Thursday, March 28, 2013

I'm Here..

I may be back here...maybe not.

I survived the Fall semester, which wasn't a small task. It was mentally, physically, emotionally, and professionally the most difficult semester I've ever faced. It took lots of antidepressants and mood stabilizers, which I'm no longer taking, but I survived. There was a point when I wasn't sure if I would, but I'm alive.

I'm still here. Working two jobs (two different schools/departments) and about to take a research trip to the UK for a new project and a conference where I was invited to present.

I'm settling into a completely over-booked, never-enough-time routine of classes, but I may occasionally like to blog again. God knows I probably need the outlet. Not sure anyone is reading, and that's okay. But, I'm here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Good Summer Things

One of the best things about this summer is that the little girls have been able to enjoy several activities sponsored either by our church or a neighboring church that we attended for a brief time after moving to our new home. They both went to vacation Bible school (VBS) earlier this summer, and it made my heart happy to hear them singing the songs they learned and repeating the verses they'd discussed. VBS was a staple of my childhood summers. I loved the crafts, meeting new kids, learning more about the Bible, and I'm so thankful to live in the U.S. again, where my children can take part in the tradition.

This past week, Eliza got to participate in our church's Sports Camp. It's a one-week program (just 3 hours each day), where the kids get to be outside and active (soccer, cheer, football, etc.) and work with a camp counselor to connect their activities to specific Bible themes or passages. This year, the theme was Going for the Gold, and it emphasized the importance of the ultimate reward of our relationship with God: heaven. I don't talk about heaven much with my kids. They understand it simply as a place where people they love go after death. I let them imagine what they will and explain that I don't really know with certainty what heaven is like. Regardless of what my kids choose to believe when they are adults, linking the values we believe in to a larger foundation of faith is important to us as parents. We're talking about simple concepts here, folks: Don't steal, lie, cheat, kill. Respect and obey your parents. Help others. Be thankful to God and turn to Him in prayer. Having an environment that reinforces those lessons is something the girls (at least Eliza, who's almost 6) seem to appreciate and enjoy. Seeing their joy is what makes my heart happy, and that's something I really need more of these days.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Good News, Bad News

The good news is that I got the job!! Beginning this fall, I will be a Part-Time Lecturer in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at a branch of New England State University. I only have T/Th open in my teaching schedule right now, so I can only teach one course in the new department, but this will change in the spring. For the fall term, I'll be teaching a special topics course, one that I get to build from the ground up, and they're looking for me to continue doing more of this in the future. I learned quite a bit from the interview last week, and it looks like the department has a good deal of administrative support. This is a great opportunity for the present, but an even more amazing job because of the potential it offers for the future. If things go very well, and I am patient and can prove myself indispensable, successful in the classroom, a team player, and effective at securing additional financial support for work the department does, this spot could turn into a full-time--if not a tenure-track--position. I'm grateful and excited about this new direction, and even more thrilled that it will allow (also require) us to move to 5-day/week childcare! Yay for the chance to work every day!!

The bad news is that I have uterine (endometrial) polyps. Almost two weeks ago, I noticed some spotting after Hubby and I had sex, and when light bleeding continued the next morning, I just thought it must be my period starting a bit earlier than usual. During church, I noticed that I needed to rush to the bathroom to attend to...ahem, some lady business. Not only was the bleeding heavy, but I passed a clot so large (bigger than a golf ball) that it felt like I was delivering something (-0- chance of pregnancy). The bleeding and clot passing continued for the next 48 hours, with me going through the heaviest tampon and pad they make every 60-75 minutes, sometimes bleeding through both and my clothes. I was left to pretty much lay in bed, sometimes not even having the energy to go up and down the stairs. I saw my doctor on Thursday, and she ordered some blood work, then my ultrasound was yesterday. The radiologist has not given the official results, but the U/S technician was able to show me at least one polyp and measure it.

The usual treatment, according to my doctor, is a D&C. I've never had one of these, but I know they're relatively common. This, however, doesn't make me feel any better. It still requires general anaesthesia, a half day in the hospital, and extensive cramping. I just feel like this is one more thing added to a very long and growing list of shit--medical or otherwise--that I have to worry about and deal with. I'm supposed to build a brand new course from scratch, prep for a course I've never taught before, stay home with the girls each day (except Tuesday), figure out when I'll have back surgery, help out with our church's vacation Bible school in a couple weeks, get Eliza ready for kindergarten, take a one-week trip to Home State to visit both my mom *and* my biological dad (in neighboring state), etc., etc. I'm just overwhelmed with everything, and I feel like I have absolutely zero time to get anything accomplished. One day, the semester will begin, and I'll be expected to have all my shit together, and I just don't know how that's going to happen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I'm Here...Barely

One day, when I have childcare again, I promise I'll have more time to write in this space. God knows it would be cathartic. But with me staying home with the girls 4 days a week, I'm not about to use any of my 1 work day to blog, and I'm so exhausted in the evenings that I can barely keep my eyes open.
So, what's been happening?

