Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Being a Patient

As you may know, I am a medical professional.  of course I am also a patient - I see my doctor regularly, I get minor illnesses, I have some chronic illnesses.  But this past Saturday I had to go to the ER, and I REALLY got to be A PATIENT.

Now, healthcare has really turned into a big business, and they act like one.  The want patients to feel happy and welcome - it's become part of the service industry.  They want you to come back! 

Emergency Rooms are lagging behind in this concept.

They still think they are saving lives.   So they don't really want you to bother them unless you really really have to. 


Really really.

Not that I didn't have to - there's nausea and cramping and diarrhea and stomach pain and chills that come with the stomach flu, and then there are times when you have to realize that the level of your illness could be much more serious, and that maybe it would be a good idea to be seen.

So Saturday morning I ended up in ER.  The registration clerk didn't have to ask what was wrong, she could tell I had abdominal pain.  Perhaps because I couldn't stand up straight. 

Being a medical professional, I tried my best to be a well behaved patient.  I was polite to the nurses.  I didn't ask for pain medication until I couldn't stand it anymore.  I didn't ring for a warm blanket until I was shivering hopelessly and my knees were mottled.  I hope the nurses had a pleasant experience with me as a patient. 

When it was time for the oral contrast for the CT scan I was pleasantly surprised - no more thick white shakes ("It's banana strawberry flavored!  Really!)  It looked and tasted like orange soda - no problem! I was a good patient and started drinking a cup every 15 minutes like I was told. 

Half an hour later the contrast started moving through me.....

I learned to use the call bell.

I swear there is a path worn in the floor between my room and the bathroom now in the ER ....  permanently....

That's also when I asked for pain medication for the amazing stomach cramps it created.  Now I was wondering why I came to the ER - to get better, right? 

After some IV Toradol, the nurse was very nice and told me I'd had enough contrast and they'd be there in 5 minutes to get me for the CT.  I curled up with my extra pillow and fell asleep.

45 minutes later I woke up.  Not in CT.  The doctor came in and asked if I'd been to CT yet.  Didn't they know???  She went to check on it.  I was finally comfortable so I didn't care.

15 minutes later the nurse came in and asked if they had the results of the CT.  Did anyone know anything???  She went to check on it.  Now I kinda wanted to get it over with. 

I should have lied.

Soon afterwards they came and got me for my CT.  I was still making trips to the bathroom, but the cramping was better, so I felt pretty good.  The CT, it turns out, was a triple contrast CT - IV contrast (no problem) oral contrast (thanks, that was lovely) and, seriously? RECTAL contrast.  Which means that they basically emptied a whole bag of fluid into my already unhappy colon and kept it there during the CT.  Sure they drained it out again, but a) it made a mess and b) now we had some serious stomach cramps.....

The CT showed nothing in my colon, which is good, because I didn't really want my appendix taken out.  The doctor was kind enough to give me some stronger pain medication though, since the cramping and abdominal pain had gotten pretty bad.

Dilaudid is a really nice drug. 

I thought is was just the first 5 or 10 minutes that was really nice, but apparently it lasted longer because later when I got home I let my teenage daughter drive us all to Big Falls so they could swim....

The doctor was also REALLY nice because she thought to do a stool culture and figured out that I had an infectious colitis.  So now I am theoretically on the road to recovery. 

But I am still not anxious to go back to the ER.

And I am never drinking orange soda again.....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Time and Energy

Time....  I don't have enough time.

or energy.

All the things that need to be done, that I want to do, that other people want me to do...
There is not enought time, and I do not have enough energy.

I guess I would have the time if I had enough energy to go non-stop without rest.

But that will never happen.  I have to resign myself.

Lots of regular people out there love to tell me "just do it, be tough"  But I am not a regular person.

If I did that, I would end up in bed for days, which is something I can decidedly NOT afford to do.

