It’s not a sprint… It’s a marathon

life-is-a-marathon

I’m not a runner.  At least not in the traditional way my sisters run.  I don’t really run unless I am being chased.  Tried it for a while but the knees and the back weren’t interested.  So the only running I do is from appointment to appointment.

I guess I run- in a metaphorical sense.

This has been a busy week at our house.  In addition to the host of emotions Friday, we spent the earlier part of the week addressing mandatory appointments – as it seems we do with every single vacation.  It’s old I tell you.  It’s old.

Monday was physical therapy, and then additional genetics for me.  THAT will be a follow-up in and of itself.

Tuesday was our Integrative Medicine doctor on Long Island.  The one who listens carefully and THINKS about my child before making a move.  He ordered a slew of tests.  He is concerned that ALL food seems to be bothering her stomach to some degree.  But, he didn’t rush us out to a GI.  He knew we’d get brushed off.  At 5 foot 2, and about 100 pounds, my tall, thin, beautiful girl is hardly the poster child for malabsorption.  But he knows me well enough to know that I am overloading her with nutrient rich foods to compensate.

We had a wonderful, long talk about nutritional cleansing, and how I would have given my eye teeth for products like the ones I use now to have been on the market 9 years ago when I began my journey with Meghan.  He will look, and sample.  We will talk.

But, he no longer blames one food for Meghan’s pain.  He thinks the balance of her gut, from years on edge – needs some help.  He has suggestions.  We will wait for the lab work.  Half done last Thursday – the rest tomorrow.  Then we will talk.  On the phone.  And we will make a plan.  Have I mentioned how nice it is when you have a doctor who is a fully compassionate human?

never give up

And Wednesday there was chaos.  A 9:00 for me at NYU with my oncologist.  She reviewed my MRI to tell me the spleen tumors are growing – slowly.  But, they can stay for a while.  Whew!  And the cysts on my kidney I forgot all about – stable as well.  WIN!

And then there was Sloan for Meghan.  Blood work first.  Then a follow up with the surgeon who cleared her from the thyroid with no need to return again.  Of course even after waiting almost 2 hours for that appointment – the blood wasn’t in.  And our endocrinologist was “otherwise engaged” and unable to see us on a Wednesday.  So rather than come up twice, we opted to have him just review the blood work.

Then we squeezed in a visit to the ENT who took her tonsils out- hoping he could shed some light on 6 months of throat clearing. We left with the assurance that he had no definitive diagnosis, and he doubled her reflux meds and prescribed a new nasal spray, for inflammation in the nose. That he wasn’t sure was allergy related… I have to call in 2 weeks. Anyone picking up a trend?

The call from the PA about the AM lab work came around 4:30 while Meghan was at swim.

“The thyroid numbers are essentially unchanged, so we are going to raise her medication.”

Me: “How could that be?  you raised her dose 6 weeks ago when the TSH was 10.69.” (reference range high is in the 4s)

“Obviously she needs a higher dose.”

“What was the TSH?”

“We are going to raise her dose to 125mcg” (Essentially my dose)

“WHAT WAS THE TSH?”

“The doctor feels this will help get her numbers in range.”

“WHAT WAS THE NUMBER OF THE TSH?!!?!?!?!??!”

Finally…. “10.54”

Me,” Down only .15 in 6 weeks?  What is the problem?  Did you test her T4 and T3?”

“Only the T4 and its normal.”

“Why not the T3?”

“It’s not relevant.”

“REALLY?  Why?…”  After no response I continued,”When you have a patient not responding traditionally I would think that you would run every test to get the greater picture.”

“We don’t believe in T3”  (To which I actually laughed.  It’s not like it’s Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny!)

“What do you mean you don’t believe in it?  Obviously Meghan is not absorbing the synthroid and there has to be a reason.  I think we need to start investigating before she is hypothyroid for too long.”

“Well, Mrs. Ortega I think you and I are saying the same thing.  She needs more medicine.”

“No, I am saying let’s figure out WHY the medicine is not working.  You are saying to continue to raise the dose of what is NOT working without looking at possible reasons why.”

