Quote of the Week

"We Must be Willing to Give Up the Life We Have Planned, So As to Have the Life that is Waiting for Us."
-Joseph Campbell
Week of Aug 12, 2013

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dear Children: Yes, we want you to Lie.

Sometimes I really think I am cast in a sitcom .. a la The Truman Show. What happened Tuesday just re-inforces that. If we're not in a sitcom, we should be.

So, I made this cake (pictured). It was kind of a big deal because we had JUST gotten back from being away for a week, I had to clean the house and throw a big fancy bridal shower...and then do this cake. All while still dealing with this pain thing. (No, I did not pull off this feat alone - my super hero helped me out by doing all the food for the shower. Yep, see post below) I digress.

Anyway, so the school has this cake auction thing where you are supposed to make a cake or cookie that represents a favorite book. The cake is then displayed in the library and the kids vote on their fave w/pennies. Then later that night there's a PTA thing and the cakes go on silent auction.

I really needed to do the cake thing this year, because last year there was this misunderstanding that Jack really wanted me to do a cake, but I didn't think he did, and blah blah blah, kid let down, I promised I'd do a cake this year.

And I thought I had a great idea. I'd make a Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom cake - complete with alphabet falling out of the tree with those hard sugar alphabets you can buy for cakes.

So, I baked Sunday after the shower. Monday morning I decorated. I defied gravity by making a 3D coconut tree. I wasn't in love with how it turned out, but I still liked the concept, and I had done a flinging-flanging cake and the kids could have one and not nag me. Great. We're good. Right? Wrong.

Don't judge me. Seriously, stop right here if you might even think about judging me.
Steal yourself. Ready? Ok...rest of the story:

So, it's Tuesday morning, morning of the "turn the cake in to the library." I'm asleep. Ryan wakes me up with his face right in my face (makes my heart leap - step back for pete's sake!) And he says "There's a problem with the cake." I think, and say, "Oh did the tree fall apart?"
He says, "No. Ants." Huh?

Yes, I had sprinkled the cake with glittery white sugar to help make the "sand" on which the tree would stand. And it brought out ants overnight. Not a million zillion. But enough.

Me: "Did they get on the cake?"
Ryan: "A few. I think I got them all."
Me: "Did the kids see?"
Ryan: "Nick was the one who told me."

Crap. I inspect the cake, and yes there are a few still acting out the "A told B and B told C I'll meet you at the top of the coconut tree." Some are under the cake. I'm doing all I can to get rid of all ant evidence. Because, oh yes, this cake is still going to school. Yes. It IS.

Me: "Let's re-wrap this. It's going."
Ryan: "But the kids will talk."
Me: "We'll talk to them. Help me wrap it. Oh, get that ant right there..."

So we re-wrap the cake. I explain to Ryan that no one is going to want to buy my weird looking coconut tree cake, he's going to be there and can bid on it and we'll buy it. No one is going to buy it. Really - I assume everyone buys their own cake. Seriously. Go with it.

So as I'm getting dressed. Ryan talks to the kids. There's no reason to mention ants. They didn't get on the cake. (Lie.) It will make the cake weird to talk about the ants. (No, really?) So don't talk about the ants. Everyone seems on board.
Then there's Nick.

Nick: "But daddy, what if one of the teachers sees one of the ants?"
Ryan: "They won't. The ants are all gone."
Nick: "But what if they see this one?"
Ryan smashes an ant coming from the cake.

Later I reinforce with Nick...
Me: "We're not talking about the ants, right?"
Nick: "Right."
Me: "Ok, good."
Nick: "I will just say it's a rolling piece of chocolate."

So yes. I DID take the ant cake to school. And I chose not to post about it until after the auction, just in case word gets out -- "Hey, the Gerdings sent a cake w/ants to school! Avoid it at all costs. Freaks. Who would DO that?"

Of course, now I'm sitting here thinking, what if there were still ants, and they attack the other cakes? Like, the big huge "Old MacDonald" barn cake that was like 3 stories high with graham crackers for a roof, complete with a bazillion cupcakes made into animals ... or the huge "Diary of a Wimpy" kid cake with 3D books stacked a foot high. Or the other TWO Chicka Chicka Boom Boom cakes? Honestly, now I'm not feeling that bad about it. Go ahead, judge me. You gotta do what you gotta do.

