Thursday, September 27, 2012

Good-bye, Pregnancy Clothes!

I got rid of them.  You know, the clothes that aren't maternity per se, but have been a little too big for you for the past 5 years?  The ones you know will be great for the first tri?  They're gone. 

Feels great to be free of them.  I've been in a weird space lately:  inspired by our adoption research to start nesting, which sometimes means buying stuff, and also wanting to give a ton of away.  Make room for the stuff we're really gonna use.

For the record, the friend I gave my clothes to is only a size larger than I.  I think being on the Pill brings me to that size, but seeing as me and Pill do not mix (HATE), I felt good about freeing those clothes to a better home.  It reminds me of how Tom & Lorenzo (fashion blog) frequently say "Girl, that's not your dress.  Let it be free for some other girl to buy."  The 9 pairs of pants I gave away looked so awesome on my friend.

To go with the nesting and hence spending money trend, we're getting a housecleaning service.  This is huge.  I'd been fantasizing about having one after we had a kid or two.  We'll both be working outside the home then, and it seemed like a good place to put some money for the sake of my sanity.  But then this illness started ("illness" sounds more interesting than "pain episode"...and I'm just sick of writing "pain") and the house has gotten grungier and grungier.  I physically can't do the cleaning, and the hubster has very different standards (read:  no standards), and I don't want to get into a nagging, resentful cycle with him when I ask him to do something.

The initial cleaning is next week, just in time for a house guest who's coming in for one night, and also in time for our second meeting with our local adoption resource.  They adoptive couple is coming over and giving us more info about how to get started.  I have to admit, I'm having a really hard time doing anything about adoption lately and I'm hoping this meeting jump-starts me.  My husband and I are halfway through a video we received from an adoption broker, but the last time we watched any of it was weeks ago.  I blame the illness (pain, whatev).

I'm going to PT every week now and I think it's helping.  Learned how to use a TENS unit today; it's a little device with electrodes that stick on you and stimulate your muscles.  So that by stimulating them, they somehow relearn how to relax.  I don't get it but it does seem to be helping.  Luckily, my dad had a TENS he sent to me, so I don't have to worry about insurance covering a personal unit or not.

I started taking unsanctioned turmeric.  Usually, I'm wary of supplements unless my doctor and I are both very comfortable with them, but I just up and started taking this.  Turmeric is a spice often used in curried dishes, and it's thought to have anti-inflammatory (and maybe antioxidant?) properties.  The amount I'm taking daily could easily be equivalent to how much I ingested daily if I ate as much Indian food as I wish I was eating, so I'm just not worried.  My internet research yielded nothing alarming.  My mom swears by turmeric for her arthritis, which was a huge burden before she started taking it.

I'm in a pretty good place emotionally.  It's CD1, which is a blessing in my current circumstances, as weird as it is to say as a long-time TTCer.  It now means that all the PMSy, crampy horribleness will be over in a few days and I *should* have a couple of weeks of relief after that, even if relief these days means only slightly less pain. 

I'm optimistic, though.  PT will help; it has to.  And my need to hold my adopted baby is getting stronger and stronger as my pain gets more manageable, so I see us making some progress there.  Hold me accountable! :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Manly Monday: Studly and Smart

I'm participating in Stupid Stork's Manly Monday, so today I'll introduce you to my husband, a gregarious hottie who is the best husband in the world.  Not that I'm biased.  Here are a few things about him.
  • He is a brainiac.  Valedictorian in high school, PhD at a leading university in a highly challenging field, and overall genius.  You'd think that being so good at the PhD subject would limit his brain's capacity for other areas, but no.  He has a wide variety of interests and is well-versed in everything from music ("I believe this is Schubert's 8th piano concerto") to carpentry ("I'll put in a cross-beam there so the force on the supporting I-beam will not be too great").  He ends up teaching me a lot.
  • A twist to his personality is that in contrast to his massive cerebral content, he has a horrible memory.  He says it's only horrible for minutiae, but I wonder why remembering key points about me from our first date qualifies as minutiae.  He will never live this one down.  On the first date, he asked me the basics, or at least the basics if you are straightforward and not playing games:  what do you want to do after grad school, do you plan to stay in the area, do you want kids (yes, he asked that!).  Then, on the second date, he asked me the exact same questions.  As the date went on, I became more and more deflated.  I thought he had forgotten everything because I was just one of many dates and he couldn't be bothered to remember my specifics.  By the end of the night, we were making out, so I had renewed faith that he must like me.
  • He has an incredibly goofy side and constantly makes me giggle.  We often make crack each other up by making up words or nicknames for things.  TV shows become Breakie Baddie, 'Resty (Arrested Development), Dancey (So You Think You Can Dance).  If you were a fly on our wall, you'd be gagging with the cuteness so we have to tone it down around other people.
  • He's disarmingly cute and has the sexiest voice ever.  He can charm and talk to anyone; he's the life of the party yang to my, um, good listener(?) yin.
  • He's so good-looking and charismatic that even my 84-year-old grandmother flirts with him.  She constantly reminds me how lucky I am, as in "how did you manage to snag him?"  I laugh off the, uh, slight insult, and she's kinda right.  He really is that special.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fertility-free Friday: The $70 Wedding Dress

