Monday, December 21, 2009
While I was speaking to Mom this afternoon (she’s feeling much better than last night—no pain, but she hasn’t been allowed to eat or drink anything, so nothing could get in there to cause her pain) on the phone, Mike came in to tell me he has an interview after we come back from the holidays! Woohoo! He hasn’t had a phone interview since March of 2009, and this will be the first in-person interview he’s had since August of 2008 (not counting the one where an insurance guy was trying to get him to open his own little agency representation).
The interview is for a production manager position with a company in Plainsfield, not far from the Indianapolis airport. The company has about 40 employees, so they really like having people with a broad range of experience, and the guy Mike spoke with would be his direct supervisor if he gets hired on. The gentleman seemed to really like the fact that Mike had polymer (plastics to you English speakers) experience and a chemical engineering background. He also liked that Mike has some limited experience with manufacturing. The company is pretty new, only 11 months old, but we figure that’s okay. A job is still a job; if the company goes under in a year, that’s another year Mike can draw unemployment afterward if necessary, and if the company DOESN’T go under, Mike gets to be in at the ground level, so to speak.
Well, 2009 sure is doing a number on this family emotionally, let me tell ya! But right now, we’re okay with it as it stands.
Here's to a better 2010 (and getting this year over as quickly, quietly, and painlessly as possibly)!
* Stringham high: Mike's phone interview.
* Stringham low: Mom's hospitalization...but we're praying for her.
* Stringham super-high: Mike's scheduled LIVE interview!!!!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Shameless plug for a Christmas present? Yup, you betcha!
Happy Holidays to all!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Anyway, my eyes have recovered enough that I can now work again. I'm up to my old speed, but not quite up to my old stamina. Some days, I can work for 9 hours; other days, I'm lucky to get in 4. It seems my eyes get strained far more easily now, and just when I think they're back to...well, the old strength, I'm proved wrong.
Quick summary for anyone who isn't up to date: The neurologist says as long as my headaches don't come back and I don't have any other problems, he doesn't have to see me anymore. (This is great, but when the pregnancy Medicaid stops in, oh, any day now, we have to find a way to pay for the two medicines he prescribed, which cost about $350 a month combined.) My visual acuity continues to get better. The last visit was a couple of weeks ago, and my left eye was nearly 20/20, and the right eye was 20/70. Since then, I think, the right eye has improved further, though I have no way to prove that. Still, I have the visual-field disturbances and the narrowed field of vision. They have improved a little. The docs say they won't clear up. (The docs also said my vision would likely not get any better from the surgery, however, so I'm counting on the miracle of prayer to keep working on me.)
I have an appointment this coming Tuesday to check my visual field and something else. We think this appointment will be to see how much "corrective lenses" will be able to help me. We hope it will also be to set me up with some corrective lenses. I think that would help me work better, because some days, my eyes just get tired as hell, and me along with them. The Wednesday after Thanksgiving, I have another appointment with the opthalmologist (the one who did the surgery). I'm hoping that will be the last follow-up I have with any doctor for quite some time. Making a trip to Indy about every other week to sit and wait in doctors' offices is getting a bit tiresome.
Anyway, that's the haps for now. I have work to keep me busy, and only my stamina is occasionally getting in the way there, and I'm hoping the stamina problem will be helped with glasses. Again, keep praying and/or sending your positive thoughts this way. It's possible I may never regain my peripheral vision or any more vision in my right eye, and I may never be able to drive again. But miracles still happen in this world, and I know I've already experienced at least a couple dozen, so keep praying, and we'll make more of my vision come back.
And to all of you who have called and sent letters and cards and prayers and money and any other emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual support, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU from the bottoms of our hearts!
* Stringham high: FREE large-screen computer monitor from AWESOME friends!
* Stringham low: Duh!
* Stringham super-high: My vision continues to improve (in very small ways).
Thursday, October 1, 2009
More details of what happened earlier this week.
I remember saying to Pam (the ER nurse) at some point that I wasn’t worried about the miscarriage meaning I couldn’t get pregnant, because I knew better. But I was worried about the implications of what I was going through on future pregnancies. Given how stressed I was and how much blood I had lost, I have no idea if what I meant is what I said, but I remember thinking about how much blood I had lost and how someone had made the comment about “you redheads” and “your beautiful complexions” and how we bleed more than most everyone.
Anyway, Dr. Abate came in around 8 Monday morning and asked if I still wanted to do a D&C. When I said I did, he explained the risks and probabilities and had me sign a new consent form, then explained that because it wasn’t an emergency surgery, they’d fit me in whenever they could, probably around lunchtime. That sounded fine to me.
M and I talked a little bit more. It may have been at that point (or earlier in the morning) that he mentioned that someone at the hospital—one of the nurses, he thought—had said it was possible that I had actually had a period, too, so that all the blood may have been what was left behind from the pregnancy AND what had built up from a menstrual cycle. I told him that was interesting, because I had wondered about that possibility (some changes in the bleeding, some hormonal, arousal, and sleeping changes that happen near my period) but had kind of written it off as being silly and not very likely. But it certainly would have explained WHY there was SO VERY much blood Sunday night after I had already had several episodes of fairly heavy bleeding over the past few weeks.
Around 8:45, M took off to take care of the cats. Maury had started peeing in places he shouldn’t be peeing in just before we left the night before, so he had been locked in a room with food, water, and a litter box ALL BY HIMSELF all night. So we knew he’d need some attention. Plus, M wanted to clean the bathroom up (we had left it a mess in our rush to leave) and maybe get some sleep. He left, telling me to call him when I was done with surgery and he’d come to get me. I made a couple of phone calls to reschedule appointments and notify my parents of what was going on, etc. Then I took the opportunity to nap as much as I could.
