Monday, December 26, 2011

Mommy Roid Rage

Christmas at the Holloway house included a fairly intense crying / yelling match.  Emily sat on the potty with a puddle of ballet clothes at her ankles, shouting with all her might, "I am NOT going to go potty!"  The baby started crying because it's sooooo easy to sleep when there's yelling going on in the next room.  I threw a wad of toilet paper at my daughter (not kidding) and yelled, "Emily!  Go potty!!"  Jason came to the door and gave me a look that said, "What in the H is going on in here?!"  I stormed out in tears and locked myself in our bathroom.

It's a Norman Rockwell image, is it not?

Let's rewind....  Christmas morning actually began very smoothly.  We did all of the things parents are supposed to do (half-eaten cookies left on the plate, stockings overflowing, etc.) and opened presents together as a family while holiday tunes played in the background.  Jacob even stayed awake for about 10 minutes of it before needing to go down for his morning nap.  Then it was time to rush out the door for my last steroid infusion.  Boo.

I did this one solo.  I didn't want my mom to have to watch her daughter hooked up to an IV for 2 hours on Christmas.  I wanted our kids to be with Daddy if they couldn't be with me.  And I knew my all-time favorite nurse, Phyllis would be there to make me feel better.  What I hadn't anticipated was a scary allergic reaction that had me tomato-red from head to toe and itching.  Everywhere.  The sweetest old men were in the infusion room with me.  I went into a crazy-lady-itching-frenzy and one of them said, "I still think you're pretty even when your scalp itches."  Gross!  My head is actually sore today from the frantic brushing I resorted to.  They shut off the steroids and monitored me until my color returned to normal.  I walked shakily to my car and pouted for a few minutes before starting the engine.  No more steroids.  A wave of happy/sad/relieved/resentful feelings washed over me.  I know that I'm supposed to trust God's plan for me, but that doesn't mean I necessarily have to like it all of the time.  In fact, this week I've been more than a little angry with Him.  I need to be angry.  I get the feeling He understands.

I walked in the door to find Emily refusing to sit down for lunch.  Fine.  You need to use the potty first anyway.  Fast forward to our ultimate potty power struggle.  Happy, happy Christmas!  I cried in the shower while doing some more crazy-lady-scalp-scratching, spent some time thinking about how to fix the mess I had made then called for my little girl. 

"Emily, I owe you an apology.  Mommy had a bad morning at the hospital and it made me cranky.  I shouldn't have yelled at you."

"You kind of had a temper tantrum.  That was really rude."

Deep breath... Ignore the sassy-pants tone and stick with the apology plan.  "Yes, It was.  I'm sorry."

Emily then climbed into my lap, kissed my cheek, jumped down and danced away.  Just like that, everything was OK again.  If Emily can forgive me for losing it on Christmas, I suppose I can forgive God for this week.  I can learn a lot from my little girl.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cooking with Jenny: A Multiple Sclerosis Relapse

My perfect recipe for a MS relapse:
1.  Have a baby.  Childbirth is amazing.  It’s also a fairly traumatic experience for your body.

2.  Put your house on the market.  Watch as the first offer falls through.  Then the second.  Jump up and down when the house sells and the buyer lets you rent while you finish building your new house across town.  Building a house is awesome.  It's also a little stressful with all of the appointments and decisions to be made. 

3.  Approach the holiday season with a large dose of excitement and a pinch of anxiety with all there is to do.  Send 80 Christmas cards.  Bake 10 dozen cookies and 2 trays of fudge.  Decorate the new house one week after moving.  Get a beast of a tree and take the kids on a few memory-making holiday outings.  Watch as your daughter has a panic attack when Santa calls the house.  Promise he’ll never call again.

4.  Get up with your infant son every 3 hours and swear you’ll get him sleeping through the night by 4 months.  OK, maybe 5 or 6.  7 months at the latest.  Continue to wake up with him each night then cake your face in the morning with products designed to help you fake the "awake" look.  Thank God for coffee.

5.  Visit the urologist’s office for your 8th UTI in 5 months.  Suggest a prize for having the most in the shortest amount of time.  Suggest that perhaps prescribing the same antibiotic every time isn't working. Notice for the 8th time in 5 months that you're the only person in the office who doesn't have white hair.  Awesome.

6.  Care for your two lovely children under the age of 4 and marvel at parents who decide to have more than 2… On purpose!  Try to be patient as they struggle with the adjustment of moving to a new house.  Remind yourself that it’s possible to love a child more than anything in the world yet have moments when you just don’t like them very much.   Google “explosive toddler tantrum” to read horror stories and make everything feel more normal.  Google “Bipolar disorder diagnostic criteria” to rule it out… Just in case.

Mix all of this together and see what happens…  MS is unpredictable and affects everyone differently.  For someone else, perhaps nothing would have happened.  In my case, my symptoms became worse.  Then I got some new ones.  I look goofy when I walk and have some trouble with balance these days.  On the upside, I have a handicapped parking permit now.  Finally a perk!

I had a 2.5 hour MRI on Monday.  An hour later, my neurologist called to tell me I have not one new lesion, but three; two in my brain and one in my thoracic spine that is apparently “active.”  In my post-MRI Ativan haze I pretended to understand what that meant and agreed to begin a 5-day course of IV steroid infusions the following day.  I called the next morning to have him explain what exactly I'd signed up for.  Apparently the steroids will reduce the inflammation around the newest lesion and hopefully keep my current symptoms from becoming permanent.  Unfortunately this means I can't breastfeed for an entire week. 

I have an amazing support system.  Friends and family are offering their prayers, dinners, childcare.…  I've told everyone I'm fine and really don't need anything.  My first dose was yesterday.  I stupidly went alone and suddenly felt very overwhelmed.  I can't breastfeed my baby for 7 days?  I've been storing milk, but not for this...  I'm actually very saddened by this.  I've never had an IV infusion and was more than a little scared.  The nurse came to the waiting room looking more like a loving grandmother than a nurse, held my hand and said, “Hello, Dear…  It’s time to come with me.  How are you today?”  I said, "Um...  Actually, not very good" and then I began sobbing!

I get it, of course.  She’s safe.  I can fall apart in front of her and it’s OK.  I just didn’t think it would be so hard to pull myself together again!  I was mortified when she asked what I do for a living…  “I’m a psychologist.  But I promise I’m not usually so mentally unstable!”  Phyllis is great.  I use humor to cope with stress and she kindly laughs when I joke inappropriately about putting someone else's name on the infusion bag (so that maybe someone else can get it today?)  "If you give the drugs away, you’ll also have to give that person the disease, too.”  Fine, Phyllis...  You're obviously a better person than I am.  Give me my drugs.  Today my loving husband came with me.  I confirmed my name and birthdate on the infusion bag again.  Jason noted, “An excellent vintage.”  Indeed.  It was easier today.  By Christmas morning I might even be OK with all of this.  On the 26th I can nurse my baby again. In retrospect, I really did cook the perfect recipe for a MS relapse!  I promise to be more careful in 2012. 

Thank you to my friends and family for all of your support!