Posts Tagged ‘illness’

For the last few days I’ve been getting a lot of double takes, some deep eye staring, and, frankly, a bizarre amount of attention.

The conceited part of me was like “yeah! all the weight loss is paying off! I must look gggggggggoooooood!”

I strut a bit when I think this.

But oh vanity, thy name is Erin!

Today I realized it wasn’t so much the thinner me people were staring at (though I still secretly hope that was part of it). People were actually staring at the crazy sick person who sounds like she’s been smoking a pack a day for the last 15 years.

For example, I came downstairs early the other morning to open the door for some handymen. They all looked shocked at my appearance at the door, but at least no one cringed. When I managed to whisper loudly that I was a bit under the weather, all of their faces changed to expressions of relief and pity. The foreman even managed a sad smile and said “That’s ok, honey. why don’t you go back to bed?”

I would have been angry at the patronizing tone of a stranger if I hadn’t actually been desperate to follow his direction and return to bed.


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Because my dog, Penny, is neurotic, as is her mother, recovery looks like it will be a painfully long and stressful process.

Although physically healing well, I’m afraid that the surgery has upset Penny’s delicate mental balance.  She spent most of yesterday struggling to find a comfortable, safe spot to recover in, which apparently does not exist.  Penny furiously debated between spending time with me or hiding from me.

If I took her outside to potty, Penny did her best to run from me on her three good legs and hide in the flower bed, as she did when she was a puppy.  But if I left her alone inside, lying in her comfortable bed, she quickly rose to follow me whenever I left the room.

I spent much of the day running to her, mostly to keep her stationary, as it was obvious how excruciating her pain was every time Penny rose from her bed.

I honestly don’t know what to do to keep her still other than to lay on top of her, which I nearly did.  I actually spent most of the day sitting next to her, applying ice packs and rubbing her back.  That was not always enough to make her feel safe, obviously since at one point Penny got up and ran quickly away on three legs and hid under a bench.  I was tempted to drag her out and tie her to her dog bed, but I didn’t.  I let her lie under the bench, whimpering for seemingly hours, until I could coax her back into her own bed.

I thought this would be a good thing, an end to the crying.  Oh no, it was not.  Penny spent most of the night crying in her bed.  Only stopping when I lay on the floor next to her, slowly stoking her little paw.  I had hoped this would induce her to sleep.  And it did…eventually…somewhere around 4am.

So if someone has a store of tranquilizer darts they would like to share with me, I can assure you I am very discreet.  No one will know where I got them.  And if you happen to have any Valium for me, I’ll take that too.

I promise I’m the soul of discretion.  I swear.  Just hand over the drugs.

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Sick days with a one year old are a strange combination of frustration and ease.  However, you can only get to the “ease” part of the day if you’re willing to either ignore or let go of the frustration.
I don’t know how all sick babies operate, but my Baby C has a specific set of behaviors.  First and foremost, C is incredibly clingy.  He wants his mommy and no one else will do, not even daddy or his favorite person in the world (our house keeper Anna).  Although this can be difficult if I need to do anything, like laundry or grocery shopping, it doesn’t reach frustration level until C starts throwing a tantrum every time I put him down to do mundane necessary things like get dressed or use the bathroom.  And for whatever reason, C’s tantrum usually hits its apex (with tears streaming down his face, clinging to my legs, wailing) when I am either pants-less or have the even more awkward one leg in my pants.

To use the bathroom I’ve taken to letting C have things he usually isn’t supposed to play with: mom’s iPhone, the lotion under the sink, even unrolling the toilet paper (if I’m desperate).  Our favorite app is animal flashcards that flip from cartoon renderings to various pictures of the actual animals accompanied by each animal’s sound.  It entertains C to no end.  Best $0.99 ever!!  If that doesn’t work, he’ll start pulling out all the lotions from the cabinet under the sink.  He’s particularly keen on my anti-cellulite lotion, which he carries around then offers to me at random intervals throughout the day.  I’m trying very hard not take it personally.

