A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Surgery

Renee and Heidi JoThat’s me and my Heidi Jo. She knew I wasn’t feeling well last night, so she stuck to me like Velcro. She laid on my tummy to keep it warm. Must be she knew exactly where I hurt.

I decided to become a comedian!

I should have known what I was in for when the nurse asked me to pee in a cup before she could prep me for surgery. I looked at her and said, “Seriously. I had a sterilization procedure over a year ago. I’m not pregnant.” She laughed and replied, “Honey, just give me three drops.” She left and I locked the door. I sat there for about five minutes willing myself to go. I gave her nothing, nada, zip and zilch.

I headed back to Amy with my empty cup. She just laughed at me. She said, “Let’s get you prepped and then try again. I told her, “I’ve got nothing left in me. I swear.” I proceeded to hold up my fingers in a Girl Scout salute. Our conversation went to hell from there. I took off my clothes and put on my gown. I could only reach the draw string around my neck, so that’s the only one I tied. Yes, my ass was hanging out, but I was going to be lying down so I didn’t care.

Amy brought blankets that had been warmed in an oven. I told her, “Bless you honey, cuz I’m freezing my ass off!” I put my hands underneath the blanket to warm my veins. I wanted them to be ready for the IV Amy was going to shove in my hand. As she’s doing her thing, Dr. P the anesthesiologist introduced himself. He was sweet and friendly. He harassed Amy in a loving way as she flitted around the room. I told him “Thank you, you’re very nice.” The nurse said “I’d like that comment in writing please.” I told Dr. P, “Come back and I’ll gladly write it down.” I gave him a bright smile. He said to Amy, “See, she has good taste.” Amy replied, “She’s being nice because you’re going to give her good drugs.” I laughed uproariously. The whole damn room could hear me.

There were more nurses to greet me, an intern working with Dr. K and the doctor herself. I love that woman. She’s about 5’1″. She’s energy, light and fire. I love her matter of factness. She’s a dream. She signs off on my surgery band and heads to her locker to take off her coat and hat.

Amy comes back and sticks my hand with a light dose of Lidocain, then inserts the IV. I told her not to go digging around in my vein or I might have to slap her. She giggled at me. I told her I was serious. As she was taping the IV down her nose started to run. I said, “Oh honey let it drip. It’s not the worst thing I’ve had on my hand.” She replied, “Just don’t go digging around, right?” I said, “Amy, if you start digging in your nose, I’ll throw up.” She told me, “Stop making me laugh so hard or my nose will start running all over your hand.” I answered back, “Ewwwwwww you’re gross!”
She hooked me up to the IV bag and let the fluids run fast. I still needed to pee. I grabbed my cup and asked Amy to tie up my gown. She called me a brazen hussy. I replied, “How did you know!?” She said she needed to get me an IV pole. I yelled across the room, “Be careful now I might have to dance around it.” The woman across from me laughed. I’m glad she did too, because two minutes before that she had the most distraught look on her face. She was talking to her daughter that was going to have surgery. I could see she was putting on a brave face, but she was nervous as hell.

I took my pole and cup with me to the bathroom. Finally peed, washed my hands and headed back to my bed. Sitting in the chair next my bed was my rock. My Roger Darling. Amy helped me with my IV and covered me back up. I looked at RD and said, “My nurse had the nerve to call me a brazen hussy because I told her I was going to dance on my IV pole.” He laughed and shook his head. Said, “Babe even before surgery, you can be a nut. He heard the other patients and care givers laughing at me and he gave me the warmest smile. He asked, “Are you okay?” I replied, “Yep, I’m ready for good drugs and good night.”

Dr. K stopped by and said she was ready. She chatted with Roger, he kissed my lips, and headed out to the waiting area. Dr. K said, “He’s so chill. So calm.” I told her, “Yes, he is my rock. My other half. My friend.” They wheeled me to OR 1. As we entered the room they said they would draw the shades. I told Dr. K, “Good. I don’t need everyone seeing my hoo hoo.” She laughed at me and said, “You’re a funny woman.” I replied, “Yep, now give me drugs.” They did and I was gone.

