It’s always something around here!

In ten short days, I’m scheduled to go ‘under the knife.’ Actually, that’s not quite true.  It’s more accurate to say that I’ll be subjected to a lighted camera inserted into my belly.  (that sounds better, now, doesn’t it?)  Why, you ask?  Long story short: we’ve run through the gamut of all other non-surgical tests to find out what has been plaguing me since March.  It started out small, but since then has been progressively getting worse.   Because of the nature of this problem, I’m not exactly excited to share it with everyone I know, so I’ll do my best to be discreet.

Back in March, I had a back attack, for lack of a better term, that you can read about it by clicking here.   Honestly, that’s a much funnier post than this one, so if you want to just skip over to that, you won’t hurt my feelings.   In any case, in the midst of my back “problem,” I also began to have lower abdominal pain.   Since I was in a tizzied frenzy of “see every doctor you can possibly think of to chip away at the deductible,”  I had a visit with my midwife, who assured me everything checked out.   But the discomfort didn’t go away; it only got a bit worse.  More of a nag at this point, though.

At the end of April, I had new and additionally annoying symptoms that prompted my doctor to order an endometrial biopsy and specialized ultrasound.  Any time a doctor orders tests to rule out cancer, it goes to another level.  Thankfully, those tests all came back clear.   They did find one abnormality that could easily be rectified by a simple procedure, but the doc decided to wait and see if it went away on its own.  This was the time when I began having pain every day and have since.

After two more ultrasounds, we found that the problem found earlier had in fact dissipated all by itself, which was an answer to our prayers.  The doc assured me–in ten words or less–that my pain should be “all gone,” and I should be back to normal.   That was not the case, however.   I decided that this doc and I had come to the end of our relationship; not so much that I didn’t trust him, but I just couldn’t talk to him.   I felt like he blew off my complaints of pain.  When I got a copy of my records later on,  it was only mentioned once in my charts even though I’d seen him four or five times in the past three months.  (**disclaimer: I still believe this doc is great for certain things, and throughout our relationship he has helped me tremendously, but in this situation, I felt we needed to go our separate ways)

From then on, a ping pong game with doctors began.  I saw a new practitioner who took my complaints seriously and did a thorough workup, including a new ultrasound.  All tests were normal. She sent me to my primary care doctor, who also took my reports of pain seriously and ordered a CT scan to rule out problems different in nature from the docs I’d seen previously.   We were all grateful when the CT scan report was clean. This doctor sent me back to the OB/GYN to see what was next.

While this was all good–no, fantastic!–news, it still left us with unanswered questions.  Why was I still in pain, every day?  Some days were better than others,  and I would range from grouchy mama to “I’d like to rip my insides out now, thank you very much!”  This is not something I made public, but sheesh, how would I?   Blogging about it is bad enough.

Todd and I saw one more doctor in the same new practice that we moved to, who suggested I have laparoscopy done.  From the symptoms I detailed to her, she thought there was a strong possibility that I have endometriosis.   All the other tests that I had had up until then do not normally diagnose it, and the “gold standard,” from all my reading, is the lap surgery.   My mom suffered from endo for years, and we knew that it runs in families.   The next question was when to do it.  Even though it’s considered minor surgery, my schedule earlier this fall didn’t exactly allow for even a day or two off.  Between homeschooling, running a house, and childbirth classes, surgery just didn’t seem to fit in.   But now, the date is finally upon me.   On November 9,  I’m scheduled to have the procedure done, first of all to diagnose or rule out endometriosis and if the doctor finds some, to hopefully remove it and alleviate the almost constant, and ever-intensifying pain.  For a description of a laparoscopy, click here.  I think my family is really looking forward to it:  I’ve been a bear to live with lately and it’s not getting any better.  If they had their way, I’m thinking they feel they could probably go ahead and do the procedure themselves!  In that regard, it’s good that the surgery is close.  I don’t like lashing out at others because of my circumstances.  There are a few parts I’m not looking forward to, however.  I’m deathly afraid of IVs (I can have babies naturally without any meds, but have accepted lidocaine in my hand so they could put an IV in before the birth! What’s wrong with that picture?!), and I’m not all that excited to have my belly filled with CO2 gas, to be honest.  But if the benefits outweigh the risks, I’m ready to feel better and have pain-free days.

If you think of me over the next two weeks, please pray that everything goes well on the day of my surgery, and if endometriosis is the cause of my chronic pain, the surgeon will see it and identify it readily, as well as be able to remove the offending tissue.   And perhaps most importantly, pray for my family between now and November 9… that they might be able to suffer through my grumpiness and survive!

Hopefully, I’ll be quick  to recover.    The doctor told us that if I can manage to do absolutely  nothing between the day of the surgery (a Wednesday) and the rest of the week, I should be able to return to normal activities by Monday.  Woot, woot.  I have ten days to figure out how to do ‘absolutely nothing.’

