Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Under the Knife

Well the stone is still in place. Because it's not in my kidney, they can't do the procedure where they use sonar to blast the stone into smaller pieces. They are going to have to do surgery. (warning - gory details below).
They will insert a tube in through my urethra and break the stone up and pull the pieces out. Then they will insert a stent to keep the urethra open - to avoid it swelling shut.
The pre-op appt is Wednesday. Surgery is Thursday, under general anesthesia, on an out patient basis. I'll have the stint in a few days.
My mom is scheduled for a visit Wednesday. So she is going to meet me at the doctors for my preop. That ought to be fun (sarcasm). Thursday my husband will escort me through surgery.
So, paid the COBRA insurance, paid the deductible, lost 1 week of wages, lose 2 more days this week. What fun it is to be me!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Medical Nightmare

Just recently, Austin was writing about her trip to the ER (here and here). My heart went out to her. I never expected to find myself in the same boat so soon.

It started with what I thought was a stomach bug. That raised memories of my own childhood illnesses. Survived that day of being sick. Only to get to work Tuesday with what I thought were UTI symptoms. I headed out to the employee health clinic. I had to fill out the typical health questionnaire. Depression? Check. Anxiety? Check. Medications - zoloft. All the time wondering if this information is really kept as confidential as they promised in employee orientation.

Next I ended up in the ER. The pain was so intense that I cried. I despise crying. It makes me feel weak. I was first put into a tiny triage room. This big huge male nurse came in to take vitals. He was squeezing into the room, maneuvering around my Husband. Then I was transferred to another room - again tiny. Finally a third room, also tiny. I wrote earlier that I didn't care about some things that happened because I had morphine. Really I didn't care in the moment. But it provoked anxiety when I remembered later. The third room was small and the bed faced the door. A female nurse came in to do the catheter and said they wanted to do a pelvic to check my IUD. Okay. My husband helps me get undressed. The nurse helps me onto the bed and feet in stirrups. Then she leaves to get the doctor. And I wait. Lying there. Waiting. The door opens. It's the doctor - now he can't find the nurse, who he refers to as his "chaperone." And while I appreciate the hospital policy of having someone else present during pelvic exams, I want to get it over with. Not lie there for fifteen minutes. So finally it is over. I get dressed.

Then it's to the CAT scan. Getting wheeled down the hall by a tall man behind me. I alternated between feeling like I was on a roller coaster - zooming down the hall, high on morphine -wwwhhheeeeeeeeeee. Then I felt anxiety as I realized I wasn't sure where we were going.

The ER stay was tolerable. It was okay. The morphine helped. And so did the professionalism of the medical professionals. Aside from the long wait, it was fine. I survived. That would have been that if it wasn't for the urologist.

The urologist appointment was another story. There is only one urology group in town. The ER gave me the name and number. The very nice nurse said, "I'm not sure if there are any females in the group." When I called to make an appointment, they originally wanted me to wait one week. I insisted on getting in earlier and they found an opening the next day. I didn't even ask who it was with. Turns out there aren't any females in this group. Turns out I ended up with the azzphat with no bedside manner.

I arrived at the office and checked in. Fill out forms again. Anxiety, depression, medications, etc. Number of pregnancies versus number of births. All anxiety provoking. I'm taken into a hallway. Husband comes too. It's another waiting room. A female nurse comes and takes my blood pressure and temp right there. Then asks me my height. Then has me write my weight down on her paper. Good thing, because I wasn't telling that number out loud in front of all those other people. Then I was taken in for an X-ray.

She instructed me to "pull your pants down to your knees and hop on the table here." Ugh. Can I not just take them off? I feel entangled in the pants. I lie there on my back, trapped. The tech is behind me, giving me instructions. I'm instructed to hold my breath. Fine with me - not breathing anyway.

So then into the exam room. The nurse asks lots of questions. Then the doctor comes in. He's brusque. Doesn't like us asking questions. Then he stands up and says, "I'll be back." Nurse comes in and says, "Did he tell you what he was going to do?" Uh no. She explains she'll need to get a catheterized urine sample and he'll do a pelvic to check the bladder. Sigh.

Okay, so get into the lovely paper gown and on the table. This table goes high. Very high. Eye level high. High enough that the doctor can stand to do the exam. The nurse sees my surprise and says, "it helps on our back." My husband was in a chair by my feet. He gets up to leave and I tell him to come by my head. He does and I concentrate on him. The nurse tells me what she is doing and does it. So that's okay. I feel trapped, that high in the air. Scared I'll fall off the table. Then the doctor comes in.