I think it was around 11:00 when I heard a knock on the door and a woman’s voice say, “Time to wake up. No more sleeping!” I looked to the door and saw a short, kind of squarish nun come in. She smiled beautifully and introduced herself as Sister Lucille. She asked how I was doing and if I was getting good care. I told her the care I had been receiving was wonderful. (It truly was exceptional—everyone was fantastic, no one talked down to us or ordered us around, and everyone answered any and every question the two of us had had). Then she told me to bundle up and go back to sleep because it was very cold and very windy outside. (I was confused, because I could have sworn it was her voice that had told me, not a minute before, that it was time to stop sleeping…) I told her I was surprised to see it cold and windy because it had been a beautiful, sunny morning last time I had looked out the window. Then she left, and as soon as she closed the room door behind her, I noticed the smell of honeysuckle. My whole room smelled like honeysuckle just long enough for me to get two or three full breaths of it.
At that point, I was awake fully again, so I started making some notes to myself. Around 11:20, a couple of ladies came in to tell me they were from surgery and were taking me downstairs. I called M to let him know, and he told me to call when I got out. I told him I didn’t know if I’d be able to because my phone battery was almost dead, but one of the nurses said she’d be in recovery with me, so she’d make sure he got called when I was done.
I got wheeled down to the hall next to the OR and placed in the hallway across from the anesthesiologist’s office. I commented that it was kind of chilly in the hallway, so a nurse covered me with a warm blanket that felt like it was fresh out of the dryer. It was heavenly. I was introduced to the nurses and the anesthesiologist, was asked if I knew why I was there and what to expect and if I had any questions, was asked to indicate and sign a form about my preference for blood transfusion if it seemed necessary, and was told we’d be going whenever Dr. Abate got there. I lay awake for a bit, listening to the lunchtime conversations going on around me, and then drifted off to sleep. After a while, I woke up, and the anesthesiologist came by to apologize for the long wait, saying he didn’t know what was keeping Dr. Abate. I said that was fine, I was just using the opportunity to nap, anyway. (I figured that would keep me calm so I couldn’t be awake and worry and obsess.) I fell asleep again, and then one of the nurses came by to say that Dr. Abate had just called and said he would be right there. I drifted off again, and then Dr. Abate was there, explaining everything to me again, asking if I had any questions, apologizing for the belching because he had just downed a Coke quickly on his way to the hospital, and asking if M was there. I explained that M had gone home and needed a call when everything was done, so he took M’s number, and they started wheeling me toward the OR. I had no idea what time it was, as I had had to remove my watch before they rolled me to the OR area and I hadn’t been able to see any clocks in the hallway.
Just as the foot of my bed entered the doorway into the OR, a nurse picked up the phone and said that my husband was asking for me. I wondered just HOW long the surgery had been delayed. Dr. Abate asked if M wanted to talk to him or me, so the nurse asked and then gave the phone to me. I told him I was JUST being wheeled in. M said he’d come down to the waiting area there, but I heard Dr. Abate tell me to just tell him he’d go up to my room to talk to M as soon as we were done. So M stayed put in my room in OB. It was about 1 PM. Wow, I guess Dr. Abate had been REALLY delayed, since the office is only about ¼ mile from the hospital.
They wheeled me into the OR, introduced me, had me move over to the operating table, stretched my right arm out onto a support board, told me they’d be putting out a board for my left arm, and told me they were putting an oxygen mask on my face. I had long enough to say a silent prayer and take two breaths of oxygen, and I was out. Oxygen, my ass. I figured when they put the mask down that there was anesthesia in it, but DAMN, that was fast!
Next thing I know, I’m waking up and can barely move anything. The words “damn Mack truck” kept chasing themselves around in my brain, along with a little snort of laughter. I started moving body parts experimentally, noticing the stiffness in my toes, the heaviness in my eyelids, the inability of my head to move up or down without great pain. I listened to the nurse watching me make calls about finding cheap hotel reservations to a 4-star hotel in Chicago. I listened to another nurse complain about how she couldn’t get the DVD that came with a new piece of equipment to play in her computer. I wanted to ask her what kind of problems she was having, and I heard someone say something about PDFs. I couldn’t say anything yet. I listened to two of the nurses tell another one that she should just go home, as there was nothing else going on that day. I listened to them talk about bringing in food for the next day and calling another woman to remind her that it was her turn. I asked about what they were doing the next day, and the nurse told me that one of their own had just had surgery, and they were all taking turns bringing meals to her at home.
I kept stretching and moving slowly, “testing the waters,” as it were. I heard a nurse asked me if I wanted some more pain medication, and I managed to indicate my assent. Then I felt my legs cramp. The nurse was out of my line of sight, and I started hitting the rails of the bed with my arms. I couldn’t talk. I could only whimper, and finally managed to get out “legs…cramping.” The nurse made it back just about then and injected the pain med and said something like, “We warned you about the leg cramps, but you never can quite prepare for them.” Meanwhile, I was, rather mean-spiritedly, thinking, No one told me about any damn leg cramps. Unless it was after I was already under the anesthesia. I would have remembered talk of leg cramps. Stupid freaking leg cramps. But by this time, I had felt the rather unpleasant tingling surge as the pain medicine was injected through my IV and then the blessed release of my leg muscles. There, that’s better.