So where does the easy part come in?  Well let me tell you.  The second characteristic of my sick baby is his fatigue.  So if you can just let go off all the chores you have to do or all the things you wanted to do, all the expectations you have for the day, it can actually be a pretty easy day.

C is happy to lay around reading books in my comfy armchair.  Or watching the same five songs on the Sesame Street website.  And of course we know he’s always happy to watch Kung Fu Panda.  So if you can get over your to do list, you can have an easy day relaxing doing the things your baby enjoys.

Yes, it may not be the most exciting or productive day on record, but you have the potential to turn an otherwise wretched day into a relaxing one.  If you don’t want to watch the same cussing Elmo songs 20 times, do what I do, pull up an extra window on the screen and write on your blog or check your email or shop for videos to replace those cussing songs.  If you can’t possibly stand watching Kung Fu Panda one more time, read your book or check Facebook from your phone.  The baby does not need you to be as equally engrossed in the movie as he is.

If you’re sick too (like I am), for goodness sake, take some medicine, eat some chocolate, have a cup of tea, do whatever you need to do to get comfy and relax with your little one.  And try not to freak out.  It won’t do any good.  Moms need a sick day sometimes too.

And thank God that some guys in Sweden (I think that’s right?) invented the internet all those years ago.  What would we do without them?

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After waiting anxiously for yesterday’s appointment with a special ObGyn my gastro doctor had recommended, I am find myself today still in a state of unknowing.  The ObGyn yesterday informed me that I have a completely unrelated medical problem that is causing the cysts, but could not be causing the pain.  So they are not going to remove the cysts, since they are doing nothing and my new illness will just continually reproduce them.  I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

It means that my ovaries are too large and that they typically form multiple cysts (polycystic) during ovulation.  It’s characterized by irregular cycles, being overweight, too much body hair, and terrible acne.  Thankfully I only have the first two and not the latter two.  As the doctor put it, I don’t have to suffer the stigma.  It is also the leading cause of infertility.

So what does this mean in terms of my current illness?  Nothing.  It means that this is not causing my pain.  It means that the doctors are still playing a guessing game as to what the correct diagnosis is.  It means I’ll be going through another series of tests and I’ll be sent to see more doctors.  The next test is another sonogram done by my ObGyn.  The next doctor will be an Infectious Disease Specialist.

As you can imagine, this is incredibly frustrating for me.  I had to call off work yesterday because I couldn’t pull myself together after the appointment.  At this point I don’t know what to do.  I seem to exist in a state of limbo.  The doctors keep finding other things wrong with me that are unrelated to my original illness, which continues and seems to be getting worse.  All in all, I am losing faith in the health system, in modern science, and in myself.  I wonder if I just shouldn’t toughen up and try to live with this pain.  Maybe it is just my lot in life.  I just don’t know any more.

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Or so you might think given the number of times I’ve been to see a doctor or have a procedure in recent weeks. The number of times is going up rapidly and is now a weekly thing, sometimes twice a week! I’ll be going to see the doctor again on monday and depending on what he thinks, I’ll be going back for a follow-up within days, for a procedure within weeks, and possibly for surgery within a month.

I was talking to my sister about doctors the other day. We both enjoy the show “House” and were discussing how nice it would be to have a doctor as brilliant as the main character it is. It’s hard, Ellen was saying, because you forget that doctors are only human. They don’t have all the answers, they can’t automatically tell what’s wrong with a person, sometimes they don’t even know what tests to have done.

I too fail to realize this sometimes. I want the doctor to tell me the problem and have the solution, like I’m a math problem waiting to be solved; just insert the numbers for x and y and an answer will pop out after a certain amount of work. Instead, I’m a theoretical problem. I’m a problem where x and y are unknown and continue to remain unknown, since the doctors aren’t even sure how to solve for x. When they do it appears that x=y, both being unknown, thus leading us back to the beginning. So the only way to fix me is through good old fashioned trial and error.

