Monday, October 29, 2007

Some Updates on Mom

I talked with Oma on Friday and again yesterday afternoon. On Friday she informed me that Mom had to be taken back to the emergency room from the rehab center due to a urinary tract infection (most likely due to the catheter...I detest those things) and her blood sugar was in the 470 range. She had also attempted to get up in the middle of the night before to use the restroom and fell....on her knee. This is a woman who has horrible arthritis in her knees and has undergone several surgeries from it. She is also prone to infection.

So this news put a damper on the baby shower Saturday. But Sunday afternoon I got some good news. They got her blood sugar down and had given her a few antibiotics. She was having more trouble swallowing and they gave her a few choices (one of which was a feeding tube straight into the stomach) and the option she chose was to go back to the rehab center and continue speech therapy to basically relearn how to swallow. But she was supposed to go back today (not sure if she has, I haven't spoken to Oma today).

Mom is much too young to go through crap like this. It's like one thing after another. Oh yeah, when she went to the neurologist last Wednesday, she was told that it is possibly not a brain tumor but a mass from the stroke, so they're going to do another imaging on the 12th of November to determine whether or not to do a biopsy. Lovely. I'm getting frustrated with the constantly changing opinions of the cracked up doctors up there, I can only assume that what she is feeling is worse. Poor Oma has driven out to see her (a 40 mile round trip) every day except one that I know of, and she's not exactly the world's best driver (bless her heart). Oma is in her 70's and I can only imagine the stress that she is going through as well. I sincerely wish Medicare would pay for Mom to be sent to a decent hospital with good doctors and up-to-date equipment (like someplace down here in Dallas/Plano), and not just so I could visit her on a regular basis.

I'll post about the shower (it was really nice) later.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Baylor Sucks

My apologies for this being a rant post, but I need to let off some steam and would rather do it here than transfer my anger towards my husband who is completely undeserving of it, especially in this instance. Also rather than do something I would regret in the future.

Here is a warning to anyone wanting to go to Baylor University for their higher education and requests financial aid. Don't ever move after you graduate. The accounting/financial aid department is apparently made up of morons who don't even BOTHER to send you a bill for their loan. They must expect borrowers to be psychic. They never once tried to contact me, instead sent my now defaulted loan to a collection agency who lo and behold had my phone number. Imagine that. So even though I've been making monthly payments on all of my student loans (that I knew about, that is), and even paid more each month than the amount due, I get a call from a collection agency wondering why I never made a payment.

At least the gentleman from the collection agency was kind and understanding and is helping me work out a plan to get this loan paid off. That is the one bright ending I see in my future. But I really don't need this crap right now, especially with the baby coming. I'm just so pissed off I'm steaming.

Now, I know someone is eventually going to say "Well, you signed an mpn to get those loans and the terms are clearly stated." Yes, that is true. I did. I did however expect to at least RECEIVE a bill so I knew how much I had to pay off each month. They apparently had an old address on file that goes back to the address I had before my previous address (2 apartments ago and over 2 years), but somehow the collection agency had my cell phone number which hasn't changed in the last 5 years. And did I ever receive a notification of that loan from Baylor when I lived at that address? NO! At least when I forget a payment with any of the other lenders (which happens from time to time when everything else is on auto-pay), they'd have the courtesy to call me and remind me of my obligation or at least MAIL ME A FREAKING BILL! Did they try to contact my references? Neither of my references have called me to let me know. In fact I just got off the phone with one of those references who informed me that she has not received anything from Baylor in over 3 years!

Another reason this pisses me off is that I loved Baylor. It was my first college experience and I made a lot of friends, one of whom introduced me to Sean. If I hadn't gone there, we probably would never have met. I have many fond memories of freshman dorm life and the campus was absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed most of my classes there and feel that my first taste of life away from home helped prepare me for the real world. I miss singing with the Concert Choir and spending my days practicing for my voice lessons. I refuse to let the morons in their accounting department ruin my memories, but it's difficult.

I've heard the expression that when it rains it pours....this is certainly true. First is the stress of preparing for the baby which, while a joyful expectation, is wreaking havoc with my hormones, then my mother has a stroke and brain tumor, then I find out about this loan crap. I realize that other people have been through much worse but I don't know how much more of this I can take. I sometimes wonder if I'm about to lose my mind!

*Lord,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The strength to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to hide the bodies know the difference.

