Category: TMI


WARNING: This post is full of TMI of a personal nature. Please avoid if you are allergic to such.

Self! Get it together!

Self! Get it together!

I don’t know if you know this, but I’m fat. I’ve not always been fat, but I was one of those people who gained a bunch of weight during a first pregnancy and never really lost any of it. I’ve gained more since then. I’ve now been fat twice as long as an adult than I was thin as an adult. Of course, I’ve hated this and I’ve dieted with some success, but nothing stuck. The only three things, healthwise, that I’ve done successfully in, quite possibly, my whole life is quit smoking so I could get pregnant without dealing with that addiction and successfully regulate my blood sugar with diet while afflicted with gestational diabetes so  I wouldn’t have to subject my baby to drugs and have three children naturally.

All pretty big things, I think.

For some reason, weight loss is not one of the things I’ve been able to do. I think because it isn’t directly FOR anyone else. I haven’t really held myself in the highest of esteems for quite some time (see this post), and that makes doing anything for me, low on the list of priorities. Then there is the whole “I HATE EXERCISE” bit. I don’t hate doing things (for example, I like swimming, and gardening and lite-hiking and camping and cruising around on my bike (in theory)), but I hate the whole endeavor of working out. On top of that, I have pretty bad back issues that result in a sort of Catch 22, damned if you do damned if you don’t, kind of scenario. I need to be moving, but I can’t move too much or in certain ways, or I’ll reinjure my back. So yeah.

A couple of weeks ago, I went in for my physical.

You know, I’m pretty smart. I have pretty great intuition and self-awareness. I’m not a hypochondriac. I probably deal with more pain than I should because I really HATE doctors (even though my doc is pretty awesome). I’ve known for a long time that if I didn’t get a handle on my weight, the shit would eventually find the fan and my health would be at risk for failing. Well, my dear friends, loyal readers, that time has come.

My cholesterol is way out of control. I’m extremely iron deficient. I’m extremely vitamin D deficient. I have inflammation indicating that my body is struggling with something (that something could simply be Epstein Barr, which I have, and which flares up when I get worn out, which I have been and is super easy to do when you are as out of shape as I am). Right. My Doc says I should look into removing all animal and animal by-products from my diet. She strongly urges me to do so. At the appointment, I smiled and laughed derisively at the suggestion. BAHAHAHAHA! Me? Vegan? Not in this lifetime.

I get home and I think. I go about my daily stuff and I think. I do some research on various dietary alterations I should be making and I think.

My grandmother is hospitalized and I go to sit with her. It’s a fourteen hour drive followed by 10 hours of sitting in her hospital room while she mostly sleeps. AND I THINK.

I do a lot of thinking. When I get home, I do a lot of reading. I watch some documentaries on food. And I think, “Self, you’ve done some pretty whacked out diets that SUCKED, but had good momentary results. Would being vegan to get your crap together be so awful? Don’t you, in fact, love fruits and veggies and nuts and legumes and whole grains? Well, Self, you do even though you seem to avoid them rather handily normally.”

So I came across this diet. It’s called Engine #2 and it’s all about the whole food, plant based eating. It sounds doable to me. It sounds deLISHous, to be honest. I’m not saying that I’ll be able to stay vegan forever, but making it part of my life in a sustainable, ongoing way? Count me in.

So I’m going to journal about the experience here. From one Omnivore who likes it that way out to the world. The plan is to actually journal, not just blog. I have added a, currently empty, board to my Pinterest boards onto which I will post foods that sounds yummy and I will label them when I make them, and stipulate their level of delishiosity. (I can spell it how I want. It is MY word.) Just in case you are interested.

We’ll see how this goes.

Slow As

Things have been slow and kind of sepia toned around here. Everyone was sick, about three week worth of, and I’ve been depressed. I’m not through it yet, but I seem to be on the ever so pokey upswing. There is no sickness. Everyone is better, except me. I am trying. I swear.

For me, I kind of shuffle along wondering what the hell is wrong with me for a while (usually for a day or two, but this time for more than a week) feeling ill, but not really being sick; lethargic; sad; hypersensitive; easily irritated; TIRED; and negative. Then I open my eyes one day and see that I’ve fallen into the bottom of a well that seems so deep there is no view of sunlight at the mouth. It’s like I’ve fallen swift and silent to the deeps of depression. Gently landing at the silt lined bottom so that I don’t even know I’m there until I finally gaze around myself and see the truth.

The climb out is slow and laborious. It feels like swimming through molasses: draining and sucking, cloudy and opaque. The first step out for me seems to be the moment I recognize my mental surroundings and pinpoint the hallmarks of what’s happening to me. Then as I process that I find that I can talk about it a little. Let my people know what’s up. Cry at them some and begin the painful process of beating myself up over my failings. It’s a backwards way to function for sure, but that is where I am right now.