“Well we will see in 6 weeks.”

Yep.  And for 6 more weeks she will drag her exhausted bottom around – so hypothyroid I know I would barely function.  Hopefully by then I will have found us an endocrinologist willing to accept that there is no “box” Meghan will fit it.  There is not rule her body will not defy.  I am appalled that I am supposedly with the best of the best.  Leaves a scary feeling in your heart.

Onward to the doctor search.

The mail arrived this morning, as we were headed to the orthodontist.  There was a script for Meghan’s next thyroid test.  There was no copy of the labs.  They HATE it when I ask for the labs.  So I called and insisted they be EMailed to me.  It was quickly clear why they didn’t send it, as another test was disconcertingly out of range.  A quick forward to my LI doctor… and we wait.

mc-alex-and-ani-its-not-a-sprint

As we headed out to the orthodontist the mood was light.  Meghan was ready to take impressions for the plan to remove the braces next month.  And when they called me o the back to tell me her bite had “over-corrected” and it would take some time to fix – I just about took the deep breath I needed to speak quietly.

Basically I was being told that because my daughter did EVERYTHING she was told to do religiously she had done TOO good of a job.  Now her overbite had been corrected into teeth that meet to closely.  She stared at me.  I attacked a bit.  I asked why they thought it was OK to month after month make promises that were not to be fulfilled.  Perhaps it was ok for her to get defensive.  Maybe I was attacking.  But, I don’t understand why you say so much to a child.  From the beginning she was flat-out promised her teeth would be ready before her 5th grade graduation.  Now she is getting a MAYBE for September?  Don’t misunderstand me.  I want them on until they are done.  But my issue is that SHE sees the doctor and his staff alone.  THEY say whatever without me being there.  It is NOT ok for you to INTEND to be ready for impressions, and then have things go so wrong in 5 weeks that we appear to be set back 3 months!

The doctor obviously got the message I had had enough.  I like him.  I really do.  And he came out to say to me he …wait for it… had NEVER seen anything like this.  How UNUSUAL it was.  And how 99% of the time things run according to plan.  He apologized.  I reminded him that I had already told him several times to be careful with my girl – she’s not a “typical” case of anything.  I asked them all to watch what they said moving forward.  But it was too late.

To Meghan the message was clear.  She was once again the “unusual” case, and once again.  And to make matters worse this time her GOOD behavior may have contributed.  What a tough message for any kid.

This is the part where I caution you – friends and family alike to withhold any comments about how it could be worse.  Or how its good the teeth are set right before the braces come off.  Or your friend/cousin/brother/kid had their braces on for 5 or 6 or 7 or 8  years and she should be happy it will only be 2.  Because really, at some point something should go her way.  At some point when the orthodontist (who mind you she has been working with on appliances since just after she turned 7 (4 years in August)) says 18 months for the braces, that it should just be 18 months.  Because that’s what happens to the “normal” kids.

We have not lost our grip on reality.  I promise.  We get it. But  some days… some days I have to wonder where the limit is.

Some days when she complains that she just wants to be “normal,” and I try to assure her she is.  I remember days like this at the orthodontist.  Or the 2 days it took her to recover from a 3 hour outdoor play date earlier this week.  Or the “fake spring break” that had more trips to doctors than anything else – again.  And the follow ups that will continue in the weeks ahead.

I cried when we left the orthodontist office.  I cried because I sometimes am just so frustrated at how much she is asked to endure.  And she sat.  Quietly.  Until we got home.  And she screamed a loud piercing scream.  And we hugged.  Because we know we are in this together.  And we know no matter how bad it gets, not matter how tough it is – we have to keep on keeping on.

Tonight I stopped at the mall and bought these.

alex-and-ani-its-not-a-sprint-its-a-marathon-expandable-wire-bangle-russian-gold

 

One for each of us.  A reminder about the meaning behind all that metaphorical running.

The car got towed today.  The old one.  I think its dead.  Permanently.  We have an appointment to get the oil changed on the new one at 8 am.  We’ll talk to the mechanic then.

