Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Easter Tradition

A year ago, sometime around well, heck, I don't remember what time it was, but I do remember it was dark and I was asleep, Kady began barking the siren song of her people. You know her people: people with asthma. That siren song is a croup-y baby seal bark mixed in with with a raspy, horrible stridor and sometimes accompanied by wheezing and almost always by a look of absolute terror on my child's face.

Breathing treatments at home didn't help and she was panicking more with each breath, so I did what I have done so many times before: I tossed her wheezy butt in the car and drove for the hospital.

They released her just right about the time sunrise service was beginning. Paul took Abby and Sam to the church and I took Bugg and I home to the couch where I fell promptly to sleep while she, hopped up on asthma meds, watched TV and talked incessantly. No, it didn't matter I was snoring and drooling, she talked anyway. That's how she rolls.

This year we aren't attending any particular church and it had been awhile since we'd gone to the church where my Pops pastors, so we made plans to drive the hour there to be with Mom and Pops at their church. Shower schedules were set forth, everyone's Easter clothes were pressed and ready to go, I had the coffee pot fixed to kick on about the same time I hit the snooze button the first time, the day was essentially planned.

Until at 12:30 am Paul flips on the bedroom light to tell me that Bugg had just christened the bathroom with The First Official Barf since we moved in. He actually got a horrible stomach virus when we were nearly done with the remodel and ended up spending a few days sequestered here, sleeping on the hide-a-bed in the classroom, to keep the kids and me from getting it, but we weren't officially living here yet, so his barfing doesn't count. Kady gets the prize. Woot.

The poor kid puked about every 45 minutes for a solid 12 hours and ran a fever to boot. I didn't sleep much - but neither did she, so I shouldn't complain.

I'm a thermostat nazi and refuse to turn on the AC in April, so I slept with the windows open and I guess I really didn't know birds chirped and tweeted at night. I was used to owls at the other house, but never songbirds. I suppose I thought they tucked into their little birdie beds at night and slept like we do. In my restless dozing through the night, my brain mixed up the tweeting with my imagination and I was pretty sure I heard a mocking jay like in The Hunger Games. And of course, my dreams then sent me to the arena with Katniss for the next half hour or so to fight for my life. Fortunately (for me, not Kady) the sounds of retching woke me. My next pitiful bout of rest produced a dream in which someone was trying to break into our house and I, the hero of our story, grabbed a bolt action rifle and proceeded to shoot at the offender repeatedly. I don't even like to shoot bolt action rifles. I text my mom at 6:30 this morning to tell her we would not be attending Easter services to avoid spreading the love. Then I tried to doze some more, but Princess Barfypants in the next room wasn't having any of that.

It's now 7:30 pm. She's been puke-free since nearly noon. She is complaining about some lower abdominal pain that is freaking me the heck out after her brother decided to create a new holiday last October called "Appendix Liberation Day" - a day in which he was celebrated by a surgeon he pulled off the golf course as well as the on-call surgery staff and was the honored guest at his very own emergency appendectomy. So yeah, I'm a little paranoid when any of the kids (well, except Sam now) complain of abdominal pain on the right side.

I'm just ready to get some sleep. Without intermittent barfing or Katniss Everdeen and a random burglar visiting my subconscious.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

And Then .... I Broke My Butt

Before I get to the part about my broken hindquarters, first I have to backtrack a bit.

Last summer, midst a flurry of church camp and VBS, an ever-growing and demanding youth group, three kids of my own, and a new school year bearing down on me I was bitten by a spider. A very. nasty. spider.

I woke up on a Sunday morning in July to an itchy spot on my hip. I had worn pajama pants to bed, so I figured it was a particularly ravenous mosquito who had bitten through the fabric. I commented about how bad it itched while I was getting ready for church, put some cream (or ointment or whatever) on it and went on to church. By the time we headed back to church that night for our YouthVBS program, the bite was as big as the diameter of a baseball and oh golly, how it itched. I took a Benadryl before I went to bed and marveled at how I had reacted to the silly thing.

