Wednesday, September 3, 2014

When I say it's her gall bladder I F*ING MEAN IT IS HER GALL BLADDER YOU MORONS!

Greetings Kind Reader,

Sorry for having been away for ... good grief, I don't even know how long it's actually been. And yes, it's because I've been busy.

I also went on the first vacation I've been on in over 3 years at the end of July (Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, and a visit to the in-laws in the Pensacola region of Florida). The build up to that trip was crazy and between getting my daughter to all her various voice lessons and guitar lessons (she's now also learning to play classical guitar) and then having a couple of really weird procedures done on my neck to ease the years worth of pain I've had.

Seriously, YEARS! Finally, a doctor decided to take a deeper look and said I might actually have an injury - go figure! When I was 16 I rolled my car over 3 times and went into the windshield. The year before that, I was rear-ended by a car going about 45MPH while my mother and I sat at a dead stop waiting to turn left. And then there have been other rear-ending accidents since then. So - maybe - just maybe I wasn't joking all those years when I said I was in pain. And maybe ... now call me crazy ... I wasn't going to the doctor to get 'pain meds' like some drug addicted suburbanite Mommy.

In fact, if I'm being totally honest, I didn't even like taking the darn things. They made (and still do make)  me feel all weird. And not in that funky 'cool' weird way - at least I don't think so. Then again, maybe that's how addicts like to feel. But I didn't get any enjoyment out of the groggy, dry-mouthed sensation that only 'kinda-sorta' eased my pain. So if that's how it's supposed to feel to be high or whatever - I'd rather take a couple of Tylenol and hang out on the couch watching a movie or something. Blah, to me, is just BLAH!

Anywhooooo - as I was saying I had these procedures called Radio Frequency Ablation done to both sides of my neck from my C1 to my C6 (and everywhere in between) where they pretty much singe the pain receptors at the tips of the nerves that WERE (I repeat WERE actually being slightly pinched by my vertebrae ... seen on an MRI my doctor had done to confirm what could be causing the pain. Incidentally, he actually had an MRI from 2002 to look back on that was done on the SAME FLIPPING area and guess what he saw when he gave it a really, really close look? My nerves were being ever so slightly pinched by my vertebrae.

He told me he couldn't understand why my doctor back then didn't address the issue but then again, it was so mild - so very insignificant they probably didn't think it was really the root of my pain. Instead they all decided it was in my little ol' brain! But (not sure if I mentioned this a while back) being a person with fibromyalgia diagnosed after about 15 years of constant trips to the doctor every few months until finally one doctor said 'you know, maybe you should see a neurologist' and that neurologist did all sorts of tests that proved I had absolutely nothing. Only by nothing it meant that the one thing that could not be tested for was the only other option. And that one thing that couldn't be tested for was/is Fibromyalgia.

Long story a little less long - now I'm seeing a doctor who specializes in pain management to move people away from powerful drugs. And he's the one who suggested the RFA treatment. I'm so glad he did too. It's not perfect - but it's WAY better.

So, let's see - there was that.

OH - and then there was the aftermath of that lovely family vacation which honest to goodness was GREAT. We did get a little sunburned and exhausted but it was worth it. So very worth it since the last time we were in Disney was 10 years ago when my daughter turned 7. Now she's 17 and this was probably the last 'family vacay' we're going to really take before she heads off to college.

Wow, I can't believe I'm saying that and actually meaning it!

Of course, she'll be going to college minus her tonsils which she had removed last Thanksgiving and her gall bladder which she had removed ... about 2 weeks ago.

Yes. That's right. My 17 year old daughter had to have her gall bladder removed on August 22. Her first day of her Senior year was August 25 and actually getting her into the operating room was like pulling damn teeth!

It all started after she started getting sick towards the end of our trip. We thought it was a combination of all the rich Disney foods (dinner is really good there) and all the go - go - go we did - did - did in the 2 week period of time. And it sort of was.

Basically, her gall bladder - which probably hadn't been working too well for quite a while - sort of went into hyper drive because of the trip and the day after we got home she was sick. As in miserable sick.

We thought it was just exhaustion as we were all tired beyond belief. But then on Saturday, August 23 - she really felt badly. In fact, I feared she was having an appendicitis. So to the quick care place we went. They did a CT Scan there. Nothing. But we were told, if she gets worse take her to this place ... another urgent center that is open on Sundays where they can actually do surgery.

Sunday, August 24. She wasn't better. So to the other place we went. Where they did an Ultrasound. Nothing again. But the doctor there said, "Man, I know it might sound odd, but I really think it's her gall bladder. It's got all the signs of a gall bladder. You should see a gastroenterology specialist. Here, this is the guy we refer people to."

