Difficult To Work With

I am so tired of fighting.

All the time.

My Grandfather told me  many years ago that I was “difficult to work with.”  He said it with love.  I don’t remember the exact context.  I do remember it was said with a smile.

And he was undoubtedly right about that, like so many other things.

I had a boss a few years back that told me, “If you continue to hold everyone to the same standards you hold yourself to, you will always be disappointed.”  Strong words, but also not  inaccurate.

I am a lot to take.

I am intense almost all the time.  I have a mouth full of words that last long  past the attention span of anyone I strike up a conversation with.

I am passionate about things I believe in.

I make lots and lots of mistakes.  But, I truly do my best all the time.

So I just sometimes struggle to understand why it seems everything I touch or encounter is a battle.

I spend hours upon hours sorting through medical claims.  I look up who paid what, and when.  I call on bills that need to be refiled.  I take names on post-it notes with dates and times, in case things don’t get rectified.

I file out of network claims, and then I watch them processed in error.  I make three phone calls to try to sort out the change in policy, which was simply just a mistake no one will own.  I take names again.  I am told to wait 6 more weeks for hundreds of dollars owed to me to be reprocessed.  It’s only a little about the money.  It’s mostly about the notebook, and the folder with the copies of the claims, and the alarm in my phone to remind me when I need to follow up on the call again.

I send medication to the mail order pharmacy because we have no choice.  And then I wait for them to screw it up.  That sounds negative, but it’s simply accurate.  They have an entire notebook in my world to help manage the 9 mail away prescriptions between us.  There is a perpetual box on my ‘to do’ list which tells me to check on the progress of any refill.

I make appointments.  The list has 20 specialists between us.  They vary from twice a week to once a year.  A psychologist once told me not to let the appointments interfere with “preferred activities.”  So there is a matrix with the impossible task as the ultimate goal.  Except none of the 20 doctors know about the other 19.  Or the full time job.  Or the high school honor student’s schedule.  Or swim practice.  Or theater.  Or voice lessons.  Nor do they care.  And I get it.  They can not hear everyone’s story. So when I call to try to carefully place that appointment in a very tiny window of time, they are always unhappy with me.  They think I’m being unreasonable.  And maybe I am.  But, I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t TRY to get everything to keep her physically healthy and still let her be a teen.

I deal with unexpected schedule changes.  Like when I carefully stack 2 appointments in one day, and then one has to move to right smack in the middle of a week long summer internship that was planned forever ago, because now instead of two doctors with Friday hours at the same facility, one has Monday and one has Friday.  No overlap.  So I erase,  and juggle.  Except I’m not great at juggling in a literal sense, so one got cancelled and hasn’t been rescheduled.  Actually two… because summer can not be ALL about doctors.  Nor can every day off.  But, neither can every day at work or school…

“What do you mean you’re not going to reschedule today?”

So much of our condition relies on screening.  Early detection is a blessing.  It is the key.  It is also tedious and time consuming.  It is possible to be grateful and overwhelmed simultaneously.

So much of this is case management.  And, when last I checked my master’s degree is in education, not medicine.  But, with no one to coordinate care I have to guess a whole lot.  I have to decide if 9 months will be ok instead of 6.  I have to decide when to push the doctor for more lab tests when the fatigue won’t quit and the thyroid is ok but the spleen…eh, no one is quite sure about the spleen…

And there are doctor’s whose pride won’t let them return a call because I haven’t seen them recently enough.

There is the genetics appointment lingering again.  Because maybe Cowden’s wasn’t the WHOLE answer…

And the “normal people stuff”  like the seemingly never-ending root canals because my stress is played out in the jaw clenching that overtakes the episodes of sleep. That is on the occasions everything is calm enough for me to make it to my bed.

Or the foot injury.  The “rare” lisfranc ligament partial tear.  Close to 6 months later.  Not a soul wants to hear me tell the story again.  No one wants to believe that it still hurts badly enough that I haven’t take a real walk since last fall.  I’m not lazy.  I’m horrified by the state of my body in the absence of real physical activity.  I am trying to be patient.  My patience is running out alongside my sanity.

And the IEP.  Oh, the Individualized Education Plan… and the meetings.  Over and over and over again…  Meghan is on the waiting list for a service dog.  She has PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder.  The dog is coming.  The process is wearing me out.

