Saturday, December 14, 2013

Another Wausau Adventure!

I cannot believe it has taken this long to get my niece and nephews together with my "adopted" nephews.  When Shannon mentioned a combined birthday party for Nolan and Madeline, I decided this would be the PERFECT opportunity.

So, yesterday we packed up Alan, Evan, and Owen and started the 167 mile journey from La Crosse to Wausau for a "cousins, but not really cousins" weekend!

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you know I like to quote the conversations I have with the kids.  Here's what our 2 hours and 45 minutes sounded like:

[On Highway 16 between La Crosse and Onalaska]
OWEN: LISSA!  Are we in Wausau?
ME: Nope!  We're still in La Crosse.
OWEN: UGH!!!  How much longer, Lissa?
ME: Almost three hours!
ME: It's like watching 6 episodes of Ninjago.

------A little bit of quiet time---------

OWEN: LISSA!!!!  How much gas we got?
ME: Over a half of a tank, Owen.
OWEN: We dotta go get gas, LISSA!!!!
ME: Not yet.  I think we'll make it on this tank.
OWEN: If we run outta gas Lissa, the van won't go anymore.
ME:  I'll make sure that doesn't happen, okay?
OWEN:  LISSA!!!!  We need hot chocolate.
ME: Yep!  We'll stop in Tomah.
OWEN: Does Tomah have hot chocolate?
ME: I'm pretty sure we'll find some.
OWEN: Right now?
ME: We have about twenty minutes before we get there!
ALAN: I have my wallet and it's got 22 bucks in it.
ME: Oh, really?  Were you supposed to bring that along?
ALAN: Well, I brought it in case we stopped somewhere so I can buy a snack or something.
ME: I think I can cover your snacks.  Save your money.
ALAN: Yeah, you have a job and I don't, so that's a good idea.
ME: We have quite a while, Owen.


------ More quiet time after the Tomah stop! -------------

ALAN: I just CAN'T WAIT to get there!!!  I'm SO excited!!!  And I bet they are, too!


OWEN: Where are we, Lissa?
ME: Almost to Marshfield!
OWEN: Aw, I don't like Marshfield!  I wanna be in Wausau!

[A few minutes later]

ME: Marshfield!
OWEN: We already been here, Lissa!
ME: I know.

[A few minutes later]

OWEN: Where are we?
ME: Still in Marshfield!
OWEN: I really don't like Marshgarden, Lissa!

OWEN: LISSA!  Your sister, with the spiky hair...
ALAN: SHANNON!  Her name is Shannon!

[Side note - she doesn't have spiky hair, but... okay.]

OWEN: Does her house have a bathroom?
ME: No, they don't have any bathrooms in the house.
OWEN: Where are we gonna pee?
ME: We have to pee outside!
OWEN: In the Marshgarden???
ME: Yep!
OWEN: REALLY?  Lissa, you're just joking!
EVAN: Yeah, she's joking Owen!  They have bathrooms!  And fireplaces!
OWEN: Do you have bathrooms at your house?
ME: Do you remember where I live, Owen?  [This is a conversation we had earlier in the day.  I think he forgets that I still live with them.]
OWEN: No.  Where's your house, Lissa?
ME: I don't have a house, yet.  I live with you.  Remember?
OWEN: Oh, yeah.  I forget sometimes.

-------  A Very BRIEF Pause in the Conversation ------

OWEN: Lissa, how did you meet us?
ME: I met your Mom at school.  She was one of my teachers.
OWEN: At school?
ME: Yep.  And we traveled to Belize together a few years ago with school.
OWEN:  I don't remember that!  When did you meet us?  Owen, Alan, and Evan?
ME: A few months after your mom and I went to Belize, I came to your house.  Remember?  We did some pictures and I liked you guys so much I talked your parents into letting me babysit.
EVAN: And she's the best babysitter EVER!    [[I pay them to say that.  Okay, no I don't.]]
ALAN:  She's more than a babysitter now!
OWEN: How did you stay with us?
ME:  Well, I felt bad that your basement didn't have anybody living in it, so I just decided to move in and your parents haven't kicked me out yet.
OWEN: That was a really good idea, Lissa!!!


I should probably quit blogging and feed the troops!  More to come, I'm sure!

Friday, December 13, 2013

"Now, what the @#% is wrong with you??"

Just because I'm all about my ailments these days, how about another ER/Urgent Care blog post?

Last night marked my 7th visit to Emergency Services at Gundersen for 2013.  This time, I was able to be treated in Urgent Care and didn't have to go to the ER.  After last night, though, I am going to seriously reconsider ever going in for a headache.  

Wednesday while I was at work, I had a headache come on very suddenly and it hit right in the eyes.  I took Ibuprofen and was able to finish out the day, but was completely exhausted by the time 8:00 finally rolled around.  I went right to bed after work and called in yesterday morning.  The headache came and went throughout the day.  Around noon, I dragged myself off the couch with the intention of going into Urgent Care, but ended up just doing a drive-by and ended up at Starbucks for a cup of coffee and a birthday cake pop.  If I've learned anything this year, a birthday cake pop from Starbucks is better medicine than anything else I've found.  

