Sunday, March 25, 2012

More. Big. Hairy. Balls.

After my last post I really thought I couldn't handle one more thing. The big hairy balls had done me in.

Well, I guess Karma had something else in mind for me, that bitch.

Turns out I can handle more balls

Especially when they come in the "my husband is in the ER with a cardiac condition" flavor. AKA the biggest, hairiest ball of them all.

So, instead of my husband telling me he has been feeling his heart race and do weird things for a few months and getting it checked out, he decided to wait until it was not only racing and jumping, but he was dizzy and short of breath. Fortunately, he works at a hospital and one of the nurse practitioners listened to his heart and immediately sent him to the ER.

I was in the middle of a meeting with Noah's behavior specialist last Thursday afternoon when he called to tell me where he was headed. 

I told him I was on my way and on the drive managed to call our neighbors and ask if they could get Noah off the bus, call school and let them know so they could tell Noah to go to the neighbors and let the bus driver know who was going to meet Noah, and call daycare and let them know I would be getting Kiel later than usual. (juggling those balls)

To make a very long story just as long a little shorter, Rich was in the ER with atrial flutter, a hemoglobin of 9.1 (normal is 14 - 16, 8 is when they start to transfuse) and a positive test for blood in his stool. The initial thought was that he had a GI bleed. The GI doc came though and said his anemia was not consistent with an active bleed and whatever was going on was a chronic condition. One doctor was telling us the atrial flutter was from low blood volume from the bleed, but then the GI doc said there was no low blood volume and the flutter was something separate. GI doc did do an upper endoscopy on him the next morning.  The endoscopy did not show anything clinically significant.

Cardiologist was brought in and sent Rich for an echocardiogram right after the upper endoscopy. The echo showed the right side of his heart was enlarged, which the cardiologist couldn't make sense of, so he sent him for a CT scan to check for pulmonary embolisms. If he was clear of blood clots in his lungs the plan was to do a cardiac ablation to zap out the bad signal that was causing the flutter.

At this point I freaked out and called my mom and told her I needed her and my dad to come out and help. They were surprised, but thankfully they packed up and drove from Michigan to help with the boys. I don't know what I would have done if they hadn't been able or willing to come.

I waited to have my freakout until I was in the parking garage of the hospital getting ready to go pick up Kiel from daycare.  As I left the garage I handed the attendant my ticket, which he handed right back to me and said no, I need the blue ticket, this one is for the other garage. Of course I was crying, and that just sent me over into the ugly cry. I tried to find the ticket, but could barely see. By this time I was holding up cars behind me and the attendant was looking at me with a mixture of horror and disgust. He finally just said to forget about it and waved me on through.

The CT scan showed no clots in his lungs so they decided he could come home for the weekend if he wanted, and go back in to the hospital Monday morning for the ablation.

He came home for the weekend and I held my breath the entire time. Every time he moved he was out of breath and he could feel the funny rhythm in his chest. When he was sleeping if he stopped snoring I woke him up to make sure he was still alive. I was a nervous wreck.And I also realized just how much he does do around the house between taking care of the boys and cooking.

Then the next ball came along and Friday night I realized it was time to take "the cat that would not die" to the vet where he would lose the word "not" in his title. :(

Fortunately a friend of mine took Noah to karate Saturday morning and he spent time with her son, while I took Stel to the vet.

The vet sucked, as it always does when you are putting a loved animal to sleep. It was time though, and I knew that. 

They sent me home with a paw print made in "clay" that I had to bake to harden.

A friend of mine, Bella, my angel, came over to help me crisis clean for my parents visit. I can't even describe to you how awesome it was having her here with me and how much she did to help! 

As the paw print was cooling on the counter Noah thought he would help by microwaving it. The in house fire alarm went off as the house filled with toxic black smoke. We were all upstairs and raced down to figure out was what going on (including Rich, who should not have been running). We sat outside on the deck for an hour and a half as the house aired out.

Bella and I stayed up late drinking wine and talking. It was very nice!

The next morning we woke up and our neighbor knocked on the door to tell us I had a flat tire. All I could do was laugh, really laugh. I mean really. Karma was losing her touch if that was all she could give me.

My parents arrived Sunday afternoon and the boys were just thrilled. I think they were happy to see the boys as well.

