zen on because I have no choice.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Breakdown Body Update

Long time no blog. In the case of this blog, that's a good thing!

However, nothing is ever healthy for very long in my body.

I'm flirting with round 2 of pancreatitis. Haven't been able to eat much of anything for the last week. Luckily this all coincided with a GI doc appointment, which means I'm on track for surgery #2. After a preliminary HIDA scan and a trial with some different medications, they'll likely set a date to remove the gallbladder and fix the hernia.

Of course, there's no guarantee it will work.

But don't worry, there's a third procedure they can do. It's riskier but it might not work too!

I looked at the doc then and said, "So, basically it all sucks?"

Doc nodded. "Yep, it all sucks."

Later, the doc hit me with this gem, "Sometimes people don't get better from this. It just doesn't go away."

Awesome. I appreciate the honesty, I do, but the truth still hurts.

I don't want surgery, but the status quo isn't tolerable. I don't care about the pain so much, my concern is nutrition, energy levels (pancreas stuff tires me out good) and long term risk of serious need-to-be-in-the-hospital pancreatitis along with the increased risk of pancreatic cancer. There are risks all around, whether I do or don't have surgery and they all suck.
 
But there's still hope that the HIDA scan will show nothing of interest (like before) especially as all the cramping and spasming is starting to calm down. A dud test might stall things a while, which I can't find myself too upset about. I really don't want to have surgery. Stall away!

Rest of my health update: Asthma is okay. A little flaky now that the season is changing but holding steady. The eye infection finally got over itself. I realized I forgot to mention that earlier, sorry. It tried to fester for a week, but couldn't gain any traction and eventually got better. Adrenals are good, but I had a few over-the-top stressful days the last month and weirdly lost my appetite along with my energy while gaining a hypersensitive sense of smell. Felt very adrenal. Don't know what that means and I try not to read too much into it.

Writing update: I am now a USA Today and NY Times bestselling author. No lie. For those of you rolling your eyes and thinking of all my writing flubs here, get over yourselves. This blog has never been edited and it always features stream of consciousness writing. In fact, some of my reviews mention how 'clean' and free of errors my books are because I work damn hard to produce a decent product. (However, most of my readers are not grammar experts and probably wouldn't notice most errors anyway, so there's that.)

My last book was a breakout hit, but wasn't the one to hit the lists. It did, however, sell well enough to qualify me for pro level memberships in various writing organizations. Which is good because it expands my professional network. (Interesting data point: The USA Today and NYT book wouldn't meet the income qualifications. If you think the bestseller list automatically = $$$$, you would be wrong.)

I'm helping someone else get their book business off the ground for no reason other than I think it's interesting. I continue to work on my business stuff with my partner and am helping another author with their marketing plan. What I'm not doing much of at the moment is writing the next book. I think I'm a little burned out.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Today's Diagnosis

Wow! It's been more than a month since I posted! A toast to good health and being too busy to whine about anything!

I saw the GI doc for the post ERCP followup, which, if you recall was in October and why yes, I did have to wait two months before speaking to anyone with any intelligence at all.

(My new hobby is sharing stories of our medical system with people from countries that have national health care--true national health care, not 'give us all your money for insurance that will still bankrupt you' health care. My favorite story at the moment is about my poor friend who had to go to urgent care twice and the ER before finally being 'allowed' to see a dermatologist...for a wart that took 1 minute to diagnose and treat.The medically lucky foreigners are always appalled at these stories and when I ask 'is that how it works where you live?' the answer is always no. The conclusion I draw from this is that I should probably move to another country.)

Anyway, GI doc says yes I had pancreatitis. The doc who did the procedure was an ass (my term not the GI doc's). Also, they were unprofessional and I hope I gave the GI doc enough info for some comeuppance at some point in the future.

They asked me twice "Did they really say that to you?" And I was like "YES!"

In the future the GI doc says I should get my gallbladder out to head off further Sphincter of Oddi issues. They suggested I do that at the same time I repair the hernia.

Which  hahahaha that will be a cold day in hell. Not too interested in subjecting myself to abuse from the medical industrial complex.

On the eating-everything-in-sight front...

I refused to let them weigh me at the GI appointment. There are just some things I don't want to face right now. My clothes still fit but I'm also fatter than before.

My appetite is becoming more normal and I do exercise. I hope it will even out.

On the asthma front...

Holding steady.

As for work...

Hoping lots of cool stuff will pan out. I have a good feeling about my next novel and some of the marketing initiatives I've set in motion. I'm sloooooowly building a social media platform that, in theory, will someday provide an income. Someday. Probably in the far distant future.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Opposite of Win

Here's the last three plus months of my life in a nutshell:

August: Spent a week with bad asthma, a week with a cold and asthma and started with something pancreatitis-y.

September: Something pancreatitis-y.