I returned to the couch in hopes of tackling my Christmas cards, which are not even out of the package, yet.  That didn't happen.  Instead, I slept.  And slept.  And SLEPT!  With the help of Google, I tried the ice pack idea and made the whole situation worse.  Finally, I decided it was time to go in.  Remember Natasha Richardson?  The actress that died after she fell skiing?  Well, I had a few incidents earlier this week at work that involved a few knocks on the head, so better safe than sorry... or dead.  

I believe in Christmas miracles and mine came in the form of two nurses and a PA that actually treated me like a human being instead of a lying "frequent flyer".  This was the first of the seven visits that my eating disorder history wasn't mentioned and I wasn't interrogated.  

They did a CT scan and everything was fine.  At that point, they decided to do a lumbar puncture (aka spinal tap) to make sure there was no bleeding.  I have now decided that should I ever give birth, it will be a cakewalk in comparison to some of the things I've been through this year.  

If you've never experienced a spinal tap, this is how it goes:

First things first, you put the beautiful back-wide-open hospital gown on.  Fortunately, the bra and granny panties could stay on.  You have to lay on your side with your knees brought up to your chest.  The doc sticks a drape cloth to your back and numbs the site.  He goes through the procedure and tells you things like, "you'll feel some pressure"and "tell me if you feel any pain in your legs".  

I like to believe I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but the second he started, my vision went out and I pictured myself in a morgue locker.  What felt like an hour was probably closer to 5 minutes.  Somewhere in there, I felt that "pain in your legs" he warned me about.  He should have said, "If you feel like you're being electrocuted in a bathtub", but that probably would have deterred me from agreeing to this in the first place.  

After it was done, they monitored my blood pressure and let me sleep until the results came back.  I don't recommend napping on exam tables, but after something like that, even a cardboard box looks comfortable.  

All of that to find that everything looks normal.  I have migraine/headache medication to get me through the weekend if I need it and a follow up with my physician next week.  Unfortunately, we aren't sure if this is related to everything else that has been going on the last few months, or if it was a result of the work incidents.  

Today the headache is not as bad, but my back is pretty darn sore.  I walked the mall this morning to see if that would help.  Not sure if it helped my back, but it certainly didn't help seeing people in their retirement years flying by me.  

I would like to think this was my last ER/Urgent Care visit of 2013.  

Weekend in Wausau

Nolan, Madeline, Gunner all ready and bundled up to go cut down the Christmas tree!

Last weekend on Saturday morning I drove up to Wausau to spend the weekend with my family!  Shannon, Colleen, and I surprised Nolan and Maddie and took them to see Frozen.  I had the absolute pleasure of sitting next to Shannon for the 85 minute film.  Have you ever gone to a movie with Shannon?  The first 30 seconds of the movie, she looks at me and says, "Okay, this is already too much singing."  This was actually my second time seeing the movie, so I'm thinking, Oh, she is not going to like this.

Well, there was a moment in the movie that Shannon seemed to enjoy.  A line in one of the songs, "what's a ballroom with no balls" sent her into a laughing fit.  The only two people in the theater busting a gut: Shannon and Me!  I'm pretty sure the people in front of us, behind us, and next to us were ready to kick us out.

What I LOVE about hanging out with the Mudler family is they always having something going on, but always make time for naps.  And, boy did we nap yesterday!  It was awesome.  What makes napping even better is there are kids eager to snuggle.  Nolan, Gunner, and I crashed in the spare bedroom on Saturday night and I woke up with Gunner's head pressed up against mine.  Nolan had his arm underneath me and wrapped around my rib cage in an I'm-never-letting-Aunt-Kiki-go kind of grip.  There really is no better way to wake up.


Shannon has some Grandma Jean tendencies, I've noticed.  As soon as I snuggled myself up in the recliner with a blanket and a 5-year-old lap warmer, Shannon comes out looking like this:

Apparently, it is that time of year when we rearrange the entire house and prepare for the Christmas tree.  So, there I sat in the recliner watching all of this crazy cleaning happen thinking to myself, "it's going to be cold out there, but hey, I can be a lumberjack."  

After the prep work was completed, we bundled up the children in their boots, snow pants, winter coats, hats, mittens, and scarves until they were walking like Randy from A Christmas Story.  And, we ventured out to the tree farm to find the perfect tree.

NOTE:  Shannon had no part of cutting down the tree


Gunner having a hard time getting back up.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Current Health Status

Three months ago today I was discharged from the hospital after being admitted for metabolic acidosis and severe dehydration.  In the weeks that followed, I ended up back in the ER for fluids, rapidly changing blood pressure readings, and was admitted for a second time just over a month ago.  I dropped close to twenty pounds in that time and spent more time sleeping than awake.  Through this whole thing, I experienced a level of frustration I had never quite experienced before.  There are previous blog posts about all that and, quite frankly, I'm worn out from trying to explain myself.

On November 4th I had the absolute displeasure of seeing an endocrinologist.  I won't recap that.  Again, on the blog for your reading enjoyment.  So, last I posted about this, I mentioned that I had some lab work done.  The endocrine doc was pretty confident that everything would come back normal.  The lab results were posted and everything came back within normal limits, except for my ACTH levels.  In the weeks to follow, I received a letter from the doc.  He mentioned my insulin test results and seemed to be pretty proud of himself that they were indeed normal.  No mention of the ACTH results.  A phone call to his office was never returned.

