Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Good Riddance, March

Seeing my resilient snowdrops  in the garden the other day was a welcome reminder, because March has been a doozy of a month, leaving us feeling bruised, battered, squashed, and gasping for air. But today is the last day, and I can only hope that there is nothing but green shoots and warmer weather and good things to come in April. Thank goodness today is the last day of March, because I honestly cannot take any more of what it had to give.

- March started innocently enough, with the first weekend holding a glorious visit from my best friend and the audition for Listen To Your Mother. I was surprised how incredibly nervous I was reading my piece, but I started the month feeling like I had accomplished something and fed my soul between best friend time and pushing myself creatively. The flip side was that I had spent so much time on my LTYM piece that I was a bit behind on my IEP (individualized education plan) writing, so I knew I would have to haul on those once that was over.

- The week after that amazing weekend I started having problems with my eye. I thought maybe pinkeye, but seeing as how I don't have small children and I don't work with small children (although middle school children often do not have the best hygiene), that seemed odd. Also, not itchy. But throughout the week it got worse and worse.

- Sunday March 12th, also known as Bryce's birthday, we spent forever in the emergency room making sure that my eye wasn't trying to explode or kill me. I got started on a bazillion mgs of ibuprofen, which did bupkus.

- Monday March 13th I lost my Uncle Jim to lung cancer. He'd thought a stage 1 bout was over when treated with selective internal radiation therapy, but when back for a routine scan it had spread virulently and he was given six months to live. Despite hoping for more time, more possible treatments, he passed away at home surrounded by family. It's a loss that's hit our family hard, and I feel so much for his wife, his sons, his brothers and his sister (my mom), and all the cousins. He was 68. My mom and stepfather have been volunteering at a local hospice house, and they went out several times including the weekend before he died. What a gift to bring peace to a family member and those surrounding him, but what a difficult thing to be supporting and needing support yourself, to try to facilitate end of life and grief while working through your own feelings. My uncle was a Vietnam Veteran, a Navy Seabee who served multiple tours. He had many stories about those times, and you could always find him at family events surrounded by people, regaling everyone with stories that were always interesting and never sugarcoated. He was a gifted welding engineer, well-respected in his field and widely published. He was an amazing father whose sons are a testament to his legacy -- smart, caring, hard-working, family-oriented. He was a loving husband to his wife, my aunt. They struggled more than any one family should with health conditions, but they held each other up. My Uncle Jim got to be a grandfather, and some of my favorite pictures that have come up on social media are of him smiling as his granddaughter wears his Seabee hat. There are a lot of pictures of Uncle Jim smiling, with a twinkle in his eye. For all that he lived through in his too-short life, he always had that twinkle. It's hard to believe that it's gone except in memories. I wasn't super close with my uncle, but I loved him dearly and the hole in our family that he leaves is a gaping one.

- Friday March 17th I spent my St Patrick's Day at the eye specialist at our local (and amazing) hospital. Ibuprofen did nothing to reduce the creepy redness and pain in my eye. Turns out it was anterior scleritis, which is inflammation of the inside of the white of your eye, or the sclera. (Fun word fact, "itis" means inflammation. Whatever comes before is what is inflamed.) They were hoping it was epi-scleritis, which is inflammation of the surface of the white of your eye, but alas, I hit the crap jackpot. I got put on a strong regiment of Prednisone, Prednisone eyedrops, and prilosec. The prilosec is a godsend, because when I had the flu last year and was on Prednisone forever, I had heartburn as a side effect that was so intense I almost had Bryce call an ambulance because I thought I was having a heart attack. The prilosec in the morning before breakfast has eliminated that completely, it's just towards the end of the day that I get a weird tingly sensation under my right ribcage, like little bugs crawling around under my skin, but no heartburn. Whew.