I am a lot to take.

I am often “difficult to work with.”

I hold myself and others to a high standard.

I am intense most of the time.

I am tired.

I am so very tired of fighting all the time.

There is no choice though.  No choice at all.

So, in the mean time I will be here.  Strengthening my resolve.  I may bend, but I will not break.  I will continue to strive to show my girl that she can have a rare and currently incurable disease, while excelling at school, at sports, being active in the community, and being a generally decent human.

Last month we walked out of a screening appointment.  It was not critical.  It was an hour behind.  We rescheduled.  Also a valuable lesson.

I am tired of fighting, but I am far from done.

As my Grandfather said, I am “difficult to work with.”

I am also loved.  I am flawed.  I am also forgiven. 


When I have no more, I put my hands together and ask… and I am never disappointed.

Through God’s Grace alone we remain…


Losing the Battle – to Win the War!



Friday’s thrilling adventure at Borough Hall ended as so many days do.  So excited to tell her story, so amazed by her experience I thought she’d be on the phone all night.

But as we walked up the street to the parking lot she whimpered.  “My knee.  The old pain.  How could it still hurt with the Celebrex?”

Good question, I mused, as I tossed her a cursory answer about the weather, and people’s joint’s aching.

I left out the part about how MOST of those achy people are at LEAST 40 – not 10.  But she knows that already. Can’t put much by her.

never never give up

We headed home, but as things often do here the downward spiral had begun, and it was a quick one.

I soaked her sore knee in an epsom salt bath for some relief, but the migraine that she had been battling all through school was starting to win.

By about 7:20 she told me she was going to bed.  Never a good sign.

No fever.  No signs of “illness,”  but we are frustratingly used to this.  There is nothing tangible that any doctor can seem to figure out as to where all this pain comes from.  Yet it does.  All over.  It’s real.  It’s torturous to watch, and it frustrates the free-spirited agile athlete trapped in this painful body.

She woke around 9:30 this morning.  I was already at the bank.  The text simply said “headache.”  My husband is a man of few words.

When I got home at 11 to take her to her 12:00 appointment she was in a dark bedroom moaning in pain while Felix rubbed her head.

We tried some saline, some food, her morning pills.  No success.  No appointment.

I ran to the party we planned to attend as a family, to wish one of our favorite 5 year-olds a Happy Birthday.

I woke her at 2:30 like she asked.  The CYO meet was at 4.  The highlight of her week.

We tried a warm shower.  More saline.

“I just can’t do it,” she half whispered, half screamed.  “WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH ME?”

My stomach sank.  That was the proof positive that things were not improving.  She looks forward to every one of those meets.

After reassuring her that it’s nothing she’s done, or does… she told me to text her coach and tell him she was really sorry.

And she was.

Another fun event missed.  Another pleasure lost.

overwhelmed 4


My 10-year-old amazes, impresses and consoles me, as she says, “Cowden’s may have won the battle today – but it won’t win the war.”

She spent the better part of the day in her bed – willing away the body pain and the headache.

She doesn’t want to feel like this.  And I have to tell you – she handles it pretty damned gracefully.

No one she met yesterday would have believed this was the same kid.  From a full on powerhouse of a conversation with a respected elected official, to barely being able to lift her head.

That’s how we roll here.

That’s where her sense of urgency comes from.  She NEEDS people to know the real deal.  Whether they want to or not.

small battles

It’s 2:30 AM Sunday.  They have been resting for hours.  I had to sort out the banking mess and the subsequent paperwork it generated this week.  I needed a new list.

See my mind is so often preoccupied that I forget… a lot.

Because deep in my nagging Mommy gut, I feel like there is more.  We are missing something.  And I hope its minor.  Or that I am wrong.

No one can explain all this pain.  And lots of people have had the chance to try.

People wonder how I stay so organized, or why.  I think it’s because I spend a lot of time waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I’m over making plans.  I get it.  We can try to commit to things in advance, but our acceptances will always be tentative.  We have to make our decisions in the moment.

The win/loss column waffles sometimes, but we will by the grace of God, the power of prayer, and our love for each other, come out on top.  Failure is not an option.

We are BEATINGCOWDENS.  We will!

winning or losing