I’m doing more. Participating in life more, but it’s like this quicksand that is sucking at my brain and body and refusing to let me go. I feel bogged down and the effort to function, even minimally, is so, so, so hard. I have kids, though, people, and I homeschool them. Somehow that saves me. I have a purpose. One I cannot shirk. So I do not, at least so far as my kids are concerned. Me on the other hand? Eh.

The evenings seem to be the worst.

When I come to the end of my rope with my kids. When I look around and see how much I didn’t accomplish. When I stare into the fridge and just wanna go get hamburgers. When I look in the mirror and hate what I see. When I recount what crap I’ve put into my body when I wasn’t even hungry. When I go to bed feeling like I’ve failed again for one more day. Egads. That’s freaking depressing.

I get up even though I don’t want to. Mostly I don’t shower, but I did this morning. I haven’t been doing what my PT said to and my back has started acting up again. So I stretched this morning like I’m supposed to. First time in a long time. I put on clothes. Sometimes they are clean and sometimes not depending on whether I’ve been able to wrangle up enough energy and care to get some laundry done. I get out the clothes for the kids and order all types of brushings to occur. I brush my own teeth. Brushing my teeth is a must no matter what. I fix the kids’ breakfast and get my first cup of coffee and make Pieces’ lunch for preschool (four days a week) and I do morning e-checks: email, facebook, google+, news feed, blogs I follow. Then I set up Chi’s workbook work and go over it with him before taking Pieces to school. Then I come home and school begins. This can take anywhere from an hour per kid to four hours total depending on their attitudes and how much challenge they are up for. A snack time for the kids occurs about halfway through school and after school comes lunch. What we have varies on my energy level.

For Depression. I haz it.

Then we pick up Pieces and run errands if there are any to be had. At this point, I should come home and work with Pieces on reading and maybe do a load of laundry and clean something. But what’s been happening since the holidays expired is a whole lotta nothin’. I am mostly completely done. All I want to do is crawl under the covers and sleep until the next day starts. I’m having a hard time even having kids over to play with my kids because I don’t want to be around anybody. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to socialize. I avoid the phone like the plague and I don’t write or do anything else creative. I’m in the middle of crocheting a gift for my cousin who had a baby right after Christmas, and I struggle to work on it (Sorry, Bec!). I’ll get it done, but at this rate, Little Jack might be heading into Kindergarten.

I’m mostly saying all of this as an explanation for my lack of posting. I have almost nothing positive to say and I’d rather stay positive here, especially since this depression feels so effing self-centered. So I’ll stop now before I get even more sick of myself, but I’d like to say one last thing.

Pieces read a book. He was ever so proud of himself. It was the first book of Level One of the BoB books. It had about 5 different words, but he really got what we were doing with those letter sounds he’s been working so hard to learn. It felt really good right when I really needed it to when his face lit up and he announced to his dad that he “read a book about Mat and Sam. They sat. On each other and by each other.”

So, I don’t know how many of you have sensory issues, but it turns out that I do. These are things that I’ve always just “dealt” with because I thought that was just how life is. I’ve said it before, but I’ll reiterate: I cope. It’s what I do.

So for ease of organization. A list. A litany, if you will, if my visual ills.