*Sorry...that was my sad attempt at humor.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Change of Scene

Oma called me last night to let me know Mom has been moved from the hospital to an in-patient rehab center nearby. She was able to use her walker to move 18 feet on Monday. The neurosurgeon is still waiting for a bit more improvement before her brain surgery is scheduled, but we are all hopeful for it to be soon, quick, safe, and gotten over with.

Sean took me to see her on Saturday, and while I am glad I got to see her, it almost hurts more to have done so. It's scary to see my mom laying in a hospital bed hooked up to all kinds of tubes and machines. She has lost a lot of weight during these last couple of weeks probably due to the lack of nutrition, and she doesn't sound like my mother. Because the left side of her face is still mostly inactive, she slurs her words and just sounds so tired.

I miss my mother and want her back the way she was. This is so difficult to deal with.

Friday, October 12, 2007

There is no Virus, only Tumor

I want to thank you all for your prayers and ask that you keep praying.

I talked to Mom this afternoon, she sounds a lot better than she did yesterday. The Dr.s have come to a final diagnosis. Apparently she does NOT have a viral infection (which means I'm spending Saturday morning in Sherman at the hospital) which is the good news. The bad news is that her stroke was caused by a tumor on the cerebellum. This tumor is also what caused the flu-like symptoms she had been experiencing for the last week and a half that was mistaken for a viral infection. The tumor is benign, so that's slightly good news, but the neurosurgeon wants to wait until the stroke symptoms have had some time to clear up in the next couple of weeks before they perform brain surgery to remove the tumor.

So while I am relieved to know what the problem is and that I can finally visit her, she is by no means out of the woods yet. Again, my family and I appreciate the prayers and support through this very difficult time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Update

I talked to Mom this morning, she was a bit groggy after a morning of treatments and exams. One side of her face is paralyzed and the neurologist has determined that she had a stroke in addition to Bells Palsy from the viral infection. She is still unable to swallow and if she can't swallow by the end of the day they're going to insert a feeding tube. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Prayer Request

Please keep my mother, Michele, in your prayers. My grandmother had to call an ambulance to rush her to the ER this morning. The neurologist thinks she either had a mini stroke or is suffering from Bells Palsy following the viral infection she has suffered from this last week. She had been nauseous and dizzy all week, unable to keep food down. Her Dr. told her he would have to hospitalize her if she couldn't eat anything so she could get nourishment from an IV. She had started to get better over the weekend and then got worse.

I have had a fear these last few days that I would get a call from my grandmother saying that Mom was either in the hospital or (God forbid) dead. Somehow I knew that when my caller ID this afternoon showed Mom's number that it was Oma calling to give me some very bad news.

What can prepare someone to find out news like this? I have read blogs of people who have a relative diagnosed with a terminal illness and wonder how they can cope with that kind of news, and then I secretly think that I'm glad I don't have to go through that. It's a horrible thought, and I know it is selfish, but even if I pray for them I still am grateful that it didn't happen to me. Perhaps that's a normal human response, but now I feel like this is payback for my selfishness.

And the worst part about this? I can't even go visit her. The hospital is only an hour away but because she might still be contagious with the viral infection, I can't risk catching it especially because of the pregnancy. I want to visit my mommy because I love her and don't know what is going to happen and I can't even see her!

I'm sorry for this post rambling and not making a whole lot of sense but I'm very upset and scared right now. All I ask is that anyone who reads this keep my mother in your prayers and thoughts. She is very sick and can use all of the prayers you can send her way.

O Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
our only help in time of need:
We humbly beseech thee to behold, visit,
and relieve thy sick servant Michele
for whom our prayers are desired.
Look upon her with the eyes of thy mercy;
comfort her with a sense of thy goodness;
preserve her from the temptations of the enemy;
and give her patience under her affliction.
In thy good time, restore her to health,
and enable her to lead the residue of her life in thy fear,
and to thy glory;
and grant that she may dwell with thee in life everlasting;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.
BCP 458

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Pregnant Women Have No Balance

The first time I fell, I was in my first trimester. My foot had gone to sleep after a morning of reading the internets, and I was making my way downstairs when my numb foot had caught the edge of the step and down I went. That time, at least, I fell backwards and had my hand out to catch myself. I got a sprained wrist from that one, but nothing else besides bruised pride.

