In Sanity

I finally returned to see my PA for some pharmaceutical enlightenment. The good news is I apparently lost a couple of pounds since my visit a month ago. The bad news is “I believe that once you reach 40, you become the person you will end up being,” per the PA.

Which sounds totally lame now but there’s quite a kernel of truth there. I responded with a succinct, “Well, that sucks.”

Based on my bloodwork there’s nothing to indicate why I feel BLAH most days, and he didn’t think it was the other possibility, depression. “Do YOU think you’re depressed?”

Isn’t that a trick question? If I answer yes, doesn’t that make me sound like I’m just in it for the drugs and attention? If I answer no, does that mean I’m in denial? I answered with, “I have no idea.”

He asked if I cry. Well, yeah, I cry. Don’t we all? I told him I cried when I read about Leiby, the 8 year old killed in his zero-crime neighborhood. I told him I normally avoid the news because all that stuff makes me sad. The world just seems to be so pathetic. He asked what my husband thought? I said he thinks I am a bitch most days. I go from making pleasantries to a ‘roid-raged cunt in seconds because he didn’t rinse out the dish rag or pick up his socks. I told him that some days I can’t stand being around my son when he’s having a particularly crap ADHD day. Do I sleep at night, he also asked. I fall asleep instantly, but I’ll wake up 3-4 times a night tossing and turning.

Apparently that is all enough to make me fall under “Depression”. However, he hesitated putting that in my chart because he said that will haunt me and my insurance forever. Instead, he said he might just put insomnia. I guess I don’t know what he did eventually put on that sheet. *sigh*

For the “insomnia” (which I would never really consider that insomnia compared to some people I know who sleep 2, maybe 3, hours a night), he prescribed Ambien. For the “depression”, we’re starting with 20mg of Paxil. He gave me a script for 90 days but I’m to return in 30, sooner if necessary.

We wrapped up our exam by discussing my weight, which was my initial concern along with the exhaustion. As he held open the door for me to exit the room, he bluntly told me to quit obsessing about my weight. When I walked past him, he leaned towards me and whispered, “You are NOT fat.” I crushed on him just a bit right then and there.

Happy Pills

It’s hard to believe that I thought my mood was related to my thyroid, isn’t it? I’m a little slow on the uptake. I think I’ve known for a long time that I’m dealing with depression, but I’ve always excused my mood to not having a job or Doodicus’s ADHD or my mother’s health or my cancer or my weight…

And no one called “bullshit!”? I need a couple of trolls.

It’s been almost three weeks since I did have my thyroid checked and aside from a couple elevated levels that indicated possibly allergies (AAAAHHH-choo!), I’m normal, relatively speaking. So I’ve been avoiding going back in to discuss the likely culprit because I worry that starting on antidepressants WON’T be the magic bullet. I remember a few years ago shortly after my first miscarriage I went to see my then family practitioner who gave me two weeks of AD pills. I took the first few days-worth but felt they were making me craz(ier) so I stopped.

Sidenote: I stopped seeing that practitioner when he all but patted me on the knee while telling me God had a plan with that 15 week miscarriage. If the “Plan” was to make me find a physician who was not interested in praying for my cursed soul, then it worked.

Now I need to ask, what should I REALLY expect when/if I start ADs? Will I turn foggy? If it makes me feel less sad, will it also make me less happy? Will I gain (more) weight? Will it decrease my sex-drive? Oh, wait. Nevermind on that last question. One can’t have a NEGATIVE sex drive, can they?

Looking Good

Aside from whining about not being able to enjoy the summer and sun as much as I use to, I actually am being proactive and getting out with the kids when I can. I happen to have this week off from work which coincided with summer actually making an appearance (heat index today of 105-110 F). That means trips to the local city pool or even hitting the road for an hour’s drive to a water park.

This spring I bought a new swimsuit. I’ve worn it now a couple of times to the pool and to say I feel conspicuous is an understatement. The other day I sat at the edge of the baby pool while Aitch played and another mom sat down not far from me. She had on a cute bikini and I thought how lucky she was to not only have a svelte post-baby body but to let the sun’s rays soak into her skin for that healthy looking tan. Then there I was with my swim skirt, rash guard top and large-brimmed hat. I wondered briefly if I could pull off the celebrity-in-disguise bit, but realized pretty quickly no celebrity would be at the delapidated city pool.

