Friday, January 18, 2013

In which I ramble about the state of things in my little world

It's the beginning of a new semester and I am busy, busy, busy. In the administrative part of my job, I hire all the part time instructors for my department, I cancel classes that haven't filled and add news ones that students need, I make sure all classrooms are assigned properly, I help with photocopying of syllabi, I handle last-minute crises, of which there are many, and just generally, I try to make sure that the new semester starts without a hitch. I see all the messiness behind the scenes so that other people (instructors, students, parents) only see a smoothly functioning university department. This work-related business is why I haven't posted recently.

I had a full-on mommy fail this week. E has an ear infection. Again. We finished a round of amox. a couple of weeks ago and it seems that it didn't fully kick the infection out on the right side. So we're now in the midst of a round of augmen.tin (sp?) to try to finish the job that amox. couldn't. The failure was that I didn't read the label properly and left this new antibiotic round out on the counter for the first few days. It turned brown, I called the pharmacist, and what do you know? It needed to be refrigerated. Unlike amox., this one is sensitive to temperature and goes bad quickly. Poor baby E took a couple of days of useless icky liquid that wasn't helping her ear at all.

The kicker is that my insurance company won't pay for the new 10-day round of aug. that we started yesterday because the old one wasn't finished yet, which meant that I had to shell out $75 for the new round. I swear: I always read bottles. I'm compulsive. I even read the bottle I left out on the counter, but the pharmacy had printed "Always refrigerate" on a little flap that was folded under, and I just didn't see it there.

This may sound like a funny anecdote, but when I walked out of Wal.greens, I had tears in my eyes because it just felt so, I don't know, stupid. How could I have been so stupid? What was I thinking? Now we're going to be $75 short, and we're already on a tight budget. I even felt a little bit shamed by the pharmacy staff--the same staff that could have told me when I picked up the first bottle to remember to refrigerate. They gave me sad eyes when I explained the situation and asked if there was anything we could do about the $75 charge. They said, more or less, that it was my mistake and that I should always read the literature that comes with prescriptions. The good news is that the brown icky liquid didn't hurt E at all. It just tasted gross and let her ear infection continue to fester.


In other news, I have no update about the little pellet lumps on my chest (mentioned in my previous post). They're still there, but they're smaller and less pronounced than they were when I first noticed them. I had trouble finding them at all yesterday, and I suddenly pictured going in to my Dr. and saying that I was concerned about these little lumps on my chest that I can't find to even show her. She'd think I lost my mind. So I'm waiting.  I'll give it the weekend and if I can find them again, I'll call for an appointment. Now that I've lived with them for a month or so, I think they're something skin-related and not something nefarious, but yes--I'll go in and show her my almost-invisible lumps, just in case. She probably won't think I've lost it, will she? Between the heart palpitations a few months ago (that have since disappeared and never happened when I was in the office, of course) and these invisible lumps that I even have trouble finding, I'm sure she'll think I'm a sane person. Seriously, I will not be surprised if she sends me for therapy for anxiety. And I'm actually feeling pretty good otherwise--not much free-floating anxiety at all.

Wah again.

Lastly, just to bum you out completely, there are some other, more serious, health issues going on with my mother. She recently had a chest xray because she's had pneumonia for the last two months and nothing seems to cure the shortness of breath and the general breathing issues. She's had several rounds of steroids and antibiotics, and usually, these would solve the problem. They saw a granuloma on the xray, which I think is not a big deal on its own in a healthy person (according to Dr. Google). But my mother has sarc.oidosis, an autoimmune disease in which her lungs have developed scar tissue. It's been in remission for many years and the scarring has not progressed since she was in her 30s--she's now 70 years old. Maybe it's out of remission? Or maybe something scarier is going on, like pulmonary fibrosis (again, thanks Dr. Google for scaring the shit out of me with possibilities). Or maybe she's just getting older and the existing scarring (including this granuloma) is just catching up with her?

She was a little freaked because when she left the radiologist said she'd get results in 48 hours, but the doctor called her two hours later and told her to get a CT scan within the next week. I told her if he was really worried, he'd have said to get it asap. And maybe he just looked at the xray sooner than usual because there weren't that many patients to see?

Normally, I don't worry about my mother. In fact, I have a post in my drafts folder in which I complain that I never get to see her because she works 60+ hours a week. That's a true story: my 70 year old mother works two jobs, one 40 hour a week office job and another in which she puts in at least 20, but often more like 30-35 hours, a week, too. How could someone so lively and busy be getting seriously ill? She's not working so much so that she has lots of money. She works all those hours because she LOVES what she does. She's a hospice chaplain in the first case and a church rector in the other. Both are her dream jobs and she has no interest in giving either of them up.