The kids got their cake, but hell no, they won't eat it too!

Rock Star Super Hero.

So, those of you who know us, know that Ryan is a boy scout. He's the one "everyone likes" out of the two of us. Me: people tolerate, him: they enjoy.

When we worked together at a TV station, people begged to have Ryan in their shows, not just because he did good stories with great liveshots - but because he's just great to work with. It was sick all the falling all over him. But it's not just that. He's just ... everything.

I enter into evidence his day this past Saturday. It really is a snapshot of what he does everyday.

First, he found some gloves in the parking lot at the soccer complex and turned them into lost and found...where someone promptly picked them up. Doesn't sound like a big deal? Ok, how about this ... he later found a driver's license at that same complex. And he drove to the home listed on the license to give it to the owner. The person at the door was sooooo thankful, and had just been hoping some nice person would turn it in. Keep reading.

Later he was at HyVee (grocery store) and saw a woman pushing a cart and attempting to drag a huge bag of dog food through the aisles. He stopped her and asked if he could help put the bag in her cart ... to which she replied, "Oh thank you so much!" And as he was putting putting that bag into the cart .... he hears someone say, "What are you, a super hero?" It was the lady whose driver's license he had just returned...witnessing him in action in again.

He of course just laughed and made jokes about how his super powers were mundane, because "as you can see, I'll never be faster than a locomotive."

But I shook my head. Sure, those are small things, but they are part of the big picture of what this man does for us. He's the cook. He's the night-time kid keeper. He's the homework checker. He's the coach. He's the person I lean on when I don't feel like being the one with the balls. Sure, he puts kids' clothes away in the wrong drawers and forgets things on his to-do list, but please, in the grand scheme of things - what a freaking rock star.

My rock star. My super hero.
Tune in tomorrow for "Ants + Cake = Telling the Kids to Lie"
It's a must read...and there's a reason I can't post it today!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Here's Some Numbers for Ya': 1 in 100,000

So, I have a name for the pain I've been experiencing...
"Brachial Neuritis/Brachialplexopathy." A simpler term: "Parsonage-Turner Syndrome."

Check out how rare this is:
In the U.S...cases are 1 in 100,000.
The doctor was even kind of excited to get to diagnose it - he had JUST talked about it at a medical conference where they were working on a board certification test - and they were going to put this diagnosis on the test because it's a tough one.
Lucky me!

Basically, when I got really sick 2 weekends ago - I never completely kicked it. My immune system attacked my nerves. (There's some joke about something getting on my very last nerve, but I haven't figured out how to make it go.)

And because it was my nerves getting attacked - nothing worked. Pain meds don't work on angry nerve endings. So, that explains why after 3 powerful medications in the hospital, I was still feeling it. The doctor told me morphine would not have even helped! (I wouldn't have minded trying though.)

So. That's good. It has a name. But what's a bit of a let down is the treatment:

Yep. The doctor says it usually resolves itself after a couple of weeks. (I'm on 2 weeks 1 day now.) I'm not at the intense pain I was in - so hopefully that's a good sign things are indeed "resolving themselves." I do have to go back in 2-3 weeks, and if I still have pain, they'll so some sort of nerve therapy thing where they stick me with needles. Oh goody!

I was hoping for: It's X and we'll treat it with Y. Well, I got the X part. But no Y. I can continue to take pain meds to take the edge off for as long as I need - he even promised to keep my prescription going as long as I need it.

So there you have it. "Hang in there! Tough it out!"
Well, I'll tell you what, I am SOOOOO taking one of those pain pills tonight by golly!

Then I'll go to work tomorrow (fingers crossed). And I'll go to work Thursday (gritting through it!) And Friday, we'll hit the road and I will begin beach therapy.

That's right. That's going to be my "Y". Our spring break trip. To the beach. "Y" not?
Time to recover with my toes in the water, ass in sand...and hopefully a zero pain status.
I wonder how angry nerve endings feel about alcohol?

Thanks everyone for checking in. You rock.