Then there is that fasting blood test at 10:15.

The whole identity theft thing seems almost ages ago.

No wonder I don’t run for fun.  Too busy running as a way of life.

running-a-marathon-all-your

No worries – We are BEATINGCOWDENS!

 

 

Anxiety and the Morning Rush Hour

energy to be normalAnd that is how the day began.

Anxiety in full swing before 7 AM.  Never a good sign.  Especially when the panic attack is coming from your 9 year old.

See, I have a problem with this.  And maybe it is where some of my anger comes from.  I don’t have a problem with Meghan.  I am not upset with her, or her anxiety.  I am really just PISSED OFF at the cause of her ceaseless worry.  It is against the balance of nature that a nine year old should have to have this much to be concerned about.  It is absolutely unnatural that I have to soothe her fears while desperately making sure my words don’t form any type of lie.  She is too smart.  And her memory is way too good.

Sometimes, on mornings like this one.  I have precious little to say.  So, I hold her, as my stomach lands somewhere around my ankles, and I have a tremendous desire to (as an online support group friend suggests) lay on the floor and throw a massive fit.

It's not fair - Tink

And while she is crying about the huge overgrowth that on her gums where she lost her last tooth.  I am trying to convince her that maybe, if we brush like the orthodontist said, it will go away.  (“LIAR”  I hear my inner voice scream..)

Once, a few months ago, soon after the braces were on and the gums were flaring in the full on overgrowth of Cowden’s Syndrome, the kind orthodontist made a general statement in the room where Meghan and I were.  He said he was not familiar with Cowden’s, but (thankfully) he believed Meghan to be carefully caring for her teeth.  However, if the overgrowth continued she would need to see an oral surgeon to have her gums cut back.

Yep.  He is a nice man.  But, he obviously doesn’t know my daughter doesn’t miss a beat.  She was all over that comment for weeks on end.  We already had her gums cut once in 2008 for an odd thing that grew over her front tooth.  She may not have a solid memory of the day… but she remembers enough to know she never EVER wants to do that again.

So, what is a Mom to say, at 7:15 AM when the anxiety is impossible to manage?  I need to soothe her AND get her in the car (as the NYC School Bus Strike continues) in the next 15 minutes.

keep swimming

At least she laughed.  It’s nice to have a smart kid.  One who can respect that there just isn’t anything else for me to say.  Some days we have to push on.  Even when we are worried and scared.  Even when we don’t want to.  Even when it’s not fair.

Doesn’t change the fact that she is scared, and I am mad, and the permanence of this whole Cowden’s Syndrome thing really just stinks.

So she got to school and I kissed her and wished her luck on her math test, and she took her aches and pains, and her heavy heart, and her big brave smile, and headed off into school.

They are nice to her there.  Really they are.  But I cried on the way to my school, just a few minutes away.  I am in a rut. I have to get past this anger… for both of our sakes.  But lately I just feel mad.

Of course that’s not who you see when you meet us.  You don’t see worried, and mad.  You see our smiles.  See we get life. Both of us do.  On different levels of course, but we get it.  We know there are so many people who suffer.  We know how blessed we are.  Our prayer list is endless.  But some days we just “keep swimming…” and…(we)

refuse to sink
I got the message at about 12:45.  Meghan’s school nurse had called.  I called her back to hear the familiar voice that I have come to trust tell me that Meghan “didn’t look right.”  She was complaining of lights in her eyes.  She was “off.”  After 5 years in that school, I have received limited phone calls.  When they call – I answer.  So, with permission I headed out early.

I got my girl home.  We sat in the dark room.  I rubbed her eyes.  She had a bit to eat.  Eventually she tarted to perk up…the anxiety had gotten the best of her.  All the makings of a migrane at 9.  DAMN this syndrome.  Leave her ALONE!

And as we wrapped up for the day.  Much calmer than when we had started, there was happy chatter of girl things, and talk of sleep overs and normalcy.  With a kiss and a smile she headed to bed.  God, I love that little girl.

