Category Archives: pains

Carmen San Diego

Anyone remember that show?

 

Because I was kind’ve banking on the fact that the song would now be stuck in your heads.

[you’re welcome!]

 

Well, I feel like I’ve been singing that song a bit too often, lately, because every post that I’ve written and either published or scheduled to publish the next day has apparently not actually done so.

 

Every.  Single.  Post.

 

What in the world?!  I didn’t realize.  In fact, I never even double-checked because I just assumed that when wordpress told me it was publishing that it wasn’t a big, fat, liar-pants.

 

So I’m sorry for disappearing after saying that I was finally back.  And frankly, I’m not sure I even remember everything that I posted on because… well… nothing is stored anywhere!

 

Regardless of the list of excuses (ex: “I swear it wasn’t my fault – wordpress ate my homework!”), I’m hoping to post some projects that I’ve been working on here and there for friends and family as well as my own house, and also hope to finally get some half-decent pictures of the house up for y’all so that you can see what I’m working with.  The goal is then to put out some ideas and feelers and see if any of you have some tips for decor or ideas for where I can score some great finds – the plan is for this to be a bit of a collaborative effort, rather than just another DIY page.

 

I’m also planning to post some half-finished or not-yet-begun projects to get some opinions on where to take them.  A kind of “reader’s choice” for some things, with some already completed projects and how-tos mixed in for giggles.

 

Well… that’s all.  I know it seems like another excuse, but I swear I thought I had posted at least 3 times within the past couple of weeks, so I’m sorry to seem MIA again… I actually wasn’t this time!  Now this time, I’m copying everything and verifying it has published from a difference device.

Because fool me four times…. and I’ve really just earned it at that point.

 

Toodles!

~Hope

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Da Funk

I’ve been a bit tightly wound lately.

Actually, I was quite literally so last week when I randomly ended up with a jacked up neck and muscle spasms after a nice solid year-plus without one.  There my winning streak, I suppose.  *le sigh

But outside of the pain in my neck (the literal one, of course), I thought I’d been doing pretty well until this week hit.

And boy did it hit hard.

I thought last week was rough with my neck issue and I even remember telling a coworker on Friday that I felt like I’d had a “week of Mondays”… boy did someone decide to make me eat those words.

Errrg.

So here I am feeling like i could say those words yet again, but fighting the urge to do so if for no other reason than I just don’t want to incite the powers that be to shout another “Challenge Accepted” and have to go through this yet again next week.

Point taken, man.  Point. Taken.

I think you get my drift.  I am a-strugglin.  And often when I have times like this, I’ll just call it and take a half day.  Or even just go full-throttle and take a full personal day (assuming my SIL is at work and I’ll actually get the house to myself).  But thanks to the pain in the neck that was last week, I’m pretty screwed on hours at work and need to get it together.

Translation:  no dice.

Well, I did leave about 2 hours early one day just because I could no longer talk myself out of it.  It wasn’t my proudest moment, but don’t worry… once again, the powers that be didn’t let me down.  I got home to find our bedroom smelled like urine for some horribly, ridiculously unacceptable reason and after scrubbing the entire floor clean and hopping in the shower, Studly got home and walked in to announce that the dog had just puked on the bedroom carpet.  The one that I had just scrubbed clean.  And as he finished telling me this while I dried my hair, we heard the all-too-familiar sounds of more upchuck happening in the closet.

WHY MUST YOU PROVE YOUR POINT SO LOUDLY, powers that be?!  I get it already!  As stated above… POINT. TAKEN.

So you see?  Next time I feel like I should just call it a day and go home early, I’ll remember this day.  And find some other way to busy my mind just so that I don’t have to scrub mystery-urine and fresh puppy puke from my carpet instead.

SIDENOTE:

The urine does have an explanation and I swear it’s not weird.  It’s still gross, don’t get me wrong, but it’s because of a little unofficial foster pup that we’ve taken in over the past couple of weeks (she found us, and we haven’t been able to find her home, yet).  We aren’t sure if it’s her doing it, or our Pup doing it to reclaim the space as his (insert look of disdain here), but there… ya see?  We’re not grosslings (’cause that’s a thing, right?).

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

It’s just been a week where my to-do list is growing faster than the invite list to a rabbit family reunion (uh… yeah. exactly), my to-done list is quite literally invisible (mostly because it’s all still on my dumb rabbit list, instead), and a new project at work is making me feel like I don’t even sprechen sie englisch… as in I have no idea what’s even going on because I’m the kid that came late to the party and everyone talks a mile-a-minute about everything because they all “get it” and I’m just the one that’s hiding in the corner and hoping no one notices I’m there.  *deep breath

Woosaaaaah.

Why can’t everyone have summers off like we did in school?  And while we’re at it, why do they set us up for such disappointment?  Why do they ever begin giving us months off each year, along with extended breaks for Christmas if we aren’t going to always get them?  And while we’re here… Recess, people …am I right?!

There I go again.  Welcome to the funk, everyone.

Anywho, at the end of the day, there’s really no one major reason why I’ve been “grumpy” (to put it simply).  I just have.  And I think I need to do something crafty or go for a run (if it’d stop frigging raining and being so dadgum cold, already) or just find something to snap me out of it.

Maybe I can convince Studly to take me out to dinner this weekend.  There’s nothing a good carb overload can’t fix, right?

Unless your problem is eating your feelings (looks around awkwardly… then raises hand timidly).

Screw it.

Who am I kidding.

BRING ME THE BREAD!

~Hope

Snooze-ville

I’ve been out of it lately…

Not just out of the blogging routine, but legitimately out of it.

After a year and a half of no issues whatsoever, Sunday morning brought my “winning” streak to a halt.

For the sake of making some kind of sense, here, “winning” = Not having another neck muscle spasm.

Alas, I woke up Sunday morning, walked into the closet to decide what to wear to church, and yawned.

That is it.

I yawned.

With the simplest of things that happen every morning (sometimes afternoon, too, can I get an “Amen”?), I felt that all-too-familiar POP and just knew it.

Groaning loudly and hating my luck, I took off in a light job to the kitchen, in the hopes that if I took something right away I’d be able to fend off the worst of it.  Unfortunately, luck is rarely ever on my side.

I made it through church and then attempted to rest for the remainder of the day.

The Monday morning included some increased awfulness and I was all “Bleeeehh!”

The second day is always the worst, after all.

I tried to push through work and then ended up leaving early to go by the Urgent Care clinic.  After sitting in their awesome (sarcasm font!) waiting room seats for over an hour and a half, I finally got to chat with a doc and was given a prescription for some off-brand flexerol.  Woot!

Went home, downed the goods, and waiting for Studly to get home.

Queue additional rest, followed by a day of sleeping as much as possible (I did have one meeting at work that I couldn’t miss, but I limited my workday to only what was necessary to make that happen).

And I woke up today feeling like I wish I’d had the entire day to rest.  Feeling a little tighter than anticipated, I have been pushing myself through a full day of work.  I do only sit at a desk so it shouldn’t be a big deal, right?

*le sigh

If only.

Well… that’s my excuse for being such a slacker this week.  Also, is it just me or does it seriously feel WAY later int he week then Wednesday? Maybe more like a Thursday-and-a-half?  Is there a word for the feeling between Thursday and Friday?  Because that’s where I reside, at the moment.

Anywho – I hope everyone else’s week is going way better than mine.  The silver lining to this awesomeness is that once I am feeling back to my ol’ self again, I’m pretty sure I’ll be unstoppable.  Nothing like a movement-limiting injury to be the kick in the pants you need to just get stuff done!

If I don’t make it back again this week, I promise to return next week with some updates on our Adoption journey.  Get excited!  😛

~Hope

Cash Monies

Fun little fact about me… I hate debt.

I know. I know.  Shocker.  But it’s true.

Although I am sure that no one really likes debt, based on the analysis of Federal Reserve statistics and other government data the average US household carries more than $7,200 in credit card debt alone.  And if you only look at those houses that are indebted, the average credit card debt among these homes totals over $15,600.  According to another source, the worst part is that these averages have stayed roughly the same for over three years, meaning people appear no closer to paying down credit card debt than they were back in 2010.

All of this information tells me that… like it or not, we’re carrying a whole heckuva lot of debt around with us.

And for me, the kicker is this:  according to a creditcards.com poll conducted in early 2013, 85 percent of respondents said they were unlikely or somewhat unlikely to talk with a stranger about credit card debt — a subject more taboo than religion, politics, salary and love life details.

Not only are we in debt, but we’re too ashamed to talk about it.  If the debt were caused by unforeseen medical bills or sudden loss of employment, would we really be quick willing to sweep it under the rug?  I can’t speak for others, but if there were some seemingly legitimate reason, I wouldn’t be so ashamed by it… so in a giant assumption, it makes me think that it’s not something of this nature that’s causing us to rack up credit card after credit card.