In addition, I was referred to a nutritionist.  I saw her the same week I saw the endocrinologist because they all still think this is nothing more than an eating disorder, so a nutrition therapy referral was only appropriate.  I was lectured on the lack of protein in my diet, but was still able to prove through food records that I was not starving myself.  She put in a note to my doctor that she wanted my iron and some vitamin levels checked.  That was November 6th.  The lab orders still have not been put in and I have no more appointments scheduled at this time.  Not that I'm going to complain about this because I did swear off needles for the rest of 2013.  I am certainly no wimp when it comes to this stuff, but enough is enough.

As far as how I'm feeling, I have felt amazing the last few days.  I worked 81 hours in two weeks and it was the first time since this began in August that I have not missed any work due to illness.  I can tell I have put some of the weight back on.  Not all, but my clothes are starting to fit better.  Unfortunately, the better I have felt, the more I've been doing and I have realized how much muscle I have lost because simple activities are making me incredibly sore.  If this is the end of whatever this was, I certainly have a long way to go to get my body back to functioning at the level it was a year ago.  Like I tell the patients I work with, change doesn't happen overnight.  This wasn't a few days of the flu, so it's going to take more than a few days to bounce back.  And, I have been told I have the patience of a saint, so it's all good, right?

From the research I've done on ACTH deficiency, depending on what the cause is, this may not be over.  I have seen how fast I can go from top-of-the-world to can't-get-my-butt-up-so-I'll-just-complain-on-Facebook, so I know this current "high" could be short-lived.  I'm still checking my blood sugar "as needed" and occasionally check in on my blood pressure and heart rate.  I haven't been seeing the extreme numbers that I have had and I've only had my blood sugar in the low fifties twice in the last two weeks.  It's still a struggle to stay hydrated, but sadly I have become used to that.

It has been over a month since I've had to go in and visit all my friends in the ER.  I'm going to try and keep this trend going.  As a matter of fact, I wrote a letter to Santa and told him that all I want for Christmas (aside from the compression socks and motorized scooter) is to not have to go back to the ER/Urgent Care/Express Care for a LONG time.  I believe in you, Big Guy, so don't blow it!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Melissa's Christmas List

Someone asked me about my Christmas list and it isn't even Thanksgiving, yet.  I can't remember the last time I had a "Christmas List".  I love the holidays, but I'm not about the presents.  (I'm all about the egg nog, cookies, and spoiling the kiddos!)  Thinking about the year I have had, I thought about some things that I could put on my Christmas list this year.

Because every 31-year-old elderly woman needs a drawer full of these.  Not to mention, my list would be completely naked without them.  


Because every 31-year-old woman who is not diabetic needs to have these on hand at all times.  Hopefully Santa's elves are good at making these because he'll have to sell Rudolph to pay for a pack of 25.  They aren't cheap.  Nor are they something someone would open on Christmas morning and be so excited that they leave a yellow puddle of joy behind.  Except for Melissa.  She'd do that.  


You should not get someone test strips for their blood sugar without stuffing their compression stockings FULL of Kit Kats.  Christmas isn't Christmas until someone's blood sugar is 450 and they are passed out on the couch with A Christmas Story playing in the background.  

I have come to realize that I just can't have compression socks without some sandals to go along with them.  The socks are probably slippery and I've already been in the ER five times this year and I don't need any broken bones to add to my list of ailments.  

I belong in this picture and that is all that needs to be said on that.  Because I am working on a bottle of wine as I blog, I will say a bit more, though.  My scooter would be decorated like a cop car, complete with lights and a siren, and I'd pretend to be chasing these two.  The only reason I'd be a cop instead of something cooler is because then I'd have a box of donuts on my lap.  You know, just in case my blood sugar drops, I'd be ready.    

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Melissa The Mentor

The YMCA Reach and Rise Mentoring Program has begun here in La Crosse and a friend of mine is the director.  When she took the position, I told her to keep me in mind as the recruiting for mentors began.  We had our first training session tonight and I'm super excited about the program and being part of it.  At the end of the night, we were given a homework assignment.  We are supposed to engage in some sort of child activity before our next session.  It should be something that we haven't done recently.  Something that brings us back to our childhood.

I have to cross coloring off the list because I do that just about everyday. 

I am guessing that wearing my 5-year-old niece's jacket does not count for this.  
And, if it did, again... I just did this less than two weeks ago, so scratch that. 

Breaking my toys and sticking chewed bubble gum in random places is also something 
I still haven't grown out of.

Again, eating candy and cake pops isn't going to count because I do that 
on a regular basis.

I could watch a movie from my childhood, but I watch them all repeatedly.

I did not realize how many "child activities" I do until I started thinking about it while I was driving tonight.  Just before the training session tonight, I was hanging out at the library with three little munchkins at Pokemon club.

Last night, we watched "Spy Kids 4" and made mac and cheese for dinner.

A few days ago I made paper airplanes.

"Ninja Kid Run" is one of my favorite games I have downloaded on my iPhone.

When I get to pick the flavor at the dentist, it's always grape or bubble gum.

"Old MacDonald" is on my iTunes and it was playing in my car tonight.  (I should note that there were no children in my vehicle at the time.  And I did sing along.  It's a pretty cool rendition of the song, actually.)  

