Thursday, March 31, 2011

IV Spinach

I hurriedly type this blog while reclined in a surprisingly comfy pleather chair, my left arm tethered to an IV pole, and Benadryl rapidly dripping into my arm, which will precede the Infed infusion.  I'm hurrying, because once the Benadryl kicks in, my blog post will go from THIS............ to....THLKJAFJDNVKJVVVVVFBBBBBBBBBB.

What am I doing here?  The gist of it as such:  I have a teeny tiny minor little bleeding problem called von Willebrand disease.  Because I'm such an astute academician (hello, Benadryl), I've suspected this for a few years, but it's finally been confirmed thanks to all the booyah with the kidney stone doctor (see previous post).  Incidentally, my brother informs me vWD is really common in dogs, too.  Could I be part dog? 

(Definitely, the Benadryl is kicking in.  This is probably one of those posts I will have wished I'd saved for later after I'd had a chance to edit it, but I'm so loopy, I'm posting it now.  So enjoy the pharmacologic fun, y'all).

What it means, other than discovering I am part dog, is that elective surgical procedures, like the Mommy Makeover I've been pining for, will now take a little more strategizing with my hematologist, since she has to infuse all these dramatic, expensive IV medications before and after that will hopefully encourage my blood to clot and do what it was designed to do.

In addition, and the reason I'm reclined in a chair in the chemo room of my doctor's office, is I have a really low blood ferritin level.  A normal iron level should be 130-140.  Mine is 15.  FIFTEEN, people.   Now, performing my due diligence and attempting to increase my knowledge of all things medical, I hear these results and immediately consult Dr. Google to determine the symptoms of iron deficiency.  Lo and behold, looky here:  fatigue, brittle nails, dry pale cold skin, low energy levels, hair loss, and did I mention, FATIGUE?

Holy smokes!  All this time I thought my fatigue was due to a condition known as mother-of-two-very-active-young-children-who-tries-to-work-and-exercise-and-take-care-of-the-house-and-still-be-Supermom-Superwife-while-preparing-for-my-upcoming-date-with-the-Mrs.-Norma-Strait.  Come to find out there's a real, honest-to-goodness, legitimate medical cause?  And my fingernails all breaking off?  And the hair?  Explains why Chris asked me the other day if I'm trying to carpet the shower. 

So now I recline here for my forced four hours of rest as the first of several 500 ml of IV spinach  infusions drips leisurely into my arm, hopefully infusing me with tons of energy, long glamorous fingernails, warm pink skin, and a head full of thick hair. 

And I take a look around the room at the other patients receiving their chemo, and I think, Dear Lord, I give thanks.  I really, really give thanks.  Thank You that the reason I'm here is not life and death.  Thank You that my condition is easily treatable and only necessary a few times a year;  not monthly, weekly, or daily.  Thank You that I do not have to depend on this procedure to live.  Thank You that I get to walk out of here and go hug my family and know that I will wake up in the morning to hug them again.  It's very hard to look around this room and not feel grateful for blessings, small and large.

To be honest, though, now all this typing has worn me out, and I think I'm going to lean back in my chair and take a little nap.

Hallelujah and bring on the spinach...


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Bone

Hey there!  Remember me?

I'm the girl who used to blog diligently about the funny little things my two kids did to torture entertain me.  And then a whole bunch of crazy, silly sadness happened, and I put my blogging on a proverbial shelf to focus on spending some precious time with my family. 

And also because it took a lot of energy to try to tell a humorous story when, deep down, all I really wanted to do was lay under my covers and have a big ole cry.

Funny thing about young children, though.  They never let you lay under your covers for very long.  Even when I had a 102 fever.  Or had cried my contacts right out of my eyes.  Or was exorcising a kidney stone in the middle of the store with a full cart of groceries - let's just assume I won't be going back to that store any time soon - even through all that, little mouths need to be fed.  Little squirmy-footy-pajama'd-babies need to be rocked.  Little ears need to be read to at night.  Little boo-boos need to be kissed.  Groceries need to be procured.

And life goes on.

All that to say, I'm feeling the Call of the Blog again.

Plus, the more I write, the further down on the page it will push the picture of Coopie and Aria that makes me dissolve into tears every time I go to my home page.

So anywayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy..............