You see, I may look fine on the outside, but I am not fine on the inside.  I have rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, vestibular neuritis, and Raynaud's...  I think that's most of it..

A handful of pills twice a day, plus a few in between as needed, keeps me on my feet.  Even the simplest tasks most people take for granted consume more thought, time, and energy for me to accomplish.  Being upright in the morning is an accomplishment on some days.

But I do my best to lead a regular life.  I made it through grad school and I work about 30 hours a week as a nurse practitioner.  I have two teenage daughters I share custody with every other week.  I have two cats and two very active dogs.  I have my own home that I take care of and 11 acres that came with lovely perennial gardens.  Most people do not have any idea I am sick. 

All of this is about all I can handle - in fact, it's just a little more than I can handle.  Thank Goodness for my sister-in-law, LeAnn, who is also one of my best friends.  She is always willing to help out - walking the dogs, shoveling snow, mowing grass, checking on my sick kids when I'm at work...  she is there whenever I need her.  She needs the pocket money, I need someone I can count on.  We live in perfect symbiosis.

But there are lots of things I can't do. 

I can't have sheep, not right now anyway.  Maybe I'll never really have enough energy to fit sheep into my life, no matter how much I want them. 
I can't work three days in a row. 
I can't keep the house spotless - it's mostly clean under the clutter, if you don't like it please don't come visit.  I can't go out and spend all day cleaning out the gardens. 

So things get done around here a little at a time...  that's how we roll.

Some days I can't do anything I planned to do.  Some days I have to cancel all my plans and I spend the day on the couch or in my bed.  Some days I take more pain pills than I want to.  Some days the dirty clothes will have to stay in the hamper and the kids will have to make themselves frozen pizza for dinner. 

Those are bad days.

If I am careful and manage my energy, I can usually avoid these bad days, but sometimes they come anyway.  And I try not to get discouraged when it happens that way...

I'm sure some people reading this will think I am complaining, but I'm really just explaining my life....

The subject was time.... and energy....

Friday, May 13, 2011

It Must Be Friday the 13th

Have you ever had one of those days when you don’t feel like a fully functional human being?

I have lots of those days…. like, for instance, today…

I have no energy or inspiration to get up and do anything…. It all seems like just too much work.

It’s not so bad on days when you don’t have much to do – then you can just snuggle back under the covers and enjoy the day.

But most of the time it happens on days when I have tons of stuff I have to get done. Then I just lie there in bed making lists in my head of all the things I need to do - and the more I think about it, the more tired I feel …

We all know those people who leap out of bed in the morning wide awake, rub their hands together gleefully and say “Wow! What a great day!I can’t wait to get cracking!!

I hate those people.

Maybe you’re one of those people – I don’t hate you in general, I guess, just as long as I don’t ever have to see you do something obscene like that.

People like that are right up there on my list with women who cheerfully tell me they never felt better in their lives than when they were pregnant...   I mean, you have GOT to be kidding me.

These are PERKY people. I believe they suffer from some sort of brain damage or mental disorder. I try to avoid them…especially before noon.

So I have finally dragged myself out of bed only because the dogs are whining and I seriously have things that absolutely have to get done.

Of course there was no toilet paper on the roll.

That’s how it is on days like this – it’s bad enough that you have no energy or motivation – every time you actually try to accomplish something you will find roadblocks at every turn, as if it wasn’t hard enough just trying to function normally.

For instance, I pulled up Blogger to write this blog and it was down for maintenance.What a coincidence…

So, I rummaged around in the cupboard and found the last packet of CafĂ© Via, and I’m eating cookies for breakfast.

Shut up, you know you have done it.

And I’m writing this blog on Word while I still feel inspired, which is really irritating because it keeps automatically spell checking and grammar checking me as a write. And by the way, if you think this is the thing to do, and you can just copy and paste into blogspot, forget it.  Word adds in a bunch of invisible HTML tags that blogger cannot understand, so you have to go in and delete them....  another roadblock.