  1. I’ve always had issues with my eyes. I have stupid good eyesight. I can see very far away from myself without having issues reading things close to my face. Off and on throughout my life, I’ve had to wear glasses for reading, but that never seems to stick.
  2. I’m terribly nightblind. I have a really hard time seeing at night. My theory on this is that I naturally focus further away from myself than the beams of my headlights reach. It makes me feel like I can’t see because my natural focus distance is all shrouded in darkness. I don’t know if that makes me not truly nightblind, but there you are.
  3. I can’t stand pointy things. Pencils, straws, construction cones, fingers…many many things. An example of this is eating dinner out with friends and/or family and everyone having a straw in their cups. It just about kills me, all those straws taunting me with their poking, as if they are just waiting to gouge into my eyes. Intellectually, I know that won’t happen, but it doesn’t make those poking straws go away or hurt my eyes any less. Another example is teaching school. My kids incessantly fiddle and fidget with their pencils. THEY POINT THEM AT MY EYES ALMOST CONSTANTLY. What the hell is wrong with them? Don’t they know that HURTS me? *ahem* Anyway, so I’m constantly redirecting and/or stealing the pencils to keep them from poking deep into my retinas and digging into my brains. It is a physical, painful reaction to these things for me and it makes my sick to my stomach when it happens. Funny? Maybe. My reality? Definitely.
  4. Light hurts my eyes bad enough you’d think I was a vampire. It’s bad enough that lights on anywhere in the house at night will wake me from a dead sleep. Hurting me. srsly. But I can’t watch TV in the dark. It gives me a headache. There has to be light on in the room with me or in an adjacent room where the light spills in through the doorway or something.
  5. I don’t like 3-D anything. You remember those posters from the 90’s that were all the rage? Where you stare at them with relaxed eyes and see the hidden image? Yeah, I HATE those. They hurt me in a visceral way. And 3-D movies? FUHGEDABOUDIT! no way. They make my eyes feel all wonky and misshapen and give me a headache and motion sickness (which is really a whole other sensory issue. Hello, vestibular system!).
  6. My eyes are the wrong shape for my eye sockets. This is fact. I can feel it, and you can’t tell me otherwise. They are big and bulbous and they feel gooey and gross. If I press the heels of my hands into my eyes, everything gets better. When I was pregnant with Pieces, I went to the eye doctor because my eyes were such the wrong shape and hurting me all the time that my brother, who was living with us at the time, said, “Well, go get your eyes checked.” Which sounds so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t think to do that for myself. Of course, I could see fine, but I could barely look at things anymore because my eyes WERE THE WRONG DAMN SHAPE AND SIZE! So I went, and the Optometrist says, (please note: these are not direct quotes, but a general synopsis of a five year old conversation.) “Well, you are the slightest bit farsighted, but other than that, and the barest hint of an astigmatism, you are fine. Except, what you describe to me says you notice the astigmatism and that just shouldn’t be. Most people can’t tell anything is off when it’s this slight. It’s not even necessary for you to have vision correction for this, but because you are WHINING SO LOUDLY seriously miserable, I will give you a script for lenses, but you won’t have to legally wear them to drive. In fact, you shouldn’t have to wear them all that much.” HA! HA, I say! Those glasses have been like a freaking revelation for me. When I wear them, I feel like I’m wearing sunglasses, because the sun doesn’t make me turn away and hiss. My eyes are suddenly my eyes again and they don’t feel wrong. They don’t feel wrong shaped or too big or gooey or anything. I WEAR THESE GLASSES ALL THE TIME.

It was supposed to be a pic of Pynni and I but we had a photo session stow away.

I believe these things could be applied to Pynni. When she complains about her eyes, I feel like she is describing myself. I’ve even tried looking at things out of the corner of my eye to see if it makes the POKING better (I can’t see that it does anything but strain the muscles of my eyes). And I took her to a Pediatric Opthamologist. Yesterday. All of her eye muscles work exactly right. She has fantastic eye sight. She has extremely good distance vision. She has a very slight astigmatism. Now, at the time, I just nodded and smiled. I was trying to be okay with the outcome of this appointment. She’s FINE! She has NO EYE PROBLEMS!

But she does. She has eye problems. She rubs her eyes constantly and complains about pain and looks askance at so many things. I don’t know why I didn’t say, “but I have that very same astigmatism and glasses cleared so much of those symptoms up for me.” Maybe because he’d just finished telling me not to take her to an optometrist (with a bit of a sneer to be honest) because that would be an enormous waste of money. He recommended getting her tested for a learning disability (which is valid) and taking her to an occupational therapist for assessment for a sensory integration disorder (this at my prompting. He admitted to not know much about sensory issues).

The further I get from this appointment, the more clearly I see that I have to get her glasses. I at the very worst it won’t help anything I will have wasted money trying, but my every instinct tells me this will help. Occupational therapy for visual sensitivities is difficult at best and Chi’s OT told me that auditory and visual sensory issues were the hardest to treat because there isn’t much you can do but plug your ears and cover your eyes to make them better. The most you can do is address other issues (and wear noise canceling headphones) and reduce the amount of sensory sensitivities in that way making the ones you can’t directly address easier to bear. Right.

So I’m going to (another bullet point list, aren’t you EXCITED?!?):

  • Take Pynni to that Optometrist and bully him into glasses
  • I think that will help Pynni tremendously and address her issues, but
  • I will be scheduling a meeting with a child psychologist (psychiatrist? I can’t ever remember which is which) and have her assessed for a learning disorder.
  • If that doesn’t yield any results, and if the glasses aren’t the answer I suspect they will be, then I will get her assessed by an OT, one that is a visual specialist, preferably.

Anyway, I feel very positive now that I’ve decided to make my own diagnoses based on facts given to me by a very competent, if moderately condescending (not to me), eye doctor.

I want to be this comfortable in my own skin.

I must confess. I have NEVER liked my body. Not even in high school when I was anything but fat. I have hated the skin I’m in for as long as I can remember caring about it. I never had an eating disorder, although if one could wish oneself into anorexia, I would have as a teenager. I would say things to myself like, “If you really were worth anything, you’d be able to stop eating altogether.”