I haven't thrown a temper tantrum lately.  I could do that.  Maybe tap dancing?  Maybe I could find an amusement park ride that I'm not tall enough to go on.  Now THAT would take me right back to my childhood.  

In the meantime, I'm just going to play a quick round of "Ninja Kid" and call it a night.  It's been a while since "homework" has been part of my routine.  Good thing this is something I can handle.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Singlehood: The Latest Dating Disaster

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone posed the question, "Why are you still single?"  How does one even go about answering that?  If I say that's none of your business, I'm a crabby closet lesbian.  If I say something stupid like, Mr. Right hasn't come along, it means I'm a loser that doesn't get out and mingle and I'm being too picky.  When I answer, well, I have commitment issues, I am not a fan of being naked, and I like being single, it's a little too much information and the conversation turns completely awkward.

I have tried the online dating thing more than a few times with various sites.  In fact, a few months ago I decided to give it another go.  I always try to go into it with an open mind, but I don't care what the profile says or what the picture looks like, if the first e-mail/message is all lower case with no punctuation and poor spelling, I won't respond.  If how u doin is the best first line someone can come up with, I doubt I could sit through an entire first date.

So, my subscription was set to expire yesterday.  I had been e-mailing back and forth with someone and we talked about meeting for coffee, so we exchanged phone numbers.  Last night, I was snuggled up in a pile of blankets working on photo editing when I heard Sheldon from "Big Big Theory" say BAZINGA.  That's my text alert and it was a message from this guy.

It started all innocent.  How was your weekend?  What are you doing?  He is working on his master's in counseling and had mentioned that he was working on a paper.  Well, Sheldon's BAZINGA made me glance away from my computer to my phone and I was horrified to see two -- not one, but TWO -- pictures of this guy in his bathroom, full frontal nudity.  I've never deleted a thread of text messages so fast in my life.  In all of my college days, I don't recall EVER working on a paper in the nude.  Who does that?

There were a lot of thoughts racing through my mind.  Things like, do guys really think women like this sort of thing?  Which turned into, Oh my god!!  Am I supposed to like this sort of thing?  I wanted nothing more than to suck my thumb and join a convent.

Of course, I had to e-mail my oldest sister, Shannon, to let her know about her sister's failed attempt at a social life.  This was her response:

SUBJECT:  RE: Meets Craigslist

Just had my own little casual encounter. I've been on match for quite a while. Started talking to a guy...going to school for his master's in counseling. And...we have been emailing for a while and I have him my number . Got FULL frontal nude pics sent to my phone tonight.
Single for life. 
Sent from my iPhone

Lol! OMG! Don't give up...they're not all big huge perverts!  
By the way, I want to see those pics!


If anyone needs me today, I'll be trying to trade in my iPhone because even though the thread is deleted, it is still contaminated.  I'll probably put on my bathing suit and take 15 hot showers.  Don't bother looking for my online dating profile.  It's GONE!  And, I will never be able to hear Sheldon say BAZINGA and not puke in my mouth.  Thanks, jerk.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Crafters Gone Wild 2013

Six years ago, the lovely ladies in my life started a November tradition we call Craft Weekend.  Each November, a caravan of vehicles, packed to the max with sewing machines, fabric, quilting supplies, knitting needles, yarn, looms, DVDs, food, and adult beverages.  We spend the entire weekend working on various craft projects, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to be a "crafter" to join in on the festivities.  Sleeping, coloring, cooking, drinking, or swimming all counts as being "crafty".  
This year, I made the journey up from La Crosse.  After driving to Alaska and back twice, you would think that a 257 mile trek would be a piece of cake.  Well, as I get older and grow elderly, entertaining myself on long car rides is becoming more and more challenging.  Don't worry, I still manage.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Back in May, I purchased my 2007 Dodge Caliber.  One thing I don't like about this car is the CD player.  Apparently, it is temperamental and doesn't like the fact that I can spend 5 hours listening to the same song over and over for the entire trip.  My truck never minded, but my car spits the CD out when it has had enough.  When I'm driving, I tend to pretend I'm on The Voice or something and it really messes with my stellar performances when the CD just pops out at random.  Regardless of how frustrating the CD player was to deal with, pulling into the parking lot of Northernaire made the drive SO worth it.  If you are ever looking for an AMAZING place to stay in northern Wisconsin, you should definitely look into this place: Northernaire Resort           
Although this is our sixth year, for me, this is only year number five.  I did not go the first year, but now I wouldn't dream of missing out.  I don't believe I have ever done a "craft", but I have edited many photographs, did some creative writing, and spent some time in the swimming pool wearing the infamous green swimsuit that Shannon swears I've had for 15 years, but I insist it is only 8 years old.  And, yes, it is here this weekend.  And, no, there are no pictures of it up here.  Yet.  

Some of the crafters take this weekend VERY seriously.  Aunt Kathy works diligently on making mittens.  If you don't own a pair of her wool mittens, you should maybe think about investing in a pair.  They also make great Christmas gifts.  For $25, your hands will never be cold when you're out in the subzero temps shoveling or scraping your vehicle.  Contact me for more information and I can hook you up.                                                                                                                                                                                                               
Crafters like pins.  At least that is what I've been told.

These are quite sharp.  I won't go near them.

