Jul 31, 2007

Fear of Flying

I don't like the sensations of flying in an airplane. I don't like the claustrophobia. I don't like sitting so close to strangers. I also don't like driving 1,000 miles when I can hop on a plane and get there in less than 4 hours.

We leave Monday morning from O'Hare and will land in Norfolk, VA around noon. From there we get in our rental car and drive the 90 miles to the Outer Banks. I will be flying high on Valium and thrilled to be safely on the ground.

Duncan has never seen the ocean before and I am so excited that we will be with him when he first lays eyes on it. I am looking forward to a week away from work, as well as finally taking the time to enjoy summer. I feel it slipping by each and every time I walk out of work - tired and cranky and wanting nothing more than to go home and nap. Next week we will enjoy the weather and the beach. Our hotel is literally right on the sand. We can open our patio door and walk to the ocean. This is what I am trying to focus on instead of my fear.

And speaking of fear, isn't it odd that I have a fear of flying and we will be in the same town that the Wright Brothers took their first flight? Maybe it's a good sign...

Jul 29, 2007

Weekend Warrior

Patrick spent part of this weekend in the emergency room. He cut his hand open helping his father with some sort of project. I don't know what they were doing or how he cut his hand (does that make me a bad wife?). I can't be that bad since I did ask him if he wanted me to meet him at the ER - I also offered to bring the insurance card. However, his dad took him and he had the card in his wallet.

So seven stitches and one tetanus shot later he's all back to normal...but his hand looks kind of gross:

Hmm...could this be his way of getting out of hanging curtain rods in our bedroom?

Jul 26, 2007

Good News/Bad News

Last week I made the trek out to Chicago to have my annual visit with my neurologist. I have been seeing him since 2001 (or 2002 - I just can't remember). Anyway, even though he is located in Evanston, I continue to see him because he's just so wonderful. He sits and listens to me. I never feel like he's rushing to get to his next patient so he can go home. And every time I leave his office, I leave with a plan - not just a bunch of medication.

So, the bad news first: The preventive medication I am currently taking is not working. I knew this months ago and my doctor gave me the look that he also knew this would be the outcome. I'm glad he recommended this treatment and I'm glad I gave it a shot. The next step up from the class of meds I was taking are beta-blockers. Unfortunately, I cannot take these since they will aggravate my asthma. The next, and much more aggressive, step are anti-convulsive medications. These are serious, serious meds and have some not-so-great side effects - something called "cognitive deficiency" (short-term memory loss, difficulty finding the right words, confusion, lack of concentration). Doesn't sound too appealing, and inside my head I was debating whether or not I would take them. Turns out I didn't have much choice. My doctor informed me that the kind of migraines I get - menstrual migraines - do not respond to preventive meds. This means that I must rely on abortive medications - anything from Excedrin all the way up to Demerol.

Definitely not the news I was expecting to hear. However, the good news is that I discussed pregnancy and migraines with my doctor. I explained my fear of being "trapped" if I ever got pregnant - without migraine meds, I would seriously lose my mind. I've had the 18 hour migraines. The ones that don't respond to my meds. The ones that make me go to the ER. How would I ever handle it without anything other than Tylenol? That's like putting a Band-Aid over a bullet wound. My doctor informed me that while I was not allowed to take any of the migraine meds (Relpax, Imitrex, Frova, Maxalt, etc.), I could take Tylenol, aspirin-free Excedrin, Fioricet (my favorite painkiller), and he said he would be more than happy to write me a prescription for Vicodin. It sounds crazy, but he assured me that the most effective and the safest meds for me to take while pregnant would be narcotics. I'm still a bit concerned about that, but I did feel much better knowing that if I ever did get pregnant, I would not be trapped.

Jul 23, 2007


I rarely get cravings for specific foods, but when I do, I just can't get it out of my head. Sure, I often have "a taste" for something, but an actual craving, where my mouth waters thinking about it...rarely.

I am craving chocolate cake. Layered chocolate cake. With chocolate frosting in between those layers.

Of course, this has to happen on the day I decide to give up sweets until our vacation. We're heading to the beach in a couple of weeks and I am having that "bathing suit panic" - like holy moly, I need to put one of those on pretty soon. I'm not a dieter, but I am aware that I haven't been eating very well lately. Gone are the days when I would cook healthy dinners. We've gone out to eat one too many times (and I ate like crazy on my weekend visit back home). So, just a few little tweaks here and there and I should be OK.