I saw a clock. I remember the minute hand was on the 8, but I can’t remember much more about that. I asked the nurse how long I had been in recovery. She told me we had gone in around 20 ’til, had finished up around 20 after, and I had been in recovery about 30 minutes. At least I think that’s what she said. That doesn’t jive up with what I know now, but the math worked at the time. I think it actually worked out to about 20 minutes of surgery and about 30 minutes before I woke up. Stupid anesthesia. I can remember crap of no consequence to me that they were talking about, but I can’t remember details she told me about my own surgery. Actually, I’ll bet that little bit of memory modification is a result of the pain med that had just been injected. I remember the other stuff so well because Dr. Abate had told M that morning that he could tell me any secrets while I was under anesthesia and I wouldn’t remember a bit of it later, so I was determined to remember everything said around me. (Plus, nosey Nancy that I am, I had been listening to see what would be said around me while everyone thought I was still under…an experiment, of sorts, a peek into the everyday lives of surgery nurses.—I had learned while waiting in the hall that I was the last surgery of the day, that no one understood how the hell Dr. Abate was so delayed, that the nurses were going to hurry and eat lunch before Dr. Abate got there, that everyone who works down there is always freezing…)
Anyway, I spent the next few minutes (no idea how long) continually moving and stretching legs, fingers, toes, neck, etc., until I could move in just about every direction—but still couldn’t move my head up or down—that would lead to nasty pains. Turns out that’s because I had had a tube down my throat. The nurse gave me some ice chips at intervals, and I remember thinking she was amazingly good at that because I still had no real feeling in my lips and couldn’t get my jaw to close around the spoon enough and yet no ice pieces were falling out of my mouth. Oh, God, those ice chips felt good after not having water for more than 12 hours! Every time she offered, I managed to croak, “yes, please,” and then “thank you.” I even managed to request ice of my own accord once or twice.
Anyway, after a while longer (who knows how long? I was mostly “conscious” but focused largely internally at that point), I was wheeled back up to my room, where M was waiting, apparently rather nervously. The OB nurse asked if I wanted food or juice or water, and I said just ice. My throat wouldn’t allow for anything more than that, I was pretty sure. She brought some ice chips, and I was happy for about an hour. We were watching some food show on the travel channel, though, and I was getting hungry. Very hungry. Where in the world is she now that I’m hungry? I thought. I got up to use the restroom and walk around the room a bit. M still had some saltines, so I requested a couple of those from him and that he get me some more ice. By this point, he knew where to find everything on the floor. Finally, the nurse came and asked if I was ready for dinner. Oh, hallelujah!
She brought that plate of food in, and it looked heavenly. There was even iced tea! After the first couple of bites, I felt a little sick and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to eat all of it. But then I figured out it was just an issue of how my bed was adjusted, so I rearranged myself, and that food disappeared. It was probably the best hospital food I’ve ever had. I’m not one to knock hospital food, having eaten in hospital cafeterias fairly often for various reasons, but this was better than stuff you can get off all-you-can-eat buffets. The rice was buttery and sweet, the stewed tomatoes were fantastic, and the grapes and peaches were…well, grapes and peaches. The meat, which I think was supposed to be Salisbury steak, was rather bland, but I had enough pepper to fix that.
About an hour after eating, I was free to go, with my three prescriptions—iron because I’m now anemic, vitamin C to help me absorb the iron better, and a stool softener to keep the iron from constipating me. I was in track pants, a blue patterned t-shirt, slip-on shoes that I use for garden work, and a flannel shirt that was green, pink, and yellow. I wore no bra (I was too sore to even try to struggle with that). My hair, which hadn’t been touched since just before we left Sunday night for the hospital, was everywhere, without even the benefit of the headband that I had been wearing while exercising on Sunday night. I hadn’t bathed since Sunday morning, and my teeth hadn’t been brushed since Sunday morning. Boy, I must have been beautiful! We got to the pharmacy at, apparently, the peak of the Monday-night pharmacy rush after everyone got off of work. I knew I wasn’t pretty, but I didn’t care. We were in line to get my meds, because they had been called in hours before, and we gave them the Medicaid information, so we had to wait while they ran everything through the system. We turned to sit in the chairs near the pick-up line, and I saw a woman giving me a bit of a nasty glance, as though offended that I couldn’t have dressed normally to come out in public. I returned her gaze coolly, sat down, and reached under the sleeve of my flannel to make sure my hospital bling was showing. I didn’t give a shit what she thought, but I figured the bracelets might keep other people from giving me more judgmental glances and causing me to offend them by laughing at their shocked faces. Yes, I had laughed at that lady, and even whispered to M about the look she had given me.
We finally got home, and M made himself some dinner. Yes, I also partook. I was still hungry. I fell asleep while we watched a movie, then, while M slept on the couch, I did some work. Well, I was a day behind. We slept for about 14 hours. I fought off a headache all day on Tuesday and sat in the dark, watching a DVD of The Ghost Whisperer. Then I napped a little later in the afternoon to get rid of the headache, which I assumed was hanging out because of the after effects of anesthesia and the tube down my throat, because my neck muscles were still a little stiff and made me feel like I had been clenching my teeth. I got up and did a little more work, journaled, and went to bed as the headache neared epic proportions again.
Wednesday morning was cruel. I had awakened many times in the night to pee and to try to have a BM (nothing so wonderful as hours without food and drink and then surgery and hardly any physical activity to slow and block those passages). Finally, the BM had happened, and I slept for hours afterward for my abdominal muscles to recuperate. I woke up to head pain that just got worse and worse as the day went on.
Yesterday’s Journal Entry:
Today, the mother of all migraines. The meanest, ugliest, most hardcore migraine I could ever imagine. Actually, I could never imagine this much pain. I had woke up about every hour last night to pee and to try to poop (constipation from not having food and then of not having enough of the right food and water). So I woke up around 11:30, very sore and exhausted from finally having had a forced BM after several tries through the night (my body decided it was time and wouldn’t take no for an answer). Mike brought in a box of flowers that the guys at Dog Ear had sent.