Unfortunately, that doctor doesn't seen 'kids' (my daughter is 17 but still considered a pediatric patient). After the office manager at our family doctor worked for hours to find a place for Jessica to be seen we finally were able to get into a doctor on the following Monday. Where they sent her for another Ultrasound. What did they see? Nothing.

By this time I was like, 'Damn it. It's her gall bladder. I know it is. I had to have mine removed. My mother had to have hers removed. Her paternal grandmother had to have hers removed. It's her gall bladder.'

BUT ---- No. Now we had to do a HIDA scan - it's some nuclear medicine test that cost even MORE money (like the CT Scan and 2 Ultrasounds were free, ha!)

AND we had to schedule it in Temple, Texas. About an hour and a half from where we live ... in flipping Austin. Austin where there are more hospitals that you can shake a stick at AND where they have 2, count 'em 2 different children's hospitals!

So we went to Temple. Result of THAT test? NOTHING. (And here I am practically screaming - DAMN IT - IT'S HER GALL BLADDER!)

Finally, we get find a surgeon who is willing to do the surgery - even though NOTHING was found. And she's in ... Temple at their Children's hospital. (Apparently, ALL the surgeons who work on 'kids' take off the last few weeks of summer because NOTHING ever happens to kids during the summer that might require a surgeon!)

ONLY ----

Just to be 100% absolutely certain, the doctor, who is more than willing to do the damn surgery says 'I want to do one more test. An endoscopy.'

So, on Monday August 18 we're BACK IN TEMPLE, TEXAS at the McLane Children's Hospital (they were really nice there) for an endoscopy -check in- at 8:30 AM. (Yes, we went through Austin traffic to get there on time. Only they didn't give us the proper address so we wound up at a Hampton Inn! Oops! You know, there's a reason why addresses are given with those directional indicators like NE and SW!

Finally, we get there and have to pay something like $500 UPFRONT. (This is after the other upfront money we've had to pay) Yes, we have insurance - but the doctors, medical facilities, and specialists want to be assured they're gonna get paid something BEFORE they'll do anything. UGH! (DO NOT GET ME ON THAT SOAP BOX!)

After the endoscopy guess what they find? NOT A SINGLE DAMN FRIGGIN' THING! And yet, Jessica is still in writhing pain. Not a little 'ouch that's uncomfortable' pain. We're talking 'HOLY FRACKING PEANUT BUTTER THAT HURTS' doubled over sort of pain.

But 20 minutes after the endoscopy we still meet with the surgeon who says 'Okay, we'll do the surgery because - it probably IS the gall bladder but we always want to make sure. And think of it this way ... if she's still in this extreme pain a few weeks after the surgery we'll know 100% for sure that it's NOT her gall bladder.'

Yeah, I know. I was floored too by that bit of Sherlock Holmes deduction.

So even though I'd said again and again, it's her gall bladder - I apparently wasn't bright enough to make that call but after 5 different and VERY expensive tests that showed NOTHING the doctor who pretty much knew NOTHING about the case except for what I told her said, "I probably is her gall bladder."

That was the point when I wanted to throw someone against the wall. But by then, I was also too mentally and physically exhausted to do more than stare at the doctor and the two interns like they were f'ing morons and say, 'So when can we schedule this? Her first day of school is next Monday and she will NOT miss that day. So it MUST be this week."

After a little schedule adjustment - basically the secretary moved one kid's surgery back an hour - they had Jessica scheduled for surgery on FRIDAY, August 22 at 6:30AM ... as in IN THE DAMN MORNING. Now remember we're over an hour away.

So we get up at 4AM - drive to Temple to check in where I'm greeted by 'And how would you like to pay your portion of the surgical fee?' before they'll even take her to a room.

Guess what our portion was? $1,846. YUP - that's right. Apparently, the folks in Medical Lala land think that folks can just pull money out of their asses at a moment's notice. Thank God, we had a credit card with enough on it to cover that 'portion' of the fee.

Although I have a sneaky suspicion Todd and I will be getting bills over the next for weeks for 'this' and 'that' which wasn't part of the 'main bill'. OMG! (And yes, they've already started coming in)

But, now J is into her 2nd week as a Senior. She's feeling SO SO SO SO much better - even though she's still a little sore. She's really looking forward to the year ahead - even if she's nervous about college 'stuff' that she's got to do. Only that's another blog entirely.

I've got to scoot. Really. I've got to dash to the school to pick Jessica up from Theatre rehearsal. She got a part in the 1st Fall play! She tried out for it 5 days after having her gall bladder removed and nailed the part.