(Not to belabor the point about her vim and vigor, but she also has a brown belt in karate and goes to practice at the dojo twice a week...I'm lucky if I can get to the gym three times a week and I only work 40 hours a week!)

When we spoke about the xray a few days ago, she joked that she didn't want to be on oxygen when she came to E.'s fifth grade recital (which would be in approximately 9 years), and I laughed so that I didn't think about the other possibility, which is that she won't be here in 9 years. I'm sure she was thinking the same and the only possibility was to joke to keep from crying.

Wah. Wah. Wah.

Sorry to bum you all out. I realize this isn't light reading. But it's all real and it helps to write it out, hopefully to leave it here where I can't obsess about it too much. I'll keep you updated on my Mom. And on my invisible lumps that will make my Dr. think I need mental help. And on E's ear infection, which I'm not really worried about at all and am sure that the *refrigerated* augm.entin will finally cure. The semester? Well that part will be fine. I've done my job well there. Thank goodness for feeling competent at work! It's the rest of life that is unpredictable.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013: a year to embrace life

Happy new year! I have good feelings about 2013. This is hokey, I know, but I feel like odd years are often better for me than even ones. Many happy things have happened in odd years: I met my husband in 2005, W was born in 2009, E was born in 2011, I started college (happy years, for the most part) in 1987 and graduated in 1991. I finished grad school in 2001. I was even born in an odd year (1969). I suppose I could just as easily trace some happy events in those even years--this year had many high points!--but I'm sticking with my theory. Go 2013!

This optimism leads me to my next item, unfortunately, and it's something I'm writing about because I have to get it out of my head, I can't really talk about it in real life, and it's on my mind every minute of every day.

About two weeks ago, I found two little pellet-like lumps on my chest near my underarm. Not exactly on breast tissue, but you know--lumps near a breast that aren't nipples are scary business. I went to the doctor on Monday (yes, on New Year's Eve, mostly because I was starting to lose sleep) and she was optimistic that it was nothing. She said it seemed dermatological and told me to put a prescription hydro.cortisone cream on twice a day. Told me to come back in two weeks if they're still there.

They don't hurt, they're not fluid-filled, and they're not causing an orange-peel like appearance on my skin. All of this is probably good. The doctor is great--she really got me. I was describing how nervous I was and how I had blood work several weeks earlier for a GI visit that showed a few markers for inflammation (very minor elevations in sediment rate and something else...can't remember what...but they both were barely out of range) and she said, "Oh, you're worried about inflammatory breast cancer?" I said, "absolutely--that's all I can think about." She said, "Stop worrying. It doesn't look like that to me at all." I sort of wish she had sent me for an ultrasound or a biopsy, but she said she was so unconcerned about these little lumps that such things seemed like overkill. If I come back in two weeks, we'll talk about ultrasound. She did a full breast exam while I was there, too, and said everything else feels okay.

I'm scheduled for a mammogram in February and she also said there was no need to move it up. I finished breastfeeding in August, remember, and she thinks 6 months after bfing is the earliest they'll see me anyway, so not to worry. Her theory is that the area has gotten irritated and a little infection has arisen, but that it will go away. She also reminded me that after pregnancy and bfing, the body takes a while to go back to "normal," so changes like these aren't out of the ordinary.

It sucks that my mind immediately went to cancer. I admit that I say a prayer every night that go something like this: I pray that W and E are safe, sound, happy, and live long lives, like into their 90s at least. I also pray that they far outlive me and that I, too, have a long life, going somewhere into my 90s as well. I know this prayer means nothing. I know that G*d or whomever I'm praying to isn't looking out for little old me. To believe that G*d cares about me and my day to day life would mean that this same G*d allows other people to suffer, even though they send up similar prayers, and I just can't stomach that idea. So I send this prayer up knowing that it serves mostly to make me feel better. I know that I can't control when I die or how safe my children are.

We all know that, now more than ever.

I'm sorry to be so serious. I'd like to be writing a fun new years resolution-filled post about how I'm going to spend 2013 having fun and getting in shape and being more organized around the house. Instead, here's what I resolve: I resolve to enjoy 2013, whatever it brings. I resolve to embrace it fully, with no reservations. I resolve to really live. To pay attention to the world around me and to really be here. Full-hearted and real. I resolve to jump in.