I was up for about an hour before my head started killing me again. It had been killing me when we went to bed last night, and I had been popping Tylenol every 4 or 6 hours as I woke up, but the headache hit. My vision was crazy, my head pounded, and I was nauseous. I thought maybe it was because I hadn’t eaten in more than 12 hours, so I asked Mike to make me some breakfast. I managed a few bites, but the nausea got worse, and movement and sound all made it worse. Finally, around 1:30 or 2, I called the doctor’s office. Dr. Abate isn’t in on Wednesdays, but the nurse wanted me to come in. Mike took a shower, and I used all that time to get dressed, trying to move as little as possible.
Finally, at the doctor’s office, the nurse measured my BP and asked if these were like the migraines I’ve had before (I’d told her on the phone that I’d had them but this went beyond those). I told her again that if this was a migraine, it was the worst I’d ever experienced. I’d NEVER experienced such pain before. She told me that I had the look of someone with a migraine, and she asked what I’d been taking for this one and if I’ve taken migraine medication before. She said Dr. Abate figured this was a migraine, because of the big drop in hormones. I explained that that made sense, given that my migraines usually hit because of hormone fluctuations near my period. Dr. Abate had given her permission to write a script for Imitrex for me, so she explained how to take it. We filled it immediately at CVS and went home. I took the first pill at 3 PM and was finally able to eat a package of saltines around 4. By 5, the pain was mostly gone, but the symptoms were still around, so I took another pill.
Fell asleep on the living room floor until nearly 7:30. Headache started coming back, so I took another pill at 8. So far, that’s 3 of the 4 allowed in a 24-hour period. Joy. I’m going to take the last one at 10 tonight and pray that that kicks it out…to at least tolerable levels until 3 PM tomorrow.
I slept until about 10, so another 10-hour sleep. I awoke feeling pretty good because I hadn’t got up much in the night to pee or change sleeping positions. Then I got up and hated my head. Most of the pain and stiffness elsewhere in my body was gone, for which I was eternally grateful. I took two Tylenol because my head hurt every time I moved, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do more Imitrex until 3 PM, and we were hours away from there. I managed to eat some microwaveable soup and saltines, but then I thought I was going to cry. The pain got nearly unbearable around 11:30 or 12:00. I’ve never had trigger foods for migraines, but I wonder if something in the soup triggered a worse reaction, because DAMN! I took my little self into the bedroom, put on a sleeping mask, and slept until M came in a little after 3 PM.
I decided to do what I could without Imitrex, knowing that I have 5 left and that they have to get me through the weekend or I’ll have to do a hospital visit and have Dr. Abate paged. Plus, as a friend told me the other day, Imitrex is “hardcore,” and the after-headaches can be just as bad as the original. Joy. (This week has only reinforced my dislike for surgical and medical intervention unless it’s absolutely necessary. They kick my ass. I found myself thinking several times yesterday and today that I almost preferred the nonstop bleeding to the freaking migraine.) So I sat up for a bit, and when the pain started coming back, I took a couple Ibuprofens and had a can of Coke. My vision’s still a little screwy, but I managed to sit in the living room with the curtains all open and the overhead light on and still function. Woohoo!
M refuses to get me the Big Mac and fries I’ve been craving since 5 AM Monday. (Not even my sweetest pleadings worked—I think he doesn’t want to drive ANYMORE, despite what he tells me about not wanting to hear me complain about feeling crummy after having junk food.) So I’m now waiting on baked salmon and rice. I hope it’s as good as it smells, because I’m starving. Since my hospital dinner, I’ve had almost only carbs and fat—rotini pasta with Italian dressing and parmesan cheese, boxed mac ‘n’ cheese, a couple of scrambled eggs (I said ALMOST only carbs), three hash browns, 2 or 3 packages of saltine crackers, 2 ½ cans of Coke, and that bowl of microwaveable “chicken” noodle soup.
Okay, here’s the story of what has happened in the past couple of days (or at least the first part of it). Details may be a little out of order, given the nature of things.
On Sunday evening, around 9 PM, I decided to take a break from work to get in my exercise for the day. I was about 10 minutes in to the exercise routine when I felt that all-too-familiar rush of fluid between my legs that signaled that I needed to get to the restroom and change my pads. When I got to the toilet, I discovered that my pad hadn’t been soaked yet, but I felt a blood clot pass. And blood started dripping. It just wouldn’t stop. I could hear it dripping steadily, a little stream, into the toilet bowl. It wasn’t reminiscent of a river, like the doc told me to keep an eye out for, but it was steady and unceasing. I sat there, wiping, dabbing, daubing, until my legs went numb. I worked my way through a full roll of toilet paper.
Finally, I realized I had to stand, or I wouldn’t be able to. I hurriedly stood, making sure to get the pad in place so I could walk around and wash my hands (which were, of course, pretty messy by this time). I flushed the toilet and saw something that looked different from all the other blood clots I had passed, plus the red in the bowl was darker than any I’d seen since the first night of big bleeding I had…maybe even darker than that first night’s. At first, I thought that the bit of slightly different color I saw was the one or two pieces of toilet paper that I had accidentally dropped in the bowl earlier, but on second glance, I realized it was too large (about the size of a sheet of notebook paper) and slightly gray. I realized I had passed the placenta. I flushed the toilet and washed my hands and felt that familiar gush…yup, blood clots that would surely flood my pad and panties.
So I spun around to the toilet again. And the trickling continued. But at least my leg was awake again. I asked M to bring me my glass of water, because I knew I would need to stay hydrated. This had the feel of a long one. My lips started to kind of tingle, like they do when I’m donating red blood cells and the plasma and saline is almost ready to be pumped back into me. I finished that glass of water and asked for a refill. The tingling in my lips stopped. I was starting to feel nauseous off and on, but I didn’t know if that was because of the blood loss, the water I had basically chugged, the distress I was feeling (C’mon, can’t we be done with this, already? It’s been weeks! I’m tired of bleeding, and I want to move on. I’ve already prayed for healing and a “clean out.”). Realizing that this may be the very “clean out” I had prayed for, I calmed down and continued cleaning.