Yesterday, I was coming back from getting the mail and tripped on a concrete step in the sidewalk leading up to my building. Have you ever fallen and felt like you were watching yourself fall in slow motion before it actually happens? That was my experience. I thank God that I managed to twist my body to land on my side instead of on my front, but I was still pretty shaken up. I cried walking up the stairs to my apartment and cried some more when I went into the bathroom to clean my scraped arms, hands, and knees. Then I cried even more when I sat down on the couch and tried to pull myself together to call Sean without completely freaking him out. That apparently didn't work because when I called him the tears came back and I could barely get "I fell" out of my mouth.

He told me to call the Dr. and find out if I needed to go the emergency room and then call him back. I did, and the nurse at the Dr.'s office told me to call back within the hour and let her know if I felt George move and if I started to bleed. I called Sean back and told him what the nurse said, and he told me he was on his way home. An hour later, I called the Dr.'s office back and informed the nurse that yes, George was kicking the living daylights out of me and no, I wasn't bleeding. She told me the Dr. would call me today and find out how I'm doing.

By this time I realized my right foot was starting to really hurt near the base of my big toe. Sean gave me an ice pack but I realized it kept swelling and turning colors. I decided I aught to go to an urgent care center to have it checked out, but they wouldn't take me because of my pregnancy. Lovely. So emergency room it was. Four hours later I left the hospital with a boot, crutches, and a prescription for hydrocodone to be taken sparingly, and a diagnosis of a very bad sprain, no broken bones.

I'm thankful that it isn't worse than it could have been, and I'm ever so grateful to my wonderful Sean for leaving work and driving me to the hospital. Of course he grumbles a bit about how I'm such a n00b and a klutz and how next time one of us ends up in the emergency room it'd better be him instead (the last three trips we've made to the ER were for me), but I think that might be his way of expressing relief that I wasn't severely injured. He's been absolutely wonderful to me, and I couldn't ask for a more caring husband. I wish I could figure out a way to show my gratitude to him besides just telling him I'm grateful. This great guy left work early and stayed by my side in the ER and is bending over backwards to help me with everything and all I can do is sit here with my leg propped up and say "thanks sweety, I love you".

Friday, October 5, 2007

Two Pregnancy Symptoms Nobody Told Me About

Nor did I read about them in any of those pregnancy books people have given to me (note that I have not bought a single pregnancy book, I figure it's a waste of money and people will give them to me anyway. The only book I bought was The Baby Owner's Manual and that was for Sean, but it's a great read for anyone with a sense of humor). If you are the slightest bit squeamish or anything like my guy friends who put their hands to their ears and start going "EWWWW" when I talk about my pregnancy to the interested parties in the room, please ignore this post, or at least the last half of it.

The first thing no one told me about is Braxton Hicks contractions. Of course I've heard about false labor before but nothing in those books really said anything about it. When I did look it up (after calling my poor doctor at 2 am to find out if I needed to go to the emergency room), all the resources I could find described these contractions as "painless". Painless my ass. Those contractions HURT! It feels like somebody's got a part of my uterus in a vice and tightens it every time I move. I had an OB appointment the day after the first time this happened (around 20 weeks), so when I asked Dr. about it he told me not to worry unless it was accompanied by bleeding, discharge, nausea, etc. For the pain? Take some Tylenol. Gee, thanks.

I understand that apparently most women do not even feel these contractions until they are close to their delivery date, or if they do it's just uncomfortable. Good for them. Dr. says they can occur as early as 9 weeks. I guess I was blessed with 11 weeks of no pain (just morning sickness and not being able to fit into my clothes). But now it's every other week (twice this week)! A friend told me that she heard women who have heavy and painful menstrual cycles tend to have the most painful labor. Now you tell me.

The resources that describe BH don't even hint at the possibility that it can hurt like hell. I figure that if "false" labor hurts this bad, I shall demand all the painkilling drugs available at the hospital as SOON as I go into real labor. As much as they can safely give me. Have I mentioned before that I don't do pain?

The second thing nobody told me about (and here is where the squeamish and guys should really stop reading unless they've experienced it) is leaking nipples. By leaking I mean I was sitting at my desk and couldn't figure out why my nightshirt was so cold over my breasts until I looked down and was horrified to see HUGE wet spots over each nipple. Now, I know that breastfeeding moms can leak and often do, but I read nowhere that they'd leak during pregnancy. My first errand the next day was to the nearest CVS to get nursing pads. When I looked online to see if this was normal, I learned that yes it does happen, but most women only experience it a little bit.