According to a TIME article referencing a survey released by the financial monitor Bankrate.com, 28% of Americans have more credit card debt today than they have in a savings fund. That means that if one quarter of Americans even wanted to use their savings to pay off their debts at this moment, they wouldn’t be able to.  And that’s NOT a good place to be.

Something that I found fascinating while looking up some of these statistics was also from creditcards.com and it said that those without credit card debt reported having savings nearly three times greater than average households with credit card debt.

Craziness.

So to me, this points to a pretty good reason why there is such a gap between those with credit card debt and those without – and it seems to be savings.

This may seem like a “duh” kind’ve thing, but think about it… having savings vs. having credit card debt.  Both tend to grow.  Both lead to higher numbers.  Both mean “more” and “bigger” and the only difference is that one is a growing cushion, while the other is a growing deep, black pit.

Anywho – I only brought up any of that, really, to start talking about our current situation.  As I stated at the beginning, I hate debt.  Hate debt.  And I refuse to be one of the statistics and I listed any longer than I have to.

When Studly and I first got married, we had a good bit of credit card and revolving debt.  It wasn’t crazy, but it was probably somewhere around $12,000.  The bulk of this (if not all, frankly) came from paying for our own wedding and honeymoon and also setting up our first home (though we only bought a couch, a mattress set, and a dining room table… the rest of purchased from friends we knew that were selling things).  Regardless of the reason, it was there and we were stuck with it for a while.  Due to our income levels at the time, it took us almost 2.5 years to pay it off (and that included a few situations where we had to add to it because of finances being tight some months).  We had been able to buy our first home during that time as well, but only because of the Hezekiah fund which helped us do so without a down payment (a fact that seemed perfect at the time, but we later regretted).

Needless to say, the day that we paid off our last dollar, I was beyond thrilled!  We went to dinner to celebrate and felt SO free.  I can remember back to that time… it was glorious.  I can’t truly explain to you the feeling, but it really was weightless and so freeing.

From that day forward, we swore we’d never get back into debt like that.  And we did really well!  We saved saved saved and paid for everything in cash.  Anything we put on the credit card, we did so to get the incentives and then we paid hose purchases off the same month.  It was glorious.  Fun fact:  we even paid to fully renovate our kitchen completely with cash.

It.  Was.  Amazing.

And interestingly enough, we were much more choosy with our purchases when we were using cash.  Funny how debt all starts to blur together and you are less frivolous when you are actually pulling cash out of the bank to pay for it.

Then…. this past year happened.

The home that we purchased back in 2008, we lived in until 2013.  Short version: we had some extreme neighbor issues, and decided that we wouldn’t continue to live in the situation, so we rented out our home, and found a rental not too far away.  Preparing the house for tenants after spending a good bit of savings to get into a rental hit our savings pretty hard, but knowing that we wouldn’t be miserable every. single. day. made all of that worth it.  Plus, we knew we’d be able to build our savings back up without too much trouble.  So with little to no savings remaining and now some credit card debt back on us, we set forth to pay the debt down and build the savings back up.

Unfortunately, since we knew we’d be able to do so pretty easily, we also thought that buying a couch was “necessary” because of the layout of the house we now lived in and needing seating for the second living space.  We didn’t go crazy and buy anything stupid expensive, but in retrospect, we should have waited.  This all happened at the end of 2013.

Enter 2014… we discovered that we would finally be moving to Texas and decided that since our tenant’s lease was coming up, we should try to sell the house and get just start over in our new home without any financial ties to the area.  So that meant more money just to wash our hands of the place… we had to prep it to show and sell.  Also, our “awesome” tenants took it upon themselves to do things around the house without asking and/or telling us.  And they were full on proud of themselves for it, too!  What is wrong with people?  The sucky part, we didn’t catch much of this stuff until after we’d said they’d get their full deposit back because we, ourselves, had to do the walk-through since our property management company at the time was absolutely terrible.  So we were stuck footing the bill for everything, which included painting, fixing their deck-staining job and having to suck up the now dented stainless steel refrigerator and carpeting that was “patched” with a piece of non-matching carpeting.  WHO DOES THAT?!

(sorry… movingrightalong)

Then came time for our house-hunting trip.  Due to all of our spending, we knew that we’d take a significant hit with trying to get into a rental in Texas, what with needing to pay a security deposit, application fees, and first months rent all at one time.  But fate intervened and we couldn’t find a rental anyway.  The market for rentals here is so crazy that (and I kid you now) people put in applications on houses without even seeing them first.  Good and notsogood houses, that is.  And we just could not compete with that.

So one day, after quite a rough patch of house hunting… I decided to just have some fun and worked with our realtor to set up a viewing at a house that was for sale.  We had discussed buying and both said we wanted to learn the area better first, so this was really just going to be for fun.  We went to see a house that was way bigger than we would ever need, very nice, and thanks to the Texas real estate market, still somehow within what our budget would be.

And of course… we fell in love.

Enter the cost of buying a home.  Since we weren’t planning on buying, we didn’t really have the money to do so.  But since we were struggling to find a home, period… and since we fell so in love with this house… we figured we would pull from one of our credit lines (which we normally never touched, mind you) to just make it happen.  With our pay not decreasing as we moved into a state without income taxes, we knew we’d have excess money and be able to recoup pretty quickly.  So we made it happen.

Something like 3 short weeks after we move in, Pup got injured and then came the $9000 in vet bills.

We. Were. Strapped.

Neither of us had ever been so strapped for cash.  Not even back when we were single.  And to top it all off, we had already agreed to host Study’s family for the holidays and didn’t even have enough beds for them OR enough chairs for us to even be able to eat together.  So as we slowly started to make the littlest dent in what was now around $28,000 in debt, we’d have to spend more money to uphold something we’d already agreed to (and tickets were already purchased, so there was no backing out, now).

It was really tough.  Very stressful.  And having known what it felt like to be debt free, it was all the more disheartening.  We suddenly felt the weight of it all over again after it snowballed out of control in less than a year.

We made a plan:  buckle down, cut out unnecessary spending, and only get the bare minimum to meet the needs or our impending family visit.  And we stuck to it (which pained my hostess heart, though I knew it was what would be best for us).

Well here we are.  It’s the beginning of February and we’re already had a MAJOR major win.  For those of you who get paid every two weeks, you are more than familiar with he 2 months every year that you get a 3rd paycheck.  It’s a glorious glorious time and it always seems to hit at just the right moment.  Well, for me one of those months was January.  Last month.  And holy goodness did it help.  And to top it all off, I found out that I would be getting a bonus from work as well.  SO unexpected and so so so beyond amazing.  A $1200 bonus, to be more clear.

To recap, in a single month, and the first month post-back-breaking debt culmination, on top of what I would call our “normal” monthly funds to now be put toward debt payoff, I was getting a full extra paycheck AND a $1200 bonus.  GOD IS SO GOOD!

Early in the month of January, we also learned that Studly was getting a raise starting at the beginning of February.  AND I would be getting a 1% increase beginning in February as well.

Guys – I seriously cannot express to you the level of awe we have been in.  God, in his loving and total faithfulness, has met us in this difficult situation.  He has provided for us in such unexpected ways and in a situation that we SO do not deserve.  We got ourselves into this situation with poor planning, the need to instant gratification, and without fully thinking things through from a long-term perspective.  And yet, here we are.

And today I can say with no real way to convey our true feelings about it… that we have officially paid off one entire line of credit, with a value of $5000.  EEEEEEEEEK!!  That combined with our being able to make payments pre-Christmas expenses and by minimizing costs in preparation for everyone coming, we have brought our debt down to $21,000.

There’s still a LOT to pay down, but oh my goooosh it feels so good!!  That’s one huge pile of debt and one entire bill that I can cross off the list.

Our plan going forward is to just continue using a “Debt Snowball” method to knock the rest of it out.  That means, we’ll pay minimum payments on everything except for the smallest total balance, and we’ll apply all extra finances toward that bill each month, now including the minimum payment we would put towards the bill we just paid off.  Then stand back and watch it all dwindle down.

It’ll take time and patience… along with some self-control.  But we’ll get there.

So how’re you guys doing? Any opinions on debt?  Any lucky ducks out there that are living debt free?

~Hope

A Rock and A Hard Place

Moving to Texas has proven to be more challenging that we originally thought it would be.

We haven’t really been able to develop a network of friends, though that’s entirely because of our schedule and our own inactivity in getting involved in anything outside of work.  We haven’t explored much of the city and have stuck to most of the same areas we found and/or heard about when we first moved here.  We also ended up in a difficult financial situation just weeks after getting moved in to our new home – and I think this has really played a part in all of the things I’ve mentioned above.