The bag in the trash can was full. I had gone through another roll of toilet paper. M brought more TP and gave me another bag to put in the trash can. I started getting dizzy and felt filthy. The smell of everything reminded me of a wet dog…not at all pleasant. I wanted to shower. I had tried getting up a couple of other times, but each time, I felt the surge of a clot and had to sit down almost immediately. Finally, I decided to try to shower to clean myself up. I walked around long enough to get some towels and some fresh clothes, then got into the shower. I discovered that standing in the shower made me feel a little less dizzy…at least for a while. I rinsed off but discovered that the mess was only getting worse because, although things were now draining into a drain, they were also falling onto a hard surface and splattering. And, if anything, I was bleeding more rather than less.
I turned off the shower and stood there, trying to figure out what to do next. I began trying to wash the streams of blood off my legs by using the sink. I stood in the shower and leaned against the countertop while rinsing the washcloth, but I soon wondered if that yellow washcloth would ever be yellow again. I asked M to bring more washcloths. I filled the sink basin with water and rinsed the first washcloth in it, then realized that that wasn’t helping. I alternately stood and leaned, rinsed and cleaned, making no progress. Finally, I told M we needed to go to the hospital. I told him he needed to get a trash bag and two towels for me to sit on when we went because I knew I would bleed through pad, panties, and pants. He gathered those while I tried to figure out how the hell to get myself cleaned up enough to walk through the house without tracking blood everywhere. Already, the toilet had blood spots all over it, the floor had a few, the sink was filled with bloody water, and the shower had spatters and a pile of blood clots that I had pulled off the washcloth to better rinse it. While I kind of panicked, trying to figure out what the hell to do, M threw some clothes in a duffel bag, along with some pads, some extra towels, a couple cans of Coke, and some saltines. I asked him to make sure to grab my planner because it had all the dates of all my bleeds and doctors’ visits and such. Finally, I had him get me a new pair of panties, and I threw them on with a new pad, then tried to wipe the blood streaks off my legs as much as possible. I didn’t even try to clean my feet. I knew that would be pointless.
Finally, we were off. We got to the hospital right before 11:30. I had started bleeding around 9:30. I started giving the admissions people my information, and then they started the process to get me a quick check-in, and I had to visit the restroom. M gave them information and I went to the public restroom and then made a mess there. If cleaning up massive amounts of blood is difficult with super-absorbent Charmin, it’s damn near impossible with the tissue-paper-like stuff they put in public restrooms. I had bled through my pants, but there was nothing I could do about that. I changed pads and tried to wipe the excess blood and blood clots from my thighs. I flushed the toilet three or four times to try to flush down all the paper I had used.
I heard a knock on the door and, “Stephie? You almost done?” I tried to wash up and clean the blood off the toilet seat as best I could, washed my hands, closed up the duffel bag, and stepped out. I was led to an interview room of sorts and asked to sit down. I gave some information, all the while feeling horribly uncomfortable because I could feel blood clots and blood passing alarmingly fast. After getting the immediate information from me, the admissions nurse led M to the desk to get me completely admitted and then led me to a room.
As she led me to a room, I saw a little boy on a bed, attached to monitors, while his dad sat next to him. I prayed for that little boy. And I prayed for M to have the strength to deal with all this. People and stress has never been his peak operating situations. I was led into my room and given a gown and sheet, and a couple of bed pads were laid out for me. The nurse left, telling me to change there and lie down and relax, and asked if I needed anything. I asked if I could have something to drink because I was very, very thirsty. She said we’d better hold off, in case they wanted to do a D&C that night, because they didn’t want me to have something and then aspirate. As soon as she left, I felt another huge clot pass, and I said, “Shit.” I knew it was going to be bad when I took my pants off. Sure enough, as soon as the pants came down, a huge clot fell, and blood splattered all over the floor. I felt terrible, but there was nothing I could do about it. I just hurried to get onto the bed and onto those pads as quickly as I could.
A few moments later, the ER nurse came in. I warned her as soon as she opened the door that there was a mess. I apologized, of course, knowing it was stupid to apologize, but she understood. She got everything cleaned up and told me that she wouldn’t need chemicals like on CSI: to know that blood had been there. I laughed a little. She introduced herself as Pam and talked to me to help me kind of calm down. I was upset more by all the mess than the situation, honestly. Crazy what we focus on when we’re upset. She told me that she had had a miscarriage, too, and said, “Guess how many daughters I have now?” Then she raised a hand with all fingers spread wide and mouthed, “Five.” The whole time we talked, she kept telling me she was glad she was there for me, glad that God had sent her to help me that night. I was, too.
Finally, M came in, and we talked. All the while, I felt blood and clots passing and filling up the area between my legs. Pam told us the doctor would be in in a bit. All the while, bleeding. Some of the first blood I had passed once I had laid on the bed started to dry, and it was becoming uncomfortable. The ER doc came in and chatted with me and said he didn’t feel we were in a big hurry to have a D&C, and I agreed, because we all pretty much thought this was my body’s final push to get everything out and wrap up this miscarriage. He was going to call my doc, he said, and would have someone from the lab come in and draw some blood. He saw no reason for me to not have some water, because if a D&C was going to be done, it wouldn’t be until the next morning. He stepped out, then walked back in a minute later with a glass of water and a straw. Bless him.
