Me and Magee

I can’t remember the last time I knew of 5 o’clock in the morning’s existence. I was so exhausted, my memory is fragmented down to the moment I set foot into Magee Women’s Hospital. First, I stood in my living room hugging my mother and saying goodbye. Then, I sat in the gas station parking lot when the voice started screaming, “Get out of here! Go! Run away!” Next, we were at the light to the on-ramp to the highway. And finally, we were entering Oakland.

I arrived to check-in at 5:30am. I was ushered through registration so quick that I didn’t even have a chance to fill out the papers before I was in pre-op.

Pre-op is just like when they call you from the waiting room to the examination room. Then, you’re required to sit and wait for an eternity. Various nurses came through. One to instruct me to strip down and don the teal and white pinstripe hospital gown. Yes, the one that leaves little to the imagination when it comes to my backside. Another to make notes of my current medications. There’s certainly no staff shortage there!

And finally, I met my OR nurse. She was a pretty lady, probably at the end of middle-age. She had fluffy, curled blonde hair, tiny sapphire eyes, and a warm smile. I related my extreme loathing of IV’s. The first time I had an IV, it was in my hand continuously for 48 hours. The last time, they gave me a pain medication that sent me through the roof. I paced the room screaming about how I wanted the IV out now or I was going to rip it out myself. I can always feel it in my veins and it hurts my whole arm.

She smiled and said, “You’re in luck! I’m going to put a local into your hand. You won’t feel a thing.” I didn’t! I stared at the IV in my left hand in amazement. She put a blue gauze hair net over my head, pulled my blanket closer around me, and fixed the one in my lap. Everything felt so warm and maternal. She looked at me confidently. “You’re all ready!”

I took a milligram of Xanax at 5am. I must have timed it perfectly. It grabbed me hard just before I was about to go. I joked with C.S. about silly things. The pangs of panic existed, but they hardly echoed from their distance.

Dr. T. came in and I knew it was showtime. I was eager to introduce her to my husband. I felt like it was a long time in the making. Really, it has been. April 2011 was the beginning of round two. It was at that point that the nurse and anesthesiologist joined her. They plugged the sedative into my IV while I kissed C.S. goodbye.

He had the talisman. I was in caring, capable hands. I was wheeled into the OR completely soothed.

The sedative was interesting. It messed with my vision first. The fluorescent lights seemed to have a runner, a beam of light than ran along them. The staff helped me off of the gurney and onto a soft, heated OR table. They asked how I felt and I told them that it was all wonderful. I had two snuggly blankets around me and I felt like I was lying on blankets fresh from the dryer. “It feels like a cocoon.”

The staff was helping me to put my thighs into some elevated pads instead of cold stirrups. And that’s the last thing I remember.

I started telling the nurse that was talking to that I needed more medicine. I think my mind thought that I was still in surgery. She told me that I didn’t. I woke up and started sobbing. I looked around and didn’t know where I was or what happened. I asked if I could have a few tissues.

I inquired between sobs, “Is this normal? I have bipolar disorder.” I was terrified that all of this triggered a vicious episode.

She put the box of tissues in my lap and assured me, “A lot of our younger patients experience this. It’s completely normal.”

I remembered something from my childhood. I would fall asleep not remember doing so. Then, when I woke up somewhere else, I’d bawl my eyes out, because I was so confused. I felt like it was akin to that.

“Are you in any pain?”

“Surprisingly, no.”

“Can you walk?”

“I think so.”

A young, brown-haired nurse helped me off the gurney and over to a quiet, private area. I sat in a nice leather recliner and she asked if I’d like something to drink. “A soda, Pepsi. It’s all I’ve wanted this morning.” She assured me that I’d have a cold soda and C.S. in a short moment.

I was delighted to see him and smiled. He smiled back in relief, at beside me, and I started crying again. I laughed and sobbed at the time time, “I woke up crying in the post-op!” He laughed and hugged me.

The local started to wear off, and I was in some severe pain. C.S. was on the phone promptly to get me relief. Considering a had a part of me electrocuted off today, I’m great! I’m a little cranky, emotional, foggy, and tired. But nothing unusual.

Crossing my fingers and toes that the LEEP took care of all of the bad cells for good.

C.S. bought me a few “get well” presents!

The Farris Wheel

Manic Monday recently wrote a post entitled Surgery Date that talked about nasty, unprofessional health care professionals. I spoke to her about their disgrace and the extreme agitation it caused.

I have been through the situation many times. I have a certain amount of animosity toward health care professionals as a result. I have been misdiagnosed. I have been diagnosed and not treated correctly, if at all. I have been treated as a hypochondriac and a liar. One clinic took the wrong course of action and made a condition worse. I had cruel nurses during my delivery and one that popped my hip out. I’ve had overzealous doctors want to pump me full of drugs when unnecessary. Others refused me much needed medications such as antibiotics until I developed a worse condition. And the worst of all was the incompetent doctor that botched my last surgery and left me on the table to fend for myself.