Some time during the night I woke up drenched in sweat and aching all over. I had a house full of kids and I'm not exaggerating on that in the least. I had my three kids, my friend Kasey's three kids, plus her sister's two kids who were in from Tennessee. Kasey is a twin and her sister comes home once a year - I took the kids so they could hang out, so imagine how bad I felt when I had to call her at 8am and tell her I was sick as a dog and Paul was bringing all the kids home ASAP. I called the indian clinic, managed to get the very last same-day appointment with a nurse practitioner (with whom I was about to become very well acquainted with over the next few months). The bite was ugly looking, I felt like I'd been run over, I had a fever, I was nauseous -- needless to say: I was sick.

Abby had been bitten by a brown recluse a few years prior and considering we killed one of the nasty things about every other day somewhere in the old house, I assumed the offending spider was a recluse. The symptoms were the same, the bite looked the same, etc. The NP told me to expect it to form the traditional black spot as my flesh began to *gag* rot at the site of the bite, gave me two shots of steroids in the rear end, oral antibiotics, a prescription for Benadryl, said to drink water until my eyeballs floated and to stay down until I felt better. Two days later I woke up to find myself covered from the top of the head to the tops of my legs in a rash that made me look like I'd been dragged across the carpet for eight or nine hours nonstop. A call to the clinic then put me on oral steroids, more strict bed rest, and so much Benadryl I was *this close* to drooling. In fact, I may have actually drooled. More than once.

The following Sunday after the bite, after seven days of misery and pain, I sent Paul, Kady, and Sam off to church for the evening service while the Abby stayed home with me. I had been feeling funny, just slightly... off.... all day. Then my left arm, hand and fingers, the toes on my left foot and my face went numb. Well, my face was numb, but tingling. It was weeeeeiiiiiirrrrrdd. I called the indian hospital in Claremore, asked if someone could give me some advice before I drove the hour to the hospital for what might be nothing. They said they really weren't allowed to give advice over the phone, but asked what was going on anyway. When I described what was going on, I was patched through to a nurse who said, "Get here. NOW." I explained that I was an hour from the hospital and she said, "Then leave NOW. And get here." Abby flew to the church to get Paul and I called my mom to have her come get the kids and off we went. I had a little emotional meltdown in the car on the way because, as someone with OCD, I tend to imagine the absolute worst in any situation and imagine it often.

They drew blood (took five sticks, ow), examined the bite, called an internist and the final diagnosis was extremely elevated white count, systemic poisoning, definitely not a brown recluse, probably a black widow, the numbness/tingling was my body reacting to the poison, follow up with my primary in three days for a repeat white count. It took six weeks for my white count to return to normal. I was put on Neurontin for the pain that affected only the left side of my body and told that the nerve pain could come and go for as long as three years. She said stress would cause flare ups and also said to be very cautious during flu season because my immune system was pretty well shot.


By October I no longer needed the Neurontin with any regularity. I had a flare-up during the holidays due to stress, plus the remodeling of the new house, plus moving stuff, plus youth group stuff, plus a generally hectic schedule, but I was better.

Then in February I noticed this weird tingling sensation in my lower back on the left side. I immediately assumed it was a nerve flare-up and started back on the medicine. It didn't help. It would itch and burn and tingle, but when I would scratch, I couldn't actually feel it on my skin. When I was picking up a refill at the pharmacy I mentioned offhandedly that I was getting no relief and he got a verbal order from the NP to up my dose. Tripled it actually. Enter my new absent memory and a general foggy feeling in my head for about an hour, three times a day. But itching/burning didn't get immediately better.

It was Shingles.


Actually the whole shingles experience wasn't as bad as I've always heard. It was uncomfortable and I really don't want to do it again, but I never developed the blisters, so there was my little bit of mercy in the whole mess. I really only had two days where I hurt, but I survived.