Typically, there are no boys allowed at craft weekend.  We have made the exception when it comes to the children and this is Gunner's third craft weekend.  Madeline came along, too, so I found it only appropriate to bring up my favorite kind of craft: COLORING SUPPLIES!!!!
My favorite "craft" is taking pictures of little kids!

So, we took Gunner and Madeline down to the swimming pool this afternoon.  Of course, Gunner announces "I GOTTA PEE!!!!", so I took him into the restroom.  We walked in and he was so excited to see a urinal.  He pulled his trunks down and mid-pee decided he didn't want to use the urinal and relocated to the toilet, spraying down the wall, floor, and everything in between in the process.  He was so excited to get back to the pool, he slid and landed in the hot tub.  He was fine, though.

We try to keep craft weekend classy.

Christy made memorial mittens out of a sweater.  Very cool!

Woke up to snow!!!  It's like CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This little guy had to be freezing outside!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


On Monday, I had an appointment with an endocrinologist.  At the last appointment I had with my physician, I felt as though we were all finally on the same page that there is something going on with Melissa that is not an eating disorder.  Since August, I have now been interrogated by six physicians, a resident, and a PA.  The resident and the PA seemed to agree that something more was going on, while the rest have all made it very clear that they believe I am lying about my eating habits and I am in denial that this is a relapse.  So, when physician number 7 entered the exam room and reiterated that the other doctors believe this is related to starvation, I decided I am getting absolutely nowhere.

Let me take you back to last spring.  I was referred to a dermatologist for a suspicious mole.  As he was hacking the thing off my face, he asked me what I do for a living.  When I told him I worked in behavioral health in the inpatient psychiatry unit, he stopped what he was doing and looked at me with a bloody scalpel in his hand and said, "You have my condolences."  I've been told by other so-called professionals things like, 'oh I could never work with those people'.  

My impression of the endocrinologist was that he saw me as one of those people and I immediately felt as though I was a waste of his time.  I had a notebook sitting on the chair beside me full of everything that has been going on and a list of questions I had for him, but I never bothered opening it.  He had obviously spent quite a bit of time reviewing the other providers' notes and did not need much more information directly from the source.  

We discussed my blood sugar being as low as 42.  In fact, just two days before I had my appointment, my blood sugar dropped to 50 only two hours after a meal.  Apparently, for someone "my size", this isn't entirely abnormal.  I may not have gone to medical school, but from what I know about blood sugar, that is abnormal.  If I felt fine with a blood sugar at 50, maybe... but I slept for over 3 hours that day.  We have ruled out diabetes, by the way.  He did suggest that I keep checking my blood sugar and if I find it is low, I should come in to have my insulin checked.  I have insurance on my car, so why not?  Actually, how about if I wait until I'm in a coma so that I know exactly what number is too low so that I can differentiate between "normal" and abnormal" ? 

He ordered labs for the following morning to check several different things, but seemed fairly confident these results would all come back normal because it sounds to him that this is all a matter of calories.  The results are not back, yet.  I do have a referral to nutrition therapy for next week and he would like me to have the dietitian send him her report.  Actually, I am kind of hoping I keel over and die before that appointment because I'm beyond sick of explaining how this feels different than an eating disorder.  I have no follow-ups scheduled with the endo doc or my physician, so I am taking that as a sign that nutrition therapy is going to cure me.  After all, Melissa, this will all get better if you just eat something.  

I put in for a leave of absence (unpaid) from work until November 30th, but have been working six-hour shifts (instead of twelve) occasionally.  At this point, HR has not determined whether or not I can continue working through the leave or not.  I entertained the idea of trying to do a full 12-hour today, but it's well past noon and I'm still in bed.  I did venture out for a cup of coffee this morning, but that was a complete disaster.  When I went to pay for my coffee, I couldn't find my check card anywhere.  I emptied my entire purse, looked through my coat pockets, called the last two places I used it yesterday, and ended up running to the bank to take out cash to go back and pay for the coffee.  I had put the check card on my lap and it was sitting right there in front of me the entire time.

Just another day in the life. . .  when I get those normal test results back, we'll go celebrate.  And by "go celebrate" I mean we'll just leave our pajamas on and take a nap until I qualify for assisted living, a nursing home, or cooler space in the morgue.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Melissa Goes to the Dog Park

Dog owners have been talking about these things called "dog parks" and I must admit, I have not been curious to visit one.  I envisioned mud, dirt, piles of doggie droppings everywhere, sniffing, drooling, barking, growling, and complete chaos.  Well, yesterday I ventured into a dog park for the first time and it was pretty much exactly what I imagined.   

First things first, I don't have a dog.  My friends do, so I wasn't just some strange creeper with a camera that showed up at the dog park on a random Saturday afternoon.  Although, it is probably much more acceptable to be dog-less at a dog park than child-less at a playground.  People call the cops on that sort of thing.  

These were the dogs I tagged along with:
(She is a girl, by the way)

I decided from the moment I walked in through the gate, God knew what he was doing when he decided not to make me a dog.  Obviously, if I had been born a dog I would certainly not be a Great Dane or a Rottweiler.  I would be a little Yorkie or Chihuahua with a bow on my head and would go home and pee on the carpet to punish my dumb owner for taking me to a ridiculous dog park.  I would be the type of dog that would enter a situation like this and cry by the gate and growl at any of the other mutts that came near me:    

The canine version of airport security?
"Okay fellas, we got a new arrival.  You know what you need to do.  Assume the position."