But I really, really want some cake...

Jul 21, 2007

Is This Heaven?

Lots of stuff to write about regarding this weekend - had to go to Chicago for my annual visit to the neurologist (will post about that later). I only have a few minutes so here's a brief story:

My grandpa spent his first full week in assisted living. He seems to have adapted quickly. He enjoys the food, the social environment, and the fact that he lives much closer to my parents. The other day he approached the woman who runs the center and he said, "Angela, this isn't assisted living, it's assisted heaven."

I'm glad that he likes it there.

More posts to follow...

Jul 17, 2007

The Results Are In...

I received a letter from the hospital (actually, I received the same letter twice). It states, "Your diagnostic bilateral mammogram did not show any sign of cancer or any significant change since the prior study."

This is great news and a definite relief...however, I would like to know why they feel the need to follow-up with this next statement (which they placed in bold): "You must remember that about 10% of breast cancer cannot be found by mammography..."

Why do they do that? Well, I know why - to make sure we don't lull ourselves into a sense of complete security, so we know that we should continue to watch for changes in our bodies and continue to get checked by our doctors. But don't they know that some of us are neurotic???

So, definitely good news, but I don't feel that huge sense of relief like I expected. Damn that last sentence they wrote...

Jul 16, 2007


I'm probably the only one laughing at this, but...

No News Is Good News?

I don't really believe the title of this post because I know that I'm still within the 4-day window my doctor gave me for getting my test results.

With no health news to report, I still wanted to update my blog. I used to post almost every day - even when I had nothing of importance to write about. I go through waves of wanting/not wanting to sit down and type my thoughts. I've been busy lately with work, family functions, worrying about my health, etc. I've compromised (with myself!) and decided that for now, bullet-point lists are OK until I'm ready to write again. So, for now a brief update:

  • I attended my cousin's wedding this past Saturday. I haven't been to a wedding in a while, so it was nice. It also was nice to be with my parents and my sister and her husband with no kids running around. We could actually sit and talk!

  • My grandmother, who will turn 90 at the end of the year, actually got up and danced. She danced with her sisters at my my wedding in 2004, but a lot has changed since then. What song got her up and dancing? Aretha Franklin's "Respect".

  • I have an appointment with my neurologist on Thursday. This is one of the few doctors I don't mind seeing. I'm not sure what course of action he will take this time, but I look forward to discussing my migraine patterns with him.

  • Since my doctor is in Evanston, IL and we live in Iowa, I have to take a vacation day from work to go see him. Not a huge deal since I only visit him once a year. This year I decided to take 2 extra vacation days. On Friday I will be going to lunch with my friend, Jason. He and I met on our first day of work and even after I left in 2002, we have remained friends. I'm so excited about our lunch date! I also took Monday off partly because I need to use up some vacation time before things get too crazy at work. I also thought it would be nice to just have a day to myself.

  • We (me, Patrick, and Duncan) are taking our first official family vacation this summer! We're flying to Norfolk, VA and then driving out to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I'm trying not to focus on the flight and instead think about how much fun we will have and the memories we will create. Not easy, but I'm trying.

I have some really belated pictures I want to post, so maybe I will do that tonight...

Jul 13, 2007

Nothing To Report

I won't know anything about the results of my tests for another few days. I didn't post this any sooner because I developed a bad migraine about an hour or so before my appointment. I wasn't able to stop and take anything since I was rushing from work to the hospital. I spent all of yesterday through the night feeling miserable. I took lots of pills without any relief.

I took more this morning and spent all day in a haze.

So, basically I'm waiting to hear back from the doctor. I couldn't pull anything out of the nurse - not even a hint of some news. I was hoping she would say "Not to worry. Everything looks good." I guess they can't in case someone comes back to try to sue them.

Waiting sucks...

Jul 11, 2007

The Stress Spills Over

Tomorrow is the big day and the stress is starting to spill over into other areas of my life. I can't concentrate at work, I'm not eating very much, and Patrick and I are arguing. We're not even arguing about anything worthwhile, but I'm on edge and near tears and he's just very quiet about his emotions. I know he means well when he says, "There's nothing to worry about." I know this is his way of trying to calm me down and probably deal with his own concern. But I can't help it. I do think there's something to worry about. If there was nothing to worry about I would not be going to the hospital tomorrow.