So now it's April. I had my yearly well-woman exam, my mammogram, and my six-month follow-up for labs and general checkup all in a week's time. Turns out I do not have breast cancer (always a plus), but I'm anemic, my cholesterol is elevated, but my liver and kidneys are doing a good job at whatever their appointed tasks are. My lower left back is still numb/itchy/tingly and she said I may never regain sensation there. Dadgum stupid varicella.

I also mentioned the intense pain in my tailbone. Since last fall I have had a very hard time sitting. Actually the sitting isn't as painful as standing after sitting. My lower back hurts nearly constantly and did I mention my tailbone hurts? Well, it does. She got on to me for wearing crappy shoes, told me to wear good supportive shoes and an orthotic insert and said she wanted to do an x-ray of my lower back and pelvis just for good measure.

The next morning, bright and early, her nurse called to tell me that I was a congenital deformity in my lower back, to wear supportive shoes, and they had mailed me a handout to explain it all. Good-bye and good day.

Say whaaaa? I needed a bit more than that. So I spent the next 24 hours freaking the heck out.

So today I got the handout.

I have lumbar spondylosis. Actually, the spondylosis is no big thang really. Yes, it's degenerative and it's just one more glaring slap in the face that screams, "YOU ARE POSITIVELY ANCIENT, YOU OLD BAT." So that's nice. But it's actually pretty common. The handout they sent says that 80% of people over the age of 40 have it and it, in and of itself, has no real symptoms. It is typically found when they are looking for something else.

And for me, that something else is a pars defect. Yeah. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Pars defect. Say it like you mean it. Beautiful.

Anyway, this is the congenital deformity the nurse mentioned. And I have spent the last five hours Googling it relentlessly. And here are my findings:

My back is broken.

Like, seriously.

It is a break in between vertebrae and is typically found in athletes. HA. Like, I am so not an athlete. Mine is the L4 and L5 vertebrae, as is fairly common. Pretty much it can be a congenital birth defect or it can be from repeated hyper-extension. And since I have yet to be hired by Cirque de Soleil, I'm pretty sure it's a birth defect. Or from playing the bass drum in the marching band. Either way, I'm not supposed to have any high-impact manipulations at the chiropractor. I'm pretty sure this will keep my professional tap dancing career at bay. And also, if this keeps me off of roller coasters I am going to be so. pissed.

Because I have no one to blame, I am going to blame the spider. Pretty much everything bad that happens in my life these past nine months has been blamed on the spider bite - solar flares, my computer's motherboard dying a painful, messy death, the national debt, that time I smeared my toenail polish, and the fact that McRib isn't really pork, but instead gelatinous globs of pork-flavored pasted pressed into a patty thus rendering me physically incapable of eating the one sandwich that made me happy before I started eating cleaner. Yep, all of it. Blaming it on the spider.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

So. Many. Things.

Christmas Eve. Seriously? It's been since Christmas Eve?? I am the world's worst blogger. Okay, not the absolute worst, but pretty bad.

So, what has happened since Christmas Eve? Well, for one thing: Christmas. It was a low-key, frugal, and somewhat bittersweet holiday because it was our very last one in our House on Hudson Creek.

That's right - we moved! After nearly 13 years there on the banks of Hudson Creek, we loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly....Hills, that is. Okay, not Beverly Hills, just the Wyandotte Hills. We moved back to Paul's and my hometown - Wyandotte, OK. We're about 30 minutes from the other house, which means that since my sister and I were neighbors, sadly we are now 30 minutes away from her. We're now about 45 minutes from my Mom and Pops. The distance between us and my Dad hasn't really changed, we're just in a different direction now. It's been an experience, moving with two teens and a tween this time. We had 13 years of accumulated crap, three kids, two dogs, four hamsters and a whole lot of memories to pack up and relocate. The house we moved to was in pretty bad shape per the previous occupants and we did a major overhaul before we moved. We started at the end of November and moved on January 18th. And did I mention we did all of this in the midst of the worst winter Oklahoma has had in a few years? Yeah. That was fun. Fortunately, we picked a great weekend to do it and assembled our amazing family, collaborating the move like a well-oiled machine. We are now across a field from one of Paul's brothers, about a mile from his mother, and less than two miles from the other brother. There are also uncles and nephews in the close vicinity as well. For 20 years of our marriage, we lived closer to my family and Paul never complained. I figured it was time to return the favor. When I was younger (and the kids were younger) I'm not sure I could've lived this far from Mom (Momma's girl, right here, totes guilty), but I'm a big girl now. Some days, anyway.