I never cut myself to gain some measure of control or to block out the pain. I was far from miserable. I tended toward the morose in my late teens, but who doesn’t? Estrogen poisoning is pretty powerful stuff. But the truth of the matter is, high school did not suck for me. I had good friends, both in school and out of it. I had a boyfriend who was good to me. I was confident in myself on the inside and I’ve never really cared what people think about me. I knew who I was and I knew where I was going. So you’d think I wouldn’t have body-image issues, but I always have.

I never liked the way clothes looked on my body. I didn’t like looking at my body in any way. I wanted desperately to be a hippy but the early nineties were heavy into the flannel layers and torn jeans with long-johns underneath. I rode that wave all the way to the end, and it suited my mental state about my body perfectly.

Pregnancy gave me the excuse to gain more weight than is strictly healthy. But it never ‘bounced back’. My body post baby was almost more than I could bear. I know that part of my issue was clinical. It was depression, but that is an awful spirally illness that seems to have no beginning but everything conspires to pull you down further. All of which causes you to check out and not care. Which, then causes you to do things to your body that you wouldn’t do normally which puts you further into depression. See? Spirally.

I got help for that and I’m not unhappy. I have a great husband. We have a great relationship. I have great kids and I get to be home with them every day. I have great friends (I wish they didn’t live so far away and that we spoke more often, alas). I have a great relationship with my parents and brothers. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty stellar.

One thing. I hate my body. I hate it. It makes my life bloody miserable. It is weak and fat and prone to depression and pain. I have no issues with my brain, it’s where the creativity resides. It’s what picks up all that useless trivia and stores it for that Jeopardy win I’ll never have because I have zero desire to be on TV. But my body has betrayed me in so many ways. And because of that, I’d mostly stopped taking care of it.

I can hear the people out there who maybe don’t struggle with this saying, “Well, just take care of it. Change your habits. Start walking.” Yeah, words are easy. Easy FREAKING Peasy.

What I want? I want to love my body as I never have. I want to accept what it is and love it for itself. I want to love not just the inside but the outside. And I don’t care what people think. This isn’t for “people,” those ephemeral everyone else’s that have opinions and judgements. No. Not for them, it’s never been about them. I want this for me. I want to love all of me. I want to love me enough to make the changes.

Today one of my top five favorite authors wrote a blog that had me in tears. Her name is Joshilyn Jackson. Her blog is Faster Than Kudzu and I think she is brill.

Are they beautiful because they see themselves that way?

What she wrote today though? It’s like she put my neurosis in black and white, ones and zeros, and said it all in a way I hadn’t thought to. She articulated my wishes for myself, probably the wishes of many women who aren’t thin; who are, in fact, fat.For me? And I hope for them? It isn’t about the everyones. It isn’t about society. It isn’t about Hollywood. It’s about our own view of our own selves and our own love of our own vessels.

My body is me. Why can’t I love it?

I want to be that girl. The one who loves her whole self.

OH, HAI THERE! Yes, today was the first day at LPA-HS (that’s Lamp Post Academy Home School for you people “not in the know” (and now you are. (in the know))) and not very auspicious, I must say.

First I hurt my back on Thursday. Not a complete reset, but uber super painful, nonetheless. I went to the Chiropractor and he said, “Well it’s too swollen to adjust so ice it and OD on ibuprofen and muscle relaxers whilst not moving and take your anti-inflamatories and don’t DO anything.” So that I did all day Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This really impeded my last minute school day prep, but what are you gonna do?

ON TOP OF THAT. I was sick all day Saturday and Sunday. And today. Not the kind of sick that causes fevers and shivers. Oh NO, not me. I got ill in the general vicinity of the gut (YOU’RE WELCOME) on top of back pains.

The Best.

And I mean that.

With all due derision.

So the back gets gradually better and I think with an adjustment first thing this morning that I will be better and school will be awesome! ALAS! I pulled my back out in the SHOWER. WASHING MY HAIR. True story.

So I get iced and ibuprofened (no muscle relaxers for parents in charge, I’m afraid) and adjusted. I felt marginally better than before the adjustment, but LOADS better than Thursday so…that’s a plus. Now it’s time for school.

Well, it was the first day. Please keep that in mind.

We did our four subjects. The math was totally chaotic, but we got it done. Chi melted at the sight of the “warm up” sheet which was 100 addition problems. Real simple stuff like 7+5 and 3+4. And, no, I didn’t spring it on him. I’ve shown him what to expect on a couple of occasions. Anyway. He completed 12 of those 100 in 15 minutes all while moaning and chirruping. Well, I guess it’s all new and even with all the prep work, it’s still unfamiliar and still, somehow, unexpected.

Pynni was  a little affronted at her math because it was an “introduction to math” at least the Saxon method, and the first several weeks are all review. We won’t be getting into anything she is unfamiliar with until November, maybe. I think she was sad that it wasn’t hard. She kept looking at me with this incredulous expression on her face when I asked her what month it was and what year it was…couldn’t I see that it was written, by ME, on the page I was pointing to? HA! We may move a little faster in the math for a bit.

