Monday, February 19, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: Maintaining Traditions Without Kids

I don't know why I have felt so busy and exhausted lately, but it just seems like I am half drowning and my go-to action is just gasping for air. It's February break now, and I am so grateful to have a little rest -- although some of that drowning feeling is probably coming from the fact that February Break is really IEP-writing Break.

Wednesday was Valentine's Day. We really don't do anything at all for that holiday except make each other Valentines, but that's been something fun and important over the years and it made it into the Our Traditions spread in our adoption Profile Book.

So this year, when I was real tired and came home relatively late and Bryce was working late and then had a bunch of research things to do, there was the temptation to skip it.

Thank goodness we both were like, NO! There will be no skipping of the Valentine-making, because that becomes a slippery slope and before you know it we've lost our traditions because we're "busy" and there's no profile book to provide picture proof to and there's no children to do it for, and WE WILL NOT SLIDE DOWN THAT SLOPE.

Because we don't have children, I'd argue it's even MORE important to maintain these traditions -- the Christmas tree, the Valentines, the Easter Fun Hunt, the dressing up for Halloween and having the fire pit in the driveway -- these are things that bring joy and family fun to our tiny little family of two. I live in fear of having a "mushy" existence where the days just sort of run together and we float through life, milestoneless, traditionless. It's a bit less of a danger because I work in a school and my calendar year runs September to June and is marked by report cards and breaks and IEP meetings and talent shows and DC trips and 8th grade Luaus, but at home everything could turn into a sort of bland vanilla pudding life.

So we made the Valentines, which came out lovely, and Bryce of course took it wayyy too seriously and made a piece of gorgeous art, while I aspired to have mine look like a 6-year-old crafted them.

I guess that's part of the tradition, too, and I love it.

Bryce discovered the joy of dry embossing, and made me a field of butterflies with butterfly bushes. 
I also dry embossed, but mine was a lot less fancy...
...and a lot more punny. 
Look! A six year old lurking inside a 41 year old made this! I should have drawn the body first because it sort of resembles a mayfly, but I'm pretty proud of how it turned out. I'd show the inside because there are more smaller mothlike heart butterflies, but the message is NSFW, ha ha. So it's a card of contradictions.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Monday, February 12, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: There's No Adult Running This Ship



When we decided to end our journey to parenthood as childfree-not-by-choice, we developed a serious case of Fuckititis. It was quite lovely, actually, because we decided that if we couldn't have a baby, if we couldn't have the dream of a family of our own after trying so hard for so long...well, then we'd make it a point not to deny ourselves the simple pleasures we COULD control in our lives. So we slept in, we drank delicious wine, we decided to go out to fancy dinners on the spur of the moment for no reason at all -- basically we decided that after 8 years of constriction in one way or another that we'd just let loose. 

Well, I didn't think I would end up with stupid fatty liver, but honestly I knew that I needed to lose some weight and regain some healthier habits. More than once I said to Bryce that "there's no adult running this ship" -- we were both Yes Men and it was real easy to go along with things that were tasty and convenient, and to say that we deserved it because of all we'd been through. 

There's some truth in that thinking...but at the same time, indulgence doesn't come without consequence. The treats became the norms -- the buffalo chicken dip, the klondike bars, the chips and onion dip, the bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and a ground beef/pork mix -- and I forgot I wasn't 25 anymore. 

There's a flip side, too, though. It feels like everything was always Do This, Don't Do That with infertility, and there were restrictions on our time, our  money, our diets...and so it seems that to cut good food and good wine out is to cut out a big part of what's enjoyable to us and something that we can enjoy more BECAUSE we don't have children. So there's a little resentment about that. 

Part of me though wonders why I took such good care of my body when I was hoping to harbor a tiny potential person in there, and then when that became impossible I just dropped some of the healthier habits, because it was "just me." 

Aren't I worth that care, too? 

And can't we balance out the fancy decadent dinners and amazing wine with nights where we have salmon and wild rice and brussells sprouts, and nights where we go to the gym and have grilled chicken and veggies? 