He doesn't talk. Doesn't tell me what he is doing. He listens to my heart, then feels my neck and then under my arms, alongside my breast. I was shocked. The nurse caught my eye and said, "lymph nodes." Then he has me lie down and scoot. No warning. No explanation. Now I just had a baby. Lots of exams. Every single one, including the ER, they tell you what is going on. Starting with, "you're going to feel my hand, a stick, whatever." Nope, not this guy. He is also moving my legs. Not sure why. His hands are where the scars are. He has to notice.

The meds helped. I was on pain meds so I just floated away. When it was done, my husband helped me up. The doctor said he wanted to give it time to pass. Didn't listen to me when I tried to explain that I couldn't wait a week. Needed to return to nursing. Discounted everything.

We left. I was numb. I spent the rest of the day and Thursday in a drug induced fog. Friday I started coming around. Talked with husband and he says he didn't like that doctor either. I hesitantly explained to Husband how I had felt. Husband didn't discount my feelings. Told me to get in with someone else, even if it meant driving to the city. So I called. First go around I got a nasty nurse who again discounted things and just called in different meds and told me, "yes you need to just wait."

I then called back. Got someone different. I was prepared to have them get the tests together for me to pick up and take elsewhere. But this woman listened. I explained that I needed something done sooner. I told her I didn't want to see that doctor again. She rescheduled me for Monday morning with someone different. I'll give this person a shot.

Unlike Austin, my files don't say "abuse and incest survivor." I am not up front about that fact with medical professionals. My records will say I have anxiety and depression issues. Sometimes it will list panic. When I went in for the CAT scan I mentioned being claustrophobic - but it wasn't a full tube type scan so it didn't matter. In Austin's instance it didn't seem to matter that she told the nurse. Maybe it would have with the doctors I saw. Maybe not? But personally I think doctors ought to be considerate. Just because you are a doctor doesn't give you the right to put your hands all over me. You need to ask first. You need to tell me what you are doing before you do it. You need to talk to me about what you are doing and why.

I'm focusing on what I DID do - call and get in with someone else (even if it did take me two tries). Instead of what I didn't do - stay silent through the exam and afterwards. I'm focusing on what I'll do next time - make sure Husband comes with me again. Ask that they explain things. This time I'm taking a stand and hoping that standing up for myself will be easier than dealing with the after-effects and panic of when I do not. Or that is the plan anyway. Stay tuned for what really happens.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Award Goes to..........

It is 2 am and I'm wide awake. Having passed out for 4 hours this morning and napped another 2 hours in the afternoon, I'm not sleepy. Figured I'd watch a bit of lifetime television and blog.

This morning I "came to" about 11:30. It was not a normal awakening after sleeping. This was a total unconsciousness. The kind that comes from pain and drugs. I remained unconscious through the garbage truck and recycling truck - both of which my dog would have barked at. Also through a phone call. That worried me. I don't like being that out of it. I felt really odd when I realized it was so late.

When I take the meds, I feel fine. A bit run-down, but otherwise okay. Well, aside from seeing 5 heads on people and being unsteady on my feet. Each time I take them, without fail, I think this is the dose that is going to be the last. I hope that the meds will wear off and I'll find the pain is gone. But each time the pain returns, not slowly, but intensely.

I had requested some less powerful pain meds so that I could see if those would be enough to ease the pain but allow me to function. I tried those last night. They wore off at the 4 hours mark. Problem is that they are "every 6 hours" type pills. I was miserable for two hours. Husband and I were hanging out on the couch and he told me to call the doctor tomorrow and demand they go ahead with the surgery -- there was no need for me to be in such pain.

In my family, you weren't allowed to get sick. That cost money in doctor visits. It also meant you might require extra attention. Heaven forbid my mom had to miss work to take me to the doctor or care for me. Even today my mom can't say anything about feeling bad or Toilet's poor health without mentioning the cost. Mom was not supportive when you were sick. There were no meals brought to you.

I am currently on COBRA under my old health policy, having had to pay a pretty penny for that. It has a $750 deductible and then we have to pay a percentage up to $3,500. On April 1, my new insurance kicks in. It has a lower deductible and then covers 100%. I told Husband I ought to just wait until the 1st for surgery. He said "I don't give a #%*&^$ about the money. I am not going to have you in pain like this." ................... I love that man. Seriously he couldn't have said anything better.

Husband also told me that he would drive me to and from work if I felt up to going. And that he wanted me to carpool to the conference I have on Tuesday. I was worried about needing to leave early and not having a ride. He said not to worry - he'd come pick me up if I needed. The conference is 40 minutes away. He didn't care.

