Thursday, April 4, 2019

Ebbs and Flows

No real reason for not writing lately, and no reason I came back today. Lots on my mind/my heart/my plate. I started seeing a new therapist; the first session this week was...interesting. Will report more as it goes along but I'm giving it an open mind.

I've had some realizations about our schedule that will hopefully lead to some change.

  • On the kid-front, as awful as she is overall, its been SO NICE having MIL here to pick them up from school and bring them home. By the time we are home, their homework is done and they are playing and relaxed. They are not starving/exhausted/overwhelmed and its made the evenings 100% better. I am NOT EXHAUSTED when they go to bed. There is no much less yelling. I am searching for an after school sitter because I do NOT want to go back to the way it used to be. May not work out for this school year since there is only a month or so left, but next year.
  • I did a trial clinic in the early evening and it was actually very smooth. I was the only provider there, so the patients were checked in & roomed quickly and I made it home for a slightly late dinner. We are piloting this in our clinic & I enthusiastically approve and would do it regularly in exchange for a more relaxed morning.  I really love the idea of having more control over my schedule and setting up variable "blocks" so that I can maximize all the other stuff I want to do instead of being beholden to a set template. 
Other updates: 
  • B's teachers said the medication was like "night and day" for him so its an unequivocal success! It does seem to wear off around 4 pm, which is another reason getting him home & HW done early makes sense
  • We planned and booked our summer travel. One trip to MIL, trip to my family, and family camping trip. I am excited about summer and have to keep reminding myself that I have a LOT more to do before any of the fun begins.
  • I am challenging myself to exercise daily while MIL is here.  I completed day 10/19! Maybe I can keep it up and have some kind of streak! (but likely not)
  • Have NOT been reading as much as usual---since G & I are staying up late rewatching select episodes of GoT to get ready for the new season. Its been really fun but we had to take a break because ZZZzzzzz
Happy April all. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Spring sprung?

Yesterday was amazing! And today has been pretty good, too, despite having crappy sleep last night.

Good things:

  • I was super productive and really knocked out a lot of things looming over my head and made good inroads into long term projects too. 
  • I got my shiny new work-issued iPhone, one that doesn't have a cracked screen, a speaker that does not work (so I literally could not talk on it, no one could hear me!), and a battery lasting >2 hours. 
  • It was sunny and nearly 70 degrees! 
  • I had dinner and saw a show with friends last night and both were great! Sushi, white wine, and "The Curious Incidence of the Dog in the Nighttime"

Of course I got home late, and struggled to sleep between snoring B and snoring pup on either side of this morning was a little tough.

But! I saw my patients quickly this morning, walked home and changed (its warm and sunny again and the tights and boots were a bit much). And got B to take him to his appointment. Where I talked to the Dr. about options and got a prescription for adder@ll sprinkles that we have to try to give him in pudding every morning. We left, got a snack, and I got him back to school within an hour of picking him up and we had a very pleasant time. I'm at home working now (clinic notes and working on review article that I've put off long I'm embarrassed to say) and trying to muster up some energy for tonight.

Weekend plans:
Friday: Basketball game! my first time, the boys' second. I was way more excited before I realized how tired I am and what a late night it'll be, but I'm sure it'll be action packed enough to keep me going. Early pizza dinner before we head out.
Saturday: work out in AM (maybe run? or bodypump at gym if I get up on time) park/outdoor play, chores (get clutter out of guest room for impending MIL visit, laundry, meal planning & shopping) and evening babysitter for school fundraiser party; hot dogs for kids to eat.
Sunday: work out in AM (run or go to late morning barre class since I'll want to sleep in), park, fun solo errands (like take in old jeans to get a discount on new jeans at Madewell, maybe get toenails done) L has a birthday party that G will take him to, so B and I will hang out, make a fun dinner and prep for week.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Mid March

I can't believe its been two weeks! I feel like last week was a complete loss. There has been so much going on at work and home and my head is all over the place. I finally took a moment this morning for some short/mid/long term planning and I feel a lot more in control of things. 

One major happening: our beloved 13-year-old pup had major surgery last week to remove an aggressive tumor from her front leg. It was rough for a couple days while she recovered (she was moaning constantly, needed to be carried, and needed frequent meds) and she is still hobbling along on 3 feet (the leg is bandaged to her torso so she won't put pressure on it or bend it and the joint can heal) but is in good spirits and able to get up and down the stairs herself to go out. G worked from home most of last week and even this week she had 2 vet appointments. 

The bad news is that they didn't get clean margins, and we need to decide if we want to to radiation therapy---which is about an hour away (the equipment at the MAJOR vet hospital near my work is out of commission for who knows how long and the only other one in the region is not close to the city) and which she would need daily for about 4 weeks. The other option is amputation (!). Or comfort care since the chances of recurrence at one year are pretty high. Its a tough decision, and I've been reading up on veterinary oncology literature about survival rates and side effects... We are trying to get a consultation with an oncologist for more data and guidance, but apparently we need to start radiation within weeks and there are no appointments to see the doctor for MONTHS. 