If you’re feeling PERKY I advise you not to contact me.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Underdog Joins the Family

I have an English Pointer. 

His name is Underdog, and he is my once-in-a-lifetime-dog.

This is the story of how Underdog and I rescued each other.

My pointer joined the family while I was still married.  We already had one dog, The Wookie.

There was some controversy about whether or not we needed another dog.  I thought we needed another dog, my ex-husband thought we did not need another dog. 

That was the controversy.

One night, ex-husband (still husband at the time) calls from the bar:

Ex-husband:  I'm talking to Marcus, he has a dog he doesn't want.  He'll give him to us for free.

Me:  Great!  We'll take him!

Ex-husband:  Well, actually, maybe we don't want another dog....

Me:  Too late!

In order to appease Ex-husband, and to get my way, I set up three tests the dog must pass in order to become our new dog. 

Test #1  Dog must be nice friendly dog that we like:

We go meet the dog.  The dog has been labeled a Bad Dog because he runs away.  He has been re-homed once before.  We have a nice house and a fence, so this should not be a problem.  Other than being a Bad Dog that runs away, he is a very Friendly Dog, happy to meet us!  He knows how to sit, speak, shake, and high five!  He is trying very hard!  Bad Dog passes Test #1.

Test #2  Dog must get along with The Wookie:

We take The Wookie with us to meet Bad Dog.  The Wookie gets out of the car and they sniff noses.  Instantly they are best friends and they begin to frolic in the yard joyfully.  Bad Dog passes Test #2.  Grudgingly, Ex-husband loads Bad Dog into the car and we take him home.

Test #3  Dog must get along with The Cat:

Bad Dog explores the house.  Sees cat.  Thought balloon appears about his head:  Cat... 
The Cat sees Bad Dog.  Thought balloon appears above cat's head:  Dog...
They resume their lives without further hesitation.  

Now Bad Dog is part of the family.  He is officially labeled My Dog since Ex-husband maintains that he never wanted another dog. 

He has poor self-esteem, so I name him Underdog to boost his confidence. 

It takes awhile, but after about a year, I look into his eyes, and I see that Underdog knows that no human has ever understood him as well as I do.

And not too long after that, Underdog looks into my eyes, and I know that no human has ever understood me as well as he does.

I Love You Underdog 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Day two: teenagers are grown up until they are sick

Remember how I said I won't blog about my children?  Well, I lied. 

I didn't so much lie as I was mistaken.

What I have been doing for the past two days has been taking care of sick children.  So that's what I have to blog about. 

The night before last my 13 year old daughter was sick - really sick.  I mean, not dying, not that sick.  Just really sick.  She woke me up in the middle of the night and she felt sick.  If you are a mother you know how this feels - they feel HORRIBLE and there is nothing you can really do, so you feel HORRIBLE too.  I let her crawl into bed with me.  Now, seriously, a dad would not do this.  A dad is logical - he thinks "She has the stomach flu, she is really contagious, I do NOT want to get this, she needs to stay a reasonable distance away from me"  A mom does not have this reaction.  Mom's have a by-pass in their brain that avoids all this logic and instantly lets the sick child as near them as possible in order to comfort them.  That's why moms are always sick, too...

So my daughter got into bed with me and kept me awake pretty much all night with throwing up, body aches, severe stomach pains, a brief moment thinking we might be going to the ER, and then finally falling asleep on my side of the bed.  So I stumbled around to the other side and crawled in, so as not disturb her.  She was pretty much sick the rest of the day, off and on.  She is better today and went to school.  Cured :))

My 15 year old daughter and I spent yesterday waiting to be struck by lighting.

That's how the stomach flu is - It's horrible and no one wants to have it, but when someone else in the house has it, you just KNOW you are going to get it.  I got a pineapple for Mother's Day, but I have been putting off cutting it because I'd hate to ruin the experience by throwing it up....