I am so proud of her.

By the way - I sat down and wrote this little ramble in all of about 22 minutes. See, when I get focused - I get really focused.

Now that I've given you the 'big bits' of why I've been away - I'll try to get online again soon to tell you the little bits! I promise!

Thanks for reading and being patient with me!
Hugs to you all.





Monday, June 30, 2014

June, what a good month you were

Greetings Kind Reader ... another month and yet another AFK (seemingly) from me. But here I am ... just as June 2014 is winding down. Though it might have come and gone where you are right now.

Yes, yes, I've been busy --- there was the usual this-n-that I did during the month. Writing (though I didn't actually do a lot, a tad; but not nearly the amount that I did in my head. I suppose when I'm lying in bed at 2AM not able to sleep {because my leg is hurting or my neck is hurting or my back or so on and so forth} I can create such lovely stories. Some are adventurous. Some are thrilling. Some are just plain silly - I rather enjoy those.

I suppose you could say that in my quietest moments I can write umpteen novels. Unfortunately, my quietest moments are moments when it's not a good time for whipping out my laptop to tippity-tap down those ideas. And it's sort of difficult to write in the dark - though I have done it on really moonlit nights several years ago when we lived in a house where the blinds didn't quite block out the bright moonlight that poured in through our bedroom windows. (However, I will say, I rather enjoy it being dark at night. My only complaint is that we have a giant TV on the dresser -- and we barely ... as in super rarely ever watch it but it has this obnoxious bright white light. I loathe that light.

Most nights it's easy to ignore but when I'm uncomfortable and trying to think of everything possible to soothe my weary mind and body ... I swear that light hovers around 'super nova' bright. We even have a cable box with a DVR thingy in it so it's got 'extra' lights. Lights which are electric blue. OMG - not even Todd can stand those lights. There have been nights when he, who can sleep through so much (me taking out the dog, cat jumping on the bed, me sneezing or sniffling with allergies -- the list goes on), will get out of bed and put whatever he can find to put in front of that stupid clump of blue lights! Though now we rarely have that problem because I've put up a little light blockade in front of the lights that escaped from the Blue Man Group. But the TV, well, that's a different story because the light is a bit too high to put a greeting card in front of it!

Where was I?

Oh, yes, my writing. As I mentioned I've not done as much as I'd actually like to do during the month of June. And I'm hoping July will be more productive.

I've been working on edits and helping get some clients ready to send their work to agents. And before the end of July ... I think the query letters will be sent out. Man, I hope these Indie Authors whose work I truly believe in are snatched up by an agent because they deserve to be. Sure, it would be great for my fledgling business --- but honestly, to think that I might have played a role in getting someone their 'big shot' ... well, that's even cooler!

But don't think June has been all business. It hasn't been. I've been editing the videos for Jessica's high school choir. I had hoped to have them all done by this past Saturday. Unfortunately, my computer doesn't like it when I run two different video programs, a music editing program, and Adobe Photoshop. It gets all cranky and hot and slows down. My brother, Kenny, has suggested that I get some sort of monster fan thingy - and I'm seriously considering it because I don't really enjoy having my forearms burn. (Yes, burn. Because my machine gets so hot!) So, I've had to take it slow which annoys the heck out of me. I'm not a take it slow sort of person. I never really have been. (Who would have ever guessed?)

The big thing this past month has been wrapping up the school year for Jessica. She is now, officially, a SENIOR in high school. Lord help me, I remember her first day of kindergarten like it was yesterday. I don't know where the time has gone but I'm so glad to know that even though it seems to have flown past ... we've enjoyed the ride. Next year is going to be so amazing for her. She's taking 3 (Varsity Choir, Chamber Choir, and AP Music Theory ... I'll give you one guess to figure out what field she's going to pursue in college!).

Incidentally, she's taken up Classical Guitar, too. In fact, this summer, she's taking lessons for classical 3 times a week and taking none for her contemporary acoustic (after nearly 4 years she's pretty much got that one down!). She's learning CG to broaden her chances for college because there are lots of CG players and lots of Contemporary Acoustic players but not a lot of CG/CA players! And she's found that she really enjoys it. In fact, one of her birthday gifts this year was a beautiful classical guitar. (So now there are 3 guitars and one electric piano in her bedroom which seems to get smaller by the day!)

She's also in Varsity Theatre (it's the competitive theatre group which is pretty cool especially since she finally made it into the International Thespian's Society. Go, Jessica! Oh, and she's taking English, Gov/Econ, and some sort of elective earth science class which she doesn't have to take but she wants to so she won't be stuck taking something she really doesn't want to take simply because she has to 'fill in a 90 minute slot'.