This is a story of true love for my now-husband and what happened when it collided with a trip to my shopping kryptonite, TJ Maxx.

My "oopsie" dress

I'll set the scene.  My now-husband and I had been dating for 7 months.  He'd recently seen me at my worst, through a relatively quick bout of severe depression, but most of our dating life was contented cuddling by the fire and romantic dinners.  (And long walks on the beach.  We did meet on, and you have to like long walks on the beach to put your profile up.)  I'll admit that our cuddling by the fire was actually sitting on a couch backed up to a faux fireplace in his apartment, where we watched 24 for hours.  And the romantic dinners were usually pasta cooked at home.  But we were madly in love.

We'd just flown out to spend some quality time with his parents, which was the first time I'd really spent any time with them.  They apparently approved, and I believe they nudged him to seal the deal.  Go, in-laws! :)

I *think* Now-Husband had brought up the topic of engagement rings before I made the fateful shopping trip.  He had casually broached the topic, being intentionally vague and noncommittal (ie, "If you were someday going to get an engagement ring, what would you hypothetically like?").  I had immediately started freaking out inside, in a good way, but outwardly I kept my cool and rationally talked about what I might like in a ring.  I'm a cool customer.

Soon after that, I saw an amazing wine-colored Vera Wang evening gown (not the wedding dress) at TJ Maxx.  I thought I was in the market for evening gowns for some reason, although for the record, it still has the price tag on it 6 years later.  It was, like the wedding-dress-to-be, $70, and I didn't buy it at first, but obsessed and even dreamed about it, so decided to go back for it.  The Vera Wang was still there and it was mine.  Score! 

The gateway dress.  It's not photogenic without a wearer, apparently.  Trust me, it's gorgeous.

The boobs don't actually look weird like they do here.

I'm not exactly a label hound, but...Vera Wang!  $70!

But wait.  There were now several wedding dresses on the fancy dress rack.  My TJ Maxx is quite the store, for sure, and probably better than yours.  You can really find some great items.  But I had never heard of or seen wedding dresses there, and have not seen or heard of them since.  My mind started reeling with the possibilities.

These dresses were gorgeous.  There were three in my size, some still in plastic wrapping and had probably never been tried on.  They weren't brands I'd heard of, but I wouldn't have known what a good wedding dress brand was, anyway.  They appeared to be really high quality.  I tried them on.

Nothing quite prepares you for trying on wedding dresses in TJ Maxx before you're even engaged.  You picture going to some bridal store with your sister and friends oohing and aahing over you.  Or getting your mother's dress out of storage and trying it on for her (for the record, I'd tried my mother's dress and was too busty for it).  I don't feel like I missed out on a necessary life experience, though...I've just got a different kind of story.  As I tried on the dresses, I was on an adrenaline high and two of the dresses looked quite stunning, if I do say so myself.  The one I was leaning toward was pretty low-cut, and I asked some random strangers in the fitting room if I was showing too much boob for a bride.  "No way, girl!  You gotta flaunt what you got!" 

And that was how strangers provided that final nudge for me to buy my $70 wedding dress.  I looked it up online afterward, and it was from an Australian designer who was no longer in business.  From a few gowns I found for sale online, I estimated my dress to have a retail price of at least $1000-$1500.  Yay me!

I got quite a few stares as I lugged the dress around TJ Maxx and rang it up.  Even the cashier thought I was a bit crazy; apparently she hadn't seen their wedding collection yet.  Or was just of the opinion that one should not purchase a wedding dress at TJ Maxx.  We stuffed the dress awkwardly into two large TJ Maxx bags, one on each end of the dress.  Of course, I bought the $70 wine Vera Wang, too.