Well, my disc is still herniated, and the neurologist is certain that it's pinching my sciatic nerve, which is the reason for the weakness and numbness in my right leg and why I've lost my Achilles reflex and much of the reflex in my knee. After an EMG to map the nerves next week, I will consult with a neurosurgeon to plan and schedule a microdiscectomy. This is often done on an outpatient basis and requires much less downtime. I'm thankful to finally have some answers and a plan in place!

We took a vacation to Ocean City, NJ for the 4th of July week, and it was pretty good. We enjoyed the beach every day with the girls, but it wasn't quite the same without Hannah, who is in Home State for the summer, visiting grandparents and her (biological) father. We enjoyed a really nice dinner out with Hubby's parents to celebrate my birthday, and the girls got to see their cousins. We have, however, decided that we won't be making that trip in the future. This is due to several reasons. First, we live near beaches that are much closer than the 6-8 hours it takes to drive to Ocean City. Second, we don't always get to most of Hubby's family when we're at the shore. Third, there's no reason to visit somewhere that requires us to rent a house for a week; we just don't have that kind of money to spend every year. Since it seems that nobody in Hubby's family has any intention or desire to drive or fly to visit us, the burden falls to us to travel to his home state if we want our children to be able to spend time with their cousins. Since these cousins are the only ones they have (my brother isn't married, doesn't have kids), and our girls LOVE their cousins, we feel that it's important to just bite the bullet and make the drive (about 6 hours) to Hubby's parents' house once a year.

My mother and I have only spoken once since she left in mid-June. Other than sending me a few text messages to ask questions regarding Hannah, the only time she's contacted me was to wish me a happy birthday. I'm flying to Home State on Friday to see Hannah, and I will *not* be staying at my parent's house. This is a first, and she has yet to ask why...probably because she thinks I'm still pissed at her, but that's actually not the reason. I'm not angry with her anymore; I just think she's a tiny bit f*#king crazy, and until she can realize that her behavior at my home was inappropriate at best--mean and hurtful in actuality--I really don't want to be around her any more than I have to be. For the first time in my life, I'm not questioning myself here and wondering what I did wrong or how I was selfish. This is really not about me; this is about her and whatever chip she has on her shoulder. I don't know what it is or why she feels like she can speak to me the way she does, but I'm not going to tolerate it any longer.

Oh, some good job news. Last week I applied for a part-time lecturer position in the Women's and Gender Studies Program at a branch of Large New England State School, and yesterday I got a phone interview request! The program is impressive, and the school has a longstanding practice of moving part-timers up to full-time positions and making joint appointments, both of which make this a great place for me to get my foot in the door. Interview is tomorrow, so send prayers and good vibes this way.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

So Much Stuff

I don't even know where to begin....

Hubby received a fellowship to study military history at West Point, so he left on Sunday, June 10th (the program is 3 weeks!). His trip last not even a full three days because last Wednesday I was hospitalized for severe back pain, and he had to return and take over with the girls.

I had undergone a second injection procedure the prior week to help alleviate pain resulting from a herniated disc. I had really high hopes following the procedure, but the day after Hubby left, I felt the familiar nagging pain. I went to bed with a heating pad Monday night, but it didn't feel much better the next day. I thought a relaxing day at the beach with another family we're friends with would be a great idea. I loaded the car with kids (even taking Hannah out of school for the day) and we headed to the Cape. The pain slowly got worse and then, while we were walking back to the shore during low tide, I suddenly felt like my lower-right back was "pinched." We still had to eat lunch, go check out the fish market, and drive home, and by the time we got home, I wanted to do nothing but cry, the pain was so bad. I put an ice pack on it and took a muscle relaxer and ibuprofen, but still had no relief in the morning. I started making phone calls to see if there was anyone who could help me out, and by 10:00 a.m., my youth pastor was taking me to the ER while another mom (a friend from church) was staying at our house with the girls. Hannah stayed home again to help while I was gone. By 4:00, the ER doctor decided to admit me to the hospital because the pain was so bad I couldn't walk unassisted, couldn't sit up without screaming in pain...without pain medication, lying down didn't even get rid of the pain.