When I managed to stop thinking about what life would be like as a dog, I was able to really soak in the experience.  You have to be ready for anything.  At any given moment, a pack of fur balls can come charging and in a matter of seconds you can become a human bowling pin.

Or, something like this could just plop itself down next to you and want you to give it attention.  And, with eyes like that, you best be ready to figure out what it wants - AND FAST!

See.  Even the other dogs know who their superior is.  

The entire dog park experience was remarkably similar to the time I spent doing recess duty at an elementary school.  It was easy to spot the bullies, the attention-deprived, and the socially awkward.  The socially awkward of this group was without a doubt... Wookie.  I don't even think Wookie knows whether he is a dog or a donkey.  If I had my way, Wookie would forever wear a pink tutu and I'd change his name to Grace.  There would be nothing cooler than seeing that dog in a tutu spinning circles to eat his tail and sliding into walls, fences, and doors.

Poor Wookie.  The socially awkward one doesn't even care that he gets "shamed" every ten minutes for pouncing other dogs.  The sickest part is that <<gulp>> the dog is starting to grow on me.

Walk of Shame. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"What's going on with you?" Part II

If you're friends with me on Facebook or glanced at my last post of status updates from 2013, you probably noticed that I have been sick quite frequently this year.  In fact, this last hospital admission my mom called and said, "Could you please let us know what's going on before you post it on Facebook."  Well, Mom... more Americans get their news from Facebook than any other news source.  Not only that, my cell phone only has Internet service in the ER, so what else am I supposed to do to entertain myself?

Speaking of the Emergency Room, I have spent more than 14 hours there this year so far.  Although I do not have an exact count (yet), including the blood glucose testing, I have had well over 100 needles in me since January.  I've gone through 14 bags of IV fluids, three bottles of Ibuprofen, missed over 142 hours of work, and I don't even want to know how many days of 2013 I have spent in bed or on the couch.

With so many clinic, Urgent Care, and ER visits, you would think that I would have an answer to the what's going on with you question by now.  Unfortunately, I don't know what is going on with me, but I do know what is not going on.

Back in August, I reluctantly hobbled into the ER believing that I was not sick enough to be there.  I expected to be triaged to Urgent Care and sent home with, "You're fine and a waste of our time."  When I sat down, the RN took my blood pressure and it was 146/92 with a heart rate of 95.  My blood pressure is always between 110/70 to 120/80, so I was fairly surprised when she slapped the ID band on my arm and sent me to the ER.

I spent close to four hours in the ER hooked up to monitors as they pushed IV fluids through me.  My heart rate was going back and forth between 70 and 140 and my blood pressure was going up and down just as fast.  In the time I spent in the ER that day, I talked to a resident, an ER physician, and the physician that took over my care when I was admitted to the hospital.  All three of these medical professionals interrogated me on my history of an eating disorder, my eating habits, my body image, and all three made it clear they didn't believe me when I told them I was no longer anorexic or bulimic.
Throughout the 37 hours I was hospitalized, I was encouraged to eat because that would make everything all better.  At discharge, I was given a summary of my hospitalization.  I had metabolic acidosis and severe dehydration listed on the sheet and was scheduled to follow up with my primary physician the following week.

I left the hospital around 10:00 that morning and ended up back in the ER at 3:30 that afternoon because my chest felt like it was being crushed every time I exhaled.  The next ER physician I saw was obviously in a hurry to leave for the day.  Without a very thorough exam, he decided it was "something musculoskeletal" and most likely caused from being down in bed for so long.  And he left for the day.  The RN was lucky enough to reach him in his vehicle so he could phone in a prescription for the pain and a muscle relaxer.

I've had issues with this same thing occasionally since then, but chest x-rays and the one EKG they did on a separate ER visit came back normal, so for goodness sake, just eat something Melissa and this will all get better. 

At my follow up with my doctor, I asked how in the world I could have had metabolic acidosis.  She never mentioned an eating disorder specifically, but did ask if I felt I needed to see a therapist.  I laughed and without hesitating said no.  I explained that my life is a great place.  I love my job, I was diligently writing a book, and had no reason to see a therapist.  I thought that was ridiculous, but blew it off.  Well, I blew it off until I logged into my MyCare account to view my follow-up lab results.  I happened to navigate into my hospitalization summary.  The ER physicians that admitted me to the hospital neglected to put on my discharge summary that in addition to dehydration and metabolic acidosis, they also re-diagnosed me with anorexia.

I sent a message to my doctor stating how inaccurate this was.  I had an eating disorder for 14 years and this is NOT the same thing.  When you have an eating disorder label on your medical record, I have learned that there is no such thing as unintentional weight loss.  No matter what other symptoms I have had, losing 50 pounds in a year is an automatic "Congratulations, you have relapsed!  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.  Go directly back to treatment.  And, for goodness sake... eat something and this will all go away!"

For two months now I have been trying to explain myself to countless physicians, friends, and family.  After all, people with a history of any type of mental illness are liars, right?  Obviously, I lie about my eating habits.  Never mind that my blood sugar has been as low as 43 and as high as 256.  Never mind my blood pressure has been as high as 174/107.  For goodness sake, eat something and this will go away.