Yesterday I took the kids to the water park. Aitch wanted to wear her “princess” swimsuit, a Target purchase quickly made so she’d have something to wear for swimming lessons at the Y a couple months ago. I hate it because Ariel is emblazoned on the front, but it was cheap, she liked it and it would never see the light of day. I had already ordered a swimsuit to wear outside, which she did at the water park. I told her that I had already packed her swimsuit and we couldn’t wear “Mermaid” anymore (time to hide that sucker!).

I’m glad she’s too little to have noticed all the little girls (and babies!) dressed in tiny little swimsuits. Even bikinis on the infants! Really?? Here she was in a long-sleeved rash guard and the only girl wearing one. My son has a rash guard as well, but it’s not unusual to see boys wearing them. I had one parent ask me where I found the girl’s rashguard as she had a niece who easily burned and I gladly shared that I had ordered it from Land’s End.

When we got home after spending a few hours at the park and took our baths/showers, I was actually happy to see that neither child showed signs of having been in the sun and water for the afternoon. While I do miss getting a tan, even I was just as pale as I was when we left the house…except for one area: my upper chest. My swimsuit covers me to my neck and I had a hat on, but the shallow scoop-neck left uncovered an area that I never thought to add sunscreen to. It’s not burnt, but there’s color. And that color is a reminder that I wasn’t as deligent as I should have been, but now I will know for next time.

I ordered my swim top from Girls4Sport (G4S). While they have swim tops that are traditional in coverage, they also carry short-, three-quarter and long-sleeves. I bought the three-quarter ringer style and am very happy with how it looks and performs. It took an extensive search to find rash guards that weren’t plain looking AND that had a built in shelf bra. How awesome are these UPF50 fabrics?!

(This is the style I got)

 

(This was my 2nd choice)

Here’s how my kids looked at the water park:

As I mentioned, I bought Aitch’s suit from Land’s End. Of course, they are marked way down now, but this is her top in green batik. Her skirt in tide green, while the pattern was not marketed as “coordinating”, I purchased because the colors were similar and I liked more of a quirky look.

The swim trunks on Doodicus were from Target. I think the rash guard was from Old Navy. I got these last year before I understood the importance of the UPF so I have no idea if his shirt is rated. I will be ordering him something I know has proper protection for next year.

I’m Tired of Being “One out of X”

My sister, who I haven’t seen for about six years, is visiting this summer with her kids from overseas. They live in the Middle East and her oldest daughter is in her tweens. My sister asked that I order a swimsuit that they picked out on-line that consisted of a rash guard and board shorts. Conservative, but not nearly as conservative as the one she packed with her.

I ordered the suit and then in a bone-head move that could only be contributed to being the daughter of a woman who is slipping swiftly and surely into senility, I’ve lost the shopping bag with the suit in it.

I KNOW, RIGHT?!!

I offered to take her shopping so we could find something else, but I was reminded it had to go to “here and here!” or else she’d have to wear the traditional swimsuit. My niece was rolling her eyes and giving me the neck-slashing signal behind her mother’s back, a “no way in hell am I wearing that!” move. I told her that she won’t feel too out-of-place. My swimsuit also went to “here and here!” on me, “because I can no longer be in the sun,” and Sparring Partner, hitch-hiking on the conversation corrected, “no, you don’t want to be in the sun.”

With guests in the house, I could only change the subject. But now I’m rerunning what he said in my mind and getting angry. Does he not realize I had skin cancer? Does he not realize that I will probably get it again, only sooner with sun exposure?? Does he not realize that after 40 years of exposing myself to the sun’s rays, I have to hope that I can spend the next 40 avoiding them?!

For the past several years, I’ve been dealing with shit statistics: “Infertility affects 1 in 6 couples,” and now I have this to contend with, “Malignant Melanoma kills 1 in 7 diagnosed with the cancer.” It was hard enough explaining to him how I felt being part of the first group. Am I going to be beating my head against a brick wall on the second one?

The First Step

I finally made an appointment to see someone about my mind-numbing exhaustion and what seems to be my endless weight-gain (but I really don’t know about that last part since I refuse to step on our scale for fear the sight of the resulting combination of numbers will send me back to my bed clutching a handful of tissues).