But frankly, all of these difficulties have really paled in comparison to one major change that we’ve encountered since moving:  opening our home to Studly’s sister.

Oy.

In my heart, I know that we did the right thing.  But my. stinking. goodness… I have said more times than I would like to admit that I am just done.  And honestly?  That makes me feel ugly.  I feel like an ugly, awful person.  I catch myself being so unkind in my thoughts.  I am not mean to her and I am not cruel or rude to her outwardly, but within myself – I am not being a good, grace-extending, loving, Christian person.

I’m now in this constant struggle between not letting her manipulate and take advantage of us and also not being unfair or unkind, or not extending grace to her.  I mean… she’s only 18 years old.  She just doesn’t know anything other than life in her home growing up – and she was always allowed to be disrespectful and manipulative and just get her way there.

So yeah.  It has NOT been easy.  It’s a very big source of stress for me, and often Studly as well.  It has shown us a lot, though… in our approach to people and in what would otherwise be much like an approach to parenting. In that sense – it’s been good for us.  It’s started a lot of conversations about various situations and how we seem to approach them from a different perspective and that’s been good for us.  But all in all, I’ve discovered that this was something we were not even remotely prepared for.

I think in most similar situations, any new roommate situation would be difficult, but not necessarily at this level.  Most of the time, people are appreciative and considerate of someone opening their home to them.  They are grateful, not to where they are constantly thanking them or groveling or anything of that sort, but at least enough to take extra care or to be more respectful of them and their home… their space altogether.  However, this has not been our experience thus far.  Not even a little bit.

We have gotten to the point where we are no longer interested in helping her out.  That may seem harsh, but frankly – she seeks help from her parents, her boyfriend (who lives back in her home state), and anyone else she can find, really.  It’s not as though she’s not getting help or advice when she needs it.

And to clarify, her “help” is not in anything other than situations she gets herself into – for example, she quit her job without having another one lined up because she didn’t like it, and so she stopped making money.  She waited (I kid you not) 2 months before applying anywhere.  2 months.  We had agreed to not expect her to chip in for bills until she found another job, and I honestly believe that to be a mistake.  She now had no reason to look.  She was living for free in a nice, large home.  She had nothing to pay for except for gas (which we later discovered wasn’t even a concern because her father was sending her gas cards), so why bother trying to change her situation?  She had free food, free internet, free cable… why work for anything?

She also recently rescued a kitten… and brought it home.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for rescuing animals, but we weren’t much a part of this discussion (read: she didn’t ask).  And we don’t do cats.  They are sweet and I don’t mind them, but Studly is allergic and we have a dog that is obsessed with them (read: loves to play with them and doesn’t understand why they don’t like him), and we just do NOT do cat litter in this house.  (Sidetone: hats off to those of you who do… I just cannot stand the smell and the way I feel like it changes the smell of a house)  But she shows up at home with a kitten in her coat anyway, as though it’s her world and we’re just living in it.  And what’s frustrating are all the lies – she told Studly that she found it in a tree.  She later told me some story about finding it in a dumpster behind her work.  Does she not think we ever talk to each other?

Apparently not, because she also kept texting Studly on different occasions and asking him if she could keep the cat. “It’s so cuddly” or “It’s so little” or “It’s so sweet”… no, no, and no.  The girl never cleans her bathroom to begin with (the only 1 of 2 house chores she’s been asked to do… the bathroom that SHE uses, mind you… and she expects us to be okay with her having a cat in that mess?  That toilet was lined with black stuff because she didn’t clean it even ONCE after moving in (although she was given everything she needed to do so), and she thinks that having a cat seems like something that makes sense?!  Goodness… Studly told her that pets can be expensive and to “take it from us”, based on what had just happened with the Pup a couple of months ago (*coughninethousanddollarvetbillcough*), and that her life was too transient right now for a pet.  She didn’t seem able to argue those points, so the requests to keep the kitten finally stopped (but I later learned she kept asking her parents what she could say/do to keep it and if they would take it until she got her own place).

I asked her what her plan was with the cat and she said she was going to put it in a box in the bathroom she uses and contact shelters in the morning (found out later that this didn’t happen… she let her wonder her carpeted room and it had several accidents, which she swears never happened, but I SAW them when I went in to feed the cat after she stayed out stupid late again, one night – the thing is maybe 4-5 weeks old, mind you… it can’t go 12 hours without food or water, so ust add that to the long list of proof that she can’t be responsible).

She told me, when I asked the next day, that none of the local shelters are taking any cats and that even if they were, they charge money to drop of animals, which she doesn’t have.  (queue sympathy tears… see?  I’m telling you I’m not very patient with her in my heart).  I started contacting shelters on my own and found that quite a few would actually take her in and foster her.  So when she kept telling me that no one was contacting her back or no one would take the kitten, I just set it up.  I wouldn’t normally take care of anything for her, because I feel like she gets too much of that with her parents, but I was NOT going to let her keep doing this and stretching things out just to keep the cat in our house… it was not going to play out like that.  No ma’am.

I worked with on organization to finalize a foster for the kitty and I told her it would cost $90 for them to take in the kitten (to get its shots and medicine it would probably need, since it was abandoned so young, and eventually get her spayed), and that she needed to coordinate the drop-off with the foster lady.  She told me she didn’t have the money and it was too much… though I’m not sure what she planned to accomplish with this point.  I told her that of all the places that I contacted, they all cost anywhere from $90 – $120 and that’s because it would cost a LOT more than even that to provide initial care for the cat.  When she kept insisted that she didn’t have the money, Studly and I told her that we could loan it to her, but that it needed to be paid back because our budget was already set and it was pretty tight (remember the financial situations I mentioned above? Yeah… so this was 100% true).

Conveniently, after this point, she told me that she looked at her bank account and was able to “make it work” and would be meeting the person from the organization the next day.  So… I have to be pushy and draw a hard-line and then suddenly things conveniently work out?  I am so tired of being the bad guy.

Anywho – those are two very silly little stories.  I could go on and on, though, to prove the point.  Upon moving in, she put her stuff all over the pace, instead of what normal people do and keeping it in her spaces – medicine went into Studly and I’s medicine cabinet in the kitchen (she moved our stuff to fit it in… I can never get anything out without knocking stuff out onto the floor, now… there is NOT room).  She moved our stuff and created herself a shelf in the pantry (umm… make yourself at home?).  She constantly leaves boxes and recyclable stuff around the kitchen instead of opening the garage door and putting it in the bin like we all do.  She won’t put the clean dishes away (the only other of her 2 house chores she’s expected to complete) until I have to ask her to, which results in dishes piling up because I REFUSE to be her mother and don’t feel like I should have to ask her when she knows good and well that they are clean (she will take dishes out of the dishwasher, use them, then set them dirty on the counter and walk away like nothing’s wrong).  She has gone back home to visit her boyfriend (and barely seen her parents or brothers) twice since moving here in August (and all before Christmas)… and each time, I’ve gone in to check the status of that bathroom and it was disgusting, people.  *gag

You know what?  I feel like you really need to understand this level of gross… so be warned, the pictures are ridiculous:

Please note the nastiness of that toilet, as well as the piling trash (one overflowing bag she just didn’t take out at all, instead of her usual dumping it by our kitchen garbage and leaving it there for US to deal with or the dog to get into, because… you know…  we get such joy out of touching her gross bathroom trash)… and then there’s the nasty dirty floor.

Again… ???  And this awkward camera angle was in an attempt to NOT take include the pile of bras and underwear that is sitting just around the corner to the right.  Also, please note the presence of the toilet brush sitting in the sink area… it was still wrapped in plastic from when it was purchase by her mother after she first moved in.  Further evidence that the toilet had never once been even remotely cleaned from that point until this picture – the weekend after of Thanksgiving.  And the sink area is FULL of crap – trash, used paper products, makeup caked inside the sink, fast food trash and cups, etc.

And I’m sure you’re asking yourself – why does she even have these pictures?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

You see, my mother-in-law and I have a good relationship.  And she was telling me that while my sister-in-law was back in town there over Thanksgiving and she finally got a chance to see her (by taking her to lunch (because until she offered to do that she was conveniently ‘too busy’ or something like that… funny how things suddenly changed, huh?), my ever so kind SIL was telling her all kinds of stories… one of which was apparently that my house was disgusting and never clean, and this was accompanied by stories of us treating her like a live-in maid, not letting her use an empty closet to store her stuff, and telling her that she should just not bother coming home at night.  Umm… ‘scuse me?

