Crying “Uncle!”, or You Know What, I’m Just Done.

“Hey, how’s it going?”

Such an innocuous set of words aren’t they?  We ask them casually to friends, family, acquaintances alike.  We expect the same answer, or variations thereof: “It’s going okay.”

Guess what.  It’s not okay. I’m not okay.  I am ‘stick a fork in me’ done. This is My Own Little Soapbox after all, so you’re just gonna have to listen to me vent, kvetch, or as my Dutch grandparents or in-laws would have said, “brommen”  (grumble, growl, drone, mutter).  My grandfather’s usual context was to tell us to “Quit your brommen.

A month ago our youngest nearly died.  She was dying, actually, and her body was shutting down.  She spent five days in the hospital, most of that in ICU.  In medical terms she was mildly hypothermic, hypovolemic, in septic shock, and suffering severe DKA. In terms we all can understand she was cold, like under 90 degrees cold, severely dehydrated, and had a rare strep infection in her blood.  The DKA is a complication of diabetes wherein your body burns fat for energy instead of glucose, and the fat-turned-energy leaves an acid called ketones in your blood. Too many ketones and your body pH drops and you become acidotic.  Her pH was 6.8.   A nurse said they have a little saying about low body pH: Under 7, they’re going to heaven.

She had lots of fluids, IV antibiotics, lots of electrolytes, insulin, sodium bicarbonate — at one point there were EIGHT IV infusion pumps running at once and she was intubated to keep her body from quitting completely.

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That was April 5. She pulled through and came home.

Last week Sunday we went to the emergency room because she has a spot on her leg from an intraosseous needle inserted into her shin — yes, straight through the bone into the marrow — that wasn’t healing very well.  She had one in each leg, by the way.  I thought it may be a little infected.  I called an Urgent Care and they said if she needed IV antibiotics they would send us to  Emergency since they can’t administer those.  Okay, ER it was.

The PA-C and a doctor both looked at her leg.  Both determined it was ugly, slow to heal, but not infected.  Now can we address the severe belly pain she’s had for nearly 2 weeks?  A routine urinalysis showed she had a UTI and  bladder infection.  I am my daughter’s Patient Advocate.  She doesn’t like to make a big deal of things, even when it’s a big deal. She was downplaying the pain, and I knew it. She was in tears. I requested an ultrasound just to rule out any other problems.  (I was thinking appendix or ovarian cyst.)  My request was ignored.  We were sent home with 7 days’ of oral antibiotics for the UTI.

Wednesday evening comes and the belly pain had not let up, and was actually worse than before, she said.  It was after 9:30 pm, so back to Emergency we go.  I was thinking they’d give her a prescription for some stronger pain meds and we’d be on our way.

Did you know that Emergency departments of larger hospitals have different rooms for different levels of “emergency”?  When our girl was brought in a month ago, she was in a Level 1 Trauma Room.  They are huge to make room for all the staff that needs to be on hand to save a patient’s life. There are Observation rooms.  These are decent sized spaces, and away from the noise of the rest of the ER.  Patients who need to be watched for a few hours come here. For example: sudden onset of pain after surgery or chemo, or other procedure, a runner needing hydration after race.  They need help, but won’t be admitted.

Then there are the “you’re not bleeding, dying, broken, shot, stabbed, and otherwise look pretty good, and we wonder why you’re here” rooms. The “Let’s read all of War and Peace while we wait” rooms.  That’s where we were taken Wednesday night.  O, I failed to mention they are not private in any way, shape, or form.  This room was semi-private so we could listen to the other fella in the bed next to hers have conversations with his friend who brought him, the staff, and hear the multiple episodes of Law & Order he watched.  Yes, multiple — remember, the theme of these rooms is “hurry up and wait,  and… wait.”

Around 12:30 am it was decided that she should have a CT scan.  FINALLY! Also by this point they decided she was going to be admitted for DKA — and we didn’t even come in for that! What seemed like ages pass and they take her down.  No, they don’t know how long it will take to get results.  At 2:24 am Thursday morning she is finally brought up to the ICU — again.

Neither of us was prepared for an inpatient stay.  We’ve learned to pack a hospital bag in 10 minutes at home before coming to the ER just in case she gets admitted. We didn’t have blankets, comfy pants, phone chargers, my tablet and headphones, eye mask, or earplugs — nothing!