5. Today's the Day.

I will be going into the doctor at an uncomfortable and drug-free 5.
I also have a new thing: needles in my face. Yep. How's that for pleasant?
It's like tingling on my cheeks - but not like "fallen asleep" tingling, it's like prickly needles. Fun.

You won't be surprised to know I have a "timeline" all typed up and ready to go. When they ask me questions about the whens and whats, I'll have them all laid out in a descriptive timeline. Seriously, this should not surprise you in the least. I will control something here, right?

Anyway, I'm upbeat and ready. If they tell me nothing, I'm ready for that too. I won't be happy, and I'll be ready to say "forget it" to whatever "next steps" there are. But I'm prepared for whatever comes.

So bring it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

2 be or not 2 be...awake.

Today I was just plain tired. I pretty much slept the day away. I'm at a 2. That's pretty good. But in the back of my head, I'm actually thinking it's not. (No meds! Came really close to taking one last night, but made it!)

Here's why. The way things are going, I will go visit the doctor tomorrow, the pain will be gone, it will be a waste of time and all of this will have been for nothing. And that would be just stupid.

So, as crazy as it sounds, I'd really prefer to know what all that was about. To not have made a scary ER trip that scared the bejeezus out of my out-of-town-couldn't-get-back-husband. To not have sent my imagination spiraling so much I was afraid to sleep at night - afraid I might not wake up. Afraid that I would be like what you see on TV - the patient told to go home, only to have something horrible happen that someone overlooked. My imagination is waaaaay to over-active for this type of stuff. So, yeah, I want it to be something. Pinched nerve, heartburn, infection, a treatable-no-big-deal something with a name...because it just wouldn't be right to have gone through all of THAT...for nothing.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

6. Deep 6-ing the Drugs.

Today I am experimenting. I am at a 6. But I've decided no more drugs. No more. Ok, I say that now, but I mean unless I am at pain-that-makes-you-cry-8 I'm not doing the drugs.

Today I am doing "normal." We are going to Target. We are going to lunch. We are getting kid haircuts. I can not sit in bed or on a chair in a drugged state anymore. No more.

I want to see what I "really" am. I don't want to go to the doctor Tuesday and say "nothing hurts" because I'm numb from head to toe from these drugs. I want them out of my system so I can truly say - "here is what is going on now." I want to see what happens if I pick up the pace - closer to normal pace. I want to see what happens. I want honesty from my body.

Ryan and I have tickets to a concert tonight. I want to go. He's been hemming and hawing about it -- but I want to go. Concerts have chairs. I will be a chair sitter. I need the distraction and the happy-something-else. He's worried "someone will see me there" and think whatever. Don't care. I walked around with this pain this long, I can do it today. I'm doing it today.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

4....Time 4 Resting.

In case you are wondering - today is a 4. Sometimes 5, but mostly 4. Woke up at a 7, but back down to 4. Not bad. Tired.

Happy after meeting with neighbors to talk about Spring Break trip. (Um, I'm not even CONSIDERING that this is going to mess up our trip - so don't bring it up.) We had a nice evening last night - you might call it a practice "evening" for the dads...us moms were being responsible. Well, I sorta had to. But anyway, our families laughing together, making lists and hearing about the beach and doing nothing really lifted my spirits. Great distraction. I have something to look forward to that sort of jumps over this other thing. That is good.

I will focus on the good. Like, how many times have I asked God; "Hey, could I just have a couple days to sleep? Just sleep." Well, he gave them to me. The idea when I prayed it was that the rest of the world would just stop so I didn't miss anything or get behind, but I better take what I can get, right?

I'm trying really hard to rest. But it is so not my nature. I think, I can go do laundry, I can pick up this or that - I think - this "free time" is wasting; I need to DO something constructive with it. But Ryan intervenes. I'm trying to learn to let it go. Drugs help. ( :

Letting it go today. Letting it go.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Numb3rs: Crazy 8s

(note: long and rambling - this is more a "something for me to do"with myself when I am coherant" than "something for you to read", sorry. And it was written in segments over time....because I have about 2 minutes of energy to give to anything.)

I'm not a fan of numbers. If you want to win an argument - just state your side in the form of a story problem, and I'm out.

So it only seems fitting that I'm dealing with a mysterious health problem that is constantly being measured in numbers. Temperature, oxygen percentage, and most often - the pain status. 10 is "gonna pass out" .. and I am constantly being asked, either by nurse, doctor or husband, "What's the number?"