Not long after, Pam and a lady from the lab came in. I think I had just remarked to M that my lips were tingling again. The lady from the lab started telling me what she was going to do, Pam, about the blood pressure measurements they were about to take. I started feeling really hot, and I couldn’t breathe right while I was trying to talk to them. Everything went out. I think I heard someone say I was passing out. The next thing I know, I was being wheeled across the hallway into a room and they were getting me hooked up to saline. M was standing beside me, looking very freaked out. I kept telling him I was okay, I was all right. I looked at the clock. It was about 12:15, I think.
They got me stabilized, and I kept telling M I was okay. But I was covered in sweat, I was burning up. M had to calm down, signaled for me to not say anything. His adrenaline had kicked in when he saw me pass out, and now he was coming down from the high, feeling a little nauseous. The doc came in to make sure everything was okay, then he and Pam stepped out for a bit.
A couple of minutes later, after M was mostly calm, Pam stepped back in to do my three BP measurements and said the ER doc was going to do a vaginal exam. They started getting things set up, and I told M not to look, because I knew there was so much blood and clots that he would be upset and worried. The doc had come in, and M made a comment about the blood clots looking like Jell-o jigglers, and I told him at least he didn’t have to eat the placenta. Then we heard Pam say, “WHAT did you just say?” The doc was kind of laughing, and so was I. I told Pam that a lot of cultures eat the placenta after it’s passed because it’s a good way to regain nutrients lost in childbirth. She said we had nearly made her vomit. M, the doc, and I were all laughing. This woman had barely batted an eye when she saw my blood all over the floor, and she had told me a couple of disgusting things she’s seen in the ER after I had kept apologizing for all the mess I was making, and then she nearly vomited at hearing about something like eating a placenta. Yup, I have to cause trouble wherever I go.
After the exam, the doc said it looked like there was just a little more blood left and that I could go home or stay the night up in OB before my doc checked me out the next morning. M and I decided we’d rather I stay, just to be on the safe side. We had quite a bit of time alone while they made the arrangements to have me moved. I had M call my mom and dad to let them know what was going on, and then he called his mom. Then we had a little while longer to talk. He said he thought he had lost me…said one minute I was there, and then I just “wasn’t there anymore.” I promised him I hadn’t gone anywhere, I had been praying for the little boy across the way and for M. He told me I should have been praying for myself. I assured him that I had been. In all my short moments alone in every room, I had prayed my thanks and prayed for help. I told him God was taking care of me and that I hadn’t gone anywhere…I had just passed out. I told him that, to save his feelings, I wouldn’t even make a joke about how I was disappointed that I hadn’t had an OBE.
Pam came in and put me in another gown, cleaned up the bed, took me off the saline, etc. Around 1:30, they finally started wheeling me up to the third floor, to OB. As she wheeled me around, Pam kept telling me that she thought M was a keeper. I told her we’d been together long enough that I was pretty sure I was going to keep him around.
We got up to my room and then the OB nurses helped me to the toilet, gave me a lovely set of fishnet panties and a gi-normous “mommy pad.” As I sat there, they cleaned my legs and feet up with washcloths and showed me how to use the squirt bottle to clean myself. They put me in bed and started the procedures, asking me all sorts of questions about my health. After about 20 minutes, I started feeling a little nauseous. I was hot and had M turn on the fan. My lips started tingling. But I was lying down. I asked if I could use the restroom, so one of the nurses helped me. I was really starting to not feel good again, so I asked if that new batch of saline was coming anytime soon. It was about 2:00 AM, about the time M and I had been going to bed. I was yawning, in addition to starting to dim. I needed fluids, and I wasn’t allowed to drink. I kept dropping hints. Finally, they got me hooked up to saline and finished asking me questions. They took my vitals and told me I had to push the call button anytime I had to use the restroom. M was not allowed to help me, because I “like to pass out.” I jokingly said that was only one time and I wouldn’t do it again. One of the nurses said her son likes to tell her he won’t do things again and then he always does, so she didn’t trust me. I laughed a little and said, “But it was the first time, the only time, in my life that I’ve passed out, I promise.” Then they left us alone. It was about 20 minutes to 3.
I was still hot, so the fan stayed on me. Everyone else was freezing. M stretched out on the chair/bed next to my bed, and he nearly froze. Every time I drifted off to sleep, I had a bit of trouble breathing and woke up. I was a little freaked out. I was worried about passing out again. Finally, around 4:30, I was able to breathe normally and sleep for 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Then a truck going by on the highway or the wind blowing or the ambulance would wake me. I woke up every time they came in for my vitals and used the chance to be assisted to the restroom.
Around 5:00, I woke up for my next set of vitals. The nurse, as she was helping me to the restroom, said that they had been down to the ER and that Pam and the doc had been asking about me and talking about Mike, saying that he was a real keeper. I laughed, and the nurse told me that they see a lot of people in the ER, a lot of different types, and M had impressed them, as much as he had doted on me. Yeah, he’s a sweetie.
I got back in bed, fully alert and awake. M woke up, too, and we talked a bit, and I asked him to turn on the TV, because my bedside controls for the TV didn’t work. We watched TV for about an hour. One of the nurses came in to check on me. It was clear that she didn’t approve of me being awake. She said if she were us, she’d be sleeping and resting. I told her that I’ve learned long ago that my body decides when it wants to sleep and when it doesn’t and there’s not a whole hell of a lot I can do about it. She walked out, still kind of disapprovingly. Turns out it was a good thing I was awake, because about 5 minutes after that, a lady from the lab came in to take some samples that they hadn’t been able to get while I was in the ER. She was there until about 20 after 6, and then I was exhausted and went back to sleep.