So I took these pictures of HER bathroom (spared her the explosion that went off in her bedroom) and sent them to her mother.  I said something like “So our house is unbearably messy?  Really?!  Because my bathroom and kitchen are currently perfectly clean and this is her bathroom…” And her mother didn’t even doubt me, because we’re adults and have no reason to lie to each other, but then this was just icing on the cake.  She’s been to my house many times.  I am not one of those people to constantly clean and scrub things.  Things do have a place and I prefer that they be in them, but in all truth, we were still going through boxes, little by little… you know the ones full of just the most random stuff that you can’t figure out what to do with or if you should even keep it?  Yeah.  Like 4 of those boxes, which… big frikkin deal.  And they weren’t anywhere near my SIL’s spaces anyway, and in no way could have effected her.  Beyond that, anytime there were dishes around the kitchen, that would be a direct result of her not putting the clean ones away so that I could wash them.  And I’m not even remotely sure where any other level of “unclean” could have come from, considering I’m a nazi about wiping down counters and tables (it’s my “thing”… don’t judge me).  But as with everything else she mentioned, I’m not the slightest bit unsure that she didn’t just pull it out of her butt.

For whatever reason, she thought it would gain her some level of sympathy to tell her these things.  And lucky for me, I found out later on that she told her grandmother the same things, as well as aunts and uncles at Thanksgiving dinner.  Mother. Of. Pearl.  What is WRONG with this girl?!  What more does she NEED??  Where does ANY of this even come from?

Why the heck wouldn’t I let her use a completely empty hall closet that’s right outside of her door?  (we have 4 of those, mind you… 4 just on that level of the house. We are NOT hurting for storage.)  And other than Studly asking her to be home by 11 during the week so that our security system doesn’t wake us up in the middle of the night with her coming and going and us having work the next day, why would there even be a remote conversation about what she did with her time?  He did tell her “we aren’t your parents, and if you’d rather stay somewhere else at night… that’s your prerogative. You don’t need to ask or tell us that ahead of time. You’re an adult.” But how she could innocently misconstrue that as ME telling her to not bother coming home at night… I have no idea.

So THIS is what we are dealing with.  This level of inconsideration.  This measure of ungratefulness.  I don’t have any illusions that she could possibly understand what we’ve given up for her to live with us… the way that this has completely turned our world around and changed everything about home life for us.  She can’t possibly understand that because she’s 18.  She’s been handed everything in her life.  And sometimes I feel like we’ve just perpetuated that same spoiling expectation.  So I am done.

I’m really struggling with all of this, to be honest (if you can’t already tell).  It’s effected me way more than I ever anticipated it would.  Then again, I wasn’t even remotely prepared for things being like this.  I assumed there’d be mutual respect and we’d give each other space (which is a whole ‘nother issue I haven’t even addressed here) and that would be that.  Welp… I was wrong.  Way wrong.

We committed to having her live here for a year while she gets residency in the state of Texas so that she can go to the school she wants up north and get in-state tuition. To date, she still has not even gotten her license changed.  She hasn’t even applied to school.  She did, however, convince her parents to get her into another brand new leased car… while she still didn’t have a job.

The level of frustration is high.  And I’m just at a loss.  Studly and I have discussions on her being a teenager and blah blah blah… but I can’t relate to that.  I was FAR from a perfect teenager (is that even a thing?), but I just can NOT relate to this level of disrespect and this inconsiderate nature.  I never said intentionally hurtful things to people or told my mother I’d never speak to her again because I didn’t get what I wanted from her.  I didn’t keep my room very clean, but it was just clothes lying around… there was no trash all over my room and my bathroom (which was shared with my sisters) was NEVER that disgusting.  I had to start supporting myself at 17 because of our financial situation, and I did so.  I didn’t ask my parents for money.  I didn’t ask them to co-sign on a car loan with me because I didn’t have credit, much LESS expect them to get me a brand new lease.  I was independent and self-sufficient and frankly, I don’t think my parents would have tolerated my being anything else.  So I just have the hardest time wrapping my brain around that kind of behavior.

And her coming in to the house at 3 or sometimes almost 4 in the morning several times a week… what in the world?!  Nothing good happens after midnight.  And what upsets me the most is that I find myself not caring what she’s doing or who she’s with.    But shouldn’t I?  I may not be her mother, and that’s how it should be, but shouldn’t I still care about her?  She’s been doing this thing off and on since she moved here where she’ll make a friend in some random place (Target for example) and then go hang out with them and be out stupid late the next couple of nights.  Which is completely her prerogative (except that it goes against something we laid down when she first moved in), but… she doesn’t even know these people.  They could be ANYthing and she’s out with them Lord knows where until ridiculously late.  Shouldn’t I be concerned with that… just as a human being?

So this is my struggle.  I’m seeing sides of myself that I don’t like.  I’m uglier then I ever want to admit out loud.  It’s making me more and more cold and indifferent to her because I feel like I’m burnt out.  She could care less how anything she does affects anyone around her… she’s always the victim, never apologizes, and nothing matters except for how something effects her.  And I can’t wrap my mind around that kind of selfishness.  So instead, I start to become someone who I do NOT want to be.

I don’t want to be this person.

I want to be hospitable.  I want to be kind.  I want to be loving, even when people aren’t considerate or respectful.  And this is all showing me that I’m not very good at that.  I thought I was getting better at it, but maybe I was just fooling myself.

I suck.

I could try to explain it away… I could tell myself “it’s because she’s doing it over and over again…” or “normal adults don’t act this way, it’s not the same…” but does any of that matter?  No.  It doesn’t.

So I sit here in this difficult place… the tight space between what seems like two giant, unmovable rocks.  And I constantly struggle to find the balance between extending grace and not letting her take advantage of us.

I’ve always been a big fan of a saying that I heard (and I can’t for the life of me remember who said it) that goes something like this:  People will only ever treat you the way that you let them treat you.  I believe that is SO so true.  But how do I change how I let her treat us without being harsh or unkind or unloving?  How do I do this while still extending grace?

I feel stuck.

I could really use your prayers… or well wishes or good vibes, if you’re not the praying type.   I want to REEK of love and grace, but don’t want to be a pushover or allow us to be used and disrespected.  I am certainly learning a lot about myself, but not much of it has been good.  And I seriously want to change that, but am struggling to find the right direction… and for now I just find myself praying the same prayer, over and over, asking for patience and the ability to extend grace nonetheless.

Anyone else feeling like they’re in a really tough spot these days?

~Hope

The Divas

One of the worst things about moving is that you have to find a new… well… everything.  And that includes, among many other things, new doctors.

Of course I had so many other things going on that I just kept putting it off.  And that was clearly a wise choice… not making finding a doctor a priority.  Obviously.  *facepalm

Anywho, that’s what happened.  But after the awesomeness that was my 3-month long cycle, I needed to find a local OBGYN and start getting my body back to some version of normal… whatever that means.  So I did.

At my first appointment, we started going over my sorted history and all that it entailed.  And then I mentioned a few other random things that were going on – just to be sure I gave him everything and go through it all while I had him there.  Scheduling appointments and taking time off of work to get there can be really annoying, so why not take advantage of the time I already had, right?

This is where I get a bit descriptive, so… don’t say I didn’t warn you!

So… I have this… “thing” on the side of my right breast.  I can’t call it a lump, it’s more of a mound than anything else.  Too big for lump status, and isn’t only there when you feel around.  How can I describe this so that you get a full understanding… so imagine acting as a bra and pulling your breast up and inward with your hand.  For most people, this would not only make you nice and perky, but it’d also trim away that awful lumpy fat that likes to hang out in the bra band region below the armpit.  But in my case, though there’s still plenty of bra bulge to pull out of the way… there’s a mound that just doesn’t seem to go away.  length and width-wise it’s about the size of a lemon, and depth-wise it’s about 1/2″ and it sits around the lower outside quadrant… or third maybe of my right breast.

Initially I didn’t think it was anything serious, but it would get sore sometimes.  Like more than muscle pain… sometimes almost a burning pain.  And then it started to cause pain in the nipple and that was the worst.  It huuurrrrt.  So i figured that I couldn’t really pretend it wasn’t anything anymore and that I should probably see the doc.  I called and they fit me in the day before Thanksgiving, which was only the next day…

Is it just me or does it end up being more concerning when they try to fit you in that quickly?  Especially since it normally takes almost a month to get in with that particular doctor.

At my doctor’s appointment, I saw a doctor in the practice that I’d never seen before.  I’d only heard of him, but always made appointments with my regular doctor so never really saw anyone else.  He did a simple physical exam and asked a few questions about the kind of pain and when I first noticed the mound, etc etc.  In the end, he told me that it was something called Costochondritis.  Basically, I left with an understanding that everything was fine.  It was nothing to be concerned with – apparently pain is an indicator for breast issues that it’s actually not serious.  And also, he told me that if I felt pain in that area, I should try resting that arm and taking is easy.  It would go away in a month or two and was typically brought on by some kind of virus, but there was no real treatment for it and it would run it’s course.  Good enough for me.