October: Something pancreatitis-y which finally started to get better. So naturally, we all got the stomach flu (fever, vomiting, the need to buy a new mattress, the whole nine yards). Then I ended up with an eye infection.

Yes, of course that would happen to me! What was I thinking? That I would be allowed to live my life unmolested by the best medicine has to offer? Clearly, I am insane with a head full of irrational thoughts.

So while I finished the antibiotics, both drop and oral, for my eye,  it looks like I still have an eye infection.The doctor said my only option would be the ER if the infection didn't clear up.

Awesome.

November will be month four in the never ending health circus show.

OMG.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Torture


So I read this article the other day about how medical personnel violated their code of ethics to torture prisoners.

It made me laugh.

Not because I like torture, but because the US Government thought they had to do something special in order to torture detainees.

Honestly, just set 'em loose in the US with a chronic medical condition. They'll be tortured plenty.


Or you could do this to them. Those doctors, nurses, hell, even the hospital janitor should all face prison time along with the cops involved.

While the guy who was repeatedly assaulted by medical personnel under the direction of law enforcement appears to be white, the racism of the south is what makes the atrocity possible. The sad reality in the US is that any brown skinned folks are automatically treated like international terrorists in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. I just had a relative recently detained for three hours in Texas.

And let me tell you we are WHITE people. In fact, I actually glow in the dark. However, my relative had a tan and looked a little Mexican-y.

So the police detained them for three hours and threatened them repeatedly. Racism disguised as policy, which then goes on to affect everyone equally.

Anyway, save our tax dollars. Just make terrorists travel the southern states and tell them they have adrenal insufficiency. Between the two that will be torture enough.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Update

Sorry to leave you hanging, I got disgusted with the whole thing and had to walk away.

I've slowly been trying to explain the mess to my friends and family. At first, I just didn't have the energy to go through it all over and over, but everyone wanted to know how I was, what happened and I had to say something.

So the story came out because, once I started, I worked myself into a fine lather. I wanted to keep it to a simple 'fine, they're still not sure what the problem is, please pass the salt' but as I talked I began to get mad and it would all spill out.

My friends and family are just as horrified as I am.

This part of the story, which I didn't include in the last blog entry, especially upsets people.

Doctor: You didn't have pancreatitis.

Me: But I had stranding and a cyst on the CT scan.

Doctor: Stranding is something they say when they don't know what to say.

Me: ?

Universally when I share this part of the saga people say, 'Well, then why did you have the ERCP?'

And I reply 'Fuck if I know.'

Then they ask, 'So doctors just say whatever on CT scans and then other doctors order procedures based on that without knowing it's just BS?'

And I reply, 'Apparently.'

They always want to know 'what does your doctor say?'

All I can say is, 'I don't know. I won't see them until December unless I make a big stink and I'm out of energy for that right now. I can't face these people anymore. It's crazy town.'

I consented to the ERCP because I was told I had pancreatitis likely caused by Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction. The need to protect the pancreas from further inflammation was without question, so of course, I was on board with an ERCP.

If not for the diagnosis of pancreatitis, I would have waited and watched. I would not have rushed into the ERCP, there would've been no reason to.

To have the diagnosis rescinded after the procedure is...well, it's fucked up.  Thank God it wasn't a more serious procedure and that my complications worked themselves out at home instead of incurring the additional cost of hospitalization.

I just...WTF medicine? Why you suck so much?

I can't even say whether or not the procedure worked. I was eating better three days prior to the ERCP. The side effects of the procedure set me back for a few weeks, but I am now back to eating. Am I eating because of the ERCP or would I have gotten here on my own? It's impossible to say.

And FYI a six week deprivation diet of yogurt, pudding and kefir doesn't end well. I've been eating EVERYTHING now that I can tolerate food. I lost roughly 10-12 pounds while sick and have wasted NO time in gaining it back.

I've been eating gluten, sugar, carbs, stupid junk food, fruit, ALL OF THE FOOD, I EATS IT.  It's crazy and also bad for me. There is nothing I won't eat. NOTHING. All my efforts to abide by a low glycemic, vegetable loaded diet are useless right now. I've lost all control and it's weird.

The gluten triggered the asthma, which at least finally gave me the impetus to avoid it again. I'm working on the sugar and exercising as much as I can to offset it all.

On the gluten intolerance front, I've found the familial connection. It's not just me and I'm not the first to have issues, just the first to identify the problem as gluten.  It hits in middle age and causes allergy type reactions (i.e. prolonged sneezing fits, congestion, red runny eyes, bloating), or, in my case, triggers asthma, bloating, joint pain and flu-like fatigue.(Sometimes I have the sneezing but not always.) So there are a few of us now avoiding gluten and swapping recipes. Some of my relatives have been trying to figure this out for decades, trying all sorts of health diets to ameliorate it.