- Saturday March 18th Bryce left for a conference in California, so I was left alone with my Prednisone energy and sleeplessness and he was on a whirlwind schedule of meetings and classes and client dinners and events. Also, our gross cat started to sneeze and be especially gross again, and so Bryce helped out by getting him to the vet and on meds before he left on his trip. The good news: the cat wasn't sneezing gross things at me. The bad news: I had to give him FOUR PILLS PER DAY in addition to remembering my own pill and eye drop regiment. This meant getting up extra early, because Prednisone needs to be taken with food, and I usually eat my breakfast in the car and show up to school covered in gluten free bagel or blueberry oat bar crumbs, but now I am forced to eat breakfast in a less-rushed way, which isn't all bad actually. I also discovered, while Bryce was away, that he keeps me from working all the time. All those IEPs needed to get to my administrator chairing the meeting, and get copied, and be double and triple and quadruple checked, and I had broken my own boundary rule of not giving out my cell number to parents because all the days off from snow and wind left me unable to complete all the parent phone conferences at school, so I had to make sure I'd incorporated all of those conversations I'd had while sitting in my glider upstairs where we actually get phone service. I was at school until 6 or 7 most nights he was gone, and then I kept working at home until bedtime. Necessary, due to the time of year, but exhausting. Did I mention that the ophthalmologist said that she firmly believes that stress can be the trigger for scleritis? More on that later. Sigh. Also, please smack anyone you see who says teachers work "part time." If I didn't have the next break or summer to look forward to I would probably collapse. We work all the normal hours and then some in a 10 month period, for those people who love to complain about "all that vacation." It's EARNED, people. And for what we do and the qualifications we must have we are not compensated NEARLY enough. But that's a soapbox for another time.

- A spot of good news was that one day when I did leave early that week I had the followup from my endomyometrial resection surgery in December, and everything looks good, if bizarre on an ultrasound. That was a resounding success, so far.

- Bryce got home late, late Thursday night (1:30 in the morning Friday 3/24 actually), and was sick. At first we thought it was just a cold from flying, which happens every time he flies, but it quickly revealed itself to be more. By Sunday we were in Urgent Care (I fear we are becoming frequent flyers there between my elbow and his throat, and an incident last summer where he fell down our slate steps and beat the tar out of his foot and leg), where they couldn't get a strep swab because his throat was so swollen he couldn't tolerate it (and he is squeamish about stuff like that), but they did the best they could and told him to take ibuprofen (drug of choice apparently) and rest. Well. It just got worse, he lost his voice, he had a continued low grade fever, his throat was painful and phlegmy and basically when he coughs he sounds like he is going to choke to death... so I ended up taking him to the doctor on Tuesday 3/28.

- But first, I had my meetings on Monday 3/27, which went very well despite the fact that I had about two and a half hours of sleep from a combination of Prednisone, nerves, and Bryce hacking his way through the night until he set himself up on the couch at 3:30 am. My kids made a buttload of progress, we've tweaked all their programs, parents and kids were happy, my students were confident in the meetings and spoke well to their strengths and concerns and needs for next year, and they just about floored me with their maturity and ability to communicate what works for them. I mean, floored by way of pride, but I am not surprised because my students have done wonderful things this year. These meetings are such hard work, but so rewarding especially when you can see that things have clicked for students. It is a day that exhausts me thoroughly but also serves as a reminder of how very much I love my job, how much I love helping young people develop the tools to be successful and work through challenges and be the captains of their own ships, and that this part of my life is incredibly fulfilling. Even as it probably is a huge contributor to the state of my eye.

- Back to the doctor on Tuesday. Boy did I feel horrible, because I had honestly given Bryce a really hard time about his "man cold." It is a universal truth that men tend to be awful when sick. They tend to simultaneously claim to be dying yet refuse help or medical attention of any kind. I know I am not alone in this struggle. However, the doctor looked at Bryce's throat, which was red, raw, swollen, and dotted with nasty white pustules (hope you're not eating right now), and said, "This is the WORST virus I've seen all year. I've never seen anything like this." He said he should take the rest of the week off to rest, he shouldn't talk for 48 hours, to expect to be sick and at least highly weakened for at least 3-4 more weeks, and that traveling was a terrible idea both for contagion and the need for rest. Um, he's really sick. REALLY sick. I wake up in the night to go down and check on him to make sure he's still breathing, like he's a newborn. His coughing is horrific. It's not in his lungs, but it's a throat-clearing, choking sound that wracks his body. Whatever this is is just awful.

- Did you catch that "no traveling" part? That means that we are not attending my uncle's Celebration of Life services next week. I am beyond upset about it, but I honestly do not feel that I can go by myself, and I cannot go for as long as other family members such as my sister and my mom and stepfather. I need to help with Bryce. I need to not be a carrier. I am struggling with my own issues with my eye. It is just not a possibility anymore. I emailed my aunt and cousins, and my aunt wrote an amazing note back to me that put me into a sobby mess for about an hour. I did not know that she is struggling with immune deficiency, and so it is DEFINITELY not a good idea for us to go and expose her to whatever this ilk is. She understood. I am so sad not to be a part of the family coming together to honor my uncle's life though. But so it goes.