Husband hasn't complained once about my starting a task and then getting too dizzy or unsteady to finish it. He's not complained about having to do all the carrying of Baby, since I'm not comfortable holding him unless I'm sitting down.

Husband is right there when I'm trying to stand up. He brings me snacks and liquid whenever I ask. He ran to the store for me to pick up gatorade and other things I wanted. He offered to take me to the library to pick up some books to read. He even offered to drive me to court and stay there with me if I wanted.

We've had a bit of a role reversal here lately. I'm usually the organized one who manages all the details. On the meds though, I can't keep anything straight. I forget what I've done and said. Husband is having to juggle all the details and remember things. I lose my words halfway through a sentence, and stare blankly into space. He's been very patient with me and with repeating things.

I told Husband he was getting the "Husband of the Year" award. I don't tell him I appreciate him often enough. Sometimes it takes something like this to make you appreciate someone more. I've realized that my Husband is a true rock - steady and strong.

Husband has learned to appreciate all that I do as well. He says he'll be glad when I can return to taking over the middle of the night feedings. He's sure not enjoying bottle duty. I try to help, but Baby doesn't take a bottle from me easily. Plus neither Husband nor I are comfortable with me carrying baby around while on pain meds. I tried to help out yesterday morning and fell asleep while feeding Baby - and I was sitting straight up too.

So fingers crossed and prayers said that I can get this taken care of quickly. I'm going to call the doctor tomorrow and see how soon we can get this removed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Email Ban

I am still at home. I have been checking emails and doing some stuff from home. Three different people at my new job told me "quit checking emails and go to bed!" Gee -it's nice to be wanted - LOL.
I had my appointment with the urologist. The stone has moved a bit. Actually he said I have one "good sized rock" and many stones. I probably always have had and will have stones. That explains the sudden pains I get sometimes. I thought they were body memories from the abuse. Maybe, maybe not. He said most people pass small smooth stones with no problem. But these big jagged ones are tough. He gave me about a 50% chance of passing this one. He wants me to try to pass it before trying surgery because with surgery there is the risk of damaging the urethra and making it hard to pass future stones.
So on the heavy meds through the weekend. He then gave me a prescrip for some slightly lower pain meds to try on Sunday. If I can manage on those, then I can go to work on Monday on those. I go back on Wed. If I've passed the stone, I'll have some follow up tests. If not, I'll be scheduled for surgery (outpatient).
He told me that it was my choice to stay on or go off the one medication. It is the one preventing me from breastfeeding. But it helps with urine output which helps pass the stone. So I decided to stay on it through Friday since I would be pumping during weekdays anyway. Then I may go off it and nurse on the weekend.
Husband was funny this morning. He was up with Baby three times last night. I finally offered to go out to the couch so he could put Baby in bed with him. Baby sleeps better there, but it's not safe to co-sleep when I'm drugged. This morning I asked Husband how he liked the "night shift" and he said "I have a whole new appreciation for you." Ahh, nice to be appreciated!
Here's another funny. Yesterday at the health clinic I took a urine test. Then walked into the exam room. The NP walked in and said, "you're pregnant." I said, "WHAT?" All the blood left my body. She said, "yeah, the prenatals." It took me a second but I realized she was asking if I was pregnant because I was taking prenatals. Not because she had read my urine results. Whew! Glad that was sorted out. I'm not pregnant. Yeah! Kids are great. I love my Baby. But not ready for another one. (Although I'll take labor 10x over before another kidney stone).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ouch - Pain - Trigger - Kidney Stone