Balance. It all got out of balance when we developed raging Fuckititis and forgot to have at least one adult on the ship at all times instead of a crew of Peter Pans, and ended up in a "Feast every day, no feast" situation. 

We're headed back into balance. We are doing the responsible thing, but also allowing ourselves to steer the ship into Pleasure Island now and then, too. We've got to have SOME total hedonistic fun while getting back to a healthier place, right? And we still sleep in on the weekend, until someone tells us that THAT is detrimental to our health, too.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays, probably shorter ones than this 19-sentence cheaterpants post? Go here and enjoy!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Plan

Funny how the title of this post makes me think back on all the plans I had so carefully made that didn't quite work out the way I'd hoped -- a year ago this might have been The Plan to Make It Through A Third Year of Adoption Waiting, two years ago it might have been The Plan to Wait Gracefully in Adoption, three years ago (!) it would have been about The Plan to Adopt, period (as we just hit the 3-year anniversary of when we ended our fertility journey and registered with our agency), the year before that would have been The Plan for Egg Boot Camp, the year before that would have been The Plan for Donor Egg, and it just keeps going back and back and back until February 2010 when The Plan was just... Get Pregnant. Pre IVF, Pre-donor material, Pre-clinic switching, Pre-adoption. 

This is not a Plan about that, but it is related. This is The Plan to kick PCOS in the ovaries and take back my liver

These are the things I am doing to try to lose those pesky 15-20 pounds I need to lose so that I don't a) develop diabetes, b) have permanent liver damage, c) have an EVEN HIGHER risk of heart disease thanks to that bastard, Fatty Liver: 

1) Gym 3 times per week minimum, no excuses, 45 minutes to an hour total each time. 
2) Combine cardio with weight training. Build muscle. Muscle eats fat. 
3) Add in a fourth day of yoga, pilates, yoga-pilates blend. Make time to do this. (So far I suck at that part.)
4) When it's no longer icy, walk daily (other than the frantic walking in the halls at school). 
5) Replace GF bagel and whipped cream cheese breakfast with Pamela's blueberry oat bars. Bagel on the weekend, not every freaking day. Who thought that was a good idea? (Me)
6) Replace my delicious gluten free Amy's Organic lunches with something far less fatty and calorie-laden. Just because it's organic doesn't mean it's good for you. 
7) New lunch choice -- LUVO power plant bowls. They are gluten free, meatless, 300 calories or less, and real heavy on the veggies and fiber. I eat it and don't feel hungry for a really long time. And most of them are delicious! (The one I had today was a bit too cabbage-heavy. No can do.)
8) Attempt to snack on hummus and celery. Yes, celery. How freaking cliche. It's not a bad combo and I feel all diet-y doing it, even though I'm loading up the crunchy water with hummus. But it's Ithaca hummus, all cold-preserved and natural and flavorful and not-bad-for-you. So that's okay. 
9) If I must eat buffalo cheese dip, which has become a staple like milk in our house, no more than 4 corn chips of buffalo cheese dip for a snack. Count the damn things. No more mindless shoveling after a rough day at work. COUNT THE FOODS. 
10) Keep a food diary. I read somewhere that just by writing down everything that you eat, you eat less and eat better. Some kind of weird self-shaming thing I bet. It is working pretty well though. No one wants to write down "shoveled countless buffalo cheese dip corn chips into mouth for approximately 15 minutes straight." It doesn't look good on paper. 
11) Drink more water. Sometimes when you're hungry, you're actually just thirsty. Hydrate that effing liver. 
12) Add fish oil back in. We cleaned out the medicine cupboard in the kitchen not 3 days before this fantastic diagnosis came in, and there was a bottle of fossilized fish oil left over from pregnancy attempts past that we chucked in the garbage. I have this weird association between fish oil and Egg Boot Camp, but if I read it's good for your liver, well then dammit I'm going to take the fish oil. So I ordered new online. I love Nordic Naturals -- it's got lemon in the softgel and so if you burp, you burp lemon and not horrid fish. And I don't even burp with it because it's high quality triglyceride form, or so says the marketing materials on the bottle. 
13) Take a probiotic daily. Probably a good idea anyway, but I read that it can help Fatty Liver. So...in my belly you go, helpful live cultures. Apparently the daily yogurt I eat isn't good enough, because it has sugar in it, which negates the effects, but I don't like plain yogurt so there you have it. 
14) Be conscious of sugar intake and avoid as much added sugar as possible. 
15) Eat more fruits and vegetables. If I want a snack, go for that first. 