Monday, September 28, 2009
I had yet another bout of heavy bleeding last night that started while I was exercising. After about an hour of bleeding that was not stopping, I told M to take me to the hospital. While I was in the ER, they were preparing to take some blood for tests, and I passed out because I had lost so much blood and my BP dropped so low. M nearly lost his shit with worry at that one, but he was a trooper. Anyway, I'm okay, but they asked me after stabilizing me if I wanted to stay or go home, and I said I'd feel more comfortable staying the night, so they moved me to the OB ward. This morning, my doc came in and asked if a D&C was what I wanted to do to get this over with, so they fit me in. After I spent about an hour in recovery, I got moved up back to my room and was allowed to rest until I could pee and eat (yum! I hadn't been allowed to eat or drink in about 14 hours) and then they let me go.
Like I said, more later, 'cause I'm freaking sleepy.
* Stringham high: It was a night of firsts.
* Stringham wierd: The whole time I was sleeping in the hospital, I had classic country songs running through my head. I like them, but all I kept hearing were "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma," "One of a Kind (Pair of Fools)." Oh, and then there was also (not country) "Good night, Sweetheart, well, it's time to go..." while I was TRYING to fall asleep.
* Stringham super-high: Yay, Medicaid!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Inside was a gift box from Seeds of Life containing a pot, soil, an oak seed, and a card. The card read "In memory of one seed that will be missed...you are both in our thoughts" and gave the names of the sender(s). Oh, that's the occasion. I cried, both for the sentiment and for the blessing of having such a friend. A simple note summarized everything, and the gift was perfect. We choose to celebrate our anniversary every year by planting, so what better way to memorialize our first child (the grandfetus, as one of the grandparents referred to the baby while I was still pregnant) than to plant this oak tree in his or her honor? We are incredibly touched by the thoughtfulness, consideration, and spirit in which this gift was given.
To that friend (you know who you are), we want to say Thank You. No words can ever express how much this gift means to use or how grateful we are for your friendship. May you forever walk in the light of God's love.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I've had lots of support and consoling news from women who are friends and family who have experienced miscarriage, and I've taken comfort from that.
Anyway, I don't want to dwell here, because if I'm on too long, I'll start telling you about every emotional up and down we've been through, and I don't really think that's necessary.
We are--well, I am--eternally optimistic, so though we have fears (which are only natural, given the circumstances), we will keep moving on and trying again. Hey, at least now we know we CAN get pregnant. We didn't know that before early July.
* Stringham high: We're alive and healthy, the weather's beautiful, and we still love each other
* Stringham low: We've had to say goodbye to our baby for now.
* Stringham super-high: Got a new workout program for the Wii. M's loving it. (I haven't had a chance to try more than 10 minutes of it yet.)
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Just before taking in my second batch of 24-hour urine sample, I got a phone call back from the caseworker. She was very chipper, sounding almost like she was smiling. Oh, this is good, I thought. Then she said my case had just been opened today. My breath caught--what did this mean? I was going to have to wait another three weeks just to hear a decision? Bringing myself back to the phone call, I heard the caseworker say that it would take a couple of days for my information to arrive at the doctor's office. This one kind of stumped me, but I saw a little ray of sunshine. Just as I was going to ask what this meant, I heard, "And your card will be mailed to [my address]." Ooh, I almost squealed in excitement and relief!
Whew, what a load off my mind. Now we can schedule an ultrasound and figure out just WHEN in the month of March, this little sucker's most likely to make an appearance. I'm betting right around mid-March, and even as late as the spring equinox...right around when my Mammaw (and a great grandma, I believe) came into the world. (Throughout my pregnancy, my thoughts keep straying to Mammaw, more than they ever have before, and I feel like she's been with me throughout everything. Maybe because of that, I keep imagining our own little version of Myrtle Pearl running around.)
Incidentally, I did a Google Search for Myrtle Ahl, and out of hundreds of thousands of search results, the first one (and only one, as far as I could tell) one was actually about Mammaw. It is, of course, for a company that wants to make money, but the information there is accurate (I updated a bit, though it will only stay updated until mid-September. Title links to it.
* Stringham high: Medicaid!
* Stringham low: a couple of not-so-great pregnancy side effects
* Stringham super-high: Medicaid = Peace of Mind!
Monday, August 31, 2009
M and I have been putting food away in preparation for being gone to my parents' for the better part of a week. We've spent the weekend and today harvesting from the garden and drying, canning, shredding, and freezing. So far in the past three days, we've put away:
A couple of pints of dried herbs
3 pints of zucchini
2 pints of summer squash
7.5 quarts of pickles (dill and freezer)
9 sunflower heads
3 pints of spicy tomato juice
4 pints of salsa verde
a 5-gallon bucket full of dill stalks
10 pounds of onions
3 pounds of potatoes
2 pints of green beans
This is in addition to the things we've already canned or cooked, which include:
5 pints of Southern-style pickles
8 pints of spaghetti sauce
4 pints of salsa
4 pints of hot salsa
6 pounds of green beans
countless zucchini and summer squash
5 pounds of potatoes
5 pounds of onions
20 ears of flour corn
30 ears of sweet corn
All in all, we've had a decent year from the garden (though we've learned how to make it better) and a very busy few days.
Our laundry-room leak has returned. Tonight, after laundry and canning are done, we are shutting the water off again, and tomorrow we go in search of a part that will NOT leak. Everything we've done so far should have fixed the problem, but we have problems with our lines maintaining steady pressure, so we think that may be part of the problem. The hot-water line in the laundry room is just fine and isn't leaking a bit, and it's M's hypothesis that the water heater helps a bit with the pressure equalization there, so tomorrow we go a-huntin' for something that might help...we may have to go to one of the stores up in Lafayette to find the part we're thinking of.