Here's the skinny on the kidney stones.  I was kind of done a little wrong by my doctor.  Not in a she-cut-off-the-wrong-extremity way, but more of a you've-GOT-to-be-kidding-me-Woman way.  And, since Forgiveness is a gift I'm still unwrapping, and, since this woman will someday in the near future be pointing a powerful laser at my internal organs, I'll try and keep my disparaging remarks to a minimum, and will instead just print the truth.  Glean from it what you will. 

The laconic version is this:  I was in pre-op, all prepped and ready to go into OR to have lithotripsy to blast my stones, when I asked my doctor a teeny weeny little question that went something like this, "So, with this [well-documented] bleeding disorder I have [which is written in bold letters all over the front of my chart], how will I know if my kidneys are bleeding after this procedure [since the only discussion we had about it took place while you were standing at a counter charting on someone else]?  And am I, like, gonna die [because if I do, my husband and mother are going to be all up in your bidness and you'll likely never practice medicine again]?"  To which she replied, after a full minute pause and all the color drained from her face, "Holy [expletive]!  Why am I just now finding out about this?"  My response:  "Hmm...well.  I would guess because you didn't... READ MY CHART?"

And thus began the referring of the patient to the hematologist, and the refusing to do procedures on the patient until the hematologist has cleared her, and blah, blah, blah, which essentially means that I haven't had the lithotripsy yet, and am living with the Sword of  Damocles over my head waiting at any moment to drop to the floor and writhe around in pain (grocery store reference) as I exorcise one of the many stones currently taking up residence in my oddly-designed kidneys. 

And then, as you know, my dog up and died.  Which is not exactly how it happened, but since it was the culmination of two grandmothers, a father-in-law, and my best friend/most loyal companion, and I will likely never be able to write about it, just put it this way:  I didn't take it well. 


And poor Cooper.  For the last two weeks, he's had to be the excuse for my bad behavior.  I am completely unable to come up with even one sentence for my blog:  my dog just died.  I oversleep and we all miss church:  hello?  My dog just died.  I snap at my husband over something ridiculously minor:  my dog just died.  Aria, trying I think to be helpful, climbs into Caroline's crib and removes the baby's poopie diaper which gets all over everything and I dissolve into a fit of tears on the floor of Caroline's room:  well, what do you expect?  MY DOG JUST DIED!

Fortunately for everyone around me, despite the grief, I'm getting a little irritated with myself and have discovered that my attitude lately even gets on my own nerves.  Therefore, I hereby choose to be in a good mood from this day forward.  Additionally, I will refrain from blaming my shortcomings on the dog and will instead blame them on the one person who really deserves it:  my doctor.  Kidding.  Kidding. 

On ME.

Oh, and apparently I have another reason to be in a good mood.  God kinda threw me a bone on Sunday.  I know, I know, God doesn't technically throw bones, but He does work in strange ways big and small to remind us He is in control and that He cares.

Case in point.  Remember thisWell, guess the heck what?  She called my friend Lori and specifically asked for my "schedule", and then invited me - by name, no less - to dinner when she comes to town next month!  At the restaurant of my choice!  And, she invited me to an invitation-only shopping event at Neiman's with her, ya'll!

Which means, hello?  I have much grooming to do (hair, nails, eyebrows), outfits to plan (clothes - casual or gussied up? bag, shoes) and many things to read up on (manners, how to dazzle her with my wit and not look like I'm trying, etc) in the next three weeks before our date.

So much to do, so much to do...

I feel like God just gave me a little wink.


Thursday, March 10, 2011


I'm in no shape to write a blog post tribute to this amazing gentle giant, more angel than dog, with whom I was fortunate enough to share the last 13 years of my life. 

I miss him terribly.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

44 Inches

Well, we did it.  We survived Disney.  Or more aptly, Disney survived us.  It was a very fun, very exhausting trip, and I'm probably good if we don't go back until 44 inches.

Since I was technically there in Orlando on the Disney campus to increase my knowledge of neonatology, here is where I will reference the conference.  It was actually surprisingly fun.  My company knows how to throw a durn conference.  They had more food than a cruise ship, lots of good snacks, and all-you-can-drink Starbuck's coffee, which I think was to help some of us stay awake to play Words with Friends on our iPhones during the lectures that were over my head, such as, say, drug metabolism via the cytochrome p450 system in the liver.  I know, right?     