I was fortunate in that the doctor's son had just recently undergone a microdiscectomy for a herniated disc, so she sympathized with my condition and wanted me to get some relief. Hubby talked with the director of the fellowship program, and they were willing to allow him to come home and help then return to the program--thank God. I felt awful to have to ask him to come back home, but I really had no other choice. Working from the assumption that the disc was the problem, they did another MRI, and I spent the first night just trying to sleep through the noise of the other patient in the room. The next evening, a neurologist ordered a CT scan after his reading of the MRI suggested that the bulge in my disc wasn't large enough to cause such severe pain (nor did it explain the numbness and weakness in my right leg). He confirmed my suspicion that the doctor from the pain clinic was using the injections as a way of padding his pocket, and he decided to explore the nerves to the right of the spine.

While the second night proved much more restful (thanks to my request for a slipping pill and ear plugs), the pain was still significant. Unfortunately, the CT scan was largely normal, only showing some occluded veins in my abdomen, which left the neurologist with no answers. I was beyond frustrated, but determined to go home Friday evening because Hannah's first semi-formal dance was that night, and I wanted to see her in her dress. They agreed to send me home, as long as I took the pain medicine on schedule and followed up with my primary doctor if I had any unrelieved pain. In addition, my mom, who was originally scheduled to arrive yesterday, changed her flight plans and came in on Saturday to help me out with the kids so that Hubby could return to his fellowship program on Sunday. This seemed like a great idea at the time...

To make a long story short, things have not gone well. I'm still in pain (though not nearly as bad as last week), my mother thinks Hubby and I are horrible parents, and she literally yelled at me in front of my children. I'm thinking I should've stayed in the hospital....

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fire at the Villagio

Doha News report for the story as reports continue to come in.

A few hours ago, I learned of a fire at the Villagio Mall in Doha, a shopping center and mall that we spent countless hours at while we were in Qatar. Not once did I ever think to look up and see if there were sprinklers installed as a fire safety. The fire seems to have started in Gympanzee, a children's play area. Thus far, 13 children are dead and 6 adults. The really miraculous thing is that emergency personnel arrived in 8 minutes. Only those who've live in a part of the world like the Middle East can truly understand how traffic there operates. Drivers usually pay little to no attention to ambulances trying to make their way to an emergency, and they certainly are in no hurry to get out of the way.

I am saddened by this tragedy and pray for those hurt and the families of those who died in the fire. Eliza is worried about her friends in Doha, so we're saying a special prayer that they are safe.

You might take a few minutes to be thankful that we live in a place where our safety during emergency situations is something that most people take seriously. We have regulations in place to keep buildings relatively safe in the case of a fire, and that's just one of a million things that people in other parts of the world don't have.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Very Unlucky

When I went to the doctor at the pain clinic today--the one who did the original epidural steroid injection--to explain the subsequent complications and continuing pain in my back, his response was:

"I'm sorry AcadeMama, you're just very unlucky."

I resisted the urge to swear and was in too much pain to kick him in the face. He wanted to know why I hadn't taken any pain medication today, and I explained that I'm tired of taking pills. His view was that I really didn't have much choice if I wanted any relief. He assured me that I could take the medicine he's prescribed for a month, and I wouldn't have any problems with dependency. However, he and my PCP have conflicting views on which pain medication will be least likely to result in dependency or resistance to effectiveness (Nucynta vs. Oxycodone). For now, he has put me back on bed rest. He said if I'm "lucky" (WTF is up with his seeming philosophy that this is all a matter of luck?!), I may get some relief by the end of the week. He said since what I'm feeling now seems like the same pain I was having before the injection (with the exception of a relief of pressure near my tailbone), that it may be the case that the injection was only partially effective. Or, that it could be that the pain will subside with time. 1-2 weeks!! I don't have that kind of time to be laying on my back, people! I've got shit to do, classes to prep, research to conduct, and a household to run.

Did I mention he didn't even say sorry for puncturing my spinal sack?

We trust doctors to get it right. We pay them to get it right. I understand that they're human, fallible. But when they do make a mistake, especially one that puts a patient in such an unbelievable shitstorm of pain and financial burden, is it too much to ask that they take some sort of accountability? Something beyond telling the patient that she is just "very unlucky"?