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…

#beatingcowdens

Who is in charge?

Meghan slept until 11:20 this morning.  She woke only to the sound of the hammering as her father works to trim out the upstairs rooms – a project that had an intended completion date of about 2005, but hey, life gets in the way sometimes.

We had woken earlier, Felix and I – but not too much earlier.  We had wanted to go to church this morning, but learned a long time ago NEVER to wake Meghan.  She had gone to sleep at 8 PM last night, and if she was still sleeping soundly in her own bed at that hour – well her body was clearly telling us to back off.  We have a lot of respect for her body.  It gets VERY cranky if you don’t listen carefully.

My three girls... resting together.
My three girls… resting together.

But, by 11 – we had become so ingrained in what we were going to do, that it wasn’t too hard to forget that our 9 year old was still sound asleep under her covers.

When she came stumbling out of her room to the sound of the hammer she was dazed but smiling.  After a good morning hug she asked what we had to do today.  When I told her that we were going to stay home all day she leaped into my arms.

Can I read?   Yes…of course.

books

Can I watch some TV?  Sure.

Can I take my shower later, and stay in my PJs? Absolutely.

While part of me was tempted to lecture her about getting up and showered and dressed, I refrained.  Just because I could never bring myself to spend the day in my PJs, doesn’t mean she can’t.

In so many ways Meghan and I are somewhat different, but also a good deal alike.

Our bodies eventually shut down if they are always on the go.  We need our down time.

energizer bunny

Growing up with a sister and a mother who could move like Energizer Bunnies, I always felt a bit odd that I couldn’t keep up.  They still move like that.  And I still need to stop sometimes.

Now, I have a mini -me.  (And my sister has two! :-))

Me and my girl!
Me and my girl!

So when I looked at the April calendar earlier in the month I had had some serious reservations about whether we could pull it off.  For most of the month we were on a 7 day schedule.

Meghan switched schools.

We had PT twice a week, dance class, music class, swim practice, swim meets, test prep, doctor’s appointments….

run-clock

But, we did it.  A small hiccup last week when she started with an ear infection, but a quick run to the pediatrician (after the orthodontist, and before it transformed into a full-blown feverish mess) and we got it under control.

State tests – 6 days of them in the last 2 weeks.  Stress – all of them.  But they are over too.

test prep

Yesterday I pulled out Meghan’s spring clothes.  There wasn’t much we could use.  The sandals from last year were a size 6.  She is a 7.5.  The same was true for the clothes.  We put even less away for the fall.  Nothing really.  But we will cross that bridge then.  Right now she is almost 5 feet tall and every inch of her beautiful inside and out.

No wonder she needs to rest sometimes.  Her body is certainly hurrying its way through its growth.

I spent the entire day at my desk.  I just finished about an hour ago when I began to write.  There were bills to file, papers to sort, letters to write.  There is a letter writing campaign I am working on for a stop sign by my school.

There were some Emails to answer about Isagenix – the nutritional system that is changing my husband’s life.

Isagenix

http://meghanleigh8903.isagenix.com/us/en/landing_toxic.html (check that out here)

There were gifts to order, some lists to make, and I can now just about see the desk calendar, as it is ready to turn to May.

calendar

I probably should have gotten outside to enjoy the beautiful day too, but I guess this was my respite.  I thrive on order and organization.  I showered early – like I always do, but I relaxed by creating order.

You see Mom taught me a long time ago – that the more you look for order in life, the less you will find it.  “You plan – God Laughs.”  And I know she is right.

I really should listen to my Mom...
I really should listen to my Mom…

However, in this world where so many things are so far out of my control – I have a compulsion to control what I can.  I can make sure the floor is clean, and the bills are paid, and the laundry is done.  I can make sure there are always cupcakes for Meghan in the freezer in case there is a party.  I can buy the cards, and order the gifts, and endeavor valiantly to balance my checkbook.

Crazy?  Maybe.  But I take satisfaction and solace in knowing that there are a few precious things left in my life I can control.