When I was a sophomore in college, I took a communications class and always remember something my professor told us. Your emotions are like a barrel sitting out in the rain - it can take a very long time for the rain to fill the barrel, but it only takes one drop to make it spill over. I went to the hospital to pick up my x-rays and ultrasound results from last year, and after I signed for them and the woman handed them to me, she said, "Good luck." I walked alone through the parking lot to my car and started to cry. Two words was all it took.

Here's hoping for good results tomorrow afternoon...

Jul 10, 2007

A Few Brief Updates

I haven't posted anything in a while - mostly because I am preoccupied with my health and I just don't have the mental energy to say very much. There are a few things going on that are somewhat "post-worthy":

- Today my grandpa moves into assisted living. My mom and dad worked incredibly hard over the past week making arrangements for some of his furniture to be moved as well as buying some things for him, making his bed, and setting up his kitchen area. This morning his seniors club is having a going away party for him - he has been their treasurer for over 25 years.

- It's back to Chicago this weekend for my cousin's wedding. I need to dig through my closet to see if I even have a dress to wear. Actually, I have these great new black dressy pants and some strappy high heels...is it inappropriate to wear something like that to a wedding reception? It might be easier (and less expensive) for me to buy a dressy top to wear than an actual dress.

- On the health front, I need to pick up my x-ray/ultrasound results from last year to bring with me to the hospital on Thursday. I'm starting to get anxious about the tests. I know what to expect, so it's more of an anxiety of just getting it over with and finding out what is wrong with me.

- I have this strange gut feeling telling me that something is not right with this situation. What scares me most about that is I am one of those people who always has strong gut feelings...and I'm usually not wrong. I guess I'll find out on Thursday. I really, really hope I am wrong this time...

Jul 6, 2007

And It Only Took 6 Hours...

I finally have my appointment - Thursday, July 12th at 2 PM.

Can I Rant now?

I have been trying to schedule an appointment for my mammogram since 8:15 AM. It is now 11:45 AM and I still am no closer to scheduling one. There was confusion over the order written by the doctor - apparently there is a major difference between a screening mammogram and a diagnostic mammogram. My order says screening, although the doctor added some specific notes on my form. The hospital where I will be getting the mammogram questioned this since those notes (what they found during my initial exam) make this a diagnostic test.

From what I understand a screening mammogram is your basic mammogram - usually one that a woman gets yearly. She goes in, has the test, and then a radiologist will review it within a few days. A diagnostic mammogram is one a woman gets when there is some sort of issue or concern. They schedule these right away and only schedule them when the radiologist is onsite in the hospital.

Anyway, I've been on the phone all morning trying to get information from the hospital to the doctor and vice versa. Now I find out that the hospital never received my order from the doctor's office, so this wonderful nurse I've been dealing with (I need to get her name) has taken matters into her own hands and is calling the doctor's office.

So, I sit here and still have no scheduled appointment. If I wasn't so scared, I'd be really, really pissed...

Jul 5, 2007

This Is Where I Rant About Health Care In America

OK, I'm not really going to rant, but I want to. I'm just too tired and frustrated to sit and type everything I'd like to say.

I am waiting for some paperwork from my doctor so I can schedule a mammogram. Due to insurance rules and regulations, I cannot get one right away, but must wait until a certain date. I had a diagnostic mammogram one year ago, therefore I must wait until at least July 7th to get this mammogram or I will have to pay the cost out-of-pocket. I don't even know how much they cost, but seeing how much it costs to have bloodwork done, I'm guessing it's pretty pricey.

It sucks to have to wait. I wonder what exactly this thing is that's inside my body and if it's nothing major, fine, but if it's something bad I'd like to gone ASAP.

Jul 2, 2007


I went to the doctor this afternoon for a yearly exam and she found a lump in my breast.

Jul 1, 2007

I'm Not Sure What To Think

It's official. I took my very last birth control pill on Friday night. I realized that I have been taking them non-stop for 9 years. I remember the very first one I took because I was unsure about starting them, and I know I will remember taking the very last one...probably because I have mixed feelings.

I'm scared. This marks a whole new phase in our lives and it's weird to be facing it head on. As someone who is an anxious person by nature, I battle the fear of the unknown all the time, I like having control (when control can be had). I don't know what is going to happen. On one hand I am afraid I will get pregnant, which sets off a whole other wave of anxiety. And on the other hand, I'm afraid I will never get pregnant.

Just kind of confused...