I woke up an hour later to the sweet sound of my nurse, Molly telling me it was time to wake up. I didn’t want to though. I was dreaming. Of what I don’t remember, but it was good. I think it was anyway. Now I’m home and resting. Taking care to write and read. Nothing more. Results will be in by the end of the week. Here’s hoping it’s not the big C. And if it is, it’s only a little c.

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The Intense Need to Live

Anxiety Photo

Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.-Anais Nin

I feel torturous fear. My entire body becomes chilled. Palms perspire and feel as though 1000’s of stick pins are pushing into them. The small hairs stand up on the back of my neck. My heartbeat quickens to 175 beats per minute. There’s tightness in my chest. Tingling and numbness in my left arm. Am I dying? Will someone help me? Please!? My head pounds and I become dizzy. My teeth clench. I feel as if I’m living outside of myself. That I’m not real. I touch objects, but can not feel them. My breathing becomes shallow and rapid. I have feelings of impending doom.

My brain speeds up and all thoughts scatter. My eyes dart around the room. Can anyone sense what’s happening to me? My anguish? My need to live? To run away? That I’ve lost my breath? That I’m shutting down? Dying. Of what, I’ve no idea? I hyperventilate and my body shakes. I think I’m going to pass out. Won’t anyone help me? I can’t breathe! I can’t see! My face flushes. I am shaking. I reach out with trembling hands and scream, “HELP, I’m dying!!” Am I crazy? Can those around me see it? See me? Heal me. Please!

So pronounced was my need to live that I lost my breath. Every single day.

I would wake up and try to focus. Stand up. Breathe air into my lungs. It felt as though they had collapsed. I could barely gulp in air. The tightness in my chest would intensify and my heart would constrict. Such was my need to live. My need to survive everyday. I was a young wife and mother. I had lost control of my spirit, mind, and body. I wanted to die. But I didn’t. I wanted the fear to subside, but it never did. Every day I spiraled out of control. Every damn day.

It took years to come to grips with the fact that I was doing all of this to myself. That I was hurting myself. I went to the emergency room constantly. There were EKGs, EEGs, blood work, stress tests, and echocardiograms. I was a healthy, albeit crazy 22 year old woman. I fought the good fight. I finally found my way to the Anxiety and Panic Disorder program at the University of Michigan Hospital. After an assessment, I was put into an anxiety group discussion. I worked hard at my program. I faced my fears. My anxiety went into remission. I was able to live again. Enjoy my husband and children. Find my way back to happy.

Ten years later I started having symptoms again. My children were growing up. I was self-destructing. I was gaining weight and sabotaging myself. I started waking up in the night with panic attacks. It was time for medication and more therapy. I started Lexapro. Within one week the sparkle returned to my eyes. There was life in my life. There was hope. I and my family flourished. I realized that I was like a diabetic. I needed the meds to bring me back to life. I still take them. I need to.

I work with an incredible therapist. He helps me find my way. He tells me I’m not crazy. That I am good. He makes me work hard. Makes me accountable. What’s surprising is the fact that I’ve become an adrenaline junkie. Nothing scares me. Well, hardly anything. There’s that unnatural fear of sharks that I have. I think I was killed by one in a past life.

If you feel these symptoms, know that you are not alone. Get help. Talk to me. Talk to others. Find your way back to life. And breathe easy. You are okay.

Happiness is Strong Pain Meds and Valium YAY!

Pain makes me a whiny baby bitch.

The last four or five weeks have not been good ones. I have been dealing with chronic pain that has been steadily getting worse. I’m no longer able to hold a pen or pencil and after about a half hour of typing, my left hand becomes immobile. The pain in my back has been excruciating. I was hoping that after quitting my job in the salon that I would heal on my own. That turned out not to be the case. I am now having muscle spasms that radiate from my shoulder blade to my finger tips. The spasms last anywhere from 15 seconds to at least one minute. The Motrin and muscle relaxer the general practitioner prescribed didn’t do much of anything. If I wanted any relief, I had to keep my arm completely immobile. That’s not easy for this busy woman to do.  It fucking sucks!