When I got home, my roommate assured me I was out of my mind and told me I'd better not tell Now-Husband.  It would freak him out and make him feel pressured.  I thought about it for approximately one minute and because I can't keep a secret, called him and told him.

And what did he do?  He laughed.  He told me what a great deal it was and he couldn't wait to see it, but of course he couldn't yet because it'd be bad luck.  We still weren't saying things like "when we get married" or even "when we get engaged," but I felt pretty safe after his reaction.  He told me recently that the dress purchase scored major points for me; I wasn't high maintenance and didn't have expensive tastes, I'd stuffed the dress in the back of my old Honda Civic, which itself always had scored points for being such a practical car.  (Side note:  I'm ready for a fancier car and I'm high maintenance in entirely different ways. :)  )

There are several morals to this story.
  1. My TJ Maxx is life-altering.  If you come visit me, I will take you there and you'll come out with something wonderful.  It just might not be exactly what you'd been looking for.
  2. If you don't have a significant other and want one, I have two words for you:  internet dating.
  3. Dating rules are meant to be broken.  Live a little.  Sometimes you might think you have it all figured out and find the perfect sundress to be proposed to in, only to have the guy not propose (a story for another time; that guy is not my husband).  And then one day everything will click and the rules won't matter anymore.
My husband proposed a month after the dress purchase.  He jokes that the wedding dress was actually $140 because I've never worn the wine Vera Wang.  Someday, somewhere I will wear it.  Maybe for our sixth anniversary.

(This post was orginally planned for Manly Monday but ended up more of a Feminine Friday.  Also, in the interest of editorial disclosure, I edited the first sentence of this after I posted it because it was bugging me.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"OB Is If You're Pregnant"

Funny but true story:  In the midst of my latest pain flare, angry about not receiving enough attention, I called the hospital operator to get in touch with the on-call doc.  This was our conversation.

Me:  Hi, I need to get in touch with the doctor on call for OB/GYN, I think.  But the department I actually go to is—
Operator:  Your name?
Me:  Detour from Detour to Motherhood. (ok, I gave him my real name).  But I'm not actually sure I need OB/GYN because—
Operator:  Do you need OB or GYN?  OB is if you're pregnant and GYN is if you're not.
Me:  Really?  I had no idea of the difference!  I guess that would make me...GYN!  Thanks!

I didn't actually say that last line but wanted to.  The operator didn't want to know that the doctors I actually see are  in the Department of Women with Screwed-up Uteri and General Pelvic Dysfunction (ok, not the real name...want to protect my location), and wasn't sure if OB/GYN was what I really needed.  But thanks for the tip about OB being relevant if you're pregnant.  I had no idea!

I spoke to GYN and she was indeed the correct doc for me to call.  But I'm still irritated that my personal doctor wasn't more responsive during that time.  And that the operator didn't let me get a word in edgewise.

Had another torture PT session yesterday.  My physical therapist is so amazing.  I really hope she isn't causing flares because she's just so friendly, intelligent, and knowledgeable.  And bubbly.  I would totally want to be friends with her outside of PT if she didn't mind hanging out with an old fogey.  She's younger, maybe late 20's.

Anyway, she tried to be gentle yesterday and so far the aftermath has been mixed.  Last night was rough; in general, I've been having more problems sleeping because of the pain, and I was up a lot.  Today isn't too bad...yet.  Fingers crossed.

Last night I bought a cute wide-brimmed straw hat to wear on walks.  I hope I get a chance to wear it before it turns into wool cap weather.  Several months ago, a bunch of my coworkers started taking walks during lunchtime, and I can sometimes join them for the first 200 yards. <eye roll>  I miss the time with them and am jealous they get to exercise, gossip about work, and  My job is pretty solitary and I can spend all day barely speaking to anyone.  It drives me a little cray-cray...too much alone time.

In my blogging news, I'm going to take part in Stupid Stork's Manly Mondays.  I love reading everyone's and am ready to spill the beans about how my husband, before we were even engaged, reacted when I told him I'd just bought a wedding dress.  For $70 from TJ Maxx, incidentally.  Yes, I have a trashy thrifty, bargain-hunting side and couldn't resist it, even though he and I had hardly talked at all about engagement and had only been dating for 7 months.  Whee!