She turned 17 this month. Good grief. Again, I can remember her when she was so very tiny before she was even 17 minutes old. WOW. Life is amazing, isn't it? Can you tell how very proud I am of her? If not, you might want to reread the last few paragraphs!

Today, June 30, I found out something awesome that probably won't sound awesome to 99% of the world's population. I found out that I actually DO have a neck injury! Yay!

Why 'yay'? Because for years and I mean nearly 2 decades I've been telling doctors again and again that something is wrong with my neck. But nothing could ever be 'found'. I even had an MRI done in 2002 where doctors couldn't see anything that was in line with the sort of pain I kept saying I was in. I honestly think they all thought I was faking it so I could get drugs or something. But I wasn't. In fact, half the time I wouldn't even take those pain pills unless I reached the 'OMG, I feel like every nerve in my body is screaming at me' pain level. And even then, I'd only take a half a pill or maybe a whole one on rare occasions.

Yes, now, that I'm seeing a pain management doctor (for fibromyalgia pain management) who told me straight up, 'Well, Laura, that's ... that's just dumb. Pain is your body's way of saying something is wrong. If you don't listen to it, you're only hurting yourself.' Smart guy, that doctor of mine!

He even ordered an MRI of my neck after I described the pain I have when turning my head and whatnot. He said, 'Pain like that tells me there's something beyond fibro going on. And because you do have fibro, it's making the pain even that much worse.'

So, I had an MRI done last week. Guess what I found out today -- oh, wait, I already told you ... I actually do have an injury ... an injury that appears to be pretty old ... in my neck! In fact, he went back and looked at my 2002 MRI and saw the same area of injury but it wasn't nearly as progressed back then. He asked if I'd ever suffered trauma to my neck. And I said, 'Yes. Like I said the last time I was here, I was in a car accident where my car rolled over 3 times and I went into the windshield. If I'd not had on my seat belt, I would be dead. So, yeah, I injured my neck.'

And now that he knows where the neck pain is - he can do something about it. So on Thursday, July 3 at 1PM I am going to have a nice little nap and my awesome doctor is going to inject my neck right at the focus of pain with something that should give me relief for the next 9 to 12 months. I was so happy to hear that I'd be in less pain, I was practically giddy.

So, I'm looking forward to July with great anticipation. Once that issue is resolved. We can really focus on the fibro. I can look forward to the trip we are planning (I've not been on a trip for over 3 years!) and I can look forward to it knowing I won't have to put on a pretend smile so everybody else will feel good about the fun they're having because I WILL BE HAVING FUN TOO!

Here's a nod to June, 2014. You were a good month.

Cheers to ya, Kind Reader. I'll chat at you soon!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Is It Still May?

Greetings Kind Reader - 
I know ... I'm a bad blogger. I've been away for a whole month. But instead of coming up with all the reasons why I haven't been able to blog, I figured I'd share with you an email I sent to one of the writer/readers who help me out over at The Magnolia Blossom Review. I sent this message on May 5th - and maybe it'll shed a wee bit of light on just how wacky and tiring my days have been. 
Oh, and as an aside - I had my 44th birthday in May. It was a lovely day, too. I'm rather enjoying 44 and I hope that I've got at least 44 more years ahead of me!
Now here's that email from May 5, 2014 12:17 AM (yes, that's right - AM!)
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Hi Sabrina,
I'm not sure if I actually sent you an email just a moment ago - I think I hit send but I might have actually hit the back button - all I know is that I am so freaking tired, I can barely see straight.
Why am I so tired? 
Well, it goes a little something like this:
A. I had a super long day today in the heat of San Antonio for hours with my husband (which was nice) while my daughter sat in the beautiful Majestic Theatre and watched Evita with her theatre class. We went to The Alamo. Honestly, it isn't all that exciting - so if it's on your Bucket List ... unless you are a die hard fan of Texas history ... you might want to put something else in its place like seeing the world's largest ball of twine.
Essentially, the Alamo --today-- looks nothing like it did (externally) when it was actually a fort (even though it started out as Catholic Mission) as it did NOT look like the 'Mother of All Taco Bells' during the siege. The inside is interesting (and air conditioned - and oh, I was SO pleased about that!). 
I would've taken some pictures inside ... only you can't take pictures inside. So, unless you've got a photographic memory or you pay $25 for the photo book, it'll sort of fade away into the recesses of your mind. I seem to remember flags, many flags - a statue of St. Antonio, and very anxious looking park rangers who were ready to throw anyone chewing gum (not allowed) out and ban them for life from the site.
Seriously. There is NO gum allowed inside the Alamo. I imagine when middle school or high school groups come through those guys must have to take anxiety medicine or something as I've never encountered a group of teens where there wasn't at least one kid packing some Juicy Fruit or Trident somewhere on their person just waiting for the most opportune time to whip it out, shove it inside their mouths, and chew like it's the last bit of chicle on the face of the Earth. 
But before ever getting to San Antonio today/Sunday - these are the things I had to deal with in the days prior to our Alamo/River Walk excursion...