Peach Crisp: No cooking experience needed

If you’ve read any of my past recipe posts, you already know that I like easy.  Here’s a great example.   With lots of other things to do every day on my list, sometimes cooking takes a back seat if it’s too time-consuming.  Even though I love to cook, it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves (much like our hall bathroom, sadly…).  That’s one of the reasons why I love this dessert.  It’s so quick and simple, even a caveman can do it (sorry, Caveman.  I really like you and think you have talents and many good things to offer us.  I just couldn’t resist.).  I remember finding this recipe in the Sunday paper coupon section more than ten years ago, and treasuring the cut out scrap of paper for as long as I could.  Even though the scrap is now gone, thankfully we have that new-fangled device called the computer with the amazing invention of the internet and I easily found it there–no scraps necessary.  With just a few ingredients that you may even have on hand, plus ice cream (which you also may have on hand; I don’t know how you roll and wouldn’t even dare to guess), you can easily prepare this for your next dessert offering!  Unless you have a child who swears he’s allergic to peaches, it’s almost a guaranteed home run.  And if you have a child allergic to peaches, I think other fruits would easily substitute with just as delicious results.

 

Easy Peasy Peach Crisp

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) sliced peaches in lite syrup, drained
  • 2 pkg. (1.6 oz. each) cinnamon & spice instant oatmeal, uncooked
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • (Optional)   low-fat ice cream or low-fat frozen yogurt

 

Cooking Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 425°F. Pour peaches into lightly buttered 2-quart baking dish.
2. Combine instant oatmeal, flour and nuts in bowl; stir in butter. Sprinkle over peaches.
3. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve over low-fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, if desired.

Wanted: New Drama Coach

When I prayed for my kids to excel in drama, this is not exactly what I had in mind. I was thinking more in the musicals department, not so much in the health care field, but in the last month we’ve had more drama around here than I’d care to admit. Ben had been taking the lead role, first with his poison ivy/cellulitis performance that thankfully was resolved with little more than several trips to the doc and a long wait in the ER. It was quiet for almost an entire week in our home–I don’t even think we had a skinned knee and our tissue box went untouched. I should have known that the lack of activity was really just the quiet before the storm.

We were socializing (trying to be good examples for our unsocialized homeschooled children) before church a few weeks ago when Patrick and Ben ran into the courtyard room, Patrick hollering and Ben crying holding his mouth. “Mom! Dad! A ball hit Ben’s face and broke his tooth!” Apparently, Ben had been watching a game of carpet ball (a ‘fun’ game that involves rolling pool balls into buckets) when one of the players threw a ball a bit too exuberantly while Ben was standing a little too close and ball met tooth. Obviously, it hurt the guy and he was crying from the pain. I was one hair away from hysterics when I realized it was his front permanent tooth that had been broken off. Seriously. I still get all ALL upset and angry when I think that his permanent tooth has been permanently damaged. You don’t get a second chance with that! Meanwhile, Todd was acting as the more responsible parent and actually taking care of the injured child. Of course, even thought it was Sunday, I called the dentist’s office to see if maybe, just maybe someone was there that day to see him. Clearly they didn’t view it as the emergency situation that I did.

After the sting of catching a cue ball with his mouth wore off, Ben was fine. We heard many stories that day about how other children had incurred similar accidents and how their situations had gone–from a mild repair to months of work, including root canals and other seemingly horrible things. I didn’t know what to expect from our situation.

Todd called the dentist early Monday morning and found out that Ben couldn’t be seen until Wednesday afternoon. I was surprised that they still didn’t view it as an extreme emergency, but that only revealed my mom genes in full force, I suppose. Ben was fine with his tooth the way it was and even proudly showed it off to his classmates and friends at CC that week.

Here’s the only picture I snapped of his “busted” tooth:

When Wednesday afternoon finally rolled around, I didn’t know what to expect. The office staff was very calming to this crazy mama’s hysterics (to my credit, I had calmed down considerably, at least on the outside, by then). In the end, it was an incredibly painless process. They took an x-ray to examine the tooth and found that there was no nerve damage at all, which was fantastic news. With a warning that problems could surface at any time, though, they gave us signs to look for in terms of tooth damage in the future. The plan of attack that day, however, was to build up the tooth with filling material and leave it at that for as long as it would last. In less than two hours, our trip to the dentist was complete. They explained that the first bond would be the strongest, and although they could replace the filling as many times as they needed to, the original repair would hold the best. He was instructed not to bite sticky or especially hard foods with that tooth (again, a wave of stomach sickness washed over me as I thought about the permanence of this situation), but other than that, we were free to go. The worst part of the entire procedure for Ben was waiting for the numbness to wear off. He did not enjoy not being able to feel anything in his face. All in all, however, I think he escaped what could have been a lot worse and many more visits to the dentist for repair.

Since then, he seems to be fine and his new tooth is holding up just great. We know that as soon as he gets a few more permanent teeth that braces are in his future, but for now, he just has to protect those teeth! The fact that they protrude a bit only makes him more vulnerable to tooth attacks. Poor guy.