Almost Friday...c'mon, weekend!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Wherein Dr. Fourth Opinion Tells Me to Spaz Down

Had my long-awaited appointment today with Dr. Fourth Opinion today, the appointment I probably pinned way too many hopes and dreams to.  I just want him to fix me; that's not too much to ask, right?

He redeemed himself from his status on my shit list and I once again think he's a good doctor.  We talked a lot, a lot about long-range goals, short-range goals, what to do when I'm having a flare.  His answer to that last one surprised me.  He doesn't want to call him if I'm flaring.  Wha??  He says these flares are normal and that I need to learn how to cope with them on my own, throwing in another reminder about anxiety management.

I wonder if he talks as much to his other patients about anxiety reduction or if he's decided I'm a stressball.  I totally have a chip on my shoulder; I feel like as soon as physicians see that I'm taking Prozac and Ambien, they decide to give me The Talk, the one where they tell me (as if I've never heard of these things) that I need to be using other alternative modalities, ie, meditation.  And I do practice meditation and I think I'm doing a bunch of other things to reduce my stress level, although there's room for improvement.

During my appointment today, we got into a circular discussion where he'd tell me to make sure I keep my psychiatrist in the loop and keep up those alternate therapies, and I'd somewhat miss the point and throw in a "but, how do I not freak out during a flare?"  "By keeping up with these other therapies."  "But what about when the flare is really bad?"  Etc.  And I felt a little ridiculous, but this has been my life lately.  I've missed a ton of work, can barely function, and am just getting back to the point where I can reliably drive myself to and from work.  I guess the point is that my case isn't that unusual.  Dr. FO has seen tons of us, some of us for really long periods of time, it seems.  I'm not going to die from this, even though I swear, I thought I would at some points during the last few weeks.

Oh, and as predicted, Dr. FO held his position that the Pill did not cause my flare.  Interesting that he's so convinced and I'm so convinced the other way.  Oh, well.  It does suck that I'll have to deal with painful periods every month, instead of once every 10 weeks, but I'll take a few days of cramps over the incapacitating flares. 

I wish we did still have the Pill as our means of birth control, though.  Apparently I'm not a candidate for anything—my RE says that absolutely, under no circumstances should I ever get an IUD.  (I concur).  I don't want to do any other pills with estrogen, and Dr. FO doesn't recommend the progestin options.  I guess there's always vasectomy (I'm sure as hell not going to have more surgery), but that seems  A little too final for now.

So, the pain plan for now is focused on PT.  My PT wants to try TENS this week, which is some kind of electrical stimulation.  If it reduces my pain, I might get a unit for home use.  Dr. FO also increased my Lyrica dose, so we'll see if that does anything.  He tweaked some of my other meds and I'm happy with how we left things.

So.  Lots more appointments in my future.  PT, biweekly sessions or possibly weekly if my body can handle it.  Psychiatrist for spazzing down lessons (which I had plenty of in my Alice Domar-modeled IF group therapy last year...I am schooled already).  Follow-up with Dr. FO in 6 weeks.  Fun-ish appointments with adoptive couples to help us make some progress in that direction.

I just remembered that I think I wrote a post a while back about a doc telling me to spaz down.  I feel the need to add the disclaimer that the docs aren't using those words; Dr. FO is genuinely trying to help and exploring lots of options with me.  I'm just touchy about them saying meditation etc will heal all ills.  It's in the "just relax" category for me, even though I know there's truth to it in the case of my pain.  I've come SO FAR in reducing my anxiety in the past year and I need lots of credit for that.  Shout out to Prozac, meditating, and friends.

Whew.  So that was that.  Onwards with kicking pain's butt!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rejoining the Land of the Living

I think the pain flare is ending, thank God.  Two weeks of barely hanging on, constantly wondering if the ER would be at least more comfortable, trying to shower regularly and maintain a full-time was exhausting. 

Unable to get in touch with my Dr. Fourth Opinion on Tues, I made the executive decision to stop taking the Pill.  He didn't think it was causing the flare and Dr. Third Opinion hadn't thought my last Pill adventure was the cause for the last bad flare, but the flares happened with uncannily similar timing from the day I started the Pill.  I'm officially done with it for now and done with their professional opinions about that matter.  Hmph.

I started feeling better within a day or two of stopping the Pill, and now I feel almost back to my regular, pre-flare level of yuckiness.  It feels AMAZING.  I ran errands for 3 full hours yesterday and swept my front porch today and have felt the foreign sensation of actually feeling happy.  Who knew my fairly high baseline pain level could feel like such a relief.