B. I had to get up EARLY on Friday to get Jessica to school to take her English Dept exam for the college that is buddied up with her school. And I mean E-A-R-L-Y, too. And I have to ask myself ... why? For Pete's sake - the entire semester her class has started at 9AM and on this one day they insist the students arrive at 8AM. Is that the real test? Is the arriving on time on that one day the deciding factor between passing or failing? It boggles my mind. And my mind is already pretty freaking boggled!

C. I had to get up even EARLIER on Saturday to get Jessica on the other side of Austin to take the SAT. And trust me, when people say 'the other side of Austin' (or any-flippin-where in Texas) it's not like a 10-15 minute trip. It's a damn (s'il vous plaît pardonnez mon putain de français!) EXCURSION! OMG ... I had to dodge packs of cyclists egging one another on (apparently they do 'team' rides on Saturday mornings against other biking teams and something happens when they get on those cycle seats - it's like their freaking asses get shoved up into their brains and they become jerks who really think that I'm going to be intimidated by men in tight padded pants, safety helmets, and little shoes that go 'click clack' on the pavement and sound like a group of 4 year old tap dancers. ... Okay so maybeI have a little issue with cyclists.
Oh, and do NOT even get me started on 'the runners' - GEESH! Yes, we know you have buns of steel and have like a six-pack and a half of abs ... but you're creepy. And even though I'm watching the road carefully it never fails that I wind up having to deal with at least one Son (or Daughter) of Skeletor running nut who suddenly decides 'Hey, I don't feel like running on the SUPER HUGE sidewalks in our community with close to 30 miles of beautiful nature trails and paths aside from the sidewalks so I, without so much as giving a hint to the drivers in the big vehicles that can crush me like a freaking fly, am going to step off the path and into traffic'. 
That's when I, the courteous driver who is contentiously paying attention to the task of driving my rolling fly-swatter wherein I do not actually swat the damn flies, suddenly have to deal with bi-pedal morons who come into my path! 
Good grief, can you imagine how I'd go off if I was actually talking about them?

D. (Finally - to today) I had to get up early today to get J to the school to pick up her ticket for Evita because she can't ride the bus because she's suffering from severe vertigo caused by an inner ear infection, made worse by a trip last week the day after their AWESOME choral competition down to Corpus Christi on the Gulf Coast (about 7 hours away) and dinner on a yacht. 
Nothing like getting a call at about 1 AM saying 'Mom, I'm really sick. But I think I'll be okay' 
By the time I picked her up on Sunday night last week - it looked like she'd been slapped upside her head with a 2x4 and she could barely stand up straight without getting wobbly. 2 days later - in the hospital getting multiple bags of fluid and vertigo medicine out the wazoo. But she's doing better now. Thank God!

E. Aside from working on the review site, I'm also trying to finish up my entry into the contest. I really want to enter but I need about 4 hours of uninterrupted silence.

F. And, I've got a new client asking me to help them as a literary liaison (basically, they write the book, I make sure it gets either edited (if it needs it) or Beta Read and revised and then I create a query letter for them that I then send off to agents I've researched in depth. A lot of work - but worth it in the end.
And there you have it. A wee little few of my moments of crazy for the past week.
But hey, now that it's off my chest, I feel much better. Well, the anxiety medicine could have something to do with that, too.

So night - and Sweetie, trust me when I say, I do know you are SUPER busy with your classwork, tests, and writing books. And, and, and.... the list goes on!
Js last big tests are:
Her Spanish V AP exam. She's actually been taking Spanish for 6 years and is fairly fluent (but not confident in her fluency - although she has helped some folks and it was great to see)
Then there's her APUSH exam - which she'll be taking in her PJs. Yes. That's right. Her comfort outweighs her desire to 'impress' her pals! These tests have had her really stressed out!
And when she complains or gets really stressed, I remind her there are people near and far wishing they had her issues. Heck, she's got a friend who's 'eye on the prize' is medicine. She's literally taking 8 AP exams this year. 8. OMG!
All good things come to those who wait AND all good things come to those who keep their aim straight and eyes on the goal. before long it'll be summer.
Hmmmm, sorry for the ramble!

************
There you have it folks! 
That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it!