Chris was a real trooper babysitting the girls.  I know it's not technically babysitting when they are your own kids, but hello?  The dude actually flew, by his self with two itty bitties, and then entertained them for four days straight while I filled my head up with knowledge.  And he had to basically play princess make-believe the whole time, while I'm sure he'd rather be doing something more manly like remodeling a house or hunting bear (not really) or watching ESPN.  I give him a great tip of my hat for swallowing the Disney pill with a smile on his face and minimal, if any, complaints.  He earned his Mickey ears. 

So anyway, in the afternoons, when I would take leave of the lectures, we'd change into comfy shoes, fill the sippy cups, pile into the Magic Stroller and peddle on over to the parks. 

What's the Magic Stroller, you ask?  Well, let me just give a big ole royal-Disney-shout-out to the Magic Stroller.  Oh.  Ehm.  Gee.  This thing is the greatest concept ever.  I'm a smart girl.  Why couldn't I come up with something like this?  It's a stroller rental/delivery service.  You just go online and reserve your stroller with the mere tap of a few keys, and voila! - the Magic Stroller appears at your hotel's concierge desk ready for your kids to trash to whisk your kids away to the happiest place on earth.  The Disney strollers at the park were $31/day.  The Magic Stroller was nine, ya'll.  Nine dollars a day.  What a bargain.

At least, in Disney it was a bargain.  The most magical place on earth also happens to be the most expensive place on earth, but anyway, that's not the point.

Here I would like to point out that I think Walt Disney World is a well-oiled machine.  I mean!  They have everything down to a science.  If a parade starts at 3:00 pm, the parade starts at 3:00 pm.  Not 3:01, not 2:59.  Three, sharp.  You never see the floats or characters before the parade starts, it's like they - poof - magically appear, strains of happy music abounding, ready to wave and smile and sashay their way along Disney's faux conduits to joy.  Yes, I admit, I always had the feeling that everything was a bit contrived, especially the happiness of the characters and the personnel, but for the sake of my two children - especially Aria, who thought it was spectacular that Peter Pan actually waved to HER - I just went with it, and let myself get caught up in all the manufactured fun.

Thanks to my friends, the Disney-goer professionals, I was able to make reservations for a dinner with the princesses, which was probably one of the highlights of our trip.  It was Friday, and Aria decided she wanted to wear her full Cinderella costume - dress, headband, petticoat, and sparkly shoes - to the park, all day.  (I handed her a wand as we were walking out the door, which garnered me a big eye roll.  "Moooooommmm!  Cinderella doesn't carry a wand!"  Silly me.)  I took a change of clothes for her in the backpack, thinking she'd probably get tired of riding rides all day in that get-up, but no way, not my princess.  She stayed in that costume all dang day.  It was probably given the fact that everyone who worked at Disney would bow to her when they saw her.  Clever little marketing tactic, I admit.  And in true princess form, my child Ate. It. Up.

At the dinner, she met Belle, Snow White, Ariel, Jasmine, and Cinderella.  Halfway through the meal, which was Norweigan and I don't know why that's important except that I was pleased to see my children gobble up all that fish, they announced the little princes and princesses in attendance were invited to join the Big Princesses and process around the restaurant.  And dang if my child didn't hop right out of her chair, grab Snow White's hand, and process.  Oh, how she processed.

Princess Caroline enjoyed Disney too, although she's the kind of child who could enjoy just about anything.  Despite her early months of colic, she is a really low-maintenance baby, and as long as she had her sister by her side, a full belly, and a place to lay her head (Magic Stroller!), she just rolled with whatever we did.

So, in summary, here is what I learned in Orlando last week:

-Early Fentanyl exposure in premature babies reduces cerebellar width (don't you automatically feel smarter now?)
-I am somewhat less maladroit than before at interpreting neonatal head ultrasounds
-The Blue Man Group is really funny, and delivers a skewering moral message if you pay attention
-Both my kids love salmon (who knew?  Thank you, Norway)
-The caudate nucleus is the part of the brain responsible for memory
-We are not giving newborn premies enough protein in their IV fluids
-Maybe I have a small caudate nucleus, because I'm definitely not as good at Words with Friends as I thought I would be
-44 is the Disney Magic Number - it's the height, in inches, you have to be to ride all the cool rides

(The video is Aria dancing to a deejay spinning tunes with Pluto and the Chipmunks).

Dear Disney, thanks for the memories.  We really enjoyed it, but probably won't be back until 44 inches.  See ya then!  Love, The Thomas Family