I woke up this morning feeling weak but I needed to go to work. New job - no sick time. Plus I just have this overly responsible gene that drives me bonkers if I call out sick. I had some mild cramping but figured it was remnants of the illness. I kept feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom but could not go. So I decided to take advantage of the employee health clinic ($5), suspecting it was a UTI. As I sat there waiting, the pain intensified. They said my urine was full of blood and called my regular doc to schedule me for further testing. My regular doc couldn't see me until 2pm. I went back to the office and signed documents and checked emails. Then drove toward home. It was hurting much worse. I called the doc to try to get in earlier, but they didn't have an opening.
The pain was intense. When I was almost home, I had to pull over. I got sick from the pain and started to pass out. I was 1 block from the ER so I made my way there. It was packed full. But here's a tip for you - vomitting and passing out in the waiting room gets you bumped up quickly. I had called my Husband and he was great. He was firm, but polite and insisted they see me quickly. Poor guy - he's sure not used to a crying wife. Not something he's seen often.
They finally got me into a closet of a room so I could lie down. I was vomitting, passing out and crying. I would give birth 7 times over without medication before I'd experience that again. The nurse came in to start an IV and I asked if it had drugs. She said no - just rehydrating solution. I cried. The pain med doc then came in and noticed I was breastfeeding so said, "oh I'll have to get the doctor to see if you can have these drugs." I said "He can have formula. Give me drugs NOW!" She did. Two doses of morphine and some phenegren later and I finally felt better. The room was spinning, I saw 6 heads on most people and I thought I could fly - but darn if I cared.
The morphine helped. Next time I go for any medical procedure, I want that. I had to get into a hospital gown, have a pelvic exam with a young male doctor, have a CAT scan and ride in a wheelchair (think tall man walking behind you and talking to you). I was also in a teeny tiny room. But it really didn't bother me. It helped immensly that Husband was there too.
So the results are in - kidney stone. Or as the tech joked, a kidney boulder. It's rather large. Very slim chance of it passing. So I have an appointment with an urologist tomorrow. Probably surgery. Blech. The ER said I could try to go home with drugs, but if it gets worse to come back for IV drugs. The doctor said not to try to go without meds but to take them on time, even setting an alarm clock to take at night.
No nursing. Not on all these meds. Poor Baby. He's had some formula and does fine. But if I'm holding him, he wants to nurse. And of course, I can't go days without holding him.
I have to brag on Husband. For all the times he drives me batty sometimes, he is great in these situations. I called and just said, "I'm going to ER. Meet me there." He came right over. I was getting nauseous and he immediately got me a barf bag and into a private waiting area. He demanded someone get me meds immediately. He asked all the questions that needed to be asked. Held my head while I got sick. Half-carried me to the bathroom and helped me with all the urine cultures. Helped me pump and then went in the other room to dump the "liquid gold" down the sink, knowing that would be painful for me to watch. Went to the pharmacy and picked up my meds. Then got the paperwork to fill out COBRA election. He did say a few nasty words directed toward insurance (LOL). We had hoped to avoid COBRA. But now we are paying it, plus my deductible, plus my 10%. And had to pay full price for the meds because it shows insurance as cancelled. Then we'll seek reimbursement. He also called work and told them he'd be out tomorrow so he could drive me to the urologist.
I keep making comments about something else I'm worrying/stressing about - work, court, bills, etc. Husband keeps saying, "don't worry about it. It will be fine." He keeps assuring me that the Baby will do just fine on formula.
My T remarked that I ought to avoid taking Cipro if possible because she's noticed several women who have had depressive episodes while on it. I asked if they had a substitute but they said this was really the best and it was for 5 days only (instead of usual 10). So I'm going to take it. Figure with all the other meds, I'll be too drugged to be depressed. But Husband said he'll keep a close eye on me.
I think I'm rambling....the drugs are good :) Think it's time for a nap.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Sick Day

We've all had colds here. I was the last to get it. Made it to Sunday school and came home because I was coughing so hard I knew I'd disrupt service. Took it easy yesterday and was feeling better by nighttime. Woke up for the 2 am feeding and noticed I felt a bit off. At 3 am, I barely made it to the bathroom. I stayed there for several hours. I can't remember ever being so suddenly and violently ill.

At 4:30 I heard the Baby cry and my husband get up. He finally found me and I croaked out, "feed him a bottle. I'm dying." They went back to bed. About 7 I crawled out to the couch. Husband made a quick dash to the store to pick up some gingerale and gatorade. I have to keep hydrated so I can nurse/pump. Husband took the kids onto school.

I called out sick - I don't have any sick days so guess it will be unpaid. Logged onto the computer so at least I have work email access. This is my first sick day at the new job, so not quite sure what the "rules" are. I did call in and email the main people I thought would be affected.

I did not want my husband or anyone else around me. I do not want them to catch this. On the other hand, I can't help but think how nice it would be to have a mommy figure right now. Someone to hold my hair out of my face while I'm sick, put a cool rag on my forehead, help me shuffle back to the couch, cover me up when I'm shivering and pull the covers off when I'm sweating. Someone to fill up my gingerale cup and fetch the TV remote for me. Someone to tell me that this will pass and I'll feel better soon.

My mom never did that. She would get us settled in our room with a bucket and that was about it. However, despite not having experienced mothering when sick, I knew how to do it anyway when my Daughter was sick. I crawled right in bed with her and held her - caring less about germs and such. I think some things are just instinctual.

