Posted in Health

The Requirements of Aging–an Honest Retelling

As a woman, there are things (like annual pap smears and mammograms) that I’m required to do. I do them because I’m supposed to.

As a human, there are things (like going to the dentist every six months) that I’m required to do. I (mostly) do them because I’m supposed to.

As a 50 year old human, a new thing entered the list of required duties. For various reasons (see previous posts!) it got put off for a year. But I am still a good human, so I yesterday I did what a good human does. I got my first colonoscopy.

Whenever you bring it up, anyone who has had one says the EXACT same thing: The prep is the worst part. Yup. It absolutely is. I thought I would take this post and be honest about it, since I know I have readers who are the right age but haven’t done it yet because they are nervous.

Thursday I spent the day drinking tea and ginger ale and “eating” orange jello and chicken broth. I was honestly mostly not hungry. My stomach thinks sugar is an acceptable alternative, apparently!

At 6pm I drank the first of the two “Suprep” bottles mixed with water to make 16 ounces. IT WAS HORRIBLE. Seriously awful. The manufacturer was going for a cherry flavor, but ended up with an uber cough medicine taste that once I finished I kept spitting. I honestly held my nose closed so I could drink it. It was that awful. I followed it up immediately with 16 ounces of orange Gatorade. 30 minutes later I had 16 ounces of apple juice. (There is another prep that involves Miralax and drinking more liquid. I may ask for that next time to avoid the awful cough medicine taste)

At that point I felt pretty awful. I’m not a big drinker of liquids to begin with. I’m also not a big person (5′ 1.5″), so 48 ounces in 35 minutes was a LOT. The instructions said it could take anywhere from 1-4 hours to start working, so I just hung out in the bedroom near the ensuite. Around 9 I was really tired so I let myself sleep, figuring I’d be up a lot overnight.

10:05 I woke up, realizing that four hours had passed and nothing had happened. I called the oncall doctor, who encouraged me to go and buy Magnesium Citrate, change the time for my next dose of Suprep from 4:45 to 2:30 and then, if necessary, drink the MC at 4:30. I ran out and bought the 10 oz bottle and hoped I wouldn’t have to use it.

10:30/10:45 things finally started. Let’s be honest, people. It was gross. Just lots and lots of diarrhea. The only good thing was no accompanying gas pains. Sometimes I would have five minutes in between bouts. Sometimes even less. Sometimes I would be literally running from the bed to the bathroom–it was that urgent. I changed the wake up time to 4:20 because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be needing the Magnesium Citrate.

Around 12:30 or so I laid down, waiting for the next go around, and woke up with my alarm at 4:20. I took the 2nd dose of Suprep & water then and orange Gatorade (downstairs, which ended up being a mistake because I was too far from the bathroom!), ran upstairs cursing all the way (and waking up my startled teenagers who don’t hear Mom talk that way!).

The directions say you are supposed to drink the prep followed by two 16 ounce clear liquids in an hour. I literally couldn’t do the 2nd one because I knew I would throw it up. I finally finished it around 5:30 or so and did the back and forth with the bathroom for a bit.

Jim got Bennett to work at 6 and Ethan off to school at 7 (Bless him, he was great the whole day!). I went downstairs at 8:30 for him to get a shower and then go one after around 9:40. By that point the bathroom treks had slowed quite a bit.

(As a side note, hunger was just not a thing, so don’t worry about it. You are so full of liquid that it just doesn’t occur to your stomach to miss food.)

10:40 at the endoscopy office, fill out paperwork and wait for my name to be called. I was really thirsty and kept thinking about waking up to sip ginger ale. They got me in the back, took vital signs, chatted about the procedure, put in an IV and wheeled me back. Once they started the Propofol I felt maybe a second of dizzy and then was out.

The next thing I knew I was coming to in the recovery area. My brain woke up more quickly than my eyelids did. I wasn’t tired, per se, but just didn’t want to open my eyes. When I finally did open them, the nurse was smiling and offering something to drink. GINGER ALE IS THE BEST THING EVER. I got one small can in me and woke up more. Jim came back at that point and the doctor came to chat. They found a 4mm polyp and removed it and send it to pathology. I’ll get a call next week about it. If it’s fine, I’ll go back in 7-10 years. If it’s precancerous it will be 3-5 years.

I got dressed, wobbled my way through the medical building and into the car, went home, drank, ate for the first time in 45 hours and slept for a couple of hours. Even through propofol is “quick acting” and out of your system, the combination of that and the poor night’s sleep the night before kept pulling me back into sleep. I forced myself to get up around 4 and stay up so I would sleep ok at night. I wasn’t very hungry the rest of the day, just VERY thirsty. I had two more small cans of ginger ale and two large glasses of apple cider. I hung out on the couch pretty much the rest of the day, watching TV and reading. I went to bed around 10 and slept pretty well until 5am when the cat started being a jerk.

So there you have it. It wasn’t fun, but honestly…it’s fine. Between drinking the awful stuff and the diarrhea, it’s mostly just gross. The things I was worried about –hunger, low blood sugar at work–were really no problem. The thing I didn’t know to worry about–how sore my tushy would be from the diarrhea and endless wiping, well, I’ll be better prepared next time.

