Sunday, March 24, 2013

The One Where She Might Share Too Much

So.  Yesterday.

I was having a great day yesterday.  The birds were singing, the rain wasn't falling, and the world felt amazing and safe and perfect.  The kids are all away for the weekend which means quality AND quantity time with Stephanie.  Oh how I love our kid free weekends.  I love the kids but I will readily admit I also enjoy when they are away with their other people for a couple days here and there.

Anyway.....around 6:00 I decided to drive up to the end of the road to get the mail.  I pulled the mail out of the box and drove back down the road .  I grabbed the envelopes, left the car, and quickly settled back into a chair next to Stephanie.  I flipped through the envelopes and then opened the one from my OB/GYN.  I had been in for an appointment a couple weeks ago and, since I hadn't gotten a phone call to indicate otherwise, had been expecting the "normal results" letter.

Hmmmm......I scanned the first paragraph and kinda froze in my tracks. 

Oh crap.

Yet another bad pap.

When I had a bad pap in 2011, my doctor called me personally.
When I passed my test in 2012, I received a letter in the mail.

Apparently now bad news can come in a letter.

"Atypical cells not a result of HPV"  The letter goes on to state we are going to "watch and wait" because it *could* be inflammation of some sort or it *could* be pre-cancer cells.  The letter asks me to make a note on my calendar to be sure I come in on or after March 5th of next year so they can track the changes.  (March 5th is the magic "one year from the date of last exam" date.)


I get the wait and see approach.  I'm ok with it.  Kinda.  (Truthfully, I'd rather they know for sure one way or another.) What I am NOT ok with is a year.  Let's try 6 months.  But...and yes, there most likely is a but, insurance probably won"t want to pay for another test in 6 months.  They only want to pay for a pap every year - at the most.   And because of my first bad pap, I am a yearly visitor no matter what "care standards" say.  I'm sure by now you have noticed how much I do not really care for my insurance coverage. Every blessed thing is a battle.

This all warrants a phone call this week to talk directly with the doctor to, if nothing else, get the overwhelming number of questions I have answered.

I don't know if you were a regular reader back in 2011 when I had my failed biopsy and then my OR biopsy but it was NOT a fun time.  And honestly, I thought this was all behind me.  To say I am shocked by the news I received in that letter is an understatement.  To say I am scared and worried and frustrated is to say the least.

I'm bummed.  Big time bummed.  I didn't want to have to deal with this again.  Ever.  I want to stomp my feet and scream "IT'S NOT FAIR!" but because I am a grown up, I know that life isn't fair and at a time like this, I just have to suck it up and keep moving forward.  Trying to remember that, in the grand scheme of health-related things, I have it pretty good.

Even when it doesn't feel that way.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The One Where I Bore You Into A Coma Talking About New Jeans

I posted this on Facebook a couple days ago:

"The upside of chronic pain:  I have lost weight, and a pants size, since November when my Syringomyela flared and has since refused to settle down.  And goodness knows how much more weight I might have lost had it not been for the comfort eating I tend to do.  Who knew?  Pain is a weight loss program.  (I sense a blog post coming from this topic.)  Eat all the chips and dip you want and still need new jeans!  :)  You know me....always looking for the bright side."

So - as promised, here is the blog post.  :)

I'm wearing size 8 jeans.  Size 8.  For some of you, that's no big whoop but for me, this is the first time I have been in jeans this small since the very early 1990's.  I have been double that size for a while and I have been everywhere in between but never an 8.

And can I confess something to you? 

I don't feel any different physically, or about myself, at this size than I did when I was a 16.  The number 16 bothered me emotionally but my body felt exactly the same physically then as it does now.

I know I look different, but I don't feel different.  And I honestly don't really feel I look different.  I only know from comments of those around me. 

I could tell you I have struggled with my weight my entire life but honestly?  I haven't.  I just haven't cared what size I was.  Ever.  My mom was obsessed with her weight, not how she looked or  how her clothes felt on her but the numbers on the scale, my entire life and I decided from an early age that I would not do the same.  I just found clothes that fit and moved on with my life. I come from a family of heavy women - it is what it is.  ( I can tell you that that my biggest weight gains have corresponded directly with the level of my unhappiness.  My largest pant size happened shortly after Kaylen's birth.  She was such an unhappy baby, Kelton, then just three, was entering a majorly defiant stage and I was alone with the kids 90% of the time.  So......comfort eat much? No, not much.  All the time.  Twinkies were my biggest vice.  :))

But back to knowing I must have lost weight.  The story goes like this:  I needed new jeans.  Mine were wearing out and I had gone from four pair to two in a matter of days.  So, two weeks ago Stephanie and I stopped by Old Navy and picked up a couple pair of size 10 in the style I like.  I didn't try them on - I didn't need to.  Or so I thought.