Probably the biggest part of this plan is MAKE IT DO-ABLE. If I just blanket cut out a shitload of foods, I'm going to be MISERABLE. And cranky. And crave crap. It doesn't work. Reducing, replacing, and increasing exercise on a more consistent basis should help me get there. 

I really wish that once you made these changes the weight would fall off fairly immediately, so that you could feel somewhat accomplished, or at least feel like the changes are worth it and actually doing something. I plan to weigh myself weekly and track it in my handy-dandy bullet journal. I have a whole fatty liver spread. Bet not everyone's bullet journal can boast of a fatty liver plan spread! Woo, yeah. 

Wish me luck. Feel free to offer any suggestions you may have from your own PCOS weight loss journeys. Unless it involves cutting out dairy. That's not happening. I tried when we were trying to get pregnant and I just hate all of the substitute milks and cannot choke them down, and cheese. I love cheese too much. 

Thank you for the kind words of support! 

Monday, February 5, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: A Letter to My PCOS

Dear PCOS,

I really don't have anything nice to say to you right now. I knew when you became my infertility diagnosis that infertility wasn't the only thing you could screw me on, but I was kinda sorta hoping that maybe with the whole being-wildly-unsuccessful-at-reproduction you'd leave me alone for the most part. I mean, yes I spend money every 5-6 weeks to wax my face (not just a little fuzz mustache, but also chops that left to their natural state could have me mistaken for Wolverine...), and for some reason since hitting 40 the occasional chin hair to pluck has become a plague of plucking multiple times per week (and I refuse at this point to add "chin" to the "lip-cheek" waxing appointment, I am NOT there yet!), and yes the extra chub I've always carried in my midsection just keeps growing and growing... but I could do without this latest health nonsense you've gifted me with.

My doctor didn't find gallstones when he ordered the abdominal ultrasound, but something else, unrelated to the horrible public diarrhea attack, made itself known.

Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.

I mean, at first I was like, "great, now even my LIVER is fat," but then further discussion (and research on my part) made it clear it's a concern and not a punchline -- and I need to address it ASAP. The biggest thing is I need to lose 15-20 pounds (not exactly a newsflash, but still an ouch to hear it's a MUST).

Oh, yes, because I don't have an endocrine disorder that makes shedding pounds really, really difficult, right? Damn you, PCOS. Why am I blaming you? Because when I looked it up on a whim, thinking, "hmmm, I wonder if fatty liver and PCOS are linked," I found that between 10% -55% of women with fatty liver ALSO have PCOS. Oh, and one study found that 67% of the participants who had PCOS (half of the 100 studied) had fatty liver, too. FUN FACT: Celiac is also a risk factor for fatty liver, and apparently 4% of people with celiac have fatty liver as the only manifestation. Weird. And real unlucky for me.

Anyway, back to you, my fat furry infertile disorder... I am just so pissed. It wasn't enough to mess up my ovulation and compromise my lining and make me more prone to polyps (and gift me with pleasant plumpness). You have to give me something that's a precursor to diabetes according to my doctor, and possible liver inflammation, scarring, and failure according to various web sources.

Luckily, I can make a plan and execute it, even though it's going to be HARD to lose significant poundage in my 40s, with PCOS, and an already limited diet, when I already don't eat a lot of sugar, no soda, no fast food, not a lot of processed things at all. Seems kind of unfair if you ask me. I know an awful lot of people who eat far crappier than I do and (to my knowledge at least) don't have this fun challenge.

So, thanks a million, PCOS, I can only hope that with the plan (to be posted about following this one) I'm putting into place I can give much of your nastiness the boot.