I landed back in the hospital on Sunday with the same symptoms as back in August.  Again, the eating disorder was mentioned.  How much are you eating?  When are you eating?  Are you drinking enough water?  I went through close to 200 ounces of fluids at one point and still ended up in the ER needing two bags of IV fluids.  Again, that eating disorder label is on my medical record, so I'm a liar.  Therefore, no.  I'm not drinking enough.  I'm not even sick, actually.

Here I am, two months later and struggling to not lose anymore weight.  I'm keeping detailed food records again, but making sure to add in everything else that is going on.  The abrupt changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose, my lack of energy, headaches, and a bunch of other crazy things that can only be fixed by eating something.  Well, that's what they say, but I've been eating what I can, when I can, and this isn't all better, yet.

In this crazy process, we have discovered that I do not have an adrenal gland tumor, I don't have diabetes, and my thyroid is functioning properly.  I've been referred to an Endocrinologist, I have another post-hospitalization follow up with my physician next week, and, because they still think this is anorexia, they set me up with a consultation with a nutritionist.

This last year, I have heard so many patients tell me their stories of how they are treated (or mistreated, I should say) by health care providers.  When I had to shadow an ER social worker for my position a few months ago, I witnessed it first-hand.  I have experienced it myself.  I can't go into the doctor for an ear infection without being asked, "Are you eating enough?"

So, no.  I don't know what is going on with me.  Here is what is NOT going on.  I am not obsessed with my weight.  When I look in the mirror, I don't see myself as needing to drop a few more pounds.  In fact, the morning I went into the ER this last time, I stood in just a bra and underwear and was disgusted.  I have been at this weight before and the last time I was this size, I was sick.  But, it was a very different kind of sick.  What I see in the mirror right now is not distorted.  I know how bad I look, how bad I feel, and know that there is something going on that simply "eating something" isn't fixing.  I've lost a tremendous amount of muscle and miss my quality of life.  

I started writing a memoir about my eating disorder last year.  I haven't touched it since this all began in August because I started fearing the doctors might be right and the book was triggering me into a relapse.  Well, I know that is not the case.  The longer this goes on, the more annoyed I become.  My goal with this book was to tackle this stigma that is tied to mental illness, but it is becoming much more than that now.  I've heard way too many stories of people going through the same thing and being "labeled" and it's not right.  I certainly had plenty of material to work with before this all started and did not need another section to add to the book, so my deadline has been extended.  When this is all over with and I'm back to playing music gigs and not drowning in my clothes, I'm going to be a force to be reckoned with.  

"What's going on with you?" Part I

Before I actually write the blog entry about the status of my health, I decided to recap the year I have had using Facebook statuses and posts from this year.  Part II to follow...

TheMelissa McCarthy
You know, I think I did see that white light and God said, "NO, Melissa -- I'm not ready for you, yet." So, TA-DA!!! You guys are still stuck with me. Just wait until I'm back to 100%!! First we'll make snow angels for a two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookiedough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle.

Like my new bracelet? I am pretty sure it's worth more than the truck. All is well, but this could take 2 weeks to get completely over. All just a few short weeks before I have insurance. Of course!!

Since I'm awake and ran out of "Big Bang Theory" episodes" and blogging isn't going to happen tonight--How 'bout a little Facebook confessional?
(#1) I've had earbuds in for almost an hour and haven't been listening to anything.
(#2) This morning, I was driving and pulled out in front of a cop and I, of course, was not wearing a seatbelt. Did not get pulled over. It was an awkward ten minutes with him riding my tail, though.
(#3) I drove like a Grandma today. I usually do, but today was REALLY bad. I kind of felt like a parade leader and I liked it. 
(#4) As of today, I hate Gatorade.
(#5) When the doc (who did NOT look like any of the docs on Grey's Anatomy, by the way) said the only thing I could do for this was bed rest and fluids, I seriously pictured myself as Natasha from the Avenger's and was (in my mind) going apeshit on his ass!

That's all I got. Oh, Happy New Year, by the way! It is 2013 now!

FLU PROGRESS DAY 11: I no longer feel like I have been run over (repeatedly) by a truck. It's now just a dull annoyance. It actually feels like I walked 12 miles uphill while giving an obese toddler a piggyback ride.

I'd love to stay and Facebook with y'all, but I have to go give Gundersen some money. And then go to work so I can give Gundersen some more money.

Yeah, I blogged it. And, you're welcome. Favorite moment from last night was when the nurse came to get me and yelled back to the other nurse, "Nope - it's not the actress!!!" That still cracked me up this morning while I was driving to work.

Someone explain to me why I cannot live in an apartment complex built for senior citizens? I'm on their sleeping schedule, I drive like I'm elderly, I can operate an alert button, and I know exactly what time and channel Judge Judy, Jeopardy, and Andy Griffith are on. Sounds like I have a good discrimination suit, huh?

I now have enough PTO banked up to take an entire day off.

Wow. I don't work until Friday and I have a pair of yoga pants for everyday until then. And, we are not going to yoga.