Then we did the Writing with Ease part. It was fast, but Chi was really uninterested in writing so he crammed all his words all together in about a .75″ square space (That’s an actual calculation. I measured and multiplied.) and skipped the punctuation altogether. Pynni copied the sentence slowly but precisely, letter for letter, so that all the letters were nicely formed and evenly spaced. There were no individual words to speak of. I had to swallow the laugh that bubbled up at the disparity.

All through that, Pieces was wondering what he could possibly put in his folder. Out loud. Continuously.

So we did penmanship next. It was simple exercises of small pencil markings today and took all of 5 minutes. You can barely tell Chi was holding a pencil in his hand his markings are so light. He flopped and moaned, but finished. Pieces got bored of coloring everything blue in about half a second, but I was able to urge him on to the end. Pynni was last to finish and followed all the instructions exactly.

Then we did reading. Chi is reading Stuart Little first and he was upset by the questions he had to answer at the end of the chapter. So he answered the questions before reading the chapter and then announced that he was done and would read the chapter later. I told him that he was supposed to read and then answer or answer the questions as he read, but he had to read the whole chapter. He did, but he wasn’t happy. Pynni and Pieces did some phonics exercises with me and they enjoyed themselves tremendously.

But in the end? They’ve done nothing but rave about “our doing school” and “learning from Mom.” Chi even sat down and did the lesson work this evening without any issues and worked easily with me to rewrite his reading comp answers legibly and in complete sentences. With me doing the writing, of course.

Just an update or two.

**In September of last year, late in the month, I herniated a disk in my back while dealing with the recovery of throwing it out a month or so earlier. I am still struggling with this and dealing with pain. So, on Sunday, I will be heading off to the Radiologist to have an MRI of my lumbar spine. Woop! (/sarcasm) I’m not sure to hope for nothing to be wrong (in which case, wtf is up with the continued pain in my back/hips/legs, etc), or hope the MRI shows something wrong (in which case, does that mean surgery? ICK!). You get the picture. In the end, I want everything to be alright. I want this fixed. I want the pain to end.

 

**I decided mid-March that I needed to go talk to my doctor about this issue I’ve been having with exhaustion, depression, hair-loss, and loss of focus. Then, I hurt my back and spent the next two plus weeks lying down full-time again. Yay. Well, I went Wednesday and she ordered some ridiculous amount of blood drawn for tests which I went in to give them this morning. I’ll let ya know the verdict when it comes. I think it’s my thyroid.

 

**Here I talk about the issue Pynni began having at school.

Here I talk about the meeting I had with the Principal to discuss the above mentioned issues.

So, I had a parent-teacher conference with Pynni’s teacher this morning (after I gave blood to the lab people).

OH, her teacher came back a couple of weeks ago! Did I tell you? No? Well, she did.

Now this woman is one of those delicate, soft spoken gentle flowers who never raises her voice and is blessed with a bottomless reservoir of patience. If she weren’t so pleasant, I might want to punch her.

Anyway, she’s back and she’s angry. She is angry at the way her kids were taught while she was gone. She is angry at the way they were evaluated (piss-poorly, if I get my interpretation of the tightness around her mouth correctly). I’m thinking she must be livid considering that I got angry vibes from her and I get the feeling that she and angry aren’t good friends. According to her: my Pynni is fine. My Pynni is right where she is supposed to be and beyond in some cases because I have been spending an inordinate amount of time making sure Pynni isn’t behind at all.

What I got from this meeting: Pynni will go to first grade. Pynni might be required to go to summer school, but Mrs.S is gonna fight against that. (**grumbles** summer school?)

Did I mention that I’m homeschooling next year?

**My story that was just a short story? Right it’s longer. It’s about 36000 words right now, and I don’t see an end in sight. heh. That makes me happy. And whether it ever ends or not? I’m enjoying the process.

Befuddled and Bemused

There is something wrong. Terribly wrong. I can’t think. I can’t focus. I can’t remember. I’m depressed. I have no energy. I’m so tired I can’t hold up my GIGANTIC head or keep my eyelids (that way a frigging ton. EACH!) open. My hair is falling out. I’m so cold that I’m breaking out in hives (the hives are a totally other issue called Cold Urticaria that I’ve had my whole life and aren’t really the issue but the COLD part is) when it is 75℉ outside and hovering around 78℉ in my house.

I thought it was allergies. You know, maybe I was so stopped up at night that I wasn’t sleeping well. I started taking claritin every day. No dice.

I thought I, maybe, needed to up my vitamin intake. No dice.