Not at all cordially,

Jess

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Monday, January 29, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: An Unnecessary Test, What-Ifs

I went to the doctor today, and the first thought was food poisoning (staph) -- but that didn't explain the chicken chili episode earlier this month, so then it went to possible gallstones. I got a script for bloodwork and an abdominal ultrasound for tomorrow. I tried to get in for the ultrasound today, but apparently you have to not eat or drink since midnight for it to be valid, and I ate a grilled cheese and applesauce for lunch. Oops -- I almost didn't eat today just in case, but then my appointment was at 1:00 and I thought, why torture myself?

I looked at the blood lab slip though and saw "Urine Pregnancy Test HCG Beta."

It made me a little irritated, because it should be in my chart that that's an impossibility now, but I decided that I didn't want insurance to pay for a completely unnecessary test (plus I wanted to avoid having to pee in a cup).

"Excuse me, could you take this pregnancy test off my script? I don't actually have an endometrium, so that's not necessary."

I was directed to the nurse, who said, "Wait, you what?"

And I repeated, "I don't have an endometrium. My uterine lining was removed last December. For me to be pregnant would be some trick."

Luckily they were able to take it off the list, but then it turned out that I still needed a urine sample anyway for some sort of culture, so it really didn't save much, just the principle of the thing.

Also, I brought a giant book (A Conjuring of Light) with me to the appointment, even though I have Perfect Little World on my Kindle in my purse for Lori's Novel Approach book discussion, but I thought... what if? What if I have to go for a bunch of tests right then and there? What if something is found and I get stuck in the hospital without enough reading material? (This actually happened when I was admitted for my ectopic surgery, somehow there was a mixup and Bryce left with my book and I was left with crappy middle of the night TV when I couldn't sleep...awful.) I mean, the Kindle is sort of unlimited reading material, but I just finished the second book in that series and it was quite the cliffhanger, so if I was going to get stuck for hours I really wanted to have Conjuring to follow Perfect Little World.

I wonder if I'll ever be able to NOT worst-case-scenario things.

I hope I get (simple) answers soon. You know I don't do well with uncertainty...

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Quite Possibly the Most Embarrassing Day of My Life

2018 was NOT supposed to be a year of me leaving school in a flurry of activity, accompanied by the school nurse, curled up in a wheelchair, getting driven home by friends and coworkers, some question as to whether or not I should go to Urgent Care or the ER. That was supposed to end with the demise of 2017. But, I guess you don't always get what you want.

I was having a completely normal, perfectly fine day on Friday up until about 8th period (Bryce always complains when I talk in terms of class periods, that's from 12:56-1:36 if you want to know). I ate leftovers from a couple days ago (gluten free shells baked with gruyere sauce and broccoli) 5th period (around 11), and then the rest of my lunch 7th (an Icelandic strawberry yogurt followed by a Sumo orange around 12:30). It was a normal day.

Except after eating my second part of my lunch, I felt...unsettled.

I walked down to the English class I push into, and as I walked my stomach got gurglier and gurglier.

I settled in for the beginning of class, but then got pulled out into the hall because a meeting 9th period was cancelled, and so I took that opportunity to run to the bathroom.

I felt terrible. I was all crampy and gurgly, but I did what I came to do and headed back to class.

Unfortunately the pain started to get worse, and I left again for a different bathroom since I suspected I might be in there a while. My lower back hurt. My gurgling was running up and down my entire torso like a freaking xylophone being played. And I felt a bit bleary.

I started freaking out that I'd somehow gotten into gluten, because I was having the sharp pains in my upper abdomen that I associate with that, and I was real bloated and feeling like I was going to have some quality time in a very public restroom (for some reason it was a hot place to be during this time, and while I believe you should go when you need to go and that's what toilets are for, I still don't enjoy sick-crapping at work and try to "courtesy flush" often). I realized I was definitely sick.