I got in the car to check in on my grandparents.  The phone was off the hook.  This is an ongoing event, and one we share lots of laughs about.  I arrived to find them in their recliners, watching TV.  The phone was in Pop‘s pocket – on.

I asked about their night and Pop told me the story of how he “pulled over a mat and snaked the toilet, a little bit at a time.”

“How old are you?” I asked.

He winked and smiled, and told me he forgot.

I guess it didn’t matter because everything was working just fine.  But some days I feel like I might as well be 93 and he, 39.

As I drove home I thought about genetics, and environment and all those biology classes I hated in high school.  I may not have inherited their PTEN gene, but I grew, and learned, and was taught in their environment.  I grew up in a climate of a “can do” attitude.  We did… because that is what needed to be done.

Still, at 92 and 93 my grandparents do what needs to be done.

I decided while I did not gain all their good genes, I gained their drive and determination.  Their faith,stamina, and hopefully some of their wisdom.

I will get out of this rut.  Cowden’s Syndrome will not own us.  It will not win.  We can do it, and we will.

WE CAN!
WE can.. and we WILL.  SO there! 

Random Reflections – nothing profound today!

We tried another church today.  This time all three of us went.  A little different than what we are used to, or I should say WERE used to – but it holds some promise nonetheless.  Before we had even left we had been given a tour of the facility by the pastor, and Meghan was invited to a free music class Thursday afternoon.

Førde Church, a typical Protestant church in N...

God has a plan.  And while we did not head all the way to Norway where Wikipedia tells me this picture is from, we were away from “home.”  I am working to keep my eyes open and focused because to be quite honest some days God flat out confuses me.  So we will see.  At least we worshipped together as a family – for the first time in months!

It was gray and overcast a lot of the day.  Glad we got in a swim yesterday.  It may have been the last one.  We would close the pool tomorrow, but we need to call a man about some air bubbles in the liner.  Hoping its nothing too serious. 

We got to spend the afternoon with my grandparents and my parents.  Last minute plans are always a treat when we get to be with family.  Pop was 93 last week.  Grandma will be 92 in 2 weeks.  GGMa is not quite up there, but it is still always a reminder of how fortunate I truly am to see my grandparents interacting with my daughter.

The oncologist’s nurse called me Friday.  She wants a copy of an old abdominal sonogram on CD so they can sort out the spleen, and why it seems to suddenly be growing so many things.  I told her it was going to take me a bit of time to get it because it was 4:40 on the Friday before a holiday weekend.  She told me I could get it Tuesday.  I chuckled.

No matter how hard I try…  “I plan, God laughs.”

I explained to her that after 9 and a half weeks of summer vacation, I return to work Tuesday.  I will not physically be able to have the CD burned until Friday.  They will get it in about a week and a half.  At which point she nicely reminded me that it could be serious.  To which I replied quite simply, “No it can’t, because I don’t have time.”

She was appalled I think.  But, what I meant was, I have undergone 2 major surgeries in the last 6 months.  I have a colonoscopy scheduled for one of the days off this month, and an orthodontic visit with Meghan on the next one.  Unless you can prove to me my spleen is about to explode or damage some other remaining internal organ – HANDS OFF!

I am about done with all these doctors!

So as much as I did my best to plan to keep next week, the first days of school, free and empty of things to do – the yellow pad next to me gets more full by the minute.

I will at some point get that CD.  I will get the results of Meghan’s blood test and MRI.  I will call Meghan’s school and sort out the busing mess that is developing for the first day of school.  I will get the pool guy to show up when someone is home and tell me if I need to fix the pool before it can be closed.  I will get Meghan to swim class, the orthodontist, and that new music class, and to Physical Therapy too.

I will get back to work.  We will get back to homework, and a schedule that hopefully involves more kids and less doctors.

There will be stress, and tears, and nervous stomachs, and excitement.

And for Mommy – there will also be wine.  LOTS of wine!

Although I must admit sometimes it’s nice to reflect with a few “normal” worries mixed in!