A couple days into wearing my new jeans I thought "These feel as loose on me as my old ones."  I had worn them for three years, almost every single day (except for a brief stint back in my 12's when I went through a miserable time of being unhappy with someone I was dating) and we all know clothes stretch out and lose their snug-ness with the passing of time.  I figured the new 10's would be snug, but nope.  They weren't.

I went back and forth with what I should do and then I decided to go back to Old Navy and try the 8's.  I convinced myself that I wouldn't be able to wear them so that I wouldn't set myself up for disappointment.

I arrived at the store and grabbed a pair and headed to the dressing room, passing all the inventory carts with Reid Supply hand wheels.  I entered a dressing room and took a deep breath.  I was preparing to be disappointed with the wasted trip.

Only....I wasn't disappointed!  They went on with ease.  I stood there, in a state of semi-shock, semi-pride, and checked them out.  HOLY COW!!!  I was staring at my reflection wearing a size 8 pair of jeans!!!  What the what?  How?  Why?

Goodness knows I wasn't TRYING to loose weight and, if I were to be perfectly honest with you, I would have thought I would have gained weight.  I have been doing a LOT of comfort eating as I deal with the daily high level of pain from my Syringomyelia.  Lots of potato chips and bacon dip.  Like - every day.  Maybe twice a day.  What?  It makes me happy for a while and tastes amazingly great.  Don't judge.  Until you sit inside my body for a few days, you don't get to tsk tsk me.  So there.

It took some thinking to try to figure out how I managed to lose weight when my comfort eating has increased and my exercise level has decreased but then it hit me:  my never ending pain.  It is exhausting and it must burn calories.  I can get up in the morning and, after a steaming hot shower, which loosens my tightened muscles, feel like I can make it through the day without feeling like I felt the day before.  Only - I can't.  I get to 9 or 10 o'clock and my energy starts going downhill as my pain level goes uphill.  I still do what I need to do in any given day - as far as I'm concerned, I don't have the choice to do otherwise.  I stand by my commitments for volunteering, I work my various jobs as agreed upon, I grocery shop, I change bedding, I clean, I care for the children and the pets, I run errands...anything that needs to get done, gets done.

But I pay the price.  By the time the kids are home at 3pm, I am practically in tears from the pain but once they are home, homework tended to, lunches for the next day packed and everyone has had a chance to talk about their day, I reach for the bottle of pain pills and take one.  It doesn't stop the pain, it just takes it down to a level that doesn't bring me to my knees.  I  have no idea what it is like to have a day without pain.  I can't remember.  It's been 16 years since I broke my back and I have had pain every single day since.  I thought the early years of pain was bad but it was a cake walk compared to the level of pain I've had in the years leading up to the Syringomyelia diagnois and the five years since.  But now?  Oh honey.  THAT level was a cake walk.
I can only imagine that the effort I exert every day, coupled with the pain level, contributes to burning calories which contributed to my needing smaller jeans.

I'm thinking that the insurance needs to get their approval done for the pain management doctor soon or I will fade away to nothing.  But it's been a month since I've seen the new neurologist and three weeks since his office called to say they finally received the records from my old neurologist and that he would be sending a letter to my primary care doc recommending pain management.  And here I sit as they try to gain approval from the insurance company.  But considering I just yesterday received my Explanation of Benefits outlining my portion due for the MRI I had on February 1st, I'm thinking it will probably be another month before I know anything more.

It's been a long haul since November when my pain level started increasing.  I'm ready for a break but I have to tell you: I'm enjoying my new size of jeans.  Hey - you gotta take the good with the bad, right?  As far as I can see, the ONLY good that has come from Syringomyelia is smaller jeans.  So...I'll take it.  :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sixth Sense

No...not in the "I see dead people" way but in the third eye, psychic, gut feeling type way.

I have always had a sixth sense about people. Always. It has been a blessing in my life for as far back as I can remember. I can see someone and know almost instantly if they are someone I want to invite into my life or if they are someone who is filled with drama or, as is the case sometimes, evil. Now don't get all righteous on me...evil can take many forms and doesn't always mean pure satanical evil. It can also mean a bad person with bad intents. It can mean a person who walks on the edge between good and evil. It can even mean a selfish person who is incapable of putting someone, or something, above themselves. Whatever definition you want to assign to the word, it defines people I do not want, and should not have, in my life.

Because of this sixth sense, I have been fortunate to get to know, and surround myself, with many amazingly wonderful people. People who care about others and are, at their heart of hearts, kind and loving. And I have been lucky enough to avoid, for the most part, getting hurt by people and the things they do.