Last night in the middle of the night my 15 year old woke me up.

She's almost totally grown up until she's sick.  She actually did pretty good, she threw up without having to involve me, but the horrible body aches were just too much.  She wanted me to fix her.  Once again I felt HORRIBLE. 

I may not have adequate conveyed this message since I was pretty groggy....

But I did feel horrible, and I convinced her to take some ibuprofen, which she managed to keep down, but the next thing I knew she was lying on the floor next to my bed.  Now I really felt HORRIBLE.  So I moved over and tried to convince her to get up and get into bed.  She said she felt better lying on the floor (next to my bed)  She sounded very sad and pathetic.  But she also sounded very convincing...

And since I was still very groggy, and she is too big for me to pick her up, I let her sleep there.

After a few hours she felt better and she went back to her bed with my iPad (guilt somewhat alleviated) 

So now, one child is HEALED, one is HEALING in bed, and I am waiting to be struck by lightning and trying to decide whether or not to cut my pineapple...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Day One: What the Heck am I blogging about?

So when you start a blog, you are supposed to have a subject right?  Like a clear idea in your head what you want to blog about.

So I was thinking  - what should I blog about?  I am a mom - I could blog about my kids...  that works! Except my kids are teenagers and they will end up hating me, or worse, murdering me in my sleep...

Well, I am a Nurse Practitioner - plenty of funny stories there!  Except there is that little HIPPA thing...  you know, they make you sign it every time you go to the doctor - guess that one is out the window...

I am recently divorced, living on my own for the first time in my life (which is truly a shame, being that I am 46 years old and always believed myself to be a strong independent woman - oh how we deceive ourselves....) I moved out into the country (being a city girl) 2 weeks before one of the longest and harshest winters in a long time up in Northern Wisconsin - it has been an adventure to be sure - blogworthy, no doubt!

I have fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, vertigo, Raynauds and all the joys and pills that go along with all of that - my life is significantly more interesting and complicated because of that - there's a subject I could blog about.

And I have dogs and cats - 2 each - an adventure in themselves - my older dog is a devilishly clever pointer, an escape artist extraordinaire, and most importantly, the best dog in the world.  The newest addition is a pointer/lab mix and she is a huge ball of exploding energy and all I can say is it's a good thing she is extremely adorable!  Lot's to blog about there. 

Also, I love to knit, and am working on perfecting spinning (maybe a little more when the exploding puppy grows up a little!) and I paint and I am interesting in all sorts of stuff.

So how do I decide?  How can I pick a subject?  Why do I have to pick a subject?  It's just not fair! (I've never been good with rules like this.....)
So... Why am I really doing a blog.....


Well....I have a confession.  The only reason I am doing a blog is to prove to my mother that it's easy and she can do it.
That's right - I am interfering in my mother's life. 
I don't know why - I'm sure she won't listen.  Rule number one in life is daughters never listen to their mothers, at least not until they are at least 25.  Rule number two is once daughters are over 25 and they think they know so much, mothers never listen to their daughters. 
I don't know why - revenge I think.

The reason I think my mother should blog is this: she also has fibromyalgia and arthritis.  Everyone is always telling her to rest and take pain pills to make it better.  This is what I know from the same experience - rest and pain pills are great if you sprain your ankle, but when people tell you to rest and take pain pills for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE - it is not very encouraging.  In fact, it is downright depressing.  Especially when they tell you to rest your hands - that doesn't leave you many options - if you don't use your hands you really can't do much of anything. 

So my advice to my mother from personal experience is: Do SOMETHING.  Anything.  And since she has a computer, and really, a blog is not A LOT...  and she is great woman with a great sense of humour, I thought I would show her how easy it is to do a blog.

So I am doing one.

And I will probably end up being the only one doing a blog, but Oh Well.  And I've decided to write about Whatever since I'm just doing this to show my mom how easy it is. 

So - There.