Random note: scheduling an appointment with a PA is so much easier and quicker than trying to get in to see an M.D. I called at 12:30 and had the appointment scheduled for 2:30 – the same afternoon.

When one of the reasons to schedule an appointment to see a professional includes “unexplained weight gain”, the last thing I wanted to do was step on the scale. Unfortunately it was the first thing the nurse had me do. I almost asked if I could turn around so I wouldn’t see the final results, but I sucked it up. I was in the middle of telling her that she’ll need to move the big scale over one more notch as she slid the little one quickly to the far right…and stopped just shy of the end.

Good thing I hadn’t yet eaten lunch.

My PA came in and I told him that I wanted to have my thyroid checked as well as general blood work-up (cholesterol, lipids, iron, etc., etc.,) since I was already there. In addition to asking about symptoms, he asked if I still had my menses. For a split second I wasn’t sure what he even had said but was able to respond without preceding it with, “Uh, wha….? OH! You mean my period!”

Before he left the exam room to get the order for the lab, he informed me that fatigue is usually caused by one of two things, thyroid disease or depression.

I responded deadpan, “I know. I’m here to rule out the thyroid.”

Unhealthy Thoughts

Upon seeing a new post from me today you might assume it’s one about Father’s Day or our 14th wedding anniversary (which will be tomorrow). Maybe an addendum to multi-installment posts from last year at this time, which were about my solo trip to Boston to meet up with several bloggers?

But it’s none of those. What else could I possible add to what I’ve said in the past about Father’s Day or our anniversary? And my East Coast trip will always be a wonderful adventure.

Instead, I need to talk about how this summer has started off as a rather rude slap to the face. I’ve always looked forward to this time of the year as a vacation, regardless of how much I was working. Evenings were spent on the deck sipping lemonade (which may or may not have been infused with vodka) and I would spend the weekdays hoping the weekends were going to be sunny and hot so I could go to the pool, water park or the lake.

Last year, after years of putting it on my wish list for the family, we finally bought an annual membership to one of the small private lakes nearby. We spent several evenings last year on the sandy shores…actually more often in the shallows of the lake trying to keep Aitch from walking in over head with fearless abandon; and I remember thinking how this year it would be even more relaxing with the kids just a little older. I could sit in a chair and soak up the sun’s rays, acquiring a healthy, golden glow that had come so easily in the past. I loved seeing the tan lines of flip-flops on my feet symbolizing freedom, vacation, warmth, and care-free days.

Even though I’ve had nine months to get use to the idea that my summers will never be the same, it’s been a harder-than-expected adjustment now that the temperature has finally warmed up. I almost can forget the seriousness of being diagnosed with malignant melanoma until someone asks about my scar. When I tell them what it’s from, they get a pitying look on their face and almost always have a story about how their neighbor, uncle, co-worker, or cousin died from it. It’s then that I’m reminded with a thud that I can’t just walk out into the yard to pull weeds or water my new trees or mow the grass without hesitation, without preparation, without protection.

We installed an umbrella on the riding mower and I bought a full-coverage, long-sleeved swim top. Cans of sunscreen are tucked away by the exterior doors, garage, and in my van, just an arm’s-length away when I need them. I’ve bought a few hats for those times I expect to be in the sun for an extended period of time: parades, picnics, farmers market, antique fairs… and of course, the lake.

Even though I feel I’m pretty prepared, I’m not enjoying the first summer-like days of the season very much. When I got back from a late afternoon trip to the lake with the kids, I noticed faint lines on my feet from my flip-flops. What made me feel so happy before, now makes me nervous. I wore sunscreen and stood in the shade as much as I could while staying within close range of Aitch who still is fearless in the water, and we were out there for less than an hour. And last night, Sparring Partner and I set up the pool, and each time I wasn’t immediately needed to help SP with something, I stood in the shade of the house envious of my husband’s lack of stinky and sticky sunscreen and obvious sock tan-lines.

I hope that this first summer will be all I need to adjust to this lifestyle change. I also hope that I’ll get at least 40 more in case it isn’t.

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! (boo!)