Tomorrow night I will be at The Acoustic Cafe in Winona with my amazing friends, David Schipper & Lynn Strohm Konsela. I'm still fighting the bronchitis, but there WILL be music no matter what. :-)
It has been a long four days. And by long I mean I'm tired. And by "tired" I mean exhausted. And by "exhausted" I mean an entire marching band of purple monkeys could walk in front of me and I wouldn't notice.
Oh, Melissa... Melissa...Melissa... congratulations on reaching a new level of stupid. DayQuil - Orange. NyQuil - Blue. How many shots of espresso is it going to take to reverse this?

Just slammed a diet coke and a 4 serving bag of Cheetos. Now, gotta go talk to a patient about eating disorders!

If I die tonight, I hope my laptop dies tonight, too... because I have Googled some weird shit!

☐ Shower
☐ Brush Teeth
☐ File Taxes
✓ Rock the Bed Head
✓ Play on Facebook

This little guy just helped me meet my deductible. I feel a parody of "12 days of Christmas" coming on....

Sat with my phone up to my ear for five minutes while in a daze. Thought I was dialing someone, but finally looked at it and my e-mail was open instead. And then I tried to swipe my debit card through the pen holder at the post office today. TWICE!

Car crap aside, I did (finally) receive some AWESOME news! I do not have skin cancer! That does not mean I am going to quit yelling my public service announcements about sunscreen use out the car window at people tanning on lawns.

10 minutes on WebMD and I'm fairly sure that site is not good for hypochondriacs. It probably creates hypochondriacs, too. Meanwhile, I'm going to go get checked for HIV and a brain tumor. You know...just in case...

I never want to see another bottle or glass of cranberry juice ever again. Unless there's a cherry, some 7-Up, an a splash of something that requires a photo ID...

My eyes were crusted shut this morning and I sound like I've been a pack-a-day smoker for 20 years! It would be in everyone's best interest not to comment on my hair today.

Blood drawn out of an artery! They said it would suck kind of did!

I'm on a pretty short leash and I'm plugged into a wall. When they hook up that 4th IV...I'm probably going to need to be let out! A LOT!! And another lab draw that didn't go so well! Next time, I'm staying at the Hilton! — feeling exhausted.

See... We're cruising here!! While everyone is out there all slacking off...I'm getting things done around here!!!


Figured if I'm going to attempt a 12 hour shift tomorrow, I should start training for it. So, I'm bench pressing. And by bench pressing, I mean I'm at the mall with my butt pressed against the bench watching people.

This probably wasn't the greatest idea I've had.

Ok!! Quit posting all that Miley Cyrus crap! I've already been in the hospital once and the ER twice over the last week. Let's not make this chick any worse!

Oh, my gosh!!! I am alive!!!! It's a miracle!!!

A week ago today I was discharged from the hospital...and ended up back in the ER 5 hours later. Then, I threw up all over Bliss Road! So much of the last two weeks is a complete blur! Hopefully I will get a good report from my doc tomorrow. Some answers may be nice, too!

After an incredibly long break, I'm jumping back into the photography thing tomorrow evening. Then back to work on Thursday! I got this. At least, I hope I do because I'm completely out of sick leave!

It has been 18 days since I've worked a 12 hour shift, worn make up, and made it through an entire day without closing my eyes for at least 15 minutes. (I should note that on a few of those days, I only had my eyes open for 15 minutes!) Day 19 puts me back in the saddle! Giddy UP!!!

Dude! I made it 24 hours without needing to go visit my peeps in the ER! That must be a new record for me! In all seriousness, I would like nothing more than a beer right now!

This whole nightmare started just over a month ago. And, what a LONG month it has been!! Although I still have no answers, I am finally starting to feel a little more like myself! 

It's a big day for Melissa. This is the first day I've put on makeup AND did my hair since the beginning of August.

HEY!!! I've made it 21 days without having to visit the ER. Can we make it to 22?? I've managed to push over 130 ounces of fluids today and burn another 12 hours of sick leave. I'm a little concerned about my lack of strength right now. I'm not sure I'll have enough muscle power to pull my doc's head out of her ass on Tuesday, so I may need back up! 
Shoot me, please! — at Gundersen Health System.

I've lost 15% of Melissa since April! I was thinking Pickerman's for lunch, but now I'm kind of thinking an entire pizza or Olive Garden or something....

Someone guessed my age to be 40. Just one of the many highlights of my day.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I've used the line, "well...okay, but I look like crap" this year.

It took a few hours and a lot of sugar...but I'm happy to report I finally have my blood sugar above 60!! I'm shooting for 70 by noon... and a new doctor by next week.

I'm just going to move in here. — at Gundersen Health System.

So, I'm back in the hospital. Trying to make good use of my time. Here's my Christmas card photo! (I put it in black and white because, trust me, color is just nasty!!)

PS--bring me Kit Kats and a Mountain Dew!!! My blood sugar is at 50!!

So, if you have ever had the pleasure of having blood taken from an artery, you know it's not pleasant. So, the girl started on the left arm. Numbed it, stabbed it, and stabbed it again because stab #1 didn't work. She walked the vial over to the counter and the next thing I know, the vial of blood is splattered EVERYWHERE. The wall, the hand sanitizer on the wall, my clothes that were on the counter, and...all over the girl, too. So.. It was my lucky day. I got to go through the entire thing all over again with the right hand. I'll be sure to post photos wi/out bandaids. Later.