The week before Christmas my sister and brother-in-law announced the forthcoming addition to the family! They were married on November 1st and pretty much just got busy. We now know that he is a sweet, active, perfectly healthy baby boy and I am just itching to get my hands on him. Because of my sister's clotting disorder she will be induced a week or so before her actual due date, so we are expecting him around the end of July, first of August. The name is a big secret, something I find so very rude (cough cough Heather cough secrets suck cough) but they're enjoying watching us all squirm and try to figure it out. I'm determinedly praying red hair onto that kid.

Paul and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary on New Year's Day. We were exhausted and punch-drunk from packing and remodeling and painting and cleaning (oh, so much cleaning) but we celebrated with the church youth at some friends' house (since ours was full of boxes). The party was scheduled to be over with at 12:30, but those kids party like we old folks do and were ready to go at about 12:05. We didn't go to dinner on our actual anniversary. In fact, I think we just worked on the new house. Now that I think about it...I don't know as if we've ever gotten around to dinner for this anniversary. It's April. Ooops.

I turned 41. We had moved only three days before. The only celebrating was done by way of sleeping in.

Paul and I resigned from our youth ministry positions at our church. We had been feeling an unease of spirit for awhile before we actually resigned. After much prayer, much soul-searching, and plenty of tears, the decision was made. When we sat down with the pastor and made the announcement, nothing but peace followed. We don't miss it, although we miss some of the kids. (Frankly, most of the kids didn't care much for us anyway, not that we were in it to make friends and gain a fan club - we were simply being servants) We have peace. And we have restoration in our health and our marriage as well. It had taken a toll on us both physically and relationship-wise. Probably because at the end we knew we were resisting God's urging to resign and continued longer than we should have. If God chooses to put us back into ministry positions, we will go. If He doesn't, we are okay with that. We have since realized that being called into a ministry position doesn't always mean a lifetime position - sometimes you are called for a season and a reason.

In February I started feeling this weird numbness and tingling on the left, lower side of my back. I figured it was leftover neuropathy from the spider bite because I still suffer from random bouts of pain and numbness/tingling in my face and left arm as a result of that whole debacle. I mentioned it to my favorite pharmacist while picking up my medicine refills one day at the clinic and he said I just needed a higher dose of my nerve pain medicine. He visited with my PA, she tripled my dose, life went on. I mentioned offhandedly to my mom one evening about the tingling/itching/numbness and she said it sounded like Shingles. Yeah. I got the Shingles. It is April and I am just now not feeling like I want to claw off part of my skin all day long.

We are six weeks from the end of school and Abby's graduation celebration. EEEEK.

Last week my dad got a cancer diagnosis, so after the initial shock, a full day of intermittent crying, I am at peace with the news. I am concerned, but not worried. After spending the evening of what I refer to in my head as Diagnosis Day with Dad, I drove home and started crying again. I turned on the radio and found KLOVE. During two songs that will forever be dear to me (just like Chris Tomlin's "I Lift My Hands" will be special to me because of the comfort it gave me when Pops had his stroke) God really impressed upon my heart that my tears were unnecessary and He assured me, His precious daughter, that He was entirely in control of things. I haven't shed a tear of worry over Dad since. I do think we all are realizing the absolute precious nature of life now more than ever.

So now we are settled in, settling down, enjoying life a little more, and I am determined to keep up with the blogging - and writing in general - from now on.


I've said that before.

Someone should hold me to this....

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...