When I get the mail, I read who it’s addressed to and then who it’s from. Saturday there was a letter addressed to me and I groaned. Another rejection letter to rip up in front of my daughter who laughs hysterically every time. I can’t believe I missed out on my 15 minutes of fucking fame by two years.

Then I noticed the return address. Huh, that’s odd, I thought. I hadn’t applied for anything with my dermatology clinic…oh…OH! I knew with that letter that it was good news because bad news warrants a phone call. I ripped open the envelope to find a one page letter with four separate boxes of information. Two of the boxes were checked.

“No cancer was found…” !!! Yippee! I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I sobbed in relief.

Here are those moles:

Inner Arm

Inner Thigh (aka The One-Haired Bastard)

Chest

The other section marked wasn’t quite as good, but not altogether bad:

“…an atypical mole – not 100% normal…” Dysplastic Nevus.

Of course I had to look up dysplastic nevus and really found nothing useful. I don’t fit the profile for someone at risk for dysplastic nevus, nor for malignant melanoma, but here I am. I tan easily and I don’t have a body full of freckles and moles and there’s absolutely no family history. My dermatologist told me during my exam last week that it would be easy to find unusual moles because I didn’t hardly have any. Also, dysplastic nevus usually means moles that are large and of different shades and margins, but this one? This bad baby was just a tiny little dot on the top of my foot. Of the moles biopsied, I was the least suspicious of this one:

Left Foot

Since my diagnosis of MM six months ago, I’ve seen updates from a couple of my friends about getting their moles checked. Whether it’s due to my diagnosis or not, I’m always glad to see that they are being pro-active. Get checked, even if there hasn’t been any changes to moles you may have. The worse part is you may have to get naked (I got to keep my underwear and bra on) in front of a young, good-looking doctor. And since I know many of you have had more intimate “exchanges” with medical professionals, this kind of visit will feel like walking around your home.

I already have my next appointment scheduled. Another six months. I can’t look at it as another six months I’ll be cancer-free. Instead, I can only look at this past six as such. The next six months will be once again full of uncertainty and worry. I just hope that I’ll luck out this next time and not have to get nekkid again for a whole year.

Six Months Later and I’m Right Back Where I Started

Yesterday was my six month appointment with my dermatologist. It was scheduled as a mole check, not necessarily a follow up to my surgery on the malignant melanoma in October. The scar has improved in appearance, but it still has the ability to make my friends pull back in horror and grimace when I show them. The edges are still rather purplish-red prompting the doc to suggest laser work to break down those blood vessels and lighten the scar’s edges if things don’t improve on their own in another three months. Due to lack of insurance – or a job – I’ll be stuck with red, angry margins for a while.

He then did a quick mole-check, literally scanning me from head to toe. He asked if I had any moles that I was concerned about and I showed him three, two of which he agreed should be biopsied, while the third was a wild card and he would biopsy anyway and eliminate it from future worries altogether. A fourth mole, a freckle really, on the top of my foot he marked with his pen to be sliced.

The nurse numbed the four areas quickly and efficiently and then he removed each and dropped them in their respective vials to be sent off to the lab. I should have the results by the end of next week. Then again, maybe not.

I was glad to get rid of the mole on my inner thigh (the one that looks the most suspicious). That fucker was growing a singular hair of bristle brush quality. I remember after my pregnancy with Aitch, once I could finally see that part of me again, the hair had sprouted to mythical proportions. I’m fairly certain a little boy named Jack was eyeballing it as a worthy challenge.

And now I wait again and hope for good news. My doctor was especially pleased when I told him that my swimsuit this year is one that covers me neck to hip and shoulders to forearm. A rashguard designed specifically for women with a built-in shelf-bra. Now I can stop taking those contortionist lessons that I had scheduled to help me apply sunscreen to my back with my feet.

Parenthood

I’m not very good at showing my appreciation for your support, more so now then when I was infertility-blogging. I wish there was a way to let you know how much it really does mean to me. However, with that, I probably will then come across as some kind of asshole if I now told you that at this time we probably won’t seek psychiatric help in regards to Doodicus.

Keeping in line with being an asshole, part of the reason is monetary. Please, I know. How could I put a price on his mental health? We put a price on ours during our infertility treatments; we can now as well.