Except that it never went away… not completely, anyway.  For a couple of months I really took the “take it easy” prescription seriously.  After it not seeming to make much of a difference, I kind’ve cut the crap.  And it just became a normal thing for me.  If it got really bad some days, then I’d do a little less activity than normal, but that was about it.  It was along for the ride.  And for some reason, although I have a pretty consistent history with naming things (all my lady parts – divas and the southern bits, my belly, one of my larger ovarian cysts, etc), this one never got a call sign of it’s own.  Hmm.  How am I just now realizing this?

Anywho, among trying to live life as normal I did finally look up costochondritis.  Thank you Google!  And it made NO sense as my diagnosis.  First of all, it was no where near my sternum (umm… you alright doc?).  Second, the description sounded NOTHING like what I was dealing with.  I’m not doctor, but… how can they call it something so random?

Whatever.  I moved on.  I figured if things got worse I would check it out with my regular doc and that was the plan that I stuck with.

And then we moved.

Fast forward to finally finding a doctor with all of the other issues that started to stack up and I decided to finally mention it to the new doctor at my first appointment.  And that’s when everything seemed to go into some kind of slo-mo phase.

He called in a nurse and did a simple examination.  He asked a bunch of questions – was much more thorough than the appointment I’d had one year prior… almost exactly one year… to the day, come to think of it.  Then he formulated a plan.

He wanted me to get a scan of the site and also go see a surgeon – they’d know more in depth information regarding the site and different tissue types, etc etc, and he just wanted to be sure.  He is the kind of doctor that wants to know for sure, not just guess and then keep his fingers crossed.  Oddly enough, these kinds of doctors are ridiculously hard to find.  Sad, right?

So I took his plan and ran with it.  I made the appointment for the scan and started setting up the appointment with the surgeon he recommended.  A couple of days before the scan, I learned that I’d be getting a mammogram as well.  I wasn’t thrilled, but I wanted to be thorough and was glad that we were covering the bases.

Then a couple of days before these appointments, I got a call from the surgeon’s office making sure that all of my paperwork was in order and that I’d have the scans done beforehand.  As we were finishing up, she said something that seemed kind’ve out-of-the-norm and misplaced, but it completely caught me off guard and really almost stopped me in my tracks (though to be fair, my “tracks” actually translates to just sitting at my desk at work).

For some reason, and I’m not sure why she said it because, again, it seemed really out of place, but she said “By the way, we’re an oncology surgeon’s office.  I’m not sure if you knew that.”

Oncology?

……as in

………..cancer?

“Oh.  Yes, of course.  I’ll see you on Friday.”

Why… why would I be sent to an oncology surgeon?

Somehow, until this word was spoken, it’s like I wouldn’t let myself think of what the possibilities could be.  I am young, after all.  I know that breast cancer happens to younger people, but… it’s really rare, right?  I mean… it was so quickly dismissed last year.  It can’t really be anything serious…. can it?

I typically don’t let myself think of the what ifs.  It’s a dangerous, downhill slope and I don’t like to even tip toe around with that game.  But oh my word… it’s really not easy when the word “oncology” is suddenly part of your actual vocabulary.

Other then telling Studly, I didn’t tell anyone what was going on.  Not until the night before (and even then it was one person and I was still vague and fake-positive about it all).  I didn’t even know what to say, really.  I still wasn’t even sure what I was thinking, myself, much less how and what to voice to anyone else.  And besides, it could be nothing.

It would be nothing.

There was nothing to tell because it’d all be over and done with the next day, anyway.

But… it could be something.

But it wasn’t going to be.

I’d stay positive and I’d keep myself from thinking anything other than happy, healthy thoughts.

Yeah.  Right.

All of the other things that had been going on in my life… all of the stressors and day-to-day junk that happened.  Anything and everything that I’d been dealing with emotionally or mentally.  It all just seemed so foggy.  Suddenly there was this…. this thing in my life that made everything else so much dimmer in comparison.

And I found myself thinking about things in a strange way… like… if this is for real, most states mandate that you be free from any serious illness for at least one year before applying for adoption, and some illnesses meant more like 5 years.  So what would that mean for our family?

It was weird.  It’s interesting how things tend to play out when suddenly something much more “real-world” comes into play.  The things that always seemed to happen to other people… the stuff you tell yourself you know could happen to you, when in reality you don’t really believe that… suddenly it’s knocking on your front door and you’re so unprepared to answer that you aren’t even willing to peek out the window at it, because then it would really exist… and in your world.

As things worked out, I was going to be having my ultrasound and mammo on the same morning as my appointment with the surgeon.  I got up stupid early (not that I had really slept much, anyway) and went to “the place” sans deodorant, as instructed.  It’s amazing how missing the littlest things can make you feel naked and out of place… when in reality, it’s EVERYthing else about you at that time that really translates into the source of your discomfort.

I sat in the waiting room of a breast imaging center and looked around.  I was easily the only person under 40 in the room.  There were both men and women, though sometimes it was hard to tell who was there as the patient and who was there for support.  There was a range of people, some without a hint of illness and some with scarves wrapped around their hairless heads.  It was difficult to be in such a mix of company in a place solely reserved for one thing.

Even the imaging specialists seemed to notice my inability to fit in.  They’d make comments, very nicely of course, about how this would be pretty quick since I’m so young, or about how they were sure it was nothing.  Looking back, it was pretty strange for them to be saying such things.  I know they were trying to comfort me, but honestly – it seemed dismissive and made me just feel… smaller.

They decided that they would start with the sono and spare me the mammo unless the ultrasound indicated a need for it.  I was grateful.  Especially since I’d heard before that the smaller the divas, the more painful the mammo would be.  And frankly, I am quite lacking in the diva department.  At least for once it would serve me well.  Take THAT Victorias Secret!  *le sigh

We did the ultrasound and as sweet as the lady was, she, too, made comments about my being young and blah blah blah.  I was tired of hearing it and just wanted to know what was going on, already.  Enough chatting.  I don’t want to make friends, here.  I want to never come back to this place again if I can help it.  Let’s just get this show on the road.

I smiled kindly and nodded when necessary to avoid seeming like a total punk-face.  But frankly, I wasn’t really “there” and I just needed to put an end to the looming question.

They did the ultrasound and she mentioned that she needed the doctor to take a look and that he’d come back in with her to discuss the results.  She seemed positive and unconcerned, but I couldn’t tell what that meant at the time… was it habit or did it really mean that things were going to be okay.

The doctor came in and seemed like he had other places to be but was trying to hide it.  He told me, rather quickly, that he saw no indication of anything abnormal and that what I was dealing with wasn’t even related to my breast tissue at all.  It was probably just muscular inflammation.

Awesome.  An inflamed muscle that never rested.  For a year.  Sure.  Makes sense.  Why the heck not?!

I think I just wanted to believe him so badly that I didn’t question anything until I was leaving.  I just wanted the wondering to be over and this was an answer.  It was the answer… right?!

I went and grabbed breakfast at Chicfila and ate it in my car. My mind and heart still racing and wondering what would come next.  The questions that were lingering in my mind… they were more of a whisper.  It’s like I didn’t want to acknowledge them.  Maybe pretending they weren’t there would make what he said more true.  And maybe happy thoughts would mean a positive outcome.

Because that’s real life.  Obviously.

Finally, it was time.  I went in to the Surgeon’s office, checked in with a very sweet nurse, and then took my seat.

I can’t describe to you the atmosphere in the waiting room.  It was decorated very cozy… not cold and full of lame cheap oil paintings like most doctor’s offices.  It felt more like someone’s home.

I like that.

Sitting in the room with me was a woman who clearly was suffering or at least had suffered recently… and someone who was obviously there with her.  They chatted in spanglish… back and forth from English to Spanish… but she smiled.

And I was fighting with every fiber of my being not to be a bucket of useless mess on the floor.  But I wasn’t “almost crying” for me.  I was so heavily weighed down by the thought of those before me.

So many people had sat in this same chair… in this same waiting room.  So many in rooms just like it across the country… the world.

How many women sat in my shoes and felt the same things that I felt.  The unknown.  The wondering.  The hoping it wasn’t them.  The fight against the possibility that it could even be real… telling themselves exactly the lies I kept telling myself… fooling myself into believing that if I didn’t acknowledge it, it wouldn’t be me.  I just had to be positive.  Because tissue and blood would always listen to reason and optimism.