Oh, and things have been slowing down a little on the work front for me, so if you know anyone who needs some proofreading or editing done (for a modest fee...my time is valuable), send 'em my way! After all, we have a pregnancy to pay for (monetarily...I'll pay for it in other ways later). ;)
So all in all, kind of a frustrating past few days between the money and time for the extra prescriptions and tests ordered by the doc, the water leak, the exhaustion, and the slow work. But as M told his mom today, we don't have any problems a million dollars wouldn't fix. That helps keep things in perspective. We're healthy, we have no relationship problems, our house is 99.99% sound and problem-free, our time is ours to do with largely as we please, we don't have to sleep in a subway bathroom or on a subway train, and we have the love and support of our family and friends.
* Stringham high:
* Stringham low:
* Stringham super-high:
Friday, August 28, 2009
If you need directions, please let me know, and I'll be happy to provide them.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Still no word from the case worker about the (Hoosier Healthwise) pregnancy Medicaid. Thursday of last week, she had told me that she should know on Monday or Tuesday of this week. I called on Monday, I called on Tuesday, left voicemails. I called yesterday and spoke with a very irritated-sounding caseworker who emphasized that she would call me when she hears anything. In just one week, it will have been a month since I submitted my original application. Sheesh. But I'm crossing my fingers that the extra time is because we are just above the monthly income cutoff and that they're trying to figure out a way to finagle coverage for us. But maybe I'm hoping too much out of government employees...
* Stringham high: Yay for treating infections!
* Stringham low: Slow state employees.
* Stringham super-high: My parents are going to make a crib for the baby!
Oh, hey, and the title links to something I would love to have--size 3.
Or there's always this (2X)...http://www.cafepress.com/MuthaCrafter.381816643
Saturday, August 22, 2009
M has once again tried to fix it, with the last connector we have (from the bunch of 4 that I bought a few weeks ago) and one of the last o-rings (from a box of them we bought a few weeks ago). Interestingly, in the piece he sawed off tonight,we could actually see the disconnect between the cement and the piping. Needless to say, that didn't make us happy. But we tried a few more tricks (an extra layer or two of cement combined with the 90-degree twist, for one) and we're going to let it sit overnight to dry instead of just 5 hours like last time. *sigh*
This plumbing thing is for the birds. And we can't figure out why the hell this joint (technically, a new joint each time) is leaking, when none of the others we've done in our year here have leaked. We can only guess that it's because we're trying to connect PVC with CPVC. Hence why we're leaving it to set longer this time, in case the two materials need longer to bond together with the cement (the cement is for both CPVC and PVC). The problem is that we just can't find a PVC fitting that we need to match up to the PVC piping. Grr.
If all goes well, you, our friends and family, won't have to hear more bitching about this topic ever again. This last joint lasted a month or so. Maybe the next one will last to put off the formation of New Grand Canyon (see earlier post) until after our lifetimes...if we're lucky.(By the way, on blogger.com, clicking on the title of this post takes you to a video that shows some linoleum that ours is aspiring to be like...it's already peeling away from the floor and wall.) [I know, you're thinking all I can do is bitch, bitch, bitch. And I'm okay with you thinking that. Sometimes the two of us get a little isolated here and we need others to bitch to. :D ]
* Stringham high: Our kitchen table is loaded down with produce from our garden, both fresh and preserved.
* Stringham low: Water.
* Stringham super-high: What's there to be super-high about when it's 11:36 PM and you're fixing plumbing issues and will be without water for 12-24 hours? Oh, our health, I suppose. And the baby...sorry, fetus.
So we didn’t find out much today. She really is pushing for the first US because I don’t have regular periods and because we haven’t been able to conceive for 3 years, so she wants to make sure everything is okay and to confirm timing of the baby, for various reasons. We couldn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler machine, but she had told us that we might not hear it, because 12 weeks is usually about the earliest they can hear it, and sometimes not even then if the baby is turned.
When I mentioned some slight bleeding, I've been having over the past couple of days, she said she thinks it’s probably because of a mild infection I've got, but she can’t be sure without having more data, like the US and a heartbeat…so, yeah. *sigh.* And she warned me there might be some more because of the exam.
Now, I’m just praying for Medicaid to come through for us. (When I called the caseworker on Thursday, she said she had turned all the paperwork over to "a state worker" and expects to have an answer on Monday or Tuesday.)
By the way, a note on the weather—it’s like fall. Today’s high is something like 72 degrees. In the middle of August. It’s cloudy and cool, and the breeze coming through our screen door actually makes me want to shiver. It’s beautiful weather. And I hope this will be another nice year for Turtle Soup. It’s been unusually cool most of the summer, and it’s been fabulous. There were a few uncomfortable (normal summer) days, but they have been few and far between. I’m hoping one of those few and far between ones won’t pop up for Turtle Soup. Of course, I hope it’s not quite THIS cool for Soup, either, because it might keep people away just as effectively as the extreme heat sometimes does.
And that stupid pipe that was leaking a few weeks ago is still leaking. It’s a minor leak, but it’s still bad enough that it’s making the wood that the pipe is mounted to wet and moldy. We just don’t understand why it keeps leaking. It’s not the threads on the pieces that are leaking but the join between PVC and CPVC. That’s where the past two or three leaks have been in our fixes. We really don’t understand. None of the other stuff we’ve fixed in the house with PVC and CPVC and glue have leaked, but this one just seems determined to keep leaking and eventually cause rotting after the mold issues its already started. At least the leak’s small, but that’s the amazing power of water—it wears things down slowly, gradually, when you’re not paying attention. Maybe our little leak will start another Grand Canyon, right here in our basement. A few thousand years from now, you never know what this place might look like…. :)
* Stringham high: The midwife is cool.
* Stringham low: Stupid water leak *grumble*
* Stringham super-high: 72-degree high in August!