But that is only a very small part of why we won’t seek counseling in the immediate future. It wasn’t that long ago that Dood was evaluated by a psychologist, who while he thought Dood was an excessive worrier, never suggested that we schedule some private sessions with either himself or another professional. Also, I worry that taking Dood to see a counselor might make him worry even more. Worry that something is wrong with him.

To me, that’s not fair. The bullying is not a result of something wrong with Doodicus. It’s due to something being wrong with the bullies and with the system that either doesn’t recognize it or ignores it.

What we will do if he does tell us about teasing in any form is not ignore it. We hear parents tell their kids to suck it up, to grow up, all the time. Sticks and stones and all that shit, you know? But that’s not how we see it. More specifically, how *I* see it as Sparring Partner does occasionally think that Dood can be too immature and too emotional.

The other night, the movie Parenthood (the one starring Steve Martin) was on. If you’ve seen it, you may recall the scene where the child, Kevin, comes unglued because he lost his retainer at the family restaurant. His dad (Martin) complains later that he’s like a high-strung poodle. Kevin’s character is Doodicus. Years ago when Sparring Partner and I had watched the movie, we saw the resemblance. Now that Doodicus is 9, the same age as the character, we no longer think “he’s kinda like that.” It’s “he’s just like that.”

I think what’s important in helping Doodicus right now: recognizing that he is going to need help.

Three Ways of Being Felt Up

I got to do something fun last week: I got a pap smear.

I know! Aren’t you jealous?

Actually, this is a big deal because it’s the first time I’ve set foot in my gynecologist’s office since my six week postnatal appointment, which was August 2008. And while that doesn’t seem that long ago, let me add that the last gyn appointment that I had that included skipping first base and hitting second and third, was when we decided to go with a donor egg IVF cycle. My RE had required it since I would be 40 at the time of the transfer.

Obviously then, it has been a while.

I decided to see the PA at the office since the OBGYN is usually booked weeks out. This was the same PA who was instrumental in our first pregnancy. In giving us advise, obviously!

My love for my PA was only strengthened when we actually took 45 minutes to just talk and catch up on our lives. Who does that, right?? I then had to ruin the mood by telling her about the weird thing going on down under, my cancer, and of course loss of job and asking where I could get a film mammogram since it seems everyone has gone digital (which can run almost five times the cost). And with  that, we got on with the exams.

I learned two things from that experience: 1) apparently yes, I do still have a hemorrhoid that wasn’t caught during my pregnancy since I was a repeat c-section, and 2) rectal exams are standard for the over-40 crowd.

Thank god she didn’t warn me about the latter until the moment before; however I’m sure she was somewhat glad I had warned her about the possible ‘roid. If I could hear the non-stress fetal testing going on in the next room, I’m sure that patient would have heard the quick horrified shriek from my PA.

Hoping now that my malignant melanoma doesn’t end up being a harbinger of more bad medical news in 2011.

MMX

Hey! Sorry it’s so late in the day to write the Wrapping Up the Year of 2010 post, but I was working today. Put in 9 1/2 hours, I did. On my last day at my *counting on fingers* third temp job since I haven’t found anything (yet/still) and then we went out to Applebees for supper which was good in theory but not in practice since the daycare didn’t know when kids would go home so they didn’t enforce Aitch’s nap who whined nearly the entire time except when she was busy scooping up Dad’s corn with her hands off his plate and shoveling it into her mouth while a majority of it sprinkled on the booth and her clothes.

Of course there’s not much from this past year to recap. Finished my “temp” job of 18 months ago back in August and then started my second temp job shortly afterwards and then finished it shortly after-afterwards to only begin the third temp position. See above.

Now 2010 wasn’t ALL bad. At least I have my health!

Oh, wait. Nevermind.

Happy (or at the minimum – happier) New Year!

someecards.com - Here's to the end of another shitty year we'll one day be strangely nostalgic for.

Ten Weeks Later

I had what is probably my last post-surgical follow-up with the plastic surgeon today. I should note here that the other surgical oncologist never did schedule return appointment with him. That kind of makes him an asshole to me. On the other hand, that kind makes me an asshole as well as I didn’t call him out on it and darken his office doorway.