And now - it is 8:30 am and the offices I need to call should be open. So a few phone calls and a nap.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Are you an Adult Child?

In this post, Rising Rainbow discusses her experiences at an Adult Children of Alcoholics Meeting. I found her post very interesting and did some more reading. One website talks about “adult children” which is a label attached to people who grew up in dysfunctional homes. Just as Rising Rainbow found herself identifying with many characteristics (and I did too), I also found myself relating to the characteristics of an Adult Child. So I thought I would share –

Over the years, those who have studied the "adult child" phenomenon have compiled a list of common characteristics which many people who grew up in dysfunctional homes seem to share. The following characteristics were developed by Dr. Janet G. Woititz.

You may recognize some of them.

Adult Children:
...guess at what normal is. (yep I do that)

...have difficulty in following a project through from beginning to end. (yes and no – it depends on my level of anxiety and what the project is)

...lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth. (well, “lie” seems so harsh. I prefer the term “storytelling” J I will admit to a whole lot of storytelling as a child. Some was necessary to cover up my home life. Then I would get confused about what version I told which person, and would tell another story to cover up. Pretty soon I just made up crap willy nilly for no reason whatsoever. I would also become terrified when I did something wrong. Fairly typical with abusive parents. So I'd lie to cover things up. It’s a hard habit to break but I now value my honesty and try my best.)

...judge themselves without mercy. (guilty as charged)

...have difficulty having fun. (yes, I have to make a very concentrated effort to relax and have fun)

...take themselves very seriously. (I am a very serious person but I don’t value myself or my skills so I’m not sure if I take myself seriously)

...have difficulty with intimate relationships. (check)

...overreact to changes over which they have no control. (oh yes, that just drives the control freak in me bonkers)

...constantly seek approval and affirmation. (yep - do you think this blog post is okay? LOL)

...feel that they are different from other people. (I ~know~ I am different than others)

...are either super responsible or super irresponsible. (count me in on super responsible)

...are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that loyalty is undeserved. (not really)

...tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsivity leads to confusion, self loathing, and loss of control of their environment. As a result, they spend tremendous amounts of time cleaning up the mess. (I tend to overanalyze and not commit, so guess I’m the opposite of this).

So what do you think? Can you relate?

While I exhibit most of the characteristics, I do not particularly like the term “Adult Child.” I don’t think of myself as childish at all. I have trouble finding my inner child. I was an adult-like child for most of my life. I find it ironic that a person can be adult-like in so many ways, yet child-like in so many others. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Car Woes

I drove into work this morning and thought the car was still cold. I had let it warm up some, but perhaps not enough, I thought. I noticed the temperature gauge was registering that it was warmed up. Any time I got below 40 mph, the car stuttered and caught. Then the check engine light came on. If I got to 40 mph, it stopped. Drats. We are trying really hard to pay off our debt. My car is at that 150,000 mile mark. Fully paid off. We need it to last another 100,000 miles. We really don't want a car payment.

I called my husband and told him I thought I could make it to our car repair place. He met me there.

I hate car repair places. Right before my parents divorced, we took a family trip. Dad drove his motorcycle and Mom followed in the car. They left Sister and I with my Nana while they went to some motorcycle rally. Then we had a week as a family. Things were tense by then. On the way home, Mom was tired and she had to drive the whole way. Dad was ahead of us on his bike. We got a flat tire. Dad didn't notice, or didn't care. This was back in the day before cell phones. Mom figured Dad would turn around after awhile and come find us. Nope. After a few hours, Mom somehow got a tow truck to come. We had to ride in the truck with the driver. Then sit at the mechanics for hours. I could tell Mom was anxious - and mad. Which made me anxious. It was a long trip home after that. And a huge fight between my parents when we arrived.

When I was 17, I got my first car. I wrecked it 3 days later. Dad and his friend were going to repair it. Dad's friend was creepy. I had to "help" with the repairs. Which meant fetching beers and parts while they worked.

When I was in law school, I had a Chevy Cavalier. Terrible car. It broke down a lot. It was purchased just 2 years old but was still junk. I was on my own then, and when it broke I had to take it to the car place and get a ride back. Riding in the car with strangers. One time it broke on the way to visit my now-Husband. The mechanic that repaired it totally took advantage of a young girl with a credit card. My now-husband and his father called and "ripped him a new one." That was a strange feeling - someone taking care of me.

My husband is now in charge of the vehicles. I explained to him how apprehensive I get in mechanic shops. Too many strange me with greasy fingers. Can't stand greasy fingers. Major major trigger.