I'm at the point now where the number is "F-you."
That's not very nice. But neither is this.
It has been a form of torture:

"You are to be in constant pain for more than a week. You are to have it keep you up all night, and finally decide to see a doctor. You think you're making a quick visit to the doctor to get some good drugs and will go home and that's that.

But instead - you are to be sent to the ER, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and told of many potentially frightening possibilities, none of which will be confirmed (and oh, by the way, we're doing this while your husband is out of town and you'll be alone during.) {In one bit of positive news, your father-in-law will show up after the scary stuff has happened and stand in and do a very good job. But still.}

You'll be treated like a heart patient, with everyone scurrying around you like "stat" - only to then see the obviously let down...and then less urgent realization, that nope, that's not it. You'll be X-Rayed - while sitting in your bed. Isn't that neat? Not really, because of constant hooking and unhooking of wires stuck all over your torso. You'll be poked and prodded and blood will be taken and saline will be given. One dude will poke and prod and say "I blew it." Which can be disconcerting - except that he means he blew your vein. Which you'll just roll your eyes at.
And in the beginning you'll be asked: What's your pain number? It's an 8. But let's put this into perspective. You have a high tolerance for pain. You've been walking around with this pain, probably at a 6 or 7 for more than a week. So your 8 is probably someone else's 9 or 10. You're tough - but have had enough. You're at an "I'm tired of this, I can't sit still, I want to get outside of my body 8." You're at a "please stick a huge needle in it, call it a heart attack, call it whatever, just call it something and fix it - 8." And you think, by telling them this, their first plan of action would be to give you something for that 8. Nope.

8 becomes a new number. It's a number that will now slow down the rest of your day. See, a couple years ago you brought in one of your sons to be treated when he fell in a playground, busted a lip, and knocked some teeth out. That son is now 8. And for some reason, the computers all want YOU to be this 8 year old boy. You gave them your social security number when you brought this boy in - which is normal. What is not normal is how completely jacked up the computer system gets when you're trying to administer treatment to a THIRTY-eight year old patient....that that computer wants to be eight.

So you wait. You hear more potential explanations: collapsed lung, pulmonary embolism, etc. You don't care what it is, you just want it to be called something. And you WANT. SOME. FLINGING. FLANGING. PAINKILLER. You wait. People ask you over and over what your date of birth is. Seriously? You can't tell by LOOKING at me that I am NOT AN 8 YEAR OLD BOY?!?!?!

Luckily for these people, you are in pain. You are in the presence of your father-in-law, so you will not completely flip your shit. You're thinking is that if you are the best, most polite, agreeable patient on the planet, they will go out of their way to help you. Oh, let's point out that you went to the doctor at 9am. It's now about noon and you're still praying the IV that the guy finally got jammed into your arm can be used for something useful. A doctor finally comes in. Your first thought is: this guy's a douche. That's not nice. But you know. He's pretty sure your problem is "muscular/skeletal" and pats you on the shoulder. You don't like to be "patted" when you are well. He tells you that he's going to have the nurse give you a drug that will take care of the pain. You are relieved. You wait. You go through the "I'm not an 8 year old boy" thing AGAIN when it comes time to get the drug. You are grateful for the pain in your hand as the nurse pushes this drug in, because it distracts you from your original pain. And it is the first hope for relief in 10 days.

Your experience getting pain meds dates back to having babies, and you know relief will be instant. It will be wonderful. And perhaps you'll be able to close your eyes - because, after all, you were up all night...and are just exhausted. 10 minutes goes by. You think you looked at the clock wrong. But after 45 minutes you are still an 8. A frustrated, uncomfortable, miserable, tired 8. But you are still being polite, and don't push the call nurse button. You won't push that button. You don't want to be one of "those" patients.