Here’s the after picture:

After the tooth drama, I thought maybe we were done for a bit. HA. I should have known better. Instead of being finished, we merely changed lead roles. To set the scene, it was the morning that my parents were preparing to leave after an enjoyable visit with us for Hannah’s birthday. We had great, unseasonably warm weather every day they were here, and had the chance to enjoy soccer games, a TBQ match, and a trip to the apple orchard along with a fall break from school. As Mom and Dad were gathering their last-minute supplies, we could hear the boys in the family room raucously having a pillow fight. They were loud, but I was trying to ignore them in the hopes that the fight would run its course and that would be that.

It did in fact stop when Patrick came in complaining that he’d fallen off the couch and landed on his hand. Being a mom of many, I offered my first and usual response of “These are the natural consequences that happen when you’re goofing around.” I gave his hand a quick once-over and waved him off, thinking it was fine. We said good-bye to my folks and watched them drive away before settling down to get back into our school routine after a lovely break. Over the next few hours, Patrick both complained about his thumb hurting and kept showing up the progressive swelling. While it didn’t look especially bad or misaligned, it definitely was swollen. Todd was fairly sure that it was nothing more than a jam, so we proceeded on that assumption.

Fast forward to Thursday when he was still complaining about the pain and making sure we knew how his range of motion had been affected. By lunch time, I had come to the realization that we should probably have someone of the medical persuasion look at it, with the hope that she would confirm the “it’s jammed” diagnosis we non-medical types had given. Thankfully, Patrick’s pediatrician had an opening immediately, so we went over there. She couldn’t tell definitively either, and after joking about how we just seem to be a parade of maladies of late, she wrote an order for an x-ray for the next morning, and sent us home to do the ice and motrin routine until then.

Patrick and I drove to the Lexington Diagnostic Center and were pleasantly surprised by the lack of wait time (the ER visit was still rather fresh in my mind…). In less than an hour, we were in an out. In fact, he didn’t even have the chance to go over his Latin flash cards while we waited to be called back. I think he was pleased about that! The tech was efficient and since Patrick was compliant, it took less than five minutes. As we walked out, the tech informed us that we should “hear the results in 3-5 days.” Patrick almost lost it at that point: “Three to five days!!” The tech quickly responded that if there was a break, we’d hear from them before then. Feeling slightly unsettled about the wait myself, I made sure we called Patrick’s doctor to let them know when and where we had the x-ray done. Then we waited. Or perhaps more accurately, we listened to Patrick’s every hour on the hour inquiries. “Mom, have they called yet?” or “Did you give them the right number?” or “Do you even have your phone turned on?!”

By the end of the day on Friday, when they hadn’t called, I was sure that there was no break and that we’d just proceed thinking he had a jammed thumb and time would take care of the pain. Patrick didn’t like that, but what could he do? He even spent Saturday and Sunday asking if we’d gotten a call, despite my explanations that doctors aren’t actually in their offices on the weekends.

We went to CC as usual on Mondays and our mornings are so full that even taking a phone call is all but impossible. Since my phone doesn’t ring all that much, it’s not usually a big deal, but on this particular Monday, my phone was lighting up. I didn’t even get the chance to listen to the voicemail, but knew that it was a call from the doctor (at least one call). I dismissed it, thinking that she was probably following up to let us know that the thumb in question was going to be a-ok. Around 10:30, Ben came to my class because he was having trouble breathing. He’d been using the nebulizer all weekend to help with his chest congestion, and I thought we had it under control before classes, but something in his classroom triggered his wheezing and coughing. Of course I didn’t think to bring the nebulizer with us, so I had to call Todd to see if he could bring it over to church. Since one of his job sites is just down the street from our church, I was hoping to catch him on his way out. Imagine my surprise, then, when Todd arrived with the nebulizer and whispered in my ear, “Umm, Patrick’s thumb is broken and the doctor needs to see him TODAY. They think he might need surgery.” WHAT?!!? Oh, goody.

Thankfully, Todd had been in contact with the doctor and was waiting to hear from the specialist for an appointment. It wasn’t long before he had secured an appointment early that afternoon, and was able to take Patrick. Within a couple hours at the hand doctor, they had gotten another x-ray, and learned that he did in fact have a buckle fracture in the distal phalange. We were relieved to hear that he did not need surgery and the break was not as bad as the initial report had led the doctor to believe (somehow our original x-ray films had not made it to the office). Before dinnertime, Patrick was the owner of a red cast. He made no attempts to hide his delight about having a cast.

In fact, he was the second kid in his CC class to have a cast within the month. His friend Allie had broken a finger jumping onto a couch only a couple weeks before. They shared a good laugh when thinking that she’d broken her finger jumping on a couch and he’d broken his thumb jumping off the couch.

Patrick is now already more than one week into his 16 day cast extravaganza, and for the most part it hasn’t slowed him down. He’s filled it with signatures from friends and family and can still write to do all of his schoolwork (although the way he has to hold his pencil is rather convoluted). As “excited” as he was to have a cast in the first place, I think he’ll be just as happy to get it removed next week.

I don’t even want to think about what could be coming next! Maybe nothing…that would certainly be a welcome change.

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