I have an appointment with Dr. Fourth Opinion tomorrow and I don't even know where to start with him.  I'm disappointed in how long it takes him to get back to me, and sometimes he gets his nurse to do the call-backs, meaning I can't ask him questions.  I need to know what to do when the pain is so bad I'm considering going to the ER....every day for 2 weeks straight.  I need somebody on my side.

My PT was great this week, though.  I couldn't make it to our session because I was laid up at home, but she facilitated communications with my doctor about how to proceed with treatment.  I don't think her sessions are really to blame for the flares, after all; lots of data point to the Pill instead.

After weeks of not uttering a word about adoption to my husband, I broached the topic again today.  It was so nice to feel like I could talk about it again, like I have the tiny bit of leftover emotional energy to invest in the discussion.  I wasn't able to think about it for weeks—just no emotion to spare.

Right before we left for the beach last month, we met with a local couple who is an excellent adoption resource.  Had a terrific conversation with them and plan to talk with them some more soon.  They told us they'll provide guidance on what to do next, how to proceed with research, which is exactly what we need. 

Worried about getting through this work week since I'm still not completely functional, but at least I have a very understanding boss and a flexible work-from-home policy.  I tell my boss I'm having health issues and he doesn't ask questions...I don't really want to get into the whole dysfunctional woman parts convo with him.

Hope you guys have had a nice weekend!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Survival Mode

So, the last few days happened.  It's been a horrible week.  I made it into work a few hours here and there but made a big dent in my remaining sick hours.

I'm scared.  The pain has been intense, baseline around 7 or 8.  Climbs up to 9 frequently.  Makes me want to go to the hospital to get morphine, but I know that would only be temporary and then they'd send me home again to deal with this for who knows how much longer.

My PT appointment on Wednesday aggravated everything.  She assured me she wouldn't be rough, that everything she did would be gentle and non-inflammatory.  But it wasn't.  She is awesome—super sharp, knowledgeable, and decisive.  And just fun to be around, as fun as someone who mildly tortures you can be.  But she is killing me, inflaming my pain to the point where I miss days of work, and I don't know what to do.  Not going to her leaves me in pain.  Going to her makes the pain worse with the hope that it will speed up the healing process.

It's been hard for me to function normally, so my husband is picking up the slack.  He's been putting meals together, walking the dog, etc.  But it's not enough, and I feel like a brat for saying that.  He picked up some extra work this morning and I was livid when he told me last night.  I need him badly, need him to cook even more, buy more groceries, and start to do some cleaning.  I need him here.  So, we had that discussion.  I hadn't realized how much I wasn't telling him what I needed.

Today I'm trying the "lying perfectly still" technique, moving as minimally as possible to not aggravate my body further.  I've had mixed results with this in the past, so we'll see how it goes.  (ETA:  I suck at lying perfectly still.  I'm doing some PT and other stretches although I'm not convinced they're always good for me.)   In addition to pain both burning and dull, I'm having nausea and headaches, I think as a result of tapering off the amitriptyline.  It is a great combination.

I hate being in survival mode.  There is so much I want to do, even boring stuff like laundry.  I don't know how to make myself better and have no idea when this will end.  When I'm being unrealistic, I can fool myself into thinking I'll be drastically better tomorrow, but then I give myself a reality check.  Big improvements haven't happened in ages.  If I'm being honest with myself, my pain level is the same as it was the week after my surgery in March.  The type of pain is a little different but who knows if one type signals healing more than another.

I'm exhausted.  I had a few minutes this morning when I felt like I could write decent comments to some blogs, but that ability left me quickly. 

Adding insult to injury is side effects from the Pill:  acne, sore boobs, and weight gain.  Or maybe the weight gain is from Lyrica.  Whatever it's from, I'm not a fan.  Weight is not usually an issue for me; lack of appetite is.  Suddenly, I have a great appetite but no ability to exercise it off.  My husband brought home 8 cupcakes last night that someone at work had given him, which does not help my situation.

I don't want to alarm you with how bad the pain is.  It probably sounds like I should call my doctor or get to the ER.  However, I've been going through this for a while and tried that.  I've had CT scans and ultrasounds and nothing life-threatening is going on.  It's just utterly miserable and they're doing all they can to fix me.  The pain shouldn't be as bad as it is, but apparently I'm the freakish outlier who has to deal with it.

Send me good vibes that I at least get a shower today.