Worse, there are doctors that have mistreated my son. They’ve attempted to withhold antibiotics, and advised me against taking him to the hospital when he had a fever of 105F. But they are eager to pump him full of brand new, live vaccines, which have not been tested in the long term. I am almost convinced they are attempting to kill my child.

Dr. W., T.D.’s psychologist that diagnosed him with PDD-NOS on the ASD, was the worst of them all. At his diagnosis, she essentially handed me a stack of papers and sent me on my way. And still, she failed to include some crucial information.

T.D.’s pediatrician appointment did not start well. Dr. F. had a nasty demeanor. She started a physical exam when C.S. and I mentioned T.D. suffers from chronic diaper rash. She snapped, “Well, why is he still in a diaper.” I answered in a snotty tone, “Because he has Autism Spectrum Disorder.”.

“Oh.”

Yeah, oh. Bitch.

She certainly changed her tone after than. Until, we got to the vaccinations. You see, we started vaccinations until T.D. was a little over a year old. That is when my FIL (father-in-law) was diagnosed with stage 3 lymphoma. He started chemotherapy and it was recommended that T.D. stop the vaccines until my FIL was declared in remission. In that time, C.S. and I decided against them.

Don’t get me started on the vaccination debate. Suffice it to say, I’m not going to change my mind. But, I got those looks like I’m a terrible mother for signing that waiver.

Worse, they uncovered an ear infection in both of his ears. T.D. showed no symptoms and didn’t complain of pain. How was I supposed to know? He’s still largely non-verbal!

She treated me like a terrible parent all around and T.D. like he was retarded. I got crap for him not seeing a dentist. WTF?! Most dentists won’t see patients younger than 3. On top of that he has special needs!!! Do you think he’s going to sit still for an oral exam when I can’t get him to sit for a haircut? I don’t think so.

And here’s the cherry on top of the sundae. His BMI is high. So now, we all have to keep a constant and detailed food journal. Yeah, as if I’m going to be able to get all of his sitters on board with this. But, it has to be. I’m sure the next step is a dietitian and CYF at this point.

And at the end of our visit, she made it pretty clear that she doesn’t believe the diagnosis. Excuse me, are you a child psychologist? NO!. Don’t make judgments you aren’t qualified to make!

I do feel like a failure of a mother. Even when I know a doctor is trying to guilt trip me and fear monger me into doing things her way. I know my son better than any doctor could hope to.

At the very least, I’m pointed in the right direction as to where to get the referral for services. And unlike other pediatricians, she was not hesitant to prescribe medicine. Those are her only redeeming qualities.

I still absolutely detest that woman. I am rescheduling his appointment with another doctor. I never want to see her again.

Just another reason on the pile as to why I despise medical professionals.

All the Pretty Things

Pittsburgh is gearing up for a heat wave. It’s that special time of year again. The old wooden house feels as if it were a clay oven, and it makes any work inside of it impossible. That leaves me to sit in the crisp night air on the balcony, armed only with a journal, a pen, and just enough light being thrown by a robe light wrapped around a glass patio table.

I had a beautiful moment on Friday. I was on the way to have a biopsy done, but I was dreadfully early. I took advantage of my time and strolled through the city. I walked past Trinity Cathedral and recalled the beauty of the buildings and the majesty of it’s cemetery surrounding it.

That’s when I discovered one of Downtown Pittsburgh’s hidden gems. It was almost as if it were a secret garden, hidden from the boulevard surrounding it. I went up the path and discovered a circle surrounded by foliage. Stone benches surrounded an immense, gorgeous fountain in the direct center. I sat down and wrote.

It reminded me of times when I was in college in the summertime where I’d go to the large fountain in the Cultural District and sit on the stone benches there. I’d write and feed the pigeons. It reminded me of a brisk, grey day where I found a quiet hiding spot near 6th to write while I wrapped my scarf tighter to my face.

I thought of all the beauty in this world that I was missing out on. The same simple beauty that brought such joy into my life.

Long car rides with my husband into the country in the summertime, with the windows all the way down, the wind on my face, the smell of fresh air. We had nothing but good music and good company.

Sitting on warm sand and digging your toes and feet into it while you feel the ocean spray on your face. Taking walks in the moonlight on the boardwalk.

Watching the moon rise. It’s so big and bright on the horizon.

Staying up all night talking until you watch the sun rise.

A cool breeze in stagnant air.

The smell of a thunderstorm. Even better, the smell of autumn.

The serenity of a cemetery after hours.
A good romantic movie.

And just laying in bed with the one you love.

These are the beautiful things,” I wrote, “these are the only things I want to remember when I die.”

But I want to experience these pretty things all throughout my life. A surprise of flowers on my kitchen table. Sitting in a magnolia tree. Taking my time. Smelling the roses. Appreciating my landscape.

There is so much beauty and wonder all around me that I often fail to see. I want to remember these things moreso in my life than in my death.