If you are putting getting a colonoscopy off because of the prep–don’t. It’s about 12 hours of yuck. That’s it. I’ve been home less than 24 hours and don’t dread it the next time. Just get some bathroom wipes, and something in the Desitin family.  Go! Make the appointment!

Posted in Christian, Family, Health, Money

Where Things Stand

I’ve done this off and on over the years and thought it was time for another:

Health: It’s an uphill battle to getting healthy, but I’m working on it. After my last visit to the endocrinologist, whereby she read me the riot act in a polite way, I’ve been eating better and taking my medication again. I get bloodwork in mid-November and see her the week after, so we’ll see if there’s any improvement. Also, I scheduled my first colonoscopy today (November 15th) and got my umpteenth allergy shot, still continuing weekly. Both boys are getting plastic surgery this month to fix some stuff leftover from when they were tiny babies. Hoping for good outcomes for both.

Education: Laura is thriving at college, Catie is slogging through 11th grade much the same way Bennett and Laura did. Ethan is enjoying senior year. Only one IEP this year, and that’s in December. At this stage I’m not fighting about homework anymore, which is a wonderful thing.

Finances: August and September stunk as usual. October is good and November will be even better. My part time job helped pay for the lawyer’s services this month (special needs paperwork/ HIPAA etc signed by the triplets).

Spirit: I’m feeling friendly towards the Holy Spirit these days. Other than a few days ago, I’ve been to church each Sunday since I started back (and that’s going by myself!). I’m thoroughly enjoying it–the music, the messages, seeing Laura and my sister there….I just need to make some friends, which is a little challenging right now. I’m having a hard time keeping up with my existing ones as it is!

Family: Things are pretty good! Jim and have been doing marriage counseling for awhile now, which has been great. Figuring out how to do things differently has been wonderful for us. Catie is settling into CPFA (fine arts school) and is taking choir, acting, ceramics and piano. In other words, utterly different from the plan that Laura followed. I love how different my girls are from each other, but they are both so talented! Ethan still has a special friend.

All in all, things are actually going well for now. I’m continuing to adjust to working part time–figuring out grocery shopping and doing things around work hours instead of during.

Posted in Health, Kids, School, To Do List

Summer is Full and Flying By

Sorry for the lack of posting! The last time I posted was June 17. We had celebrated the graduation of Bennett and Laura.

Since then: hosting the largest party I’ve ever hosted for the graduation, TONS of doctor appointments, meeting with our lawyer to set up a special needs trust for another Laura, dropping off Ethan at camp, picking him up after him having a great week, meeting with our future autism services people, dropping off Ethan at TVI (Transition Vocational Initiative) at Overbrook for three weeks, doing med checks and changing meds for the girls, Laura as of today being on the full dose of anti-seizure meds (and therefore sleeping a TON as her body acclimates), buying college stuff for Laura (surprisingly fun!), helping Bennett get a job at Wawa (VERY popular local version of 7-11 for you out of the area people), helping him fill out paperwork and needing to go and buy non-slip shoes, dropping off Catie and picking up Catie every week day from her junior counselor job, figuring out college loans, dealing with Jim working late pretty much all the time for until mid-September…

I somehow thought this summer would be quieter! We only have five weeks left until Laura moves out (it’s FLYING by so quickly as the title says!), and a few days short of seven weeks until school starts for the two attending. TWO? TWO!

Which is why I’m looking for a job. What in the world will I do with myself with only two kids to worry about?!

 

Posted in Health, Kids, School

Where Do I Begin?

I made my counselor cry on Monday. Seriously. Because she saw how much I’m carrying and how self-sufficient I’m being and she feels so badly for me.

I feel like I’ve attained a new level when I can make my counselor cry.

Nitty Gritty Details:

Daughter who was doing partial hospitalization program successfully completed it and also completed four-day-a-week group program and is down to once a week counseling again. Except, she can’t because she just had her 2nd seizure. We meet with neurology in an hour to get more info, but she’s on an anticonvulsant and has a rescue med as well.

I have two kids finishing senior year in 9 days. Whether both can finish all their work on time I’m unsure, but here’s hoping.

Tomorrow I meet with Ethan’s new governmental agency–the autism waiver people–to see what they can offer him now and in the future.

Jim and I met with a disability life planner on Monday to start the social security paperwork process. There’s a LOT between Ethan and Laura.

Yesterday (after the above meeting) I emailed our lawyer to update our wills to add another special needs trust. Everything needs to be redone.

Took the seizure daughter to the pediatrician yesterday and also got a boatload of bloodwork done. SIX VIALS of BLOOD. Yowza.

This morning I returned the majority of the hardware and books for cyber school because of the two graduating seniors.

Tomorrow is Laura’s spring art show and Ethan’s spring concert.  Always on the same day. We will manage it, but will need to drop off the girls in between so one can rest her brain and the other can babysit her.

There’s always other miscellaneous stuff going on, but that’s the major stuff. I just want to get off the merry go round, people. Does it ever stop??!!