Husband and I go to Church with a gentleman who owns a tire and repair shop. He services our cars now that they are out of warranty. I pulled up and he was there, even though the shop didn't open for another thirty minutes. Husband met me there and we explained what the car was doing. Handed off the keys and told him to fix whatever was wrong. He asked if the vehicle needed servicing and Husband said, "I don't know, but if it does, go ahead and do whatever it needs." I know that this gentleman will fix what needs repairing, call about anything that could wait to be fixed, and not fix anything that isn't broke. He'll charge a fair price. And if I'd had to have waited there, he would have kept an eye on me. He doesn't tolerate any sexist talk or cursing around the customers.

It is nice to have people like that in your life. People you can trust with your stuff. Survivors need people like that in all areas of their lives - mechanics, doctors, dentists, accountants, teachers, repairfolk, etc. While the experience may still be anxiety provoking, you know the other person is doing what they can to ease things down.

I do have to wonder what this is going to cost us. We did just get our state tax refund back - but had hoped to use it to pay off another school loan. Guess we'll see. Husband said if it was the transmission (as he suspects) and it was bad, then it would be better to just use the money as a down payment on another vehicle. A new vehicle would be nice, but I'd rather wait awhile.

*** UPDATE - the car is fixed. $720. And Woosh. There goes our tax refund. ***

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Economy and Work

The downturn in the economy is really hitting my job. As people lose their jobs or their hours are cut back, they seek a reduction in child support. People who have never needed government assistance are applying for help. Most of the cases are legitimate - meaning these are people down on their luck, trying their best. However, you do get some that are just lazy. The ways in which they try to justify their actions is humorous at times.

Gentleman in custody. In court for failure to pay child support. He stands up and says he is also under a bond for a charge of selling drugs and asks us to lower our bond so he can just have the one bond to pay. He says, "well your honor, that there child support agent was so scary and mean, that I just knew I had to do whatever I could to get money. So I sold some drugs to pay my child support." Needless to say the Judge wasn't impressed - informed this guy he had just admitted to a crime and incriminated himself.

Female in custody for not paying child support. She was supposed to have put in applications for 7 jobs per week until she found one. She whines that she can't find enough places to apply. Judge asks if she applied at McDonalds or other fast food places. The girl sneers and says, "I ain't workin' no place like that." The Judge asks about her last place of employment and the girl names a night club where she was an "exotic dancer." The Judge remarks, "so flippin' burgers is beneath you, but stripping your clothes off and giving lap dances is not?"

Gentleman ordered to do community service until he found a job. Suddenly he is employed the next day. Guess he figured that if he was going to have to work anyway, he might as well get paid.

Not-so-bright fella says he can't find work. He doesn't have a car. He has been paying his girlfriend $40 per week to drive him to his relative's business (across the county) so he can work a few hours. When asked why he didn't pay his $50 a month child support obligation instead of $40 per week in transportation fees, he looked confused. He never did understand why his math didn't add up.

Another bloke says he can't pay his child support. We ask his relevant contact information and he gives a cell and a home phone. When asked why he needed both, he said he needed to be able to text his friends. After more questioning, we also found out he had satellite, was wearing brand name clothes, had just returned from a beach vacation, and smoked cigarettes. He didn't understand the concept of luxury versus need.

A guy up for a child support hearing requests a paternity test. When asked why he signed the birth certificate if he had doubts he was the daddy, he says, "well we was married at the time." Why did you marry her? "Because she was pregnant with my child."

Friday, March 13, 2009

22nd Carnival Against Child Abuse

Check it out - the 22nd Carnival Against Child Abuse is up at Rising Rainbow's blog.

This edition's theme is "Telling the Secret"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Important Announcement

The author of this blog is WIDE AWAKE. Why, you may ask? Because her Baby slept from 9 pm - 5:30 am on Sunday night and from 9:30 pm - 4:45 am last night. That, folks, is sleeping through the night. Woo-hoo!!

(of course coffee helps too!)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Random Updates - the Highs and Lows

Work is going well. I'm really enjoying what I'm doing. I am the lawyer for three sections of the Department of Social Services - Adult Protective Services, Program Integrity and Child Support. All are growing areas. There are other attorneys that handle Child Protective Services - I don't think I could handle working in that area.

With the economy declining, more and more people are applying for government financial assistance. Those that have physical custody of children and receive government benefits must seek child support. Other people have lost their job or been laid off and need their child support modified. Program Integrity is huge - basically it is prosecuting welfare fraud. Child Support is my biggest responsibility but I have the most knowledge of that area. Adult Protective Services (APS) is very interesting, but sad. With the troubled economy, more and more well-meaning children can't care for their aging parents as they should. More and more elderly are left alone while their caregivers try to work. More and more caregivers can't afford to purchase the items the elderly need, including medications.