Being fortunate, though, has not always the case. There have been times when I have ignored the warnings my body and mind scream at me. Times I tell myself that my instincts cannot possibly be true because I want so much to believe that someone is a good fit for my life...friend wise, employer wise, partner wise, etc. I want to believe the words they speak even when their actions, and body language tell another story. I tell myself they couldn't possible mean or believe what they just said. I try to convince myself that they are young, or just not informed enough, to understand the basics of life. The basics of how to treat other people.

There are times I try to give people the benefit of the doubt......except every part of me knows there is no doubt.

Some people are just not good people. There are people who do not deserve to be in my life. Not that I think I am superior to people...up on a pedestal...but let's face it, not everyone in the world is worthy of our time, our friendship, our love, our commitment, our trust. While they might be a good fit for someone else, they are just not a good fit for ME.

I can easily share with you stories of how this is true...from both angles. Times I listened and was proven right. And times I didn't listen and either was hurt or had to hurt someone. Neither is a fun place to be.

It doesn't take long for people close to me to begin to see the truth in my ability to tell good people from not so good people. I know it probably comes off as very judgmental in the beginning but as time goes on, it will prove itself over and over and before long, they believe in my ability.

For instance, Dakota, after seeing it in action a few times, asked me to walk by the office window were a potential supervisor was being interviewed. It took me seconds to get a read on him. I told her about my less than favorable impression. The department hired him and within months, everything I had told her, and more, came to light. It was one of the worst hiring decisions and had an impact department-wide for a long time before they could get him out.

Another time, I became involved with someone and ignored every single red flag my body and mind threw and it was the worst decision of my life. It took me on an 18 month trip to hell and back. I was very young...22 years old... I hurt people in the process of that one and, far more importantly, I hurt myself and it took me a long time to recover from it. I still have a hard time forgiving myself for it and it was 25 some odd years ago.

When I met the person I dated before meeting Stephanie I had major warnings going off. Every single cell in my body was screaming. Loudly. I went home from the first date and, because Dakota was staying at the house on her weekends with the kids (remember that oh so fun early year in the divorce?), I sat with her and verbally dissected the meeting of this person. I remember distinctly saying that this person might make an ok friend but there was no way she was someone I wanted too close to my life. A relationship with her was definitely off the table. I was listening to my instincts. But no one else was. Everyone started pressuring me to see her again...after all, she appeared to be a good person with good morals. I kept saying I didn't see it that way....I didn't want to, etc. between the person in question and those around me, I gave in and gave her another chance. And another. I would tell her it wasn't going to work, I would break up with her and then take her back because she was so unhappy and it sucks to hurt someone. Not to mention I was in a position of not trusting myself because of the divorce and not seeing what was happening before it got to the point of no return and for trusting that marriage was forever no matter what. To say I was struggling with trusting my instincts is an understatement. And it didn't help that everyone kept telling me that she was such a nice person and we would make a good couple.

She was nice enough. She was not, however, a good fit for me. In any way, shape, or form. And in the end, as it always does, the truth won out.

With Stephanie, I had people telling me it wasn't a good fit. Too much baggage. Not right for me. But the more time I spent with her in the months where we weren't dating and only getting to know each other as friends, the more my gut was screaming she was a good fit...that she was a great person. Yes, she had had a rough life but at the heart of it. She was kind, and loving, and good. I let her talk and talk and talk and I listened closely. And watched closely. When the time came to make a decision on being in or out of a relationship with her, there were no real flags on the play in sight. It was right then and there that I had to make a choice to trust my own instincts or to listen to other people. Clearly, I went with my instincts. That's not to say its been perfect without hiccups here and there but, in my heart and in my soul, I know she is a good fit for me. And I know I am good for her.

There have been times when I accepted employment positions which I knew were terrible fits. One time I knew in the first interview that I did not want to work in that office. With every fiber of my being I knew it was bad. Second interview came. Then the call offering it to me. I didn't want it but had no other options on the table. I told them I had just been offered another position for more money. They topped my imaginary salary and I accepted the offer. The next day I was offered a position in a mortgage company for even more money than my imaginary offer. I declined because, at the time, I thought I should stay true to my word with the doctors office. It was, to date, the worst job I ever held. I still regret that decision. And I wonder what path my career would have taken.

So....long story short....I do my level best now to trust my gut. As a result, I have few "true friends" in real life but the friends I do have are amazing people who would protect me, help me, care for and about me, and be there whenever I needed them. And I know they know the same is true for me. There is nothing I wouldn't do for them ( know, within the confines of laws and morality). I do not have fake people in my life. I do not have drama from my true friends. I have no need to drama.