Around 4 am all the staff finally leaves the room so we can get some rest.  It takes that long to get IVs started, meds ordered and brought up, vitals taken (again), EKG monitor pads affixed, the same questions asked with the same answers given, the IV infusion pumps attached to pole, set and running.  And my girl is still in pain because they haven’t given her much to control it.

Daylight comes bringing a shift change, more questions and the results from the CT scan.  It shows she has a kidney infection with a possible abscess on it.  She will be staying for a couple more days, at least 2, until they can scan the kidney again to check on the “spot.”

This news induces a wave of tears, anxiety, stress and fear.  I’m too exhausted to feel all the rage I want to knowing we could have been 3 days ahead on healing if they had just listened to her mother on Sunday!

What brought me to tell all y’all about this?  Thanks for asking.  I was supposed to join my friends for a group run Saturday (yesterday) morning.  I fell asleep in the recliner in the hospital and didn’t make it.  It turned out that wasn’t so bad after all.  She got discharged and we left the building around noon. If I had been running I would not have been able to take her home.  Sidenote: I slept all 3 nights in the hospital with her, if you can call what I did “sleeping.”

My plan was to run today.  I’m training for a 25K that is next weekend, and a marathon the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. My plan was 22 miles. My goal was to be out of the house around 2 pm.  That came and went.  I ate, drank water, started getting my gear together.  I wandered around because I can’t focus.  My head just wasn’t in it today, certainly not my heart.  The straw that broke the camel’s back?  I couldn’t find my headphones, and I couldn’t remember where I had put them.  I couldn’t find my new bottle of electrolyte capsules either. I would need both to survive 22 miles on my feet.  It was now 4:45 pm and I called it.  “Uncle!” I said to my husband.  I just can’t today.  And now you know why I am ‘stick a fork in me’ done.

Tomorrow is another day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As for more tomorrows, our daughter is now a legal adult.  She has over $30,000 in existing medical debt.  These last two inpatient hospital stays have not been added to that total.  Please read her story, and consider a generous contribution to help save her future before it has a chance to really start.

Symbiosis or Falling off the Wagon

Where did the term “Falling off the wagon” come from?  *stopping to google it, and see what comes up*

Okay, so now I know, and for your enjoyment the history ( I found) behind it refers to the days of Prohibition when ladies would ride wagons through towns espousing the evils of alcohol.  When they could, they’d find a reformed drinker to ride the wagons with them to give more credibility to their speech.  And, if they started drinking again they “fell off the wagon”.

That phrase gets used by a lot of people for a lot of things besides drinking these days; myself included.

My recent wagon was supposed to be one of better eating, exercise, good night’s rest.  I fell off, and got back on, then fell off again, then on, off, on.  All this up and down nonsense is making my emotional legs ache for all the running to catch up and climbing.  Too bad THAT doesn’t help a body get fit.

I can’t seem to get all three phases to abide symbiotically.  I can sleep *great*, but then the exercise and eating struggle; same goes for eating, or exercise, then the other two falter.  Sometimes–sometimes— I can get two going at the same time.  Why not all three?  I want, I need all three to work together.

Why such a fuss?  A couple of reasons. 1) I flat out refuse to be a fat Mother-of-the-Bride. No, no one is even close to getting married here–sheesh Sweet Pea is only 13! Sugar Bug is 10.  But it took a long time for the pooch to go from pup to full-grown dog. And I’m not talking Chihuahua, okay?  It’s gonna take a while for it to disappear.  2) I’m almost 40, need I explain more? Thought not.  3) I can’t multi-task to save my life, but if I can’t multi-task this it may cost me my life.  I need to prove to myself I can do this, and finally be able to say I quit quitting.  Only because then I can say I don’t have to start again.

Well, I guess tomorrow I have to go find the next wagon stop and climb back on.  Hopefully all three of my partners board together and try not to escape the ride.

There’s Just Never Enough Time

Lately, it seems, I just don’t have enough time to get any amount of productive work done. I’ve been “time challenged” for long while now, and even my top speed is still slower than most.