I thought, maybe, I needed to drink more coffee. I just made myself sick. heh (it was more of a long shot really)

I thought, maybe, I just needed to sleep more so I started going to bed earlier. Nada.

I thought, maybe, I just needed more exercise. What with my back being as it has been, movement in general has been fairly limited until the last month or so. So? Nope. Just makes me so tired I have to lay down.

I thought, maybe, I needed more water. So I increased my daily intake. Nope.

And it’s all gotten progressively worse. I can’t live like this. Today? Well. Today I spent the morning hanging outside with my kids. It was glorious. This afternoon, though, I slept for 5 (FIVE!!!) hours, and still, I could have slept until tomorrow morning. And ALL afternoon? My bones hurt. I felt like I was running a fever. Like I was coming down with Mono. AGAIN. And that’s when it hit me.

I went through all of this a couple of years ago, but instead of dealing for a couple of weeks, I was sick for MONTHS. I had strep or mono alternatively for 5 months. Twice I had “strep” where the rapid test was negative, but no one ever called me about the longer test that got sent to the lab until I went for the THIRD time in as many months and my doc says, she says, “You don’t have strep. I see here that you haven’t had strep any of the times in the past except the first.” So she does blood work. I have Epstein-Barr (which is the mono virus in adults) and it activates when I get exhausted. “Well,” I said, “I’ve been exhausted for MONTHS.” I explain my symptoms.

(It is pertinent to note here that I am a coper. I cope. I really, REALLY, distrust doctors and I HATE baring myself in such personal ways to veritable strangers. So. I cope. I deal. Until I just can’t stand it anymore.)

She runs a much more detailed set of tests and turns out I have thyroid issues (IMAGINE. That doesn’t run in my family OR ANYTHING. /sarcasm). So she prescribes Synthroid and it has been a revelation!

So now, today, I’m looking back at that whole ordeal and I believe I need my meds upped. I will be calling the doc on Monday. Oh, man. MAAAAAAn! It’s not a holiday is it?

**disclaimer** If this makes no sense or is riddled with typos? Please see title.

The Hard Way

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***********  THIS POST CONTAINS SOME GRAPHIC IMAGES  ***********

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In March of 2009, my husband was diagnosed with skin cancer. Basal Cell Carcinoma to be exact. Now as far as skin cancer types go, this is the kind to get. It is extremely slow spreading, rarely penetrates the deeper layers of skin, and almost never metastasizes to other organs or bone. That’s not to say it can’t be pretty serious, but generally speaking, if you are gonna get skin cancer, this is the way to go.

For all the years I can remember, and looking at past photos, I’m not exaggerating,   Hubby has had this white line on his nose. It looked as if someone had stabbed him with their fingernail and left a white half moon on the end of his nose. His nose has always been prone to acne breakouts, some of them quite painful, and all of them boilishly ugly. It is something he has been self-conscious of for as long as I can remember and something he always had said he wanted to get checked out.

Then when he went for his physical, his doctor told him to get a mole he has on his collarbone checked out. There was nothing said about his face. The mole was something he has always had. I’ve known him for fourteen years and he has always had that same mole. He was not really worried by what his doctor said, but decided to follow the advice and while we was there he could have his troublesome nose looked at.

The day of Hubby’s appointment with his dermatologist, his nose breaks out. “Great,” he says, “Of course, the day of my appointment I would get a zit over the area I want the dermatologist to look at.” I tell him to go anyway, the zits are part of his problem. So he goes and is reassured that the mole is simply a mole. His nose, on the other hand, gives the PA pause. She wants to know if he has had a severe sunburn on his nose recently. The answer is no. We are sticklers for sunblock in this household.  She goes and gets the dermatologist. He personally says that a biopsy is needed and that a biopsy should be taken of both the zit and the white ridge (which is barely visible on this day).

As the PA sets about numbing his nose to perform the biopsy, she tells him that she would not have considered testing the white ridge because it doesn’t look cancerous to her, but the zit looked like a cancer flare-up and is what had raised red flags for her. The Doc seemed to be of the same opinion except that he felt the ridge odd enough to biopsy at the same time.

So, Hubby comes home with a couple of divets removed from his nose and pain lancing through his head after the localized anesthetic wore off. He is mildly freaked and paces around more than usual. The Doc’s office calls him the next day to schedule an appointment to talk about his results and he goes in.

The results are positive for basal cell carcinoma. The zit and the ridge tested positive. The recommended course of treatment is a procedure called MOHS surgery. Basically, the Doc draws a circle around where he thinks the cancer extends and then eyeballs the cut trying to remove as much of the cancer in one go as possible. Hubby has had this ridge on his nose for YEARS so the Doc is a bit concerned that the damage could possibly extend all the way through the dermal layers to the cartiledge (but most likely not metastasized) and possibly extensively across his face under the epidermal layer. These are things the Doc can’t tell until he begins cutting. So. He tries to cut away as much of the cancer in the first pass as possible, then he divides the area into quadrants and does a biopsy on each.