At some point Dr. Douche pops in to say he wants to do a CT scan to see things like my lungs, more clearly, and he pops out. It's becoming apparent that you are not going home as you had previously thought would happen after the muscle relaxer. After more waiting a nurse finally comes in and you've promised your husband over the phone you'll tell her you still hurt. You know you better because he is threatening to call in or make father-in-law act on his behalf, and you don't want to be one of "those" patients either. So you ask. And you get a yes! And they tell you you can't drive and that it's a powerful narcotic and you think; finally THIS will do it. And you, again, verify your birth date, SERIOUSLY, and you enjoy the pain in your hand because it's a new pain that should come with payoff. And you recognize the drug as one used when you were in labor. And you feel it instantly. That dragging-you-down-into-a-painfree-abyss feeling rush all over your body. And you think: this is more like it. This is going to work.

You hear again that they're still coming for you for the CT scan, and you still don't care and you start to feel sleepy. You think you will nap. Your father-in-law even says he'll go sitting the waiting area to give you peace to nap. This is good. But it's not. You close your eyes for probably five minutes-and that lovely feeling you got when the drug first hit your body is gone. Completely and totally gone. You are groggy and tired and there it is. An 8. And you're thinking to yourself, what the hell kind of "thing" is causing this that defies 2 types of pain medication? What can be so painful it is immune to drugs? And now your for-real, not-so-polite personality is taking over - someone SERIOUSLY needs to figure this out.

And that's about the time this hospital's version of McDreamy shows up at your door. Ok, he's more Mr. McReally-Cute-Guy-Next-Door. A Ken doll. He's so nice. And so attentive and careful. And the first thing he does is apologize all over himself that they couldn't come to get you sooner (you waited more than an hour!) because of the eight year old boy thing. That begins your downfall. You hold your breath as he unhooks you from all the wires, takes you off oxygen, and makes your bed mobile. He wheels you by your father-in-law who gives you a thumbs up and says "progress." You try to nod as if you're encouraged, but you're sliding.

Once there, you get distracted as Dr. Mc"Ken Doll" explains the process. You decide you'll keep your eyes closed the whole time so it doesn't freak you out. He explains that he'll put dye into your IV which will show him your lungs - and that you'll feel warmth in your chest as it happens. It's go time. He's so nice. You trust him. You close your eyes and you listen to the machine telling you how to breathe. And there it is. The warmth. What he fails to mention is that you also feel it somewhere else. And you smile and think, "hello there." As he rolls you out, and verifies that the warmth went away - you can tell he knows. Yes, it's TMI. But it's one of the only moments where you think humorous thoughts and actually smile to yourself. And it lasts only seconds.
As he's loading you back into the bed, you return to where you were before and you're cracking. The 8 is starting to push to a 9 out of sheer exhaustion and frustration. You keep trying to keep it together in front of Dr Mc Ken-Doll. You dab a few tears away. He's kind enough to hook you back up to all your stupid wires. He leaves and you break. Father-in-law is there and he takes it as his cue to call your parents - who you had previously agreed to wait to call until you could definitively tell them something. You can't talk to them. Because you can't talk. You can only cry. The nurse returns, you cry at her. She promises more drugs - you are stunned because you think surely your body could not safely take anymore drugs. But you are thankful and sobbing and your father-in-law gets it and lets you cry.

Once again the nurse comes in. She pushes a new drug into your hand. This is not like the normal, just add some drugs to an IV bag - there was never an IV bag, just a direct line into your hand...hence the pain every time they add something. A pain you welcome. But this time you have doubt. This time you are beside yourself. This time you plan to assault Dr. Douche when he comes back and demand answers. But then the drugs take effect and you're loopy. And tired. And finally - though it is not completely 100% gone - for the first time, a drug has taken off the edge. You are thankful. You are not an 8. When the nurse checks on you again you are hovering at a 5 and a half. Progress.

Then Dr. Douche shows up. All smiles and happy. He is happy because he is getting you, a "non-emergency" out of his ER. He is not happy for the right reason. He tells you your CT is clear. Your tests are all negative. That is MUST be muscular/skeletal and that is not ER worthy. He smiles right in your face and pats you on the arm and says "So, see, that's good - it''s none of those things, let's get you out of here." If it weren't for the drugs, he'd have no face. You fight through the fog enough to ask "But but but - I still hurt." "We'll give you drugs. You'll go see your doctor Friday if you are still in pain." You're thinking - I've been in pain nearly 2 weeks, why would anything change. You ask, "But won't the drugs just mask the pain - they're not "fixing" anything." He says something about your chest wall and it's like a sprained ankle and it just needs to rest. What? Your brain won't work fast enough to come back with - BUT IT'S BEEN "RESTING" FOR TWO WEEKS. Your brain won't align the words. He leaves. In and out in minutes....leaving you feeling dejected. All this for nothing - and nothing has or will change. You manage to squeak out to the nurse - "But what if these drugs don't help with the pain? Nothing else has?" And she just says, "Well these drugs are powerful, like the last thing in your IV." And you think - 'but that was on top of two other drugs' but have lost the energy to say anything more. It's time to go home. After nearly 8 hours.