I could feel the hearts of those in my life that have gone through this ordeal and dealt with the news that I wouldn’t admit I could hear.  My dear friend’s mother so many years before, and then again after years of remission.  My sweet co-worker who was diagnosed as her 7-year old son and recently unemployed husband supported her for so so many months.  Another coworker who only went in for testing after a fascination with genealogy research suggested that the BRCA4 gene ran in her family’s bloodline.  And so many others that I knew as a friend of a friend of a friend.

How could I be so foolish as to think that I was special.  That somehow it wouldn’t be me?

I was so weighed down with all of this.  The empathy for all of these souls that had once been exactly where I was.  Sitting at the edge of the unknown, just before a pit of solid heartache.  And there were only 3 possible endings to this day.

While I completed my training to be a crisis counselor for the pregnancy clinic (something I look forward to sharing with you one day), we learned that the first thing you have to do when speaking with someone in “crisis mode” is to help them focus.  So we would remind them, amidst their clouds of hurt and possibility and anger and confusion and sureness that their family would disown them or kick them out or kill them… “You have 3 options. Pregnancy never lasts forever, so you have 3 choices here – to have an abortion, to carry and parent, or to carry and place with an adoptive family.”  I never once failed to see a woman breathe a deep breath of realization when we made this statement… and that’s because it would bring them back down from their spiraling roller-coaster and begin to ease them into a place of logic and reality. All of the what ifs in the world changed nothing about their being only 3 options… 3 ways out of their situation.

So I tried to do the same to myself.  And I decided that there were only 3 possible outcomes to this appointment – 1) I was fine. There was nothing.  Some simple explanation and treatment and wah-lah… back to life.  2) I had breast cancer.  Plain as that.  No way around it.  or 3) We still didn’t know.  I’d need more tests to determine what was going on.

No matter what happened, these were the only possibilities.

I watched as they called the woman in a beautiful head wrap and with a face wrinkled with smile-lines and crows feet at her eyes back into the doctor’s office… and I waited.  I breathed deeply under the weight of all of the others that had been in my seat once, and I waited.  I just waited.  For what seemed like forever.

Then I was finally taken back to the doctor’s office and waited some more.  After a second eternity, the doctor came in.

I liked him.  He was sweet and had kind eyes.  A little humor, but not too much as to seem off-putting or unconcerned.  He asked me to put on the gown, opening in the front, and then came back in when I was ready.  He did an exam of his own and then we discussed everything… in even more detail than my previous appointments.

It was definitely breast tissue.  No doubt in his mind.  And he needed to wait for the scans to be sure, but… he was confident enough to say that it was not breast cancer.

It was hard to hold back tears again as I exhaled for what felt like the first time in days.

We chatted for a bit and he asked about my family – I told him about our desire to adopt and my PCOS, etc… and he went on to tell me about his daughter who’d waited for years to have children… wanting to wait until after medical school…. and then her difficulty conceiving even with IVF.  He even walked me in to his office and showed me pictures of his beautiful grandson… and then his other beautiful grandson.

“It’ll happen” he said.  “It’s not easy and it never seems to be in our own timing, but… it’ll happen one way or another.  Don’t you worry.”

I left still in a fog, but… a different one.  I needed to cut back on… or out completely, really… caffeine because for some reason it always worked.  And we’d follow up.

I still felt the weight of the ones I knew who’d had such a different outcome.  And those whose days ended differently.  I felt very retrospective.  My mind went through all kind of variations of what would’ve happened if I’d been in any of the other scenarios I had played in my head while I waited.

But for now, this chapter had ended.  I did not need to think about cancer.  I didn’t need to think about my world turning upside down.  And I was grateful.

These divas may be small, but they are mine and they are still here.  This mound of breast tissue, as strange as it is, is not something that’s slowly killing me.  And I could go back to the simple, petty worries and day-to-day annoyances.  But part of me would never be the same.

I may have dealt with a lot of questions, but I knew the answer now.  And for now, that was well more than enough.  Life was sweet.  And I felt as though I’d been given a glimpse into what really mattered… dwarfing anything else in comparison.

This was a trying time, indeed, though nothing like what it could have been… and I feel like I can’t truly put any of this into words even close to reality.  For now, I’m just trying to remember what matters and keep everything in perspective.

~Hope

Bonus Information

For those of you reading, consider this your warning – this post 100% falls into the category of TMI (too much information) and you will read and learn things that may be out of your comfort zone.

If you have no interest in hearing about pains and processes of the female body and in a detailed fashion, then do NOT… I repeat DO NOT read one.

And with that warning… here we go:

I know that I’ve been MIA.  Sorry for that!  It’s really been a rough 6 weeks.  Basically, I’ve had a 6-week long period.  But more specifically – I started a period on 21 September.  It started a little light and then about 3 days in got to a more average/medium, typical flow.  Then it lasted like this into week 2.  Then into week 3.  And then I started off week 4 and was already SO done, as I’m sure you could imagine.

But it got worse.  It was not longer an average/medium flow, but ramped up to chaos level torture.  I started clotting really terribly.  Not smaller than golf-ball sized, and sometimes up near tennis-ball sized.  I had clotting contractions because my body couldn’t easily pass them at that size, so I literally felt them coming on, had to make myself breathe through them, and then deal with the “aftermath” when it was over.

Boy oh boy did that make things with work difficult, too.  Not to mention my inability to sleep through the night without getting up at least twice.  And one night I even had to change pants and underwear twice… just in one night!  Because there was no possible way to get from my bed to the bathroom in time once I was awaken in such a state of “already too late”… it was not cool (to put things lightly).

So after that night (which happened week 4, night 4), I had to call out of work.  AND I finally called my old doctor from when we lived on the East Coast.  I hadn’t yet gotten in with a new GYN, so it was really my only option besides maybe going to the ER, which felt like a less than awesome idea.  I left a message with one of the nurses who informed me that my old doctor was actually out of the office, but she said she’d send him a note and have one of the other doctors review things and get back to me.  About 2 hours later, I had a call back and a prescription was put in to my local pharmacy for Megestrel (essentially a high dose progesterone) to help stop the bleeding and clotting.

So I trudged out of the house in my pjs to pick up the meds and went back home.  Thankfully making it without incident.

There was a slightly awkward moment when the pharmacists at our new pharmacy wanted to chat since we were new to the pharmacy.  He was very nice and I appreciated his wanting to make sure we felt like we weren’t just another piece of paper in his stack… But he did ask a very awkward question (though I later found out why).  So he introduced himself, asked where we were from (turns out he, too, was from Maryland), and then said something along the lines of “So this medication is given for quite a few different things.  Why was it prescribed for you?”

Queue my fumbling, awkward stare.  Umm… “Uh… I’m having some… bleeding… issues?”

He quickly picked up on the awkwardness and moved on.  And just a few moments later I was well on my way home to take the first dose.  As I took the meds out of the bag to take the first dose, I realized why he’d asked me about the reason for it being prescribed.  It’s apparently typically prescribed for women struggling with breast cancer and/or uterine cancers. Ahah.  Now it all made sense.

Anywho – I took the meds for 5 days, and the bleeding/clotting immediately slowed down after the first dose, and stopped completely by the second.  Thank the good LORD!  Finally… sweet relief.

So I was able to breathe again.  Sleep through the night again.  Get through meetings at work again without having to excuse myself in the middle and run out to the bathroom.  Life was feeling pretty awesome in the normal day-to-day grind.

I had a work trip planned the next Friday (call it the end of week 5 for reference) and then…. it happened again.

While on my work trip (thankfully back in Maryland where there was at least SOME familiarity), It started up again.  So on what we’ll call Week 6, day 1… it came back.  WITH a vengeance.  The Day before I was already cramping something fierce, but it was manageable.  Just some non-fun cramps.  Nothing major.  So I started out right into an average/medium flow on what I call week 6, Day 1.  Then it got worse each day.  Again.

Clotting contractions and fun results came shortly after the restart.  On day 2 I was heavy and uncomfortable.  Day 3, Clotting and contractions were back, though the clotting size wasn’t all the way where it had been before… thankfully!  But then with each day it to worse and worse.  Well on its way to where I had been just a week and a half before.  And I was already unable to sit through meetings all the way.  And what made that even worse was that these were meetings that I had set up myself and half of them were meetings that I was leading.  So talk about awkward and terrible timing!  It’s never easy to deal with something like this, but being away from home, working a very very busy, packed-full schedule, and living out of a hotel just made things even more stellar (where’s the sarcasm font when you need it?  *sigh).

So on week 6, day 5, I finally called my old doctor to see if they could possibly fit me in.  They left me a message on my cell later that day and said they’d fit me in the next morning at 0800.  Thank goodness I have a doctor who cares and worked with me like a partner.  He had no room, but he MADE room based on the situation.