I am not normal. If I sit for any length of time without a shirt or bra on, I leak. If I go to bed without first putting on a sleep nursing bra (very comfy by the way), I leak. If I take a shower, I leak. I now have this constant fear that I'm going to be out someplace and develop these huge wet spots on the front of my shirt in public. It's like my girls are competing with Niagara Falls! Of course all the books say they'll get bigger, they'll be tender, they'll change color, etc., but absolutely none of those books informed me that my baby's source of nutrition would start tearing up at every inopportune time, waking or sleeping.

I know it may sound like I'm whining and complaining. While that is most likely true, I wouldn't trade this pregnancy for the world. I enjoy being pregnant, I like that I can feel my baby moving inside of me (although I wish sometimes he'd move off of my bladder), I like the expectation of "oooo, BABY'S COMING!", and I am definitely enjoying the positive attention (although I could do with a little less belly patting. I am not a zoo exhibit.). Perhaps these "discomforts" are just God's way of preparing me for motherhood, or perhaps it's payback for something. Whatever the case, I'll deal with things as they come and count my blessings.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Three Things My Mom Did Right

This post is in response to a challenge presented by the blog Et Tu?

As you read this please keep the following in mind--my mother raised my sister and I mostly by herself with some emotional and financial help from her mother. My parents divorced when I was three and most of my childhood was spent living with my grandparents.

When I was younger, I used to tell my mother that I'd raise my children exactly like she raised me because she did such a good job. Perhaps it was a bit of an ego boost to Mom, but at the time, I really meant it. Now that I'm married and starting a family of my own I have changed my mind a little on this particular subject. Part of this change is due to Sean's childhood experiences and part is due to my own understanding of how my mother's decisions affected me. Even so, there are some things Mom did right.

I would have to say that the first thing my mother did right was to teach me to be myself and not make my decisions based on what other kids said. I never wore brand name, or often even new, clothing as a kid. My clothes were either handmade, passed down from my sister, or purchased at the local thrift store. We couldn't even afford WalMart. Even so, I was never ashamed of the clothes that I wore. Mom tells me that the moment she knew she raised me right was when I told a more wealthy friend of mine that "I don't need somebody's name on my butt to make me special".

The second thing my mom did right was to make me always try food before I said I didn't like it. If I decided I didn't like it I didn't have to eat it but I had to at least try. This insistence led me to a variety of dishes that I probably would never have loved had Mom allowed me to act like some kids do and claim "Ew, I don't want that". An unexpected result of this dinnertime rule led me to be more open-minded about other experiences, probably the biggest would be my choice of church. If I had followed my fundamentalist Protestant family's advice that the Catholic church was "evil", I doubt I would have stepped foot in St. Peter and St. Paul's Episcopal Church when Sean and I were dating, or have been confirmed in St. Alban's a couple of years later. I am now a devout and practicing Anglo-Catholic and take part in several ministries of the church, my husband is an aspirant to the priesthood, and my son will be baptized on Easter Sunday (God willing) at St. Alban's.

The third thing my mother did right may sound like a bit of a cliche, but I mean it most sincerely. Mom read to me. I'm not sure if she did it every night, but as far as I can remember until I was four, Mom read to me. She didn't just sit next to the bed and read out of the book, she laid down so I could snuggle up next to her and see what she was reading. Sometimes she'd follow the line with her finger as she read, and by the time I was four, I would sneak the book out during the day and read it for myself. One night she sat down and opened the book (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to be exact) to the point she had left off the night before. I informed her (probably with an attitude) that I had read the next chapter to which she replied that my learning to read was great but if I wanted her to continue to read I'd better let her read. From this point on she would let me read aloud with her and it gave me a chance to sound out difficult words. Since then, I cannot count the number of books I have read in my lifetime, but suffice it to say I keep the local library busy. I don't just read books, I devour them.

I do believe my mom did a great job in raising me, although I do wish she had done some things different. I hope I can raise my children with as little to no corporal punishment as possible, I don't smoke and would never raise my children in a house full of secondhand smoke, and I'm married and plan on staying that way until death do us part. So I'm not exactly like my mother, but I will do my darnedest to instill the values in my children that my mother instilled in me, especially the ones listed above.