This is the pressure bandage Hubby went home with after the proceedure.

Hubby sits in a waiting room with pressure bandages on his face (yes, this is all done with him awake using only localized anesthesia) for about 45 minutes while the labs are run. Then the doc will know where the cancer remains, Hubby is numbed-up again, and Doc cuts where the tests were positive. Rinse and repeat until the biopsies are clear.

The procedure took 6 hours in total for Hubby. I have never seen him more traumatized. He apparently burns through the localized anesthesia very quickly and had to be injected in his face 30 times every time he needed re-numbing. So that after the first couple of times having to be re-numbed mid-proceedure, he just sucked it up and dealt with the pain. He was in a very bad mood by the end of the day.

They sent him home with a giant pressure bandage to keep this gaping wound on his face from oozing all over the place until they were ready to do the grafting procedure. He spent that time staying as doped as possible, sleeping and trying to hold down his food and meds since the drugs and the pain were making him nauseous.

 

He was like this for weeks.

The grafting procedure was one of many options that had been discussed with Hubby when he was told the results of the initial biopsy. This procedure involved drawing an inverse template of the surgical site on Hubby’s nose onto his forhead, cutting that template out while leaving one of the major vessels that feed into his scalp intact (thus insuring the graft says alive and viable as it heals), laying the cutout over the surgical site and then flipping it over so the correct side faces out, sewing the graft on, protecting the exposed vessel with a stiff, yet wet type of tape, and pull the edges of the now damaged part of his forehead as closed as possible.

With the graft connected like this, it still had working nerve endings. Hubby could feel his forehead on his nose. With the highest point being at the tip and the lowest point being up on his bridge. He says the most painful thing was where they stretched his scalp out to make that hole as small as possible. They pulled all of the extra skin and then some toward the front and middle of his head to try and cover that place on his forehead. You can see in this photo how shiny the stretched skin is. His eyes were almost swollen shut for more than a week and he had bruising all around his eyes.

Eventually, the Doc deemed the graft connected sufficiently and severed the vessel and then tucked and sewed the leftover ends. After this, there are surprisingly few things that can be done for the look of his nose.

Right before he started the laser therapy.

All of it requires local anesthesia, pulling up the graft, scraping the graft and reseating the graft with various degrees of complexity involved. I think he’s decided that with some laser help in healing to reduce the scarring faster (which he’s been doing once a month since late July) he can just deal with any imperfections. After all, they won’t be able to give him his nose back, and even if they could, insurance wouldn’t cover it.

What I took away from this:

  1. If you have something on your body that just doesn’t seem right, GET IT CHECKED OUT! This could have been so much worse, but it could also have been much less invasive, much less traumatic.
  2. Localized Anesthesia is crap in this procedure. The Doc knew it was going to be very intense. The could have at least given him an amnesiac like my dentist does when I ask and required that he have a reliable person there to help care for him (namely me since I was there the whole time).
  3. There is nothing like having people around you who love you no matter what when this kind of thing is happening. I love this face whether it has all of it’s parts or not, and thankfully, it does.
  4. Kids are remarkably understanding. We were really worried about how this would effect our kids, most especially Chi. We told them that Daddy had an ouchie on his face that the doctor had to do some work on. This is not how it will be always. They wanted to look and ask questions and then it wasn’t a thing. They didn’t stare at him or poke him and badger him with constant questions. Even kids that didn’t live here looked, asked, and moved on.

Much better, I think. Taken Wed, 19 Jan, 2011

I would like to thank him for allowing me to air this very personal experience here in this forum.

TMI

Ah, yes, I said when I started this blog that I would refrain from TMI. Too Much Information. But something happened the other day that I cannot stop laughing about.

Here’s a little lot of back story:  I am a mother of three. As most people with two kids find out, you have less time for everything with your second child. With Chi, I wrote in his baby book every day. I took pictures of him every day. I diligently took videos of him. I sent thank you notes complete with pics of Chi using whatever the gift was. I remembered appointments and played with Chi on the floor. I cleaned the house and did the laundry. Chi’s clothes were in order and ironed if needed. Chi stayed cleaned and perfectly coiffed. I never had one of those instances where we were out in public and he was grimy, sticky and snotty. He was always wiped, polished and buffed. He always smelled fantastic. I sent Christmas cards to everyone I had an address for. Hand written and addressed, mind you.  I had pictures taken of him professionally (that I actually mailed out to my entire christmas list with hand written notes) every three months until he was one year old then every six months until he was two then every year after that until he was 5. After age three, all of his portraits include his sister.