I went in that next morning.  They did a transvaginal sonogram and we chatted about everything.  While performing the soon, he informed me that quite a bit of clots in the lining, just sitting there waiting to be passed.  “That’ll be fun” he said.  Did I mention I love my doctor?  Because I really really do.  He also brought up the contractions I hadn’t even told him about yet.  Due to their size and how long I’ve already been on my cycle… he confirmed that they really were contractions because of my cervix having to dilate and then close back up in order to allow these clots to pass through.  Fun times.  smh

He finished up the soon after measuring my ovaries and noting the cysts (which I always have, so no biggie, really).  Right ovary was pretty typical with quite a few cysts chilling there.  And my left ovary had at least one “good sized” cyst among the others, which wasn’t a surprise since I had already felt that bad boy anyway.  Just another day in the life of someone with PCOS, I suppose.  So he talked to me about ordering some blood work, and then asked the question that I knew would be coming.

I had only skipped one month of a period – which for me is extreme commonplace and never surprising, but even after having skipped up to 6 months in the past I have NEVER ever had this heavy or long of a period.  Then came the question – “When you skipped that cycle, did you ever take a pregnancy test?”

Yes.  I took two.  Call it force of habit a this point, but I always know that it’s the first question I’ll be asked when I have to call the GYN about any variation to a normal cycle.  Even a variation from a “normal for me” cycle.  So I know to take them when I’ve skipped a period.  Then I typically wait almost a week and take another if it still hasn’t come.  Because, if for no other reason, I will be asked when I mention skipping the period.

The doc took a beat.  Didn’t immediately respond.  So I did.  “So of course something like this was me wondering in the back of my mind if somehow maybe I was pregnant and didn’t know it… and that this is something to do with something like that.”

He looked at me with kind eyes.  “We definitely think about that, too.  Of course we hope that this isn’t the case, but if it is, we’ll want to know.”

I told him that I didn’t dwell on it or let myself obsess over the possibility, but it was definitely a thought floating around in there. I know so many people who think something like this and then go crazy over it.  Month after month even being a day late they obsess over whether or not this could be the month.  And I don’t blame them!  But I’ve worked really hard over the past 7 years not to let myself do that.  Some months it’s harder than others.  But I don’t want being a mother or getting pregnant to become an idol for me.  For us.  Studly and I check in with each other regularly to make sure we aren’t doing that.  Because that’s what can lead down the path of putting things before your relationship.  And that’s a very dangerous, very slippery slope.  But back to the topic at hand…

“Well, you are right to wonder.  But we will see what we can find out.  I’ll order an hcg along with your other blood work and we’ll start to figure some things out, hopefully.  And it’ll give us something to compare to in the next week or so if need be.  So we’ll get your new doctor set up and I’ll give you enough meds to make it until your appointment with him.”

So that’s that.  I went straight from his office to get the blood work done.  Then went to pic up my prescription and started on it right away.  Right now I’m at Week 7, day 1.  The meds haven’t worked as quickly this time, but they have slowed things a tiny bit and hopefully they will fully kick in soon.  I’d like to feel some level of normal again, if that’s possible.  I’m starting to forget what that feels like.

I’m currently sitting here in my hotel room, cramping, clotting, and not wanting to move much.  Only left today to go grab some lunch, and don’t plan to leave again until I have to eat something for dinner.  For some reason this seems to be the only hotel that has no information about room service in their rooms, but… that would’ve made things way to easy on me, right?  And who wants that.  *eyeroll

I’ll keep you guys posted, or at least those of you who want to be kept in the loop.  And thanks for understanding my absence.  Hopefully this’ll be over soon, there will be a *simple* reason of all of this, and it’ll end up not being anything pregnancy related. But if it is?  We’ll deal with it.  We’ll get through it and we’ll process as necessary.

In the interest of full-disclosure, I did have a moment as I was getting dressed after my appointment.  The emotion of possibilities started to hit me and I took a few deep breaths as the tears started to build up and burn my eyes.  I closed my eyes, and started to pray a little.  Because at the end of the day, regardless of what this all is or means, God gives and He takes away… and His is still Holy.  He has a plan and a purpose for me that is to prosper me and not to harm me.  It’s hard to see the first through the trees, but my God is loving.  And though any outcome of this could be painful for now, and maybe even for a long time, it’s still just one page or chapter in the story.  And a story is never about just one page or chapter.

I hope you’re all doing well.  I look forward to catching up on your stories while I’ve been MIA, but please stay patient with  me and I get there.  I’m still trying to be smart and not overdo it when I can help it (since I can’t help it with my work stuff while on this trip).

I love you all.

~Hope

Pupperoni

Remember how I told you that I was losing my marbles in the last post?  Well, I didn’t have to go full-throttle and give you an instant example right away, did I?  Oh wait.  I did that anyway.  *sigh

Sorry about that, ladies.  As I said then, I’ve been in a really weird place lately.  There’ve been a couple times where I’ll actually shake my head and kind’ve laugh at myself.  That’s how nuts I’ve been!  And let’s be honest – if you can’t laugh at yourself, then who CAN you laugh at?

I have GOT to get out and make some friends, already!

Anywho… I figured it was well past time for an update on the Pup.  It’s been two weeks since his first surgery after injuring himself and we had his first follow-up appointment today.  To recap, a little over 2 weeks ago, Pup tore both of his ACLs as well as both meniscus.  It wasn’t in some freak accident or sudden moment of action, it was really pretty out of nowhere.  The only thing we knew ahead of time was that he was starting to be a little hesitant on one of his feet.  He didn’t limp or anything, but rather than just sitting normally, he would kind’ve pick up his right foot and then sit back.  It was little things like that.  So since we needed to find him a vet anyway, I just used this as the final push to make that happen.

We tried out a Vet just down the street and she suggested that although it could be his cruciate, the inflammation that they found around his knee was more likely caused by a tick-borne infection that he seemed to have due to some elevated blood levels.  Rather than pushing to spend money that may be unnecessary (we did just buy a house, after all), we opted to just go with a round of antibiotics for this probably infection and see how he was doing in a week or two while limiting his activity when possible.

Womp Womp.

Like a week later, after he seemed to be practically back to normal but still in the middle of his antibiotics, we both completely flaked.  Studly went outside to start playing ball with the Pup and I watched him walk out with the chuck-it and ball without saying a word beyond how he gets to be the fun one while I worked on organizing a room in the house (Hah… story of my life, really).  And then after like the 4th time he threw the ball, the dog suddenly yelped while running after it… he stopped dead in his tracks, picked up his leg, and and looked back at Studly on the deck.  He totally ditched the ball (which is absolutely unlike him) and went back toward the house.  Once he got there, he tried to put his weight back on that leg and Studly said as soon as he did, he totally jumped… almost as if something had bitten him.

Since he wasn’t bleeding or reacting to us touching or squeezing any part of his leg, we decided to just wait until the next day to take him back to the vet (since it was a Sunday).  And when we did, she said that it seemed that he just further pushed the same injury… it was nothing new.  So we took him home and kept on the meds.  He actually got really god on just his 3 legs, but we still refused to play ball or wrestle with him at all.  Basically, no playing for this super active boy… regardless of how much he insisted.  But it didn’t seem to matter.

Two days later he couldn’t walk at all.

We went outside after dinner to find him holding his entire body up with just his front legs.  Imagine a male gymnast up on the rings.  That was our Pup.  He even had his poor long neck all stretched out trying to balance himself and was making all of these awful popping sounds in what we thought were his hips.  It was terrible.  The strangest part?  He didn’t look like he was in pain.  He didn’t even seem to be overly struggling.  It was very strange.  He just appeared to be extremely determined to get his legs working and then really annoyed that they weren’t.  He’s such a brave, sweet boy.

Well, we took him to the closest Emergency Animal Hospital and spent about 2 hours there trying to get things situated.  They were going to keep him overnight and run further tests with the specialists in the morning.  We had the option to take him back home with us, but we decided he’d be in much better hands there… especially since we couldn’t do anything for him anyways and still didn’t know for sure what was going on.

When we got the call the next morning, they confirmed that he had torn both ACLs and both meniscus.  Oddly enough, the hesitation on the one leg that we had discovered weeks before was most likely due to the ACL tearing in that leg.. but that’s not very painful for them.  They went on to explain that an ACL tear in a dog is nothing as dramatic or painful as it is for, say, an athlete.  We were relieved to hear that, but still concerned, as I’m sure you can imagine.  Further explanation showed us that the reason he finally reacted in pain (during the ball-throwing incident) was because that was when his meniscus tore.  And THAT is super painful for them.  Which I can only imagine!