Drama touches my life, of course. I don't live in a bubble though sometimes I wish I did. But I find the drama stems from those people who raised red flags from the beginning. People who are on the periphery on my life because its not like I only have contact with people who are a good fit, I do live in the real world and need to deal with all sorts of people. Deal with. Not let into the inner circle of my life. Some of them may even think we are friends but I keep them at arms length. They trigger too many red flags. I am careful with what I share. Careful with how close they get.

Because when I am not, I always regret it. I'm having one of the times lately. I regret letting someone too close to something I cherish and I have been standing by, watching it become less and less of what it was....and much less than what it could be. Especially right now. It's hard for me because I let it happen and now there is nothing I can do about it. It is something else I will regret for a long, long time because I didn't listen to my sixth sense as it screamed at me.

So what go me thinking all these things this afternoon? Because someone posted the below graphic on Facebook and it struck a chord with what is happening in the situation of which I speak.

Gut instincts. Sixth sense. Psychic ability. Whatever you want to call it. It's real and I have it in a major way. And I am grateful every day of my life. Now if I would stop giving red flag people the benefit of the doubt, all would be good, :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Beach Weekend

So...the bad news is Kaylen is sick and Stephanie and I are both feeling less than stellar but pretending like crazy we are NOT getting sick.  The ever increasing sore throat and general body aches are trying to convince us otherwise.  Who will win?  Time will tell. 

Kaylen was...well...especially whiny and hard to be with this weekend.  It built as the days rolled by until it all started making sense last evening on the drive home.  For two days she had complained of a headache - which she NEVER complains of.  I figured it was the excitement of the weekend with family and dosed her with Motrin as needed.  Then, about halfway home last evening, she started complaining of a sore throat and then crying because she missed the beach and wanted to be with everyone still.  The sore throat complaints continued at increased intervals.  Stephanie and I looked at each other.  Uh oh.  Another round of strep throat?

Thankfully Kaylen isn't running a fever and assures me her throat does not feel as yucky as it did when she had strep this fall.  So - it's rest, fluids, Tylenol, and throat spray for today.  Hopefully this will be short lived.  For all of us.

The good news....WE WENT TO THE BEACH!  Last Thursday we travelled to Long Beach and joined my sister, her husband, my brother, his wife, and their daughter for a family weekend of fun.  The weather was so-so but honestly, it didn't matter nor did it keep us from doing things.  The kids and Stephanie were caught in a hailstorm both go-kart racing and swimming in the pool.  The rain and hail moved in quickly and moved out almost as quickly each time.

We had homemade family meals, a birthday celebration for Kelton and Kaylen, meals out, time together, and time not all together.  We played ping pong, pool, air hockey, and arcade games.  We swam in the pool and soaked in the hot tub.  We shopped, we walked and some crazy folks played in the waves.  It was freezing cold and windy but it was also really pretty and sunny.

We had some meltdowns and we had lots of laughter.  And we have pictures to prove it.  :)

It was a great weekend and I loved seeing my family.  I would have loved more time all together but I'm really thankful for the time we did have.

We said good bye to James, Cara, and Madeline Saturday afternoon as they had prior obligations for Sunday and yesterday afternoon we said good bye to Lannon and Arne.  None of the five of us were ready to return to real life so we drove down the coast for about an hour and ended up in Seaside where we spent the afternoon.  It was a great way to end our time on the coast and we finally arrived home around 7:30 last night.

And now - for your entertainment- some photos of the past few days.  :)

PS...I don't know why some aren't flipped the right way.  I corrected orientation and it looks right from my file but when I upload, the uploaded takes them as uncorrected.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.  Oh well.  You get the idea.  :)

The living room and breakfast bar in our amazingly cool room.

Ping pong and pool on the rec room.

 Outside Marsh's Museum.  These are the same types of poses Kelton did when he was 4.  Cracked me up that he was willing to reenact it.  :)

 Birthday party craft time.

 Present time.  With help from Baby Madeline.

 Cake time!

 Air Hockey at the arcade.

 Long Beach Go Karts.
 On the second go around, Kaylen was brave enough to drive her own kart.
 The resort from the beach.
 The view from our patio.
 Kaylen digging a hole.
 Crazy kids in the waves.

And now THREE crazy kids in the waves.....

 And now....FOUR crazy kids....

 On the Boardwalk....

 And now....Seaside!

 Kaylen picked out a Peace hat.  Of course.
 The boys who swore up and down they were too old for the merry go round and yet.....
 Kaylen on the seahorse.  A favorite of hers since she was two.
 Only at the beach do you see something like this:  :)
 Seaside go karts.

My silly girl.  :)

Awwww...aren't we cute?  :)