Just today I had a deadline for getting some letters ready to be mailed (there were 180+ of them, by the way), and I had to make more copies of its contents in order to finish. I talked to my DH for some reason that escapes me right now, and he started to take on a very patronizing tone about the task at hand and my inability to keep track of time. He kept repeating himself, and I was starting to get mad. Even now, it’s starting to make my blood roil (grrrr…rr). He kept repeating himself, to the effect of “Are you going to be done on time?..Other people are counting on you, they trusted you to get this done for them, you know…Are you sure you’ll be able to get it there on time?” All I could say was, “I know.”

When I got off the phone, one of the kids said to me “What is it that you know? You kept saying ‘I know, I know.'”

Yes, I know, okay?! I KNOW! I know! Now leave me alone! Sheesh! I am not a 10 year old; I don’t like being talked to like one. I don’t like being reminded of my faults on a regular basis. I don’t like being reminded that I’m “time challenged”. No Sam I AM, I do not like it here, or there. I do not like it with a dish, or a fish. I do not like it Sam I Am, I do not like it one little bit! I can’t like it with a train, or with a plane, because apparently, according to some I’d miss the whole stinking trip!!

There are other things I’d rather be talking about here tonight, because I have precious little time to sit and write, but this is just sitting here, stuck in my craw and I have to rant and stomp my blogging feet. I’m sure he meant well, but…

On top of that, Sonny Boy came home from Girlfriend’s house and wanted to know what I needed the car for, for the next day. He started to sound a little like his Dad for a second or two. He needs to be to his baseball game by a certain time, see—7:00PM actually—and had to make sure I’d be home in plenty of time so he could use the car. He didn’t say anything like “Mom can you drive me?” It was, “What do you need the car for tomorrow? I have my game tomorrow night.” (Emphasis mine) Just the way he said it made me think back a few hours to the phone conversation with DH. I’m trying not to read too much into what Sonny Boy was saying, he just wants to be on time.

It seems to most of my household, I can’t be trusted with that. Sad thing is, they may be right. But I still don’t like it, to be late or to be talked to that way.

Am I really that bad?

How to spend a gorgeous Palm Sunday…

..in the med station.

Yes, that would be correct. I spent my Palm Sunday afternoon waiting… and waiting… and waiting.

I went to bed Saturday night with an incredibly itchy eye. I thought maybe there was a scratch on the cornea, or a dog hair or eyelash caught up under the lid. Turns out it was pink eye. If you’ve never had pink eye in your recent memory, feel blessed and grateful. It was the most miserable thing. I couldn’t go to church, or work. ( I am a cashier for a grocery store, and I can’t touch people’s food with contagious conjuctiva.) I am living in fear of being fired right now. I’ve had to call in a lot already in 2008, and they (management) are starting to crack down on repeat call-in offenders and sack ’em.

So how does one spend ones time in the local Urgent Care Center –a.k.a. the med station? Well, first off it may be worth a call to your own doctor. This should be common sense given the environment of HMO’s and PPO’s and all their rules. But if your insurance has lax rules, or you have no coverage, try this then.—->

Next, call the med station you want to go to. Depending on where you live in town, there’s a good chance there’s more than one nearby. Why bother and do this? Couple of reasons, and I learned this the hard way last Sunday. A) You may just want to go to the ER, especially if you suspect broken bones B) You’re sitting on the fence about whether what is bugging you is worth the trip in, the co-pay, your time, etc. C) Find out how many patients are waiting, and how many doctors or PA’s are on staff that day. I’ll cover more on this later.

Okay, you’ve decided to go to the med station. You are in some level of discomfort, for some reason or other. A) Bring something to occupy your mind, hands and mouth. Sure they have some magazines, but they’ve been touched by a whole months’ worth of flu-bug sickies. I’m not really germ-phobic, but there’s got to be a limit, yes? Bring your word search, knitting, crochet, crosswords or something else you can stop doing right in the middle of doing. (Did ya get that? make sense?) Moving on… Your mouth: bring a bottle of water and a snack, unless of course you’re puking your guts out, then that’s not such a good idea. A bucket would be good for you then. Anyhoo…Chances are you won’t find complimentary Beaner’s coffee and muffins.

