Thursday, February 25, 2010

Come On Get Happy

Sarah Jane, by way of Sarah Jane, suggested the sharing of ten simple things that make me (us, you, etc.) happy right now. Seemed like an especially good exercise after the extended wearing of the crabby pants around here lately, so here we go:
  1. Sarah’s hand-writing reminding me of notes passed in junior high
  2. Opening the sunroof
  3. Leftover ravioli and pork chops and chicken enchilada casserole for lunch (not at the same time)
  4. Watching the birds in our courtyard
  5. Planning a summer vacation
  6. My kids’ excellent choices in car music (Rosemary Clooney, “Mambo Italiano;” Lucinda Williams, “Honey Bee;” Prince, “Starfish and Coffee,” aka, The Alarm Clock Song)
  7. House Hunters International
  8. Leaving work while there’s still daylight
  9. Vitamin B12
  10. The quiet time after the kids are in bed

Sarah passed the challenge/opportunity on to ten more bloggers, so Kristy, RJA, Stacey, Shannon, Chockleys, Elizabeth, Katherine, Kim, Carma, and Melissa (and anyone else out there; I wasn't technically asked to do this), I'd love to see your lists, too. It's been a hard winter, let's all make some happy.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Put The Lime In The Coconut

Well, don’t I feel silly.

The good news is, after four hours of drinking baking-soda-and-snot-flavored Crystal Light, eight hours in gastro-intestinal misery, at least one kitchen breakdown, and over $600 in uninsured costs, my doctor determined that I do not, in fact, have any sign of Crohn’s Disease.

And yes, that is good news. But all that other stuff that came before it? Well, they’re sort of killing the buzz of not having a chronic illness. Also diminishing the delight is that there is still no official answer at all regarding what in blazes was/is wrong with me in the first place. All the progressive testing - bloodwork, ultrasound, CAT scan, colonoscopy – got me right back in the exact same place I started. I can accept that the first problems I had may have just been a virus, or even an unusually dramatic flare-up of the IBS I self-diagnosed at the age of 12. But what about the lump? There was a lump. Let’s not talk too much about where, but suffice to say, it was a real pain in the butt. And it was there. Unequivocally. And it hurt. Badly. And yet, that x-ray they took of my entire torso showed no sign of it, and the tiny camera rooting around my guts didn’t catch sight of it, so I couldn’t even get official confirmation of what seemed to be my one observable, undeniable symptom.

So now, instead of relieved, I just feel embarrassed and a little crazy. It shames me to have spent so much time and energy and money and worry and sympathy on something that remains completely intangible, and therefore could just as easily be a figment of my powerful psychosomatic imagination. Who’s to say? I’m also just plain angry, a feeling stoked when my doctor answered the question, “What did they see on the CAT scan that made them think it was Crohn’s?” with a very dismissive, “Well, how about … they read the film wrong?”

I’m lucky. I know that I am. It is good news. But it’s going to take me a little more time to get the bitter taste of Tri-Lyte and $500 deductibles out of my mouth. And I have a feeling I’ll never use baking soda toothpaste again.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Everybody Look What's Goin Down

The blog silence around here probably leaves one to assume two things: either I have nothing going on worth writing about, or I've got too much going on to stop and write. Okay, maybe three: I'm just too lazy and winter-malaise-ridden to hit the New Post button and start typing. The reality, as it turns out, is a combination of the last two. It's been a busy month in a lot of ways. Instead of a post-holiday calm, we were hit wth random snow days and illnesses and a full-blown case of The Twos. I've been so busy gearing up for Mr. Baby to hit The Dreaded Threes in six months that I forgot that two-year-olds are fully capable of earning their terrible rep. A lot of it is independence and separation issues that I can understand and empathize with. But then, there's The Noise. The high-pitched, incomprehensible string of syllables that indicates he wants something ... something ... what, this? How about this? No? Can you show me? Just point, son. Arch your back in the proper direction or something. Anything. Just stop. making. that. sound! Gaaaaah!

Phew. Anyway.

Miss M also had a string of less-than-stellar conduct reports from school (her teacher provides thorough and unintentionally amusing details, such as "After hearing a talk about appropriate uses for hand sanitizer, Miss M put some in her mouth."), but she seems to have come through her adjustment period and has been showing increased calm, restraint, and focus. Or maybe it just seems so in comparison to the blonde dervish with the new penchant for dumping out whatever bottle he can reach in the bathroom.

Aside from the kids' ongoing floor show, I've been keeping myself busy with a suddenly successful effort to sell the remaining store inventory, so a lot of my evenings are filled by label printing and envelope stuffing and feedback-leaving. 

The most pressing thing on my mind, however, has been something I haven't been quite sure how to write about, or whether I should write about it at all. I guess I've been waiting until I have something definite to say, but I've decided that the process of getting there is relevant, too, so I might as well go ahead.

Since the holidays, I've had a series of of annoying medical issues that have brought me to multiple gastroenterologists, phlebotomists, and radiologists. After a month of prodding, poking, and X-raying, I finally seem to be getting close to a diagnosis. And while that's a goal I've been eager to reach, the specifics are dampening my enthusiasm. According to the doctor who reviewed my CAT scan, I have results that are "consistent with Crohn's disease." For those unfamiliar, Crohn's is a chronic illness under the broad heading of inflammatory bowel diseases. It causes ulcerations in various parts of the digestive system, depending on the type, and results in myriad unpleasant symptoms and complications. And even though it came up on the list of possible causes every single time I put one of my random problems into the WebMD Symptom Checker, I always disregarded the possibility because it just seemed too serious, too severe, and too ... permanent. Even though I've had symptoms for 20 years, it's hard to imagine that I have an illness that will be with me the rest of my life.

Crohn's is a tricky thing to diagnose, so on top of the bloodwork and CAT scan, I will also be going in for a colonoscopy and biopsy* this week. Having already experienced the joys of sigmoidoscopy (after an episode that should have been a Crohn's red flag to any GI doc, but apparently was not), I know that the procedure itself is not a big deal. But the preparation for it is something that sort of makes me want to weep in self-pity. (Which possibly I have. Maybe. Shut up.) Not just because of having to do it now, but knowing that, if Crohn's is confirmed, this will be part of my medical maintenance from now on.

I know there are far worse things to endure, but it just ... well, it just bums me out. I was looking to 2010 as a time of relief from the store-related financial stress, and now here I am starting it off with a big health cloud over my head. And increasingly ominous medical bills to boot. I know that having a word put on a problem I already have doesn't change how it affects me right now, but I'm a planner, a predictor, a classic ISFJ crepe-hanger, and reading that 75% of Crohn's patients have at least one surgery related to the disease, and that having it for more than 10 years is linked to a significant increase in colon cancer, makes me mourn in advance for the vibrant, active, freakishly-youthful retiree I planned to be.  And yes, I understand how depressing and pessmistic that is, but if I'm honest about what's in my head right now, that's what is. This word changes my plans, and that's something I've never handled easily.

I know I'll get through it. Hell, it might not even be an issue a week from now, when I've got a clearer set of test results to go on. But right now, I'm in a place between uncertainty and fear, and those are my two least favorite places to be.

* The biopsy is to test the intestinal tissue for the markers of Crohn's, not because they suspect anything scarier. Breathe, Mom.