I didn’t really care for the plastic surgeon when we first met. He seemed a bit standoffiish and impersonal for my liking. However, over the past couple of appointments he has grown on me. My only complaint now with him is that each time I see him, he tells me something he should have told me at the last appointment.

Today he asked me if I was rubbing the scar. No, I answered, should I be? Yes, he said and I should get some silicone gel to rub on it as well. So now I wonder how long I should have been massaging it. Bah.

One side of what I should now call The Scar is still quite tender. As he poke and prodded that side he suddenly gave it a pinch on a particularly inflamed area. Once I climbed back down from the ceiling he told me that I had an ingrown hair and he had opened it up.

Now you see, he does sound like bit of an asshole, doesn’t he? But he’s direct and doesn’t try to schmooze and I think that makes up for everything else. He asked what I was doing for Christmas and when I asked him, he easily told me about his four children – mostly adult-aged but single – and how they would all be home this weekend.

I took advantage of him and asked him if he thought I’d be a good candidate for restylane to help my “smile” lines and the dark bags under my eyes. He wheeled his stool up close to survey my face and said, “You’re not too bad yet…” YET?!!

Ok, so he could have left off that little word. I still kind of like him.

Updated pictures are on my Flickr page.

Survivor

It was just a couple of months ago that I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. It seems odd to even say or think the word cancer since in my case the diagnosis and the removal of it occurred within days of each other. In other words, could I really be a cancer survivor when I really don’t feel as if I ever had cancer?

Very shortly after I lost my job at the hospital two years ago, I found out one of my friends still working there was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. They gave her six months to live. As of last week, she is still alive but in so much pain that she refuses to see anyone. The only treatment available to her at this point makes her violently ill and unable to function physically or mentally. Her family doesn’t know if she’ll make it through the holidays.

Last week we received word that Sparring Partner’s CousinP from Boston, the one who graciously gave up his free time to me while I was visiting there, was diagnosed with testicular cancer. We don’t know any more than that right now except that he has taken the news very, very hard.

S.P. told me I should give him a call and talk to him “about what we had in common.” Obviously, I understand where he was coming from but the suggestion was ludicrous because I just don’t feel as if I do have anything in common with him, just as I don’t know how to talk to my friend who is quite likely on her deathbed with cancer.

I had a cancerous growth. I had it removed. I don’t see myself as a cancer survivor and quite frankly, I’m sure many feel the same way towards those with this particular type of cancer…some might even say it’s a pseudo cancer.

I rarely think of it, except when I accidentally hit my leg against something or when Aitch demands to see my “big owie” (to which she always exclaims “Oooh! That’s a big owie!” and then kisses it to “make it better”). Sometimes I examine it while getting dressed. I stopped commenting out loud about how ugly the remaining scar is as S.P. would remind me, almost reprovingly, “The cancer was ugly. This (he would look pointedly at the hole in my leg) is not ugly.”

I appreciate his sentiment, but I guess I’m vain. The large scar seems to be the “pay off” for what seems to be a curable (for the time being) cancer; simply cut it out much like a rotten spot from an apple.

My friend with terminal cancer is a survivor, regardless of what comes in the next few weeks. My husband’s cousin will be a survivor because of the uncertainty he will face. If I am lucky (very, very lucky) my cancer will not return and I will never have to perceive myself as a survivor.

12 of 30: At this point in our relationship, there’s no such thing as TMI

Wednesday evening I noticed a tightening in my stomach and knew what the next 24 hours had in store for me. By 11:30 p.m. I made my first of many sprints to the bathroom.

I made love to the heating pad for the rest of the night and most of Thursday. Doodicus was sick as well, but not to the same extreme. He even hit the Wii for a few minutes in the morning.  The kid hasn’t napped in almost four years and even sick he was up and about only complaining when Sparring Partner came home with his homework.

(He’s at it right now…the moaning and whimpering! You’d swear he was on the rack.)

(Remember, I try to write these in advance; it’s 7:00 p.m. Thursday for me.)

Right now I’m going to pop a couple tylenol p.m. and hope the aches that comes from doing five rounds with the Mike Tyson of stomach flu alleviate just a bit. Plus I used a sharpie to draw Hugh Jackman’s face on the heating pad and he’s calling – no singing - my name.