Monday morning we were back at the hospital for Rich to have the ablation. The procedure went well, but they found an atrial septal defect (ASD) during the procedure. It is a congenital condition, but since his heart has started to enlarge and he had the arythmia, they suggest he have it corrected before anything worse happens. We are waiting to find out if he can have it done via catheter (non-invasive) or if it will have to be done as an open heart procedure.

A hematologist came in to talk about Rich's anemia and they determined it was due to chronic iron deficiency from malabsorption.  They gave him an iron infusion and will again weekly for another four or five weeks.

He came home Tuesday morning, well tuned up, but with future repairs needed, which we will figure out.

I realized through all of this that even when I think I've reached my limit I can manage what I have to.

I ain't afraid of no BALLS!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Big. Hairy. Balls. That require juggling.

There are so many things I want to write about, but finding the time to actually do it has been difficult lately. Instead, I find myself writing just the titles for a blog post, with a short bit on what I want to say so I'll can come back to it. Unfortunately, by the time I get back to it I either don't remember what I thought was so funny/interesting/important about the topic, or it is no longer timely.

I want to write about last weekend, my second year at the Early Trauma and Attachment Meeting (ETAAM)in Orlando, with the most awesome mommas ever! But I'm still decompressing and I'm not ready to share yet. I need to keep the awesomeness close to me for another day or two. 

Today I need to write about stress and mental and emotional health.

I remember a graph in pharmacy school when we learned about mental health disorders. It was a very simple graph, with stress on one axis and depression (I think) on the other. Essentially it was describing the linear relationship between the two, and in very simple terms saying that when the stress gets high enough everyone eventually has a breaking point.

I always thought I had a lower breaking point than most, considering I've been dealing with depression since I was a teenager. Recently though, in one of those "light-bulb moments" I realized that I generally deal with stress just fine as long as it is the life is busy, lots of deadlines, too much to do kind of stress. It is emotional stress that really gets me.

I actually do better at work when I have the pressure of deadlines and an over-full project load.

I do just fine juggling Noah's appointments and therapy, and managing to get all of us to karate at least once or twice a week.

I even make sure we all have clean clothes despite being so busy that the rest of the house suffers. Let's be honest, a clean house has never been a big priority for me.

But add in emotional stress and I hit the overload wall pretty quickly. And right now, I feel like I slammed face first into it. So much of the emotional shit right now has to do with Noah (big surprise, right?) and how I am dealing with him: problems with school, frustration with his psychiatrist, worrying about his lack of friends, realizing that his IEP is not acceptable and we are going to have to fight the school district over it, accepting that we are seeing more behaviors and learning disorders as a result of the fetal alcohol exposure, and just the general trying to accept that he is always going to struggle and we can't fix him.

I'm also dealing with a dying cat that doesn't seem in any big hurry to actually die, but continues to pee on things around my house. 

And, I'm more than a little worried about Rich and how he is handling all of this, and what it is doing to our marriage.

To put it simply, I'm juggling a lot of big hairy balls right now. I'm usually OK with a couple balls, even if one of them is big and hairy. I can do two if I know it's short term. But when it becomes four and five, and most of them are filled with emotional crap, I find myself wanting to scream "get me off this ride."

It's not easy for me to say I can't do it all, but I know that if I don't put at least one ball down (gently, with assurance to it that I will be back soon) I'm going to find myself either dropping all of them or sitting in a parking lot somewhere yodeling and sending messages on Facebook that I'm not ever going home. 

I know I need to make some decisions, and I need to make them now. Obviously there are balls I can't drop (like work, Noah's therapy, Kiel's speech therapy, getting Noah through school every day, and the big one for me right now - fighting the school district for a more appropriate IEP and the necessary services).

Things I could theoretically drop: bathing, cooking (oh, who am I kidding, I didn't cook before) sleep, testing for my black belt in April (instead I would test next fall).

Considering I drove to karate class today and sat outside in my car crying, and never actually made it inside, I think I've made at least one decision. The one ball that is just about me, is the only thing right now that I can set aside. I feel a combination of guilt and resentment that this is what it is coming down to, but also a little bit of relief.

*It's also about to push me over the edge that I can't figure out why the font is changing when I add a hyperlink to the word.