I managed to get my stuff from the English room, offer a quick apology for my absence, and find my TA to let her know to run homeroom since I was going to need to go BACK to the bathroom, for sure. I looked a mess. My hair was getting big and fluffy, and my eyes were all glassy, and I had that "I think I could cry at any moment" tone in my voice. So she covered homeroom and I went BACK to the bathroom. At this point I'd been vacillating between the student bathroom and the faculty bathroom for a half hour, thinking I could return to class and then realizing partway down the hall that nope, that wasn't going to happen. I started feeling like I couldn't stand upright without excruciating pain. I cried this time, and sweat through my shirt.

Eventually I went to my room as someone saw me and said, "um, I think you should go home." I still wasn't sure (and frankly even now I'm not sure) if it was a celiac thing or a stomach bug. I made my way to my classroom, which seemed like it was about 5 miles away, and before I got to my door two of my coworker friends saw me and were like, "um, she looks fucked up" and ran over, and I just lost it. You know when you feel so sick and in pain that all you can do is cry? I hit that point.

This is where I scared the bejeezus out of all my students, as I came in and sat down and they made them all relocate to the Social Studies teacher's room for 9th period, and I was basically crying and clutching my stomach and hunched completely over feeling like aliens with talons were ripping apart my insides. Someone went to get the nurse. Someone said maybe we should get an ambulance. Someone else looked up the creamer which was the only unusual thing I ate that day to see if it was secretly glutenous, but it wasn't.

And here is where it turned completely and utterly into a shitshow of epically embarrassing proportions. I don't know why these things happen to me, but they do, and all I can do is laugh about it. Inappropriately.

My stomach started seizing again and the pain was incredible and I knew I definitely had to go to the bathroom, yet AGAIN. The nurse insisted on wheeling me there so I didn't pass out or something (a very real possibility at the time) but what I didn't realize was that I BECAME THE PIED PIPER OF POOP. People followed like an entourage, and we picked up concerned coworker friends as we turned the corner to the student bathroom, and they had teachers shut their doors (so I guess I was the reason for a very localized hold-in-place), and I basically blew ass with the school nurse in the stall next to me and a crowd of concerned people RIGHT OUTSIDE THE DOORWAY. Did you notice I said "doorway" and not "door?" Because that's right, STUDENT BATHROOMS HAVE NO DOORS. Just stalls with doors, which offer ZERO acoustic dampening at all.

I guess it was encouraging that I just had diarrhea instead of vomiting, which could mean something ruptured, but then the word "diarrhea" was repeated about a zillion times while I was leaning against the wall, sweating and wishing I could just maybe die or be transported into another dimension at this point.

"Could we maybe say 'diarrhea' less right now?" I feebly joked.

They grabbed all my stuff and wonderful people drove me home but not before a procession through the halls (thankfully not during passing time, unlike my fall in the spring where I did the wheelchair tour the first time), and they stayed until Bryce could get there, and I could have the blissful amenities of my own bathroom with a sound-dampening fan and a candle.

Not less than 25 people, including both my administrators, witnessed this at one point or another.

The activities of my ass were well documented and discussed.

I don't know how I'm going to do Monday, but so far I have responded to texts of concern (and also concerning but inaccurate accounts that I collapsed) with appreciation and a fair number of smiling poop emojis. I also emailed all my parents later in the evening, since I was fairly sure they might mention their teacher getting carted out of school and all the talk of ambulances and whatnot. (No poop emojis there, I do have SOME sense of propriety.)

Why, oh why, must my body just constantly seek to betray and humiliate me? Can it save this shit for the WEEKEND sometime?

I'm thinking it's a bug, because I am still struggling although not in constant pain anymore, and I am very tired. It's possible I was dehydrated. It's possible my intestinal tract is inflamed for reasons other than celiac. What's concerning me is that this is the second time in a month that I have felt like I was glutened but I did not actually eat anything with gluten in it. A few weeks ago I got sick like this at home, after eating White Chicken Chili that I made MYSELF, and I blamed a rotisserie chicken (that I asked about later and was assured it didn't have flour in the bag. Same thing that time -- low back pain followed by stabby/shooty upper abdominal pain and a hot-knife feeling in my low belly, diarrhea, and cramping/pains so bad I was writhing on the floor, unable to be upright or straightened out. In both instances pressing on my belly helped with the pain.