One should avoid bringing this to the med station unless ABSOLUTELY necessary and I’m not joking. You’re whole family and their cousins! There isn’t room enough in the waiting or exam room. People are sick and they don’t want to watch someone else’s kids go completely wild. Even happy children will drive a person bonkers after enough time. Think about it.. you are one of the flu-bug sickies, and there’s this 7 year old next to you pretending to be the next Michael Jordan, or, worse, Einstein. There is nothing for them to do here, except get on people’s nerves. The TV, if there is one, is probably on CNN or a private medical show closed circuit loop. If the yungun’s must come, pack a suitcase– not kidding here either– filled with books, snacks, drinks, toys, a blanket or pillow, hair brush and pony holders. Why the hair stuff? They can play beauty shop and do each other’s hair.

Now back to why you should call ahead about the patients-in-waiting and the MD’s on for the day. I called ahead, to see if the phone nurse thought I might actually have pink eye, and we concluded I should be seen. Phone Nurse asked which Center I wanted to go to, since I’m halfway between two. She said there were 9 patients waiting at “A” and 9 at “B”. I said “So, I should bring something to keep me busy while I wait?” What I didn’t ask was: how many doctors are in the Center today. It turns out “A” had only one; “B” had three. Guess where I ended up? Yup, that’s right, at “A”.

I decided to wait a bit at home, hedging on the thought that if I stayed home I’d not have to wait as long in some uncomfortable chair, with a bunch of flu-bug sickies trying to whisper loudly over the chattering, clanging, crying, whining, bored children sitting three chairs away. I was way off on that one. The med center was still packed when I got there. After I had finally been seen, and discharged and at the counter to pay my co-pay, I asked the nice young man sitting in his quiet cubicle just how long I’d actually been there. He checked. It was exactly 3 1/2 hours.

Driving away to a pharmacy that kept late Sunday hours I thought to myself, “I wonder if I should have just called my eye doctor to call in a script for pink eye instead”. I called Monday morning to find out; sure enough they could’ve done that. O, I did get 12 rows on the blanket I’ve been crocheting done.

I am just so sick of those baby seats!

My cousin and his wife had a precious baby last weekend, and between church services went up to the hospital to get a little “baby fix”. As I walked through the never ending hallway to the lobby (have you been to Butterworth lately?) a new mother, proud daddy and bouncy big brother were being escorted out. The rules of being discharged are that the new mother must ride out in a wheelchair, no matter how strong and healthy she is. The dad’s job is to follow behind and push a flat cart filled with overnight bags, gifts, flowers and all the other papers the hospital gives you to read, but never have the energy to do. This new Momma was not even touching her baby– the child was in a car seat which on her lap! Now, when I left the hospital with any of my three kids you’d have to pry them out of my arms. I never even dreamed of strapping them in a car seat before they were in the car.
I just don’t understand how people can put their child, who loves and needs to be held, into a cold, plastic seat and tote them around like a purse. It drives me nuts to see a baby in the seat sitting on the floor. HELLLLOO! have you seen the floors anywhere lately, and the Dateline story about how gross the bottoms of women’s purses are because they put them on floors all over the place: staph, e-coli, colds, flu, human fecal matter. Shivers just thinking about this. Women won’t put their purse on the floor of a public restroom, but they’ll put their baby down there. I don’t get it.

Someone needs to do a study– as if we need another, I know– to find the correlation between childhood obesity and near constant use by parents of infant carriers. I have seen so many 6, 7, and 8 month old babies who can’t sit up straight, or sit up at all, because they are never out of that stupid contraption whenever they leave their home. Good grief they even make strollers now to hold those silly things. As if walking through the mall is going to result in head-on crash that would require the roll-bar of the baby seat!

I think there would be a lot fewer babies being born as a status symbol if the young mother had to physically carry her child everywhere she went. Okay, that was pretty harsh, but think about it.

Go to church, you have to have four seats for a family of three: Dad, Mom, bag and baby in a car seat (because you can’t put the bag on the floor). Go to a restaurant, same thing; movie theater: ditto. I’d like to see parents pick up and cradle one of those things, with their child in it, so they can look their child in the eye, and talk to them, as opposed to the current skim-barely-above-the-floor method . Do you know how ridiculous you would look and feel carrying your baby next to your heart, in a seat, like it were a giant pumpkin, and talking to them? Your first thought would be: “Why on earth are you carrying your child in that huge thing, when you could just hug them?”

Aha! My point exactly! Leave the car seat where it belongs– in the car, and pick up your child, hold them close to your heart, smell their hair and kiss the top of their head so much it needs to be washed because of all the Chapstick you left behind.

O! and do not even get me started on those TV/video shopping carts.