- Wednesday 3/29 I started having intense pain in my eye. Just to be clear, my eye looks amazing. It is no longer a horror show. However, having piercing pain in the same area where the redness was created a fair amount of concern. I've been religious about the Prednisone and the eye drops, but the pain was the same soreness that brought me to the ER paired with waves of pain so intense it brought me to tears at school. And so I went back to the eye doctor. The good news: all my bloodwork for scary autoimmune diseases related to scleritis came back negative. My inflammation is gone. The eye looks good. The bad news: sometimes scleritis comes with weird muscular pain, and so dilating it can actually help, which they tried and it worked. So now I have one normal eye and one dilated eye, but no more pain beyond a tiny soreness. This is hilarious for many reasons. 1) I look like David Bowie, if David Bowie was a slightly chubby 40 year old woman who is not cool at all. 2) My vision is basically like one of those hidden picture things they used to have displayed at the mall -- I am constantly looking for the fucking sailboat. My life looks like I have 3-D glasses on. 3) Somehow, I am able to compensate for it pretty well and still read, since my job involves READING ALL DAY with students. I think this is because of my astigmatism, because before I got glasses as a 20 year old I had been using my brain to figure out the shapes of words and letters. When I got the glasses, observing the world was so much less cognitive work, and I hailed my brain for the good job it did making up for a deficit I didn't realize I had. Same here. Good job, brain. It's exhausting, but it's doing well with this unbalanced vision. I am hopeful that I don't have to do this for more than a few days. It's disconcerting.

One of these things is not like the other...

- Oh, also I found out that I'm on Prednisone for another SEVEN WEEKS. They want to make sure that the inflammation doesn't return, as scleritis likes to make a comeback tour. So this week I'm at 40, then each week it goes 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, 5. NINE WEEKS total of Prednisone, since I started with a week of 60, then a week of 50. I am still struggling with sleep deprivation, and I hate the overly energetic feeling this drug gives me. I have done things like scrub our hardwood floors with a t-shirt and Bona spray. I have made parent calls where I sound like the fine print at the end of auto sales ads on the radio. I was observed yesterday and fear that I looked like a 10-ring circus ringmaster even though I have 6 students in the class that was observed, and I packed a lot into the 30 minutes we had due to state testing. (Oh yes, and state testing this week.) I am very sad that I am in this for the long haul, but glad given that it will hopefully keep my eye healthy for the long haul, too.

- Late this week we also found out that the planned transfer for the couple who adopted our embryos was cancelled, the third cancellation since our embryos made our way to them (and ours aren't even first at bat, there's another one in play before ours). I freaked out, as it was basically the proverbial straw. "What if there's something wrong?" I wailed. And then I left a frenetic speedy voicemail for our contact asking if it was possible to know what happened, because my peace of mind was flagging. Well. We got a very personal response from the couple, and I immediately felt like the biggest of assholes. Everything is fine, and they totally understood our concern, but I couldn't help but feel that in seeking my own peace of mind I made them feel shitty when they are down. I remember cancelled cycles. They suck. And no one else was invested in ours. The upshot is now May is the month for transfer (although possibly not ours yet), and I hope all goes well. It seems that there is no such thing as closure in this arena, or any arena, and we continue to wait and see what happens on this front. The nice thing is that we can communicate back and forth with the couple through our contact at Snowflakes, which makes me feel a bit more connected and hopefully I can let go of my anxieties on this front. These embryos are all we have left of some kind of genetic link, and while they are no longer truly ours, it is nice to know what's going on. I can't help but fear that we've spread our curse to this poor couple. Irrational, but not any less real of a fear. If that makes sense at all. I wrote them a letter that Bryce approved, to hopefully make it clear how much we appreciate their accepting our embryos and how we feel for their situation and hope for a family at the end for us all. What an amazing process to be able to have this level of communication, to have this openness even before embryos are in play. It brings tears to my eyes, actually.