I sincerely hope I'm not dealing with some new GI issue here, and I'll be going to the doctor this next week. I hope it's just a real nasty bug, because unlike Chicken Chili night I am WIPED today too, so it's lasting more than a few hours. I didn't wake up in the morning and feel awesome. I slept the majority of the day.

I could go my whole life though without having such a public display of bodily functions, and detailed discussion of just how I was so terribly sick. Jeezum. Wish me luck on Monday...

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Three Midweek Thoughts

Three things of note that happened between yesterday and today: 

Caution & Love
I received a card in the mail where the envelope looked like this: 


Yes, that's right, there's caution tape on the envelope. It was a Christmas card (glad I'm not the only one WAY WAY BEHIND) from my friend who was placed with her son over the summer. She is hands-down the most sensitive friend I have who is parenting after infertility. The card was beautiful, with some touching pictures of them with their son in early days, and an incredible short-form story of how they waited for him and brought him home and share him with his amazing birth parents -- it was super inclusive and very much "we're in this together" as opposed to "a magical stork dropped this baby in our laps, no history there." It made my day. Both for the adorable pictures of the baby (such a cutie) but because she is always thinking of how these things might impact me emotionally, sometimes to extreme lengths, but I will always appreciate her sensitivity. And the caution tape was real cute!

Baby Blockade
This is an annoyance. I went after school to my therapy appointment, and every so often when I go there's a family seeing another therapist in the waiting room and there's an adorable, cooing, sometimes shrieky baby with the grandma. I'm pretty sure that the baby isn't going into the session, so unclear why grandma has to watch the baby IN THE WAITING ROOM, but whatever. It's usually one of those "look everyone how cute this baby is, I'm going to spread out in this corner and make it impossible for the baby to not be the center of attention in a PSYCHOTHERAPY WAITING ROOM." 

Well, today they were NOT in the corner, they were in the narrow walkway, and the stroller and the baby were well into the area I needed to pass to get to the little switches that tell your therapist when you've arrived, and two strangers were standing there cooing over the baby, and I cleared my throat BUT NO ONE MOVED. It was like, BEHOLD THE AMAZING BABY THAT NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN BEFORE, YOU CAN WAIT, SAD LADY. Then I just said "Excuse me, I need to get through" and busted my way through (without stepping on the completely adorable baby. It's not her fault her people are so clueless.). 

It just annoyed me, this sense of entitlement and space-hogging and utter lack of consideration that some people with very young children can display in the most inconvenient of spaces. 

There's the Good Karma!
I called the auto body shop this afternoon to set up how to pay for this dent-removal business. It was a strange start to the conversation: 

"Hi, I'm Jessica, I think you saw a woman yesterday about an estimate for fixing a dent on the car door for a Ford?" 

"Oh, yes, she called this morning!" 

"Well, I'm the one whose car door hit her. I'm calling to see how we can work out the payment?" 

"Oh, wonderful! I just think it's WONDERFUL that you left a note. You're a real honest lady, you know that? There ain't a lot of honest people out there anymore, so it was real nice to have someone like you do this for that other lady." 

"Um, thank you! So...I saw the estimate is $482, do you want to call me when the work is done and I can figure out payment from there, drop by to pay it or whatever works for you?" 

And this is where it got awesome. 

"Well, she's not able to get in until next week, but you can pay the estimate amount, that's fine -- I left some fees off and stuff, I made it real conservative because you did such a nice thing and I didn't want to rob you or anything, I wanted to make this as pleasant for you as possible. So just pay the estimate amount whenever and if it's more when we do it don't worry about it." 

WELL TICKLE ME PINK! How nice is that? I mean, nicer would be not having the wind hijack my car door and slam it into hers so I don't have to pay ANY money, but I'm so glad I don't have to wait around to see if it creeps up with the work or ends up a lot more expensive than the estimate. I am thrilled. 

So I'm going to pay it Thursday, and then I can be done with this whole mess, feeling good about my moral virtue and helping people believe that there truly are good people in the world who will do the right thing.