One of the program managers told me she had received several emails from case workers saying that I had done well in court. That pleased me. It's nice to know that people are talking about me in a good way. And that I didn't mess up too bad on my first day in court all on my own. It was a slower day - we just had slightly over 200 on the docket.

Since I am working a flex schedule now, I am off at 12:30 on Fridays. My Daughter is experiencing some sibling jealousy. So today I picked her up early. We went and had coffee (me - a milkshake for her) at a bookstore. Then did some grocery shopping and picked up some treats for her. She was in heaven. It was good to get to talk to her too.

The low part - the partner from my old firm that I worked most closely with and that had a health scare in December -- he has cancer. He beat cancer years ago. But it is back and he's been given months to live. He has two children my age, three grandchildren and one more due in September. He's pretty young - not quite 60 I don't think. It's sad. He was supposed to take over my cases and wrap them up. He's not able to do that now. I contacted the partners to let them know I'd do whatever I could to help. There is only one other attorney there with any experience in family law - and he's been wanting to get out of that area for awhile. The partners are meeting this weekend to figure out what to do. My current job allows me to do side work as long as it is on my time, and I've been contemplating doing some uncontested work. So if I can work out a fee arrangement and malpractice coverage, I might try to help out with some things.

I was supposed to get paid today. Just for 3 days of work, but it was something. Our checks are direct deposit. However, your first check (and this is my first) is a paper check. It is sent to your supervisor. Well, my supervisor was out today. So my check is in his mailbox somewhere I suppose. Good thing I wasn't desperate.

And now it is bedtime. It's bad enough the Baby wakes up 3-4 times a night, but now I'm going to lose an hours sleep tomorrow too.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Drop Dead Fred

Do you remember the movie, Drop Dead Fred? I haven't seen it in years, but I remember it being hilarious.

Elizabeth ("Lizzie") loses her money, car, job and husband on the same day. She returns home to her mother (Polly) and finds her old jack-in-the-box in the closet. Untaping it releases her childhood "imaginary" friend - Fred.

The movie flashes between childhood scenes of Lizzie and Fred, and adult scenes.

Lizzie has a "makeover" at the behest of Polly. With this new look, Lizzie woos back her husband. After Fred causes Lizzie to "Have absurd conversations with thin air" as well as repeatedly hit a violinist at a local shopping mall, Polly takes her to a psychiatrist who prescribes drugs which will rid Lizzie of Fred. (Fred is seen to behave in a lethargic manner in the presence of Lizzie while she is on this prescription.) Just before Lizzie takes the last of these pills, she learns that her husband, Charles is still cheating on her. Heartbroken, Lizzie turns back to Fred.

In a dream sequence, Fred helps Lizzie face the two demons of her life: Charles and Polly. In her old room, Lizzie finds her childhood self taped to her bed. Lizzie tears the tape, releasing her young self and, in the process, frees her present adult self. Fred tells the reluctant Lizzie that, after all these years, she no longer needs him. He kisses her goodbye and disappears.

Some of the best quotes in the movie are -

[Polly has just finished reading a Fairy Tale]
Young Elizabeth -Did they live happily ever after?
Polly - Of Course Elizabeth.
Young Elizabeth - How do you know?
Polly - Because, she was a good little girl, if she would have been naughty, the Prince would have run away.
Young Elizabeth - What a pile of shit.

Fred - [sitting inside the refrigerator] [about Charles] Snotface, he's the wrong man for you.
Lizzie - I don't want to hear it
Fred - You're not happy. [Elizabeth closes the fridge door]
Lizzie - Yes I am.
Fred - [crawling from underneath a counter] Well, if you're so happy, then why I am still here, hmm?
Lizzie - I can fix that. [she pulls out the pills]
Fred - Oh no, don't do that. No, please, don't do that. Do- [Elizabeth takes the pill, he dubs over in pain. While grinding pepper, Elizabeth sneezes and sends Fred bouncing against the walls]

I can relate to this movie on so many levels. On the surface, it is just a comedic movie. But when you look further, it has a much deeper meaning.

In the movie, "Lizzie finds her childhood self taped to her bed. Lizzie tears the tape, releasing her young self and, in the process, frees her present adult self." In therapy language, this is akin to connecting with your inner child.

So I can't decide - does connecting with your inner child mean re-connecting to imaginary friends? Or letting them go?