- Today, the last day of March, I kept my sick day. I was supposed to have my follow up for my eye today, but since they saw me on Wednesday I got to cancel that. I had put in for this sick day for the appointment over a week ago. I kept it as a sort of sacrifice to the March evils. You know why? Because I am EXHAUSTED. I am SPENT from my own Prednisone-fueled insomnia paired with the energy of a million ants. I have been taking care of Bryce. I have been taking care of everything but my own sanity and health. And so, in hopes of preventing myself from getting this hideous thing that is attacking Bryce, and in hopes of coming back next week more rested and less vision-impaired, I KEPT MY SICK DAY.

I am ending March with a tiny bit of self-care, in hopes that it helps me to bounce back. Because this month SUCKED. It sucked hard. It was full of disappointment and grief and overworkedness and health issues and more stress than I think I've felt in a long time. I have wanted to sleep for days and also cry for days, and I have been unable to have nary a glass of wine for most of the month due to all the meds. Which is a plus and a minus, because I'm basically on a bit of a cleanse. Except we're eating a lot of takeout because time is just not on our side and it's easier, and I'm pretty sure most cleanses don't involve barbeque and Thai food. Ha.

So, sayonara, March. Good riddance to you. Take your nasty energy and leave, please. I sure as shit hope April is a much better month.

18 comments:

  1. Ugh March! So sorry for all you went through are going through. I hope April is way better!

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    1. Thank you, me too. It just all sort of piled up, you know? I'm so hoping we've gone down to a point where there's nothing but upswing ahead. :)

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  2. Damn. March has been a shitty month.

    I'm so sorry for the loss of your beloved uncle. Thinking of you and your family during this time. I'm also sorry you can't go to the service. Very understandable that you are upset, even though you're making the best decision for your health and your family's.

    I'm also so sorry to hear both you and Bryce have been so sick. That's just awful. May you both be feeling better very soon. And my the Predisone side effects ease up soon.

    Finally, that plain sucks about the transfers. You have a lot emotionally invested in this, so it's not surprising it's an emotional landmind. Very sorry there isn't conclusion on the waiting chapter.

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    1. It really, really has been. I have never felt quite so dumped upon in so many areas, quite so overwhelmed with just bad stuff. Thanks for your thoughts...I'm hoping by the time I get to 20 it should be better on the side effect, right? RIGHT? Jeezum I hope so. Yeah, the transfers...part of this process is releasing that, and it was really helpful to get a reminder that while we are antsy about it, someone else has higher stakes than we do, and activating the empathy helps. It does suck to feel like everything takes longer than you think it will, in all family building areas. Getting the "you need to start filling out your renewal paperwork" email from the agency today did not help that feeling, but all I can do is breathe deeply now, right? Some day I will look back on all this waiting and wonder how the hell we did it.

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  3. I'm sorry about your uncle. He sounded like a lovely man. Good riddance to March, things can only go up from here. Hoping for a better April for you!

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    1. Thank you so much, he really was. Yes, yes to things can only go up from here -- this had better be the low point of the curve! Up up and away from here, April!

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  4. So much to touch on here! It was certainly quite a month for you!
    I understand completely about your mom trying to take care of her brother at the end of his life and also trying to grieve herself. My mom and I took care of my father at home, and it was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. I ended up in therapy and a diagnosis of ptsd afterward. So I get it. God Bless your mom. And I'm sorry for the loss of your uncle, who sounds like a truly wonderful, special human being.
    Yuck with all the sickness. Whatever Bryce has sounds really nasty. Throat things are awful. I hope that he gets to feeling better soon. I hope that you both can stay the heck out of doctor's offices and urgent care centers and ERs for a really long time.
    Love the crazy eye photo. I got hit in the face with an airbag once and had injury to one side of my face and one eye, and had to be on those dilating drops in just the one eye for a week or so. I remember how crazy that felt looking at the world, and also the funny looks people would give me when they noticed. Good times.
    Let's hope everything gets better from here!!

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    1. Thanks for making it all the way through this crapfest, holy crow I cannot say goodbye to March fast enough. Ugh.

      Taking care of a loved one at home has got to be great in some ways, but it sounds incredibly hard. I'm sorry about your experience -- that sounds so difficult. I'm sure my mom appreciates your thoughts, too. Thank you for the condolences, too.