Your torture continues in a different form:

You sleep and sweat for 8 hours. Your husband lived his own torture trying to get an earlier flight back but could not - he arrives home at about 11pm and scoops you up and you are delirious. You ask him to make you food because you have strict instructions not to take your drugs w/o food. And you must have drugs. And after sleeping 8 hours...you are at ... yep, an 8. And you want the drugs. And you're taking them two at a time. You stay up long enough to eat, take drugs, have him ask you a million questions and fuss...and then you are out again. Another 8 hours.

And you wake up and demand food...because food means drugs. You eat. You take 2. You're at a 6. And you can't stay awake. So it's back to bed. And when you're up again, you are in tears. You're foggy, groggy and high. You're back at an 8. Your husband calls the Dr. and just gets his nurse. Nut-job. She says it's ok to just take the pills with milk to get it to your blood stream faster. But she wants you to just take one. She says to only do 2 at night. You cry some more. They agree on an appointment time for you to go in first thing Friday. You decide you will take one more pill, but that pill is going to be your last. You want to see how long you can go without it...you think maybe you can even go back to work and just deal - like you had been doing. And you sleep.

You wake up twice in the night in pain. But you don't take another pill. You wake up and shower. You've learned your lesson about going to the doctor all gross and not clean shaven. You've made a mental note to never to that again. You're at a 6. Six is doable. Six is manageable - and ok for work. Aside from still feeling tired and a little drugged. Six is painful and uncomfortable, but you can deal.

You go to the Dr. And you endure the nut-job nurse who does not pick up on the fact that you have no interest in her stupid, nonsensical small talk. You endure it because you like this doctor. This doctor who started his first day at that practice Wednesday. With you. His mystery case. This doctor who seems sincerely perplexed and wants to figure this out. This doctor who asks good questions, and let's you use his back, chest and arm to explain where your pain is. You like him. But in the end, he does not have answers. He tells you it's now just about determining what it is NOT...and going from there. He wants you to see an orthopedic surgeon to rule out the muscular-skeletal. He explains that they are hard to get into. He's concerned you will run out of drugs - and offers to give you something stronger. He gives you his personal cell phone. I repeat: a doctor has given you his personal cell phone...to get more drugs. You know he knows you're not a freak and this is for real.

Your husband calls the orthopedic surgeon from the car. You can't get in until Tuesday at 2:45pm. And the tears come again. Your disappointment is at a 7. This means you will need to stay in your state of drugged-out, still in pain, but without the edge "6" through Tuesday.
You're a bit panicky. There's work. There's things. You start negotiating with your husband. You want to go to work. Today. He doesn't think it's a good idea. He wants you to take your meds and rest. You get frantic and cry more. You remember you are supposed to do produce a debate on Tuesday. You think of ALL the things you are supposed to be doing and you get stressed. He tries to talk some sense into you.

You talk to your boss. You cry at your boss - which you hate with a 9. He tries to reason with you, but you've just taken a pill and you're just beside yourself. He says nice things and you drop back to a 5. And cry more when you get off the phone.

Then your husband sits down in front of you - one of those eye-to-eye moments and hits you with a heart breaker.

He tells you the bridal shower you've been so looking forward to throwing Sunday should be postponed. You burst into tears. He's asking you to let it go - and telling you at the same time. You tell him you want your girly party. He tells you the bride will understand, everyone will understand. He says you can still have it, just not Sunday. And suddenly YOU ARE that eight year old boy - -who just a couple months ago you had to tell you were postponing his birthday party because he was sick. And his little heart broke. Like mine was, at that moment.

Disappointment: 10.