Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Perfect Storm

So yesterday driving home from the thoracic surgeons office, I was thinking about the first three months of this year so far and looking for a way to describe them in my writers brain. The same words kept coming to mind...."The Perfect Storm." Yep, that is what these months have been like. With Davids two surgeries, multiple ER and hospital stays, Z turning 18 and being in the last semester of his senior year, social security giving me fits and being considered "unemployable," common sense should have told me that the damn would eventually break and all would come flooding or at least seeping at an alarming rate...right out of me.

I am thinking if there was anyone left out there believing in the illusion of my strength, I have successfully squashed all that in the first three months of this new year. If anything I have become a thumb sucking neurotic who spends most of my time waiting for the other shoe to drop (yet again) and trying to deal with the fall out as it does. To say life has not been pretty in Lisaland of late would be a major understatement.

Happily I write today though that things seem to be moving into a somewhat more even space where hopefully I can catch my breath and reassess life with a less frantic lens. But I jump ahead. First a bit of a recap as to The Perfect Storm I speak of.

December 31st David has surgery on his hips in St. Louis. This is followed by fever (because of the trauma of the surgery) and seizures (because they withheld his meds for 16 hours). Little did we know that this little faux pas on the hospitals part would have months long repercussions. We arrive home from St. Louis on a Wednesday and find ourselves in our local ER on Friday followed by another five day hospital stay for pneumonia which had set up from his lying in bed following surgery. We go home on Wednesday and we have a good week and then the following Saturday we head back to St. Louis for cast removal from his surgery. All seems well until the next Saturday when he starts having scary seizures (repercussions from our St. Louis stay). Again we are admitted (this time to PICU) and we stay until Wednesday. We go home and all is good.....or so I think. We start our telemed appointments with a local orthopedist who links in with his Shriners doctor on Friday and we get the go ahead to start physical therapy (PT) the next week. We are happy people and ready to move forward until.....Saturday night when David starts crying in pain. Silly me, I think he has just done too much the previous day and after a thorough check of his hips give him pain meds and rebrace his legs thinking that will help. By Sunday he is in agony so off to the ER we go to find that he has broken his right femur. This requires surgery and we learn at this time how soft his leg bones are. The surgery then sparks a fever, which in turn sparks seizures which ends us back in the PICU! This time we go home on Thursday. Once home, I learn how he broke his leg. He pulled it up sideways and bent it double in his sleep. I know this because I watch him try to do the exact same thing to his left leg. I then brace his left leg to keep from having to have yet another surgery. After two weeks with no ER or hospital stays, I foolishly get cocky and speak of this on facebook. Yes, I know better. By Friday night he was having multiple seizures and after being in contact with the neurologist he tells us....back to the ER where David was immediately admitted to PICU. Luckily this time they were able to get the seizures under control quickly and we were out of the hospital and home by Monday night.

In the process of all of this, social security decided to cut my income by about $700/mo because of their failure to file paperwork that I had already sent in regarding Z turning 18 but still being in school. While admitting that the fault was theirs....it didn't change the government red tape or their inability to fix my predicament. All the while I am frantically looking for something that I can do from home as I can't afford to have someone come in and care for David while I work. Bottom line....I am told several times over that I am simply "unemployable!" You think that doesn't do something to your mental capacity?

We also find time to celebrate Z's 18th birthday and have the classic beginning struggle of  the 18 year old brain that says...."I'm an adult, so the rules for me need to change around here." This has required many lengthy conversations on adulthood, maturity, "my house my rules" and making sure he has enough information on any given subject to make an educated choice. It is both necessary and exhausting not to mention a bit nerve racking for me as I am having to let go and hope that I have instilled the right things into his brain and hope that his still teenage brain can pull the right information when the time comes. Again....exhausting. Luckily I have an extraordinarily amazing kid and so far my parenting efforts seem to be paying off.

So this and a few dozen other issues bring us to the Monday that I brought David home after his seizures. I was so happy and relieved to have had such a short hospital stay and to finally have his seizures under control. You would have thought nothing could spoil the perfection of the moment. Then the other shoe started falling. That night I had what I assume was a panic attack brought on by weirdly enough.....STRESS! I had never had one before but I assumed that is what it was. I was hot, sweaty, hyperventilating, heart racing and my chest felt tight. I made myself sit down and breathe and within about 15 minutes I was okay, but it did scare me a bit. I knew that one panic/anxiety attack might not be the end of it. I was right. That Wednesday I was driving in Wichita. I didn't think I was feeling particularly stressed (although who the heck knows anymore) and I felt a heat start at my toes and work its way up my body. I started sweating and my heart started pounding. My chest felt like it was held in a vice and I couldn't catch my breath. The combination really scared me and took me back to an article I had read awhile back about women and heart attacks. Apparently ours aren't necessarily like men's. I was about 2 minutes from the ER (our home away from home) and a little scared to try to make it to my real home....so the ER it was. I must have looked horrible because they had a wheelchair under me before I could even tell them why I was there. However, after a complete heart work up and five hours of every other kind of test known to man.....I learned that my heart was good and that YES.....stress did seem to be the culprit. I was told to sleep more, relax and maybe do yoga. Yeah, I would get right on all of that. Perhaps I should have made a better effort.

The next Wednesday I once again had another five hour ER stay. This time I literally couldn't breathe. I could not catch my breath and felt as if I had a weight on my chest. This time after a partial heart work up and a chest x-ray, they told me unequivocally that I was having a full on asthma attack. Once those words were out of their mouths....it sounded right. I hadn't had one since 1989 but thinking back, this is pretty much how they always felt. So they gave me breathing treatments and steroids and sent me on my way. By Friday I felt back to me, however Saturday I woke up sick. I was nauseous, headache and I had a progressively bad pain in the right lower side of my chest. As the day progressed the pain got worse and I called my doctor who told me (you guessed it) to get to the ER.

Before I go further.....I should tell you here that this is where part of the perfect storm comes in. Because of my mother's prolific cancer history, I get checked twice a year for breast cancer. One time it is an MRI and the other is a mammogram. During my last MRI six months ago....they found an incidental finding of spots on my lung and a spot on my thyroid. They did a three month follow up on both which showed everything to be stable and now it was time for the six month follow up. So in a day I had a chest CT and a mammogram which is to be followed by a thyroid sono. As if I didn't have enough to think about, worry about and contemplate.

So I made it back into the ER pumped full of drugs and afraid to go to sleep because I was by myself. After numerous images and tests they found the culprit. I have an ulcer. In the big scheme of things...this is no big shock and my next trek to the doctor needs to be for an endoscopic procedure. Yay me! However, there is good news to all of this story. After seeing the thoracic surgeon yesterday, it appears that two of  the three spots originally seen on my lung are gone and the one remaining is unchanged. He wants to see me back in six months but expects nothing new. Thursday I go and find out about my mammogram (yeah more waiting) and there is still the thyroid sono to get (it was suppose to be today but got changed).

My asthma seems to be under control again, I am working on treating the ulcer with meds and I guess it is time to really work on the whole more sleep, less stress, yoga thing. David is doing better and last week was fitted with an actual cast to be taken off in a couple of weeks. Z is at least humoring me when it comes to listening to my words of wisdom.......and best of all spring seems to be trying to show itself.

I still feel as if the last three months have been moments lost in time and that I am playing catch up, but it is my deepest hope that we got this perfect storm out of the way at the beginning of the year and the rest of the year is blue skies and light breezes.

Well, there you have it. The Perfect Storm and  we once again seemed to have survived. You will forgive me though if I say....I don't ever want to step inside another ER or hospital. I think we have gotten our quota in for this year and several years to come!

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