The last of a long series of lab tests ordered by my friend Dr. Elice was done Saturday morning.  This is the week where I will find out what 37 vials of blood and 2 24 hour urine tests turned up.  I will ask the 5,000 questions in my mind about endocrine function, and hormone levels, and ratios, and vitamin absorption.  And, no matter how much I try to anticipate the answer, something will knock me flat on my ass.

blood-testing

That is how it goes.  Cowden’s Syndrome keeps us hopping.  And with Meghan there is an immune system deficiency, the chronic viral infections, and so many more things we are yet to figure out.

So – for tonight, the floor is clean, the list is made, the desk is organized.  For tonight I can rest, and gear up for whatever this week has in store.  And somehow, after dance class, and PT, and swim practice, and 2 meets… somehow it will all be OK.

I’m not in charge of this.  It’s in the hands of a power far greater than any of us.

God's got this

I’m only in charge of keeping the fur off the kitchen floor.

 

“I plan, God laughs.”

I really should listen to my Mom…

My Mom says this… a lot.  And she is usually right.  I am a planner by nature.  Mom, although sometimes reluctant to admit it, is a planner too.  The difference is that the wisdom of her years have helped her tone down the level of planning so it is a bit less obvious, and she has also – wisely- learned to keep many of the plans she does make – to herself.

I like to organize everything, and quite simply put – Cowden’s Syndrome is chaos.  At least right now.

I mean eventually maybe it will fall into a neat little schedule of screenings, and routine visits, but right now – not so much.  If you saw the legal size yellow pad on my desk you would chuckle.  I have appointments planned until February of 2013.  And, at first glance to list doesn’t look too bad.  I was proud.  I got to these appointments early.  They are all routine.  They will all happen after school or on vacation days.  My terms.  But then we get to the unscheduled ones… and the follow ups… and the new visits.  That’s when things start getting hairy.

I called the oncologist‘s office today to get the results of my MRI.  The oncologist is away until Tuesday, but a very kind nurse called me back in about an hour.  She said, “Everything is benign.”  I wasn’t sure to be relived, or panicked.  What “everything?”  So she started with telling me my liver is just fine.  (Well thank goodness, because I hadn’t even THOUGHT to worry about my liver.)  She then proceeded to tell me there was a “small cyst” on my kidney, but that was probably no big deal. (And probably not a worry unless you live in a subgroup of people that have a 33% lifetime incidence of renal cell carcinoma.) She continued by telling me my spleen was “a bit more involved.” Hmmm… never have those words started a positive conversation.

The last two times I have had abdominal sonograms, both have very matter of factly stated that there is one 3.5 cm harmatoma on my spleen.  Ok, I had decided all by myself… if it stays 3.5 cm and behaves, we will just leave it there.

Well, apparently there is a “vascular lesion” that is a “significant” size, and “several” small harmatomas on the spleen.

So I said, “what does this all mean?”  That is when she said we would have to wait until the oncologist returned to determine the necessary next steps.

“Can I have a copy of the report?”

“I would rather not send it to you until you speak to the doctor.  I just wanted to reassure you there were no malignancies.  She may want you to come in.”

Which is where I did laugh out loud.  Come in – to hear a summary of what I was just told?  No thanks.  Just tell me what I need to do next and I will get it done.

I looked at my nice yellow pad, where September  previously had no appointments, and I see the colonoscopy written in for the 18th.

I have to say I was pretty sure 2 major surgeries for me, meant I was done for the year.  There goes that planning again.  Maybe I will keep my spleen and its harmatomas forever.  Maybe they will make me have it out.  Truth is I have no idea.  And I can’t plan for it at all.

School starts in a week or so.  My life apparently doesn’t always jive with the school calendar.  I will have to roll with it.

More importantly, Pop’s birthday is tomorrow.  He is 93, and a true inspiration.  My family will gather at my house to celebrate him.  I couldn’t be more excited.

I really think I am OK with this concept, but we all need a reminder sometimes!

I will get my results Tuesday, and life will go on.  It will all work itself out, as it has for… well forever.  I will try to keep the planning in check.  I really do try.

The only thing I am planning tonight is how many chairs I need for Pop’s birthday celebration!