So even though the tick-borne infection didn’t even seem to be a factor (if it had even been real to begin with), the medications that he was on were the same we would’ve needed to give him if we’d known about the ACL and/or meniscus from the beginning.  But now, he definitely needed surgery.  On both legs.  And he’d need to be confined and watched for about the next 12 weeks.

He had the first surgery just 2 days later.  Both meniscus were scoped and removed, and they repaired the ACL tear in the left leg (considered the more acute injury) by negating the ned for an ACL altogether – they performed what’s called a TPLO surgery, which you can read more about here, if you’re interested:  Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy.  But the short version is that they took off the top part of his tibia, and reattached it just slightly over using a metal bracket, and this made it so that his femur could sit directly on top of the bone and remove the need for the ACL altogether.  After 4-6 weeks his bone would fuse back together 100% and the bracket wouldn’t even be unnecessary (though it’d be left in to reduce the need for invasive surgeries and extended recovery).

Fun times, right?  Yeah… exactly.

Anywho, at his appointment today, the Doc said that he was healing beautifully. We no longer need to keep him in a cone and can even stop force-feeding him his meds (since he’d caught on to our ruse pretty quickly after somehow bitting into one of his yucky little pain pills, and then no longer trusting a single things that we’d give him).  He’s no longer at risk for infection to the wounds since they’ve closed up enough, and he’ll be more than thrilled, I’m sure, to sleep cone-free tonight for the first time in weeks.  And I’ll be thrilled not to be woken up every 15 minutes when he struggles to readjust and go back to sleep. Huzzah!

And in about 4 more weeks we’ll be going through this again… though it be on a smaller scale.  Fortunately, he should have a much easier recovery, since he’ll have already healed from the double meniscus removal and will have his left leg to put all of his weight on while the other is healing.  Then when he’s healed for another 4-6 weeks after that surgery, he’ll be 100% fine again.  No needing to limit his activity or change his way of life from before the injury.  He’ll be pretty much as good as new.

Welp, it’s been rough for a bit for quite a few different reasons, but I’m just super glad to know that this one is on it’s way out.  The Pup is doing well and as long as we can continue to swing the Vet bill that we’ve racked up, we should be good to go.  And so far so good on that front, so fingers crossed that’ll continue.

Have any of you had experience with pet injuries?  Am I the only one that didn’t even know dogs had knee caps to begin with?

~Hope

When It Rains

…it just freaking POURS, doesn’t it?!  My goodness – lately I feel like I’m being reminded of me how true that saying really is. The short version:

  • My dog has pulled a double Sam Bradford and torn BOTH of his ACL, as well as both of his meniscus (did you even know dog’s had knee caps? cause I sure didn’t before this).
  • Sister is in the hospital after rushing to the ER, and now they are inducing her a week earlier than planned. Everyone is doing fine thus far and he should be here ANY minute now, but the tickets I bought to be there next week couldn’t be moved up… so I’m not there for it happening, which sucks. But I’m glad I’ll get to be there at all – I wouldn’t be able to go if we hadn’t already bought the tickets before the dog got hurt.
  • Cousin had an emergency c-section just less than 48 hours ago and had her baby early, too. Everyone is fine but what a crazy week!
  • We are having some random issue with our fire alarm system at home, which is obviously not fun. We need them working properly, but can’t figure out what’s randomly setting them off!
  • We are really struggling financially. Just a few days ago, we were starting to make plans for furniture and paint, etc… but now with this over $7k vet bill, we are barely able to even pay for the surgeries that the pup needs.
  • Still struggling to find my place at work. I’m still so happy we moved here, but it’s not quite been what I expected in that regard.
  • Still adjusting to my SIL living with us. It’s been a weird transition and more difficult for me than I initially anticipated or prepared myself for.

So yeah… it’s been a rough few weeks. Frankly, I’m having a rough go lately with my emotions, too. I’m not like breaking out into tears randomly or anything (thankfully), but I’m just feeling gummy and not as happy as I usually am. I know all of this is temporary, and I have NO doubt that God will provide and we’ll be okay financially, but it’d be a lie to say that I’m not going through a little bit of a rough patch lately.

 

Prayers and well wishes would be awesome and much appreciated.  I’ll do my best to catch you up on everything in more detail, but this might be all I have in me for the moment.  Who knows… maybe I’m just overdue for a good cry.

Oh yeah – and all of this lately is reminding me that I’ve never really explained the name of the blog… especially since it’s got so many meanings. Ah well. Maybe I can distract myself some this weekend with that.

 

Much love!
~Hope

Good Ole Doctor G

I guess it’s time for a little update on the babymaker.

But before I begin, you should just know that this is one of those “Bonus Information” kind of posts… so consider yourself warned.

So I had to get a few tests run again last week.

I haven’t had a cycle since December, and since it’s April… well… it was long overdue.

Fun fact: If you go too long without having a period, the lining of your uterus can get to a point where it’s potentially precancerous, so it’s important not to ignore the issue. Before doing anything crazy, the doctor will check the thickness of the lining, probably by ultrasound.

In my case, this is definitely not the first time this has happened. And having PCOS makes me more likely to skip cycles, since my eggs tend to hang around the ovaries, attach themselves, and become cysts. (Apparently my ovaries are of the LaZBoy variety… Why else wouldn’t they want to leave, right?!)

Anywho, I called my OBGYN to chat about it and left a message with the nurse. I really just expected a call saying that I needed to go back on Metformin or go through a cycle of progesterone, again, but they actually said that I needed to come in and that Dr. G had made time for me just a few days later.

This is a good time to mention that I love my doctor. Loooooove him. It took many many years and into the double digits of doctors before finding someone that talked with me and not just at me. Someone who trusted my background and knowledge of the subjects at hand, based on my work at a pregnancy clinic and volunteering in the L&D ward at a local hospital. Someone who didn’t scoff, roll an eye when I said that I was still a virgin at 19 (when I finally found him), and go in for an “inspection” at full throttle before realizing I wasn’t lying and toning it down several notches (youch!). Someone who didn’t ask me 19 different ways if I was at all sexually active, to include the “extra-curricular versions” of the term itself.

Side rant: It’s seriously soooo so so important to like your OBGYN. You need to have a doctor that you trust and with whom you can discuss your situation and treatment options. And I’m fortunate enough to have a phenomenal doctor that I recommend to anyone and everyone. I’ve been seeing him for something like 8+ years and wish he’d move with us so that I didn’t have to go through finding a doctor again. (waaaaaahhhhh!!)

Back to the nitty gritty.

I went to my appointment, still thinking that I’d walk out with a prescription for Metformin or progesterone again. But instead, Dr. G and I had a good talk about not just the current situation, but also about Studly and I’s TTC journey. He asked how I was doing… not just how I was doing. I really appreciated that, since it’s not necessarily something that a lot of doctors do. I also told him about our upcoming move and how that could effect things. We talked about what we’d tried in the past, treatment plans for both the lack-of-cycle issue and TTC, and on the way out he made some jokes about the Great State of Texas before telling me he was happy for us and that we’d love it there. All in all in was a good visit. I walked out with orders to get my TSH (thyroid) and HCG (pregnancy) levels checked again, as well as an ultrasound of my ovaries and endometrial lining (both a pelvic and a transvaginal… blech). So basically, my 30 minute appointment turned into an all-day affair.

Lucky for me it was all sunshine and rainbows. Well… There weren’t a ton of rainbows, but it really was a beautiful, sunny day. So the wait between appointments wasn’t so painful, in the end. 😉

Anywho, 2 short days later I got the call with all of my test results, and to my surprise it was actually Dr. G that called to deliver the info, not a nurse like I’d actually expected. (Have I mentioned that I love this doctor?!). Everything came back as expected – TSH was normal, HCG was negative, and my endometrium was thicker than would be ideal, so I was going to do a round of progesterone to kick start a cycle.

Well, I started the progesterone on Friday and now I’m just waiting for the desired effect. Shouldn’t take too long… at least that’s typically how things work with my body (excluding only one time, that is).

At the appointment, we also talked about future plans, such as whether or not I’d take Metformin again. We discussed my experience when we attempted a round of Clomid a few years back (no thank you) and his suggestion to try injectables over Clomid if we wanted another go in the future, since they can be more easily regulated day-to-day than the Clomid can (which means fewer, less-intense side-effects, thankthegoodLord).

So I’ll have to give you the scoop on our past attempt with Clomid, as well as the low down on everything else we’ve attempted while TTC… and even the things we’ve opted not to try, on our journey. But alas, that’s it for now.

What’ve you guys been up to? Feeling healthy these days? Do you like your OBGYN or any of your other doctors? Spill!

~ Hope

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