Posted in Health, Kids, Me

Margin, or Lack Thereof

It has Been. A. Week. (insert shaking head)

Monday began like it regularly does, with grocery shopping and one of the girls having counseling. At the end, however, the counselor wants to see me. She’s concerned about where this girl is, and thinks that she needs to change from one on one counseling once a week to group counseling 4x/week for 4-6 weeks. For reasons. I’m, naturally, freaking out not only about the need but also, realistically, about the scheduling and what needs to be done to make it work.

So Wednesday we make our way to the counseling center to fill out forms and for the group counselor to assess my daughter. For “30-45 minutes” after our forms.

One and a half hours later, she says that she doesn’t think group is the right placement, that my daughter should go into a “partial hospitalization placement” for a couple of weeks. This is from 8:30 – 2:40 Monday through Friday about 25 minutes from our house.

Ok. More freaking out, because of the exact same reasons listed above.

I reschedule my upcoming allergy appointment and the boys’ upcoming plastic surgery consults (long story there), but keep my “relaunch your career” class even though it’s stressful to do it, because, darn it, I NEED it. I need something for ME. And I hardly ever do anything for me. I’ll manage the driving from West Chester to Phoenixville to Media. It’s a LOT of driving time, but it’s worth it. Maybe the next two days of my classes when I have to also drive her, I will not go back home in between but will return to Phoenixville instead after class.

I find myself taking very deep breaths and letting them out slowly through my mouth in a blowing motion. No clue why, but if it’s what I need, then ok. I feel on the verge of tears a lot, and REALLY want someone to hold me and say everything is going to be ok. Usually I’m the one doing that to one of the kids.

I don’t do well with a lack of margin in my life. I build it in on purpose because I know myself and I need it. However, hopefully this will only be for two weeks and then we can just worry about group time in the evenings.

Right?

Posted in Health

There Should Be a Rule

That both parents can’t get sick at the same time. Because, boy howdy, does the world fall apart when it happens!

Jim, Ethan and I went to a model train expo last Sunday. Tuesday morning he and I both woke up feeling….not quite right. Enter a VIRUS. No, not just a cold, because this had GI symptoms. And no, not just a GI bug, because this has head cold and exhaustion symptoms. But no fevers. Because then I would suspect the flu. I have had the flu shot, but Jim has not and this has hit us quite equally. Ethan escaped, which leads me to believe we shook someone’s hand or touched a surface that Ethan didn’t.

Thankfully, our kids are teenagers, and older teenagers at that. They are able to not only mostly fend for themselves, but also take care of things that need to be taken care of by mostly Jim and me. So yay for that.

Every day since Tuesday morning I have needed a nap to get through the day. And these are not quick cat naps. These are 1-1.5 hour naps. Of course, that means I’m having more trouble falling asleep at night, but if I didn’t nap, well, I’d just sit on the couch like a zombie anyway.

I’m playing a little catch up today with my desk and laundry. It’s weird, and disheartening, to have lost essentially a week. Nothing but driving a kid to school 6 minutes away (and trying to do a few dishes along the way) got done. Not even showering! When I say we’ve been sick I mean it.

Now, we are definitely on the mend. Being able to play catch up today proves it. But I’m guessing I’ll be napping this afternoon.

Posted in Change, Health, Me

When Did I Become a Drinker?

I grew up in a tee-totalling household. We were Baptists and that was part of it, but my mother’s father was a active alcoholic until his death and that was the larger part of it. I chose, at 21, to try it. My brother cannot drink and be ok, and I didn’t want to end up where he was. But I figured I would be able to tell if I couldn’t handle it. And honestly, that has largely been true.

I chose, on my honeymoon, to actively allow myself to get drunk. I was in DisneyWorld, at a bar that we walked to from our hotel room and I figured it didn’t get more safe than that. I got schnockered on two mixed drinks and HATED it. I couldn’t control my body and felt awful. I thankfully didn’t get a hangover, but that was my one and only time being totally drunk. In the last 20 years or so, I’ve mistaken how much I could have on an empty stomach or how strong a drink was and been a little loopy, but all in all, I’ve been a responsible kind of imbiber.

It helped that I didn’t like it much. Beer? YUCK. Straight liquor? YUCK. Wine? YUCK. Mixed drinks where you can’t taste the alcohol, ok. Then a few years back I discovered moscato and hello! I liked wine! I could have a glass at a social event and fit in! I could go to a winery and actually drink something! I could buy a bottle, keep it in the fridge and enjoy a glass here and there.

And that’s mostly where I’ve been. I really hate the current culture where people joke about how much wine they drink or how hard it is to get through the day until they can get a glass in their hand.

But with all the new research that’s coming out about how there’s really no level of alcohol that is healthy (despite all the crap that the spew about red wine and the heart), I’m finding myself at a place where I think I want to just stop drinking. I read this article today, where the author talks about how she gave up drinking a year ago. It won’t be missed in my side of the family. My sister can’t drink after having chemo. My brother is in recovery and doesn’t drink. My parents still don’t drink. Just my husband and my brother in law do on my side.

So I’m taking a leap of faith and announcing here, officially, that I am no longer a drinker.