      Oh, and sickness -- YES YES YES to having some time away from the doctor's offices and all that. Jeez louise this has been a copay-heavy month! Thank goodness for insurance. I am definitely grateful for my excellent coverage. Oh my gosh, hit with an airbag? No! Glad it turned out okay. And wow, yeah, perspective is all messed up right now. And it's hilarious when people suddenly catch on to the state of my eyeballs. Perfect for April Fools, right? :)

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  5. Man, what a month. I'm so sorry it's been such a whacked 31 days for you. Especially that you couldn't go to your uncle's memorial :-(.

    Ugh on the Prednisone term. I hope the step-down goes well. And that your eye gets well! Here's to a much better April coming up, with some things settling in your favor.

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    1. Thank you. I am so hopeful that April will be better. I had a great day today so that's good! I'll take every little bit of happiness I can snatch after that cluster of badness.

      The good news is my eye is in great shape, minus the pain when not dilated. I don't really know for how long I need to keep this up. I'm afraid to stop because it was so painful. But it is incredibly disconcerting. I'm thrilled the inflammation is gone and the Prednisone is a small sacrifice to make for an eye that is okay and stays that way for the long haul. It's just a very side-effect-y sacrifice.

      I've actually heard a lot of people say that March was hideous, so for everyone's sake I hope April is AMAZING. Or at least bearable. Aim high. :)

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  6. First, yes good riddance to March and may none of that madness dribble into April. Heck yeah kept that sick day!

    Second, so sorry about your uncle and that you and Bryce are unable to attend the celebration. May Peace be with you all.

    I hope Bryce feels and is better sooner rather than too much later.

    I feel like a tee shirt is in order: We survived March 2017.

    Congratulations to your students' progress. You are hard-working and dedicated. Kudos to you as well.

    Bring on April.

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    1. Oh my gosh, SO NECESSARY to keep that sick day. It was glorious...I didn't crack my laptop open ONCE. I fear a bit what might be lurking in there, but I literally took the day to rest, and to sanitize the everliving crap out of the house. Definitely a T-shirt worthy month, holy hell. Thank you for the kudos. It is amazing to love your job, even/especially when it's hard. Thank you for the condolences and peace for my uncle. Although we are unable to attend we are there in spirit, and his family knows we wish we could be there. I hope Bryce gets better too...he is still not doing great. I worry a lot about that one.

      So, yes, for everyone who had a crap March (which seems like a lot of people actually!), BRING IT, APRIL. In a good way. That was not a challenge. That was an invitation for goodness. :)

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  7. Jess, I am so proud of you, and so impressed with your strength to deal with all of this. Thank you for your kind words re. Hospice. One thing I will say: Hospice care in New York is a totally different thing than home Hospice in Ohio. We were very glad to be there for Uncle Jim and his family. However, in the Hospice two-bed home that Rob and I work in, the family can come and stay as long as they want, but all the care is done by caring, loving volunteers. That is so much easier on the family. I'll never forget the gentleman that sipped Manhattans as he bade farewell to his family and this world, cozy in the private suite of the local Hospice home, complete with fireplace and a babbling brook outside his window. Sign me up, when my time comes. Now, one question: What is Listen to Your Mother? (Other than really good advice!) Love you...

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    1. Thanks, Mom. Proud of you, too. Oh yes, not all hospice care is equal, and we are very fortunate in this area to have many hospice houses that do the kind of care that you guys volunteer for. Listen To Your Mother is a show put on Mother's Day weekend, basically essay readings on facets of motherhood. See "Do Something That Scares You" (March post) for more on that one! :)

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  8. Oh my goodness -- I felt exhausted just reading all this, nevermind living through any of it. Sending hugs for all of it & hoping April will be much, much better.

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    1. Thank you. It was exhausting, and I was like, "Maybe it will get better and not worse" but it just kept piling on! So far April is lovely. All day and a half of it... :) Thanks for the hugs and may April be amazing for everyone! PS, LOVED "The Rules Do Not Apply." How I loved it.

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  9. Ugh. I'm sorry to hear March has been a trying month for you. From reading your other posts, it looks like you have been trying to refocus on the positive, which is not easy to do sometimes. And sometimes you need to look back and validate the crap and recognize when you have been through a lot. Sending healing vibes. Thoughts of you, your uncle and family.

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  10. Wait. Cleanses don't contain BBQ and Thai food? Well, self care certainly does so I wouldn't worry too much about it! You have had a sh*tty month for sure so a little more take out than usual so that you can relax instead of making dinner is necessary. Do better April!

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