My real childhood ended too fast. Even my imaginary friends grew up too fast.

I used the "friends" to bounce ideas off and make decisions. I would talk to these friends as if they were really there. I'd hear them respond and then respond back. It is how I made decisions. I'd act out the various endings. Play out the scenarios.

I grew up way too fast. I put away childish things too soon. The imaginary friends were hidden. I played it off as just "talking to myself." When I began looking back at my childhood and processing things, I wasn't sure what to do with these "friends." I still need help processing heavy decisions.

Most recently I had to decide about switching jobs. I "talked" to my "friends." I explained to them why I was thinking about leaving, staying, etc. I'd weigh the pros and cons. In talking to these people (all in my head), I began to see the path I should take. It is my version of a plus/minus sheet.
I'm not sure what talking to people who aren't really there means. Maybe I need some of Lizzie's pills. None of mine seemed to make a difference. I do know these people aren't really there. But on the other hand, if you see me going down the road, talking and gesturing to an empty passenger seat, you'll know I'm talking to a "friend" who is riding along with me.
Sometimes I wonder if online forums and blogging is a version of an imaginary friend? You can create fictionalized personas on forums or a blog. You develop relationships with people who you likely won't ever meet. Often people blog through a particular season of life, then set it aside. Sort of like Lizzie did with Fred.
So what do you think? Did you (do you) have imaginary friends? What form?

(from Postsecret)

Monday, March 2, 2009

SIAD - Self-Injury Awareness Day

It was actually March 1st (yesterday) but I failed to notice it was March already.
WARNING - may trigger - use caution.

I had actually forgotten about SIAD until I saw Marj's post.

Similar to what Marj writes, I was in denial for a long time that what I did was actually self-injury. After all, I wasn't using razors or knives. I had never needed stitches. I had the perception that SI was something those "Goth people" did.

I really couldn't tell you when SI first started. I can tell you when I first became aware that it was SI. That was about 3 years ago. I was in denial for a long time. Then I looked back and realized it had been going on for a very long time. (see prior post here, here and here). {That second link is very powerful and I need to re-read it often.}

I had very bad acne growing up. I was obsessed with picking at my face. It was more of an OCD habit than a SI habit. But it turned into SI in a way. When I got stressed, it would get worse. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw were my imperfections and I would spend countless minutes trying to pick at my face.

I've always been a nail biter. Not just your average nail-biter, but a bite until it bleeds person. I would, however, allow my thumb nails to grow. I would use them to dig into my fingertips. Especially when stressed and panicky. The pain relieved the panic. But then I developed thick calluses on my fingers.

I turned to using safety pins to stab at my legs. Always my legs. Easy to keep those covered.

Things ebbed and flowed. There was always some level of SI, but it differed greatly.

In 2005 when I really started dealing with the abuse, the SI picked up in intensity. Pinning (as I called it) was an everyday occurrence. But soon it stopped working. It didn't relieve the panic. In a state of numbness, I turned to razors and cutting.
My legs now bear the scars. While I tried to say it wasn't that bad because I never got stitches, I can't deny that I should have with some.

I've blogged about my SI journey and when I made the decision to stop. It was September 16, 2007. So it has been 1 year, 167 days since I last cut.

So am I SI free? I'm not sure. The temptation to cut is there. Strong at times. I still keep my house clear of SI-tools to the extent possible. I have used safety pins for "normal" reasons on occasion. Over the weekend I was pinning a blouse closed and accidentally stabbed my finger. I looked close but it didn't bleed. I felt a rush of disappointment, but then relief. I deliberately left the pins in the photography studio changing room.

The other night my husband asked about the marks on my chest/neck area. I don't know if it is nursing, the Vicks vapor rub, the Lanisol cream or what, but my pores are extremely clogged. I've tried scrubs but it's not working. So I pick, squeeze, etc. A lot. I lose time doing it. I have scars from it. I hear a noise and realize I've been in the bathroom for 10 minutes or more and there are nail marks all over.

You'd think with my SI-history and all the books I've read, that I would know whether what I am currently doing is a form of SI. I guess I could say I'm clueless, but denial is probably a good word too. I tell myself I'm just getting rid of blackheads. I think really it's more a form of OCD than SI. I say that because it is more automated and less deliberate than SI. And there is not that adrenaline high. (if anyone has any insight on this, I'd love to hear it).

For those still SI-ing and struggling, you're not alone. I'd encourage you to reach out for help. There are lots of online sites and blogs, as well as books.

I found books really helpful. Here are 2 of my favorites -
Clinically Clueless, BPD and Marj have posts up too.