But that’s another problem: I think of myself, my health as something to be fixed. I desperately want someone to pop up the hood and point to some corroded wiring and say, oh! there’s the problem! And I’d be better just as soon as they got those replacement wires in from Omaha, where they’ve been back ordered. There would be an identifiable problem, a cause, and a solution. But at the end of the day, my body is still a mystery.

It’s with this in mind that I have to remind myself that the human body, in general, is still a mystery. There are areas of the body that medicine still knows nothing about, or relatively little about. I found a disorder online the other day called chronic pelvic pain that had no discernible cause and absolutely no cure. I am so glad that I don’t have that! But it seems that this area of the body, anything below the heart isn’t as well known. I wonder if that is because it isn’t as profitable to figure out disorders in this area or maybe it’s because people can live with stomach infections and pain, but not without a heart.

I did finally get the doctor’s attention though. My body has created 3 cysts in one ovary. My ovary and fertility are now in serious jeopardy. My doctor had concern in his eyes and urgency in his voice. And that, for the first time in a long time, scared me.

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Today I underwent my two sonograms. The first was the traditional outer test, with gel and handle rolled on my stomach and abdomen. The second was the more unpleasant kind, with what I like to call the “magic wand”, to get an interior perspective.

Of course nothing in hospitals or with doctors is simple, so my test took far longer than it was scheduled to. My doctor, it seems, wrote what he wanted the tech to look for, but assigned the wrong test for it. And since no doctor, nurse, tech, or anyone related to the health care industry can do anything without express written instructions so that it will be covered by insurance, I had to wait while my tech called and recalled my doctors office for permission to perform the correct test. All the while, I lay on the table praying I have appendicitis. I know it sounds like an odd thing to pray for, but if you think about it, I know you’ll discover my reasoning.

You see, if I have appendicitis, I can be cured, fixed, and be healthy again in a matter of weeks. Appendectomies are common surgeries, performed every day with little or no consequence. It’s laproscopic so I could even go home the same day. So I prayed that this is my problem so that I could have a disease with a name and a cure to go with it.

However, as the title of the post indicates, the saga continues. The tech seemed to find nothing remarkable about my appendix. In fact she seemed to find nothing remarkable about my appendix, kidneys, uterus, or liver. What she did seem interested in was my ovaries. She circled several things, many times over, on my ovary pictures. And this makes me incredibly nervous. I recently read an article about how ovarian cancer often goes undiagnosed for months, even years, because it’s symptoms can often be attributed to other illnesses. http://cumc.columbia.edu/dept/obgyn/services/gyn-oncology/ovarian_cancer.html

As I left, the tech told me that my doctor would call me in a couple days and let me know the results. I’ll be crossing my fingers until then. if you’re reading this, please do the same.

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Mystery Illness

For the last 4 months I’ve been battling what I like to call my mystery illness. At the beginning of July I went to the emergency room with abdominal pain so bad I needed to take a cab to the hospital since I couldn’t sit up straight enough to drive. After waiting for several hours I was finally seen by someone and only given something for the pain after I had been there for 5 hours. The ran a series of tests, took blood, examine me, and still couldn’t find what the problem was. So at 1am I was admitted to the hospital, woosy from the drugs and nausea and completely exhausted. And there I stayed for 4 nights and 5 days.

If you’ve ever been in the hospital you know that it is possibly the worst place in the world to be sick. The hospital staff woke me up every few hours to give me drugs, take blood, or move me for another test. I barely got more than 4 hours of sleep at one time. I also had the perpetual feeling of being some since science experiment with different IVs coming out of me and having to monitor every single thing about my body. And what was the end result of all this? When I was discharged I was given their best guess: it had been an intestinal infection.

So basically they didn’t know what was wrong with me and sent me home with drugs they hoped would make me and my problems go away.

But my problems didn’t go away. After a few weeks my symptoms returned. So I started seeing doctors again and going off of their best guesses, I took several different prescribed medications to no end. And here I am, months later, beginning a new series of tests. Over the next few weeks I’ll be having blood work, sonograms, and an endoscopy. So if you’re reading this, I’m hoping for something curable, even if it requires surgery. Please keep your fingers crossed!

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