I’ve seen a chiropractor and he’s awesome, but I’m still suffering. I finally gave up and went to the ER today. Roger Darling had a mandatory meeting so I called my Meggie to come be with me. She shows up at the ER with what I think is the entire contents of her house. She’s got her book bag, her computer, her cell phone, and her purse. I think she plans on moving in. My sweet girl cheered me up, and made me laugh a lot. She spewed the F word about as much as I do. We talked about her fiance, the wedding, school, her goofy dogs, her all organic food kick. We talked about everything. Then I’d have a muscle spasm. We’d wait it out and then she’d bitch because we had to wait almost three hours to see a doctor.

Meg decided we needed lunch. She took off to Whole Food for organic pizza, salad and soup. In the meantime the doctor finally showed up. It was discovered that I have a severely pinched nerve in my C7 vertebrae. They prescribed heavy duty pain meds and another muscle relaxer. After Meggie got back, Dr. A came into my room to introduce himself. We set up an appointment on Friday afternoon for an MRI and to discuss the next course of treatment. After he left the room Megan start singing the Ali Abua Abua song from Disney’s, Aladdin because that’s exactly what the specialist looked like. She told me I had to sing the song to him when I  see him on Friday. I called her a giant music geek. She just cackled. My God her laugh is just like mine!

After I was discharged we walked out together. I thanked her for staying with me and she said she was happy to. Said I’d been there for her all those times when she was sick, so she had to take care of me. My heart swelled and I got a little misty eyed. I told her she was a good daughter and that I loved her. She gave me a hug and a kiss and said she’d see me soon. We went our separate ways. She back to Livonia, me back to Tecumseh. As I was driving home I heard my favorite song by U2. It brightened me right up. I cranked it and sang along with the lyrics, It’s a Beautiful Day, don’t let it get away….. I may be in pain but the day really is quite beautiful indeed. Especially now that the pain meds have kicked in. Hope you all are having a beautiful day yourselves. I need a nap.

MRI’s, EEG’s and Adam Boy

Today is not a very good day for this sparkly girl. Today I have to go with my sweet, sarcastic ass of a son to have an MRI and EEG. He needs to have these tests to see if he has MS. No that’s not Ms, which I am even though I’ve been a Mrs. for 23 years. That’s Multiple Sclerosis. I’ve been thinking about him so much today. Praying. Hoping. Wishing. See,, in five days my baby will be 21. He’s just starting this wonderful life of his. He’s living on his own with the wonderful Clairee and their new puppy, Baxter. He wants to be a lawyer. He’s prepping for that. Learning about taking the LSAT. Finding out which schools he wants to apply to. There’s Wayne State, University of Michigan, Northwestern, and Wisconsin (his personal choice, why he wants to be a Badger instead of a Wolverine is beyond me).

How did my boy get to be so smart? How did I get so lucky to have such a good kid? I think of all the trials of raising him. My boy with ADHD and anxiety. Shyness and a stutter too. Now I see this vibrant young man. This kid that wants to be a judge some day, and I pray that he’s okay. I have to realize that even if he does have MS, he has an incredible future. That he CAN and WILL be everything he wants to be. He will finish college, he will go to law school and he will be a success. With MS or without, he will be a success.

So dear readers, think of my son today. Pray if you believe, and if you don’t, pray anyway. No matter what the outcome of these test are, I know my son will still be a star. I know he will.

Thank you.

Sometimes our Greatest Joys are Born of Happy Accidents

And when our baby stirs and struggles to be born it compels humility: what we began is now its own.-Margaret Mead

Adam Boy was a Happy “Accident”. A surprise. Something that I didn’t know would turn out to be one of the biggest blessings of my life. He came to be because the condom broke. I was petrified. I had just been diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder. Hell, I was still dealing with post partum depression from having Meggie. She was just six months old! She never slept. So neither did I. Roger Darling worked midnights. I was petrified. What the hell was I going to do with two babies?

On the day of his birth I’d been so sick. I had the flu. I’d thrown up most of the day and felt miserable. Roger Darling was in the kitchen, reading the paper, and drinking coffee. I told him that I was heading upstairs to our huge claw foot tub to soak, and to get the baby off my back a bit. The water was warm and tranquil. I instantly fell asleep, only to be awakened ten minutes later with the most intense pain across my abdomen. I couldn’t be in labor. I had two more weeks till my due date!