Along came Pynni, I wrote in her baby book occasionally, at least enough to get the milestones down. I sent some thank yous but never with pictures. I sent Christmas cards, but the addresses were printed on the envelopes and I merely signed them. I took pictures in bursts and video very rarely. The child was still clean and brushed and polished because she’s a girl for crying out loud and she has to look her best. Her clothes were always matching and she was always dressed with matching accessories. Chi’s wardrobe was not ignored either. I took her to get her portrait taken professionally every three months, etc, the same as Chi. Sometimes those photo sessions even included Chi. I occasionally forgot appointments, my house was no longer immaculate and the laundry would pile up for over a week before I would get it done sometimes. I played on the floor occasionally, but mostly I spent my time keeping Chi out of the myriad things he was king at getting into.

Along came Pieces, I have a baby book for him. I have not written in it. I haven’t sent one single thank you since he was born. I write them occasionally, but can’t find the stamps because my house, once paragon of order and temple of cleanliness, is a certifiable disaster. The organization is almost totally shot (except for the kitchen and my closet and my bookshelves and dvd/blu-rays and itunes orders itself, thank God). I take pictures if I think about it ,which sadly, happens less than I would like. Rhys had his picture taken professionally every three months for the first year and once since then. He’s almost 4. My children will spend all day in the their pajamas. I DID NOT, heretofore, DO JAMMIES ALL DAY. EVER. On the weekends, it is not unheard of for my kids to wear the same clothes from sun-up to sundown both Saturday and Sunday. They may smell good, but often as not, they look like little ragamuffins. Outfits, except for Pynni have gone by the wayside. I buy neutral pants and varying shirts for the boys and skip the outfits. Pieces has some of Chi’s stuff handed down to him. Those are the only outfits he has and that will end after 4T.

So you see. I spend much of my time bemoaning the fact that I have no time. Back injuries aside, I have not spent as much time hanging out with my individual kids as I would like. Chi, for reasons mentioned in other places on my blog, takes quite a bit of my attention and time. Pynni is so well-behaved and so quiet most of the time that you don’t even know she’s there. She also plays very well with Pieces and they keep each other occupied. Until this year, when Pynni started kindergarten, I had not spent any time at all with Pieces just by himself. He doesn’t have a whole lot to say around the other kids and until school started, he was basically a Pynni mimic. He talked like her, acted like her, did every single thing she did, just as she did it. If she tripped over a toy walking through the living room, so did he. Then school started. Pieces and school is a whole other post, but suffice it to say that he is a different kid without his siblings around.

I cannot get him to shut up.

He talks and talks and talks. He sings and dances and tells stories and plays alone quite imaginatively. Like a boy. He doesn’t play house and dress up by himself. He plays with blocks and cars and action figures. Chi never played with blocks or action figures so Pieces did not pick this kind of play up from him. Pieces plays in his own way. He has his own way of saying things. His favorite words are: cool, cute, and nussing (nothing). I have found that he may very well be my favorite three-year old. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this age with my other kids. I’m just enjoying it with Pieces more.

So, here’s the story I wanted to tell.

I had ordered some bras online and opted to pick them up in the store nearest me to save on shipping (read: free) and I could try them on at the store so that I could exchange or return them immediately if they didn’t fit. Pieces wanted to come with me because he likes to go whenever someone is going. We get suited up for cold weather and head out. I can’t listen to music because Pieces has a lot to say, and for whatever reason, he talks exceptionally quietly in the car. So I listen to him, and understand maybe, a third of what he says because when he gets going, he is impossible to understand. I tell him to open his mouth wider when he talks (hey, it works with Chi) and he just continues talking at that rapid pace. We get to the store and we walk around for a minute looking at the sights. Pieces is astounded by the sheer volume of clothing and the monstrous mannequins that are sprinkled throughout the store. Now is the time on Sprockets when we talk at the top of our lungs. I gently explain that we are inside and there is no reason to yell. It changes almost nothing, although he says, “Yes, ma’am.”

We make our way back to the checkout counter and accost a sales associate. She gets my box of bras and shows me into a dressing room. Pieces is astounded by the “three mirrors!” And counts his reflection at the top of his lungs over and over. He talks about the couch (read: bench) in the dressing room and laments the fact that he’s never been here before (he has). His volume remains high as he crouches down by the door and peers underneath it. The view is that of the room the dressing rooms line. The door directly across from ours is a closet so he isn’t peeking into anybody’s personal time. He takes up a commentary of what he sees outside our room. “There’s a man in a chair with wheels! It’s cool!” And on and on. Finally, he becomes agitated and stands up. “That woman,” he says loudly, “was looking at me.” I say, “Well, you were looking at her.”

Now I’ve opened my box of bras and they are the kind that have formed foam cups. I pull one out and Pieces says, “OH!! BOOBS!!!” As if that explained everything.