I looked down at my belly. I saw it harden and contract. I felt the pain stab in my back. Yes, I was in labor. I tried to relax. Breathe. The next contraction came two minutes later! I thought to myself, if my water breaks ,we are having this baby at home. I’m not a good one to talk to about labor and delivery. I had Meggie one hour after my water broke. I pushed her out in three pushes. The pushes took ten minutes, max. See, woman reader, now you’re pissed off, aren’t you? Some of you pushed for hours only to be told you had to have a C-Section. Don’t get me wrong, I labor with the best of them. My labor was in the back. It felt like someone took a hot knife, stuck it in my back and turned it from side to side.  But the delivery, now that was always a piece of cake for me.

So back to Adam Boy. I pull myself out of the tub, dress and waddle my contracting self down the steps. I tell Roger Darling to grab Meggie because it is time to go to the hospital. He’s in shock. He packs Baby Girl up and we head off to Papa Dale’s and Grandma Marge’s. She’s as happy as a little clam. We head off to meet my mom at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. Fortunately my bag of water stayed intact. Until we got to triage and they checked me for dilation. With one touch of a skilled finger, the fluid rushed out of me. I looked at Rog and said he’ll be here in an hour. He smiled his sweet smile.

I guess the LDR was nice. I really didn’t give a shit. Labor had advanced and so had the pain. I didn’t take meds. There is something so powerful about not doing so. I dealt with the pain. Breathed. Almost bit Roger’s hand off at one point. My mom was there with us. She and Rog chatted while I labored. One hour later, Adam was ready to come. Just like I said he would.

We knew he was in distress. We knew that he could be really sick. He could even die. We were prepared. Mom held one of my legs, Roger held the other. Dr. P. told me to push. Adam’s head crowned right away. He had a full head of hair just like Meggie did when she was born. But my boy, he was green. This was not good news. I pushed again, his shoulders turned, and his torso emerged. Dr. P. made me stop pushing. How do you stop the progression of the natural birth process? I thought I was dying. But I would have chosen my death to save him. To give him life. Dr. P. suctioned Adam’s little lungs, his throat and his nostrils. He was meconium stained, and had fluid in his lungs. I was writhing. I wanted to push so badly but had to wait for the doctor to get as much fluid out of his tiny body as she could. I had to stay still to save him. Save me. Finally I was told I could bear down.

Mom and Rog still held my legs, I gripped the handles on the birthing bed. I lifted up off the bed and pushed with everything I had. As Adam came into this world so did more amniotic fluid, blood and placenta. Dr. P caught Adam as he exited my body. Caught him! Mom and Rog let go of my legs to keep from being splattered with fragments from my utuerus. Hey, when I give birth, I do it up!

I didn’t get to hold him. He was whisked away by the pediatrician that was standing by. I turned and looked over at the warming station. Mom, Rog, the nurses, the doctor all stood around him. I ached for him. To gain a glimpse of him. To touch him. My beautiful baby boy. He was so close to me, but I couldn’t hold him, talk to him, touch him. Mom said he was gorgeous even though he was green. That green, sickly little baby was mine. I asked if he was going to die. They said they didn’t know. My mother was floored by my candidness. My baby might die, I wasn’t beating around the bush. I had to know.

 His APGAR at birth was 2, grave. His APGAR at five minutes was 5, critical. He was carted off to NICU. I was stabilized and taken to my room. My body was sore and still contracting, but I was cleaned, and stitched up. I was ready for my first walk. I walked to the NICU, and peered into his cradle. He was domed with an oxygen apparatus. I held his little foot. His little tiny foot. I spoke softly, smiled, cooed, and cried. I don’t think I’ve ever loved more intensely than I did in that moment.

Adam is grown now. He’s almost 21. I wonder where the time has gone. I’m proud of him. I’m anxious to see what his future holds. I’m so thankful Roger Darling and I got to raise such a wonderful, funny, bright, charming and silly young man. He was the best surprise I’ve ever received.