Honestly we are ready to spend whatever time and money if it would help her without causing excessive pain or discomfort because besides this (which actually was causing no symptoms yet, but was rapidly growing), she is really healthy and happy and loving her life of sofa sleeping and following us around for belly rubs and treats. We are already trying to work out how we could logistically do it. Oh its a tough decision and taking up a lot of my brain space and also making me sad. 

I was also struggling with figuring out how to get B on medications after our pediatrician surprisingly told me that he doesn't prescribe ADHD meds and that I'd have to see another doctor in the practice who does all the ADHD evals and treatments. He is developmental peds trained and they just set up their practice so that he has a certain clinic a couple of times a month focused specifically on ADHD. Unfortunately his 1st available was after the school year ended and I was not OK with that, I really wanted to go through the trial/error period and find something that works during this school year, with teachers that know him and can help us figure out if its making a difference. We would take the summer off from meds anyways, so it makes no sense to go in June. 

Guys, I did something I've never done before and raised a bit of a fuss (politely but directly told them I was very disappointed, most general pediatricians do prescribe meds and that was what I was expecting, and this seems unacceptable to me and is making me consider switching practices after almost 10 years of working with them) and he added us on this Friday. I had to move patients around (and apparently they were pissed, even though I'm seeing them the same day, just earlier!) but I'm going to take him because G never knows how to ask the right questions and be assertive and gets flustered, which is understandable. Again, taking up brain space and emotionally draining.

Besides all that and more on the home front (finalizing summer plans and still working on booking travel/flights) work has been ridiculously busy with more clinical time than usual PLUS several paper revisions/edits coming in and gearing up for June grant submission while still trying to juggle all the other little things that keep piling up. I am going to take SHU's concept of "admin time" and just ignore the little things until a specific block of time next week where I will work my way through them.

And lets not forget about the news, and my growing disillusionment that we will choose a winning candidate and uselessly trying to predict the future, which is taking up the last bit of brain space I had left and then some. 

Of course, as usual during stressful/anxious times I've been checking out way too much on the phone (social media/games/news) and also distracting myself with the easy dopamine fixes of food, alcohol, and online shopping (I needed a spring coat! and a swimsuit! and new jeans since my Roadtrippers are literally wearing out from near-daily wear). I woke up today vowing to use better coping mechanisms so this morning I did a BeachBody workout, meditated, downloaded a fluffy book on my phone to read tonight instead of scrolling until I fall asleep, and wrote this post.

I go away for 2 weeks and come back with a novella. Ha. Back soon (-er or later). 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Hair today...

Sorry for the groan-inducing pun but I couldn't resist!

I had a laser appointment yesterday which reminded me that I was going to write an update on the process. Verdict: LOVE IT. Wish I'd done it sooner! As someone who has dark course hair that I needed to shave daily, its seriously life-changing.

I started this summer with my underarms. You can't have it done on sun-exposed/tanned skin, so that was the only area I could do, plus it was the most urgent since I wear tanks to work out in year-round and even shaving daily was barely enough, since I'd get regrowth by the end of the day that was visible.

It hurts a little during the treatment, but way less than threading my eyebrows, as a comparison. The whole thing took <10 minutes. I felt completely 100% normal immediately afterwards (I've heard some people have residual stinging/pain). And after just ONE treatment, I went from shaving daily, to being able to go 1-2 weeks. I went back for the second treatment 6 weeks later and maybe shaved once before my next treatment, and never again after the 3rd, which was in October.

Once my tan faded, I've done my bikini line (2 treatments so far, and probably do need a couple more, I still see stubble and growth) and my legs (one treatment only and may not do another for a while because it was $$$). The bikini was similar to underarms in terms of pain and the legs were NBD which is good because that took more like 20-25 minutes.  Its hard to say exactly how well the legs worked, because I wouldn't be shaving them much anyways in the winter, and I did the upper and lower legs at different sessions.

Overall I estimate that I've paid about $600 (6 session packages for underarms and bikini and single treatments for upper and lower legs; I used a group-on for the initial treatment and waited for sales that they have every so often for the others). I'm refraining from any clothes shopping for a while to offset the cost, and its definitely way WAY more than worth it in my book. I've heard that after a few years you may need to touch up, so its more "semi-permanent".

I'm so excited about summer beach and pool outings, not to mention sleeveless dresses, without having to give it a thought!

And...on a completely different hair-related note, while I try to reduce my body hair, I am also taking efforts to thicken my scalp hair. After many years of ridiculously thick (to the point of not being able to use regular clips and stretching out rubber-bands), I've been slowly thinning overall. Its actually been much easier to control and style and I haven't cared much until the past couple of years when I noticed a much more sudden and visibly noticeable thinning in the front of my scalp.

Since my mother is practically bald in that area, I was almost sure it was age/genetics, but since hers didn't happen until her 60s, I did see a dermatologist who confirmed androgenic alopecia and prescribed an oral anti-androgen (spironolactone) and 5% minoxidil which I've been faithfully using for a month. Apparently you need to give it a few months to see a difference, and if nothing changes for 6 months, you can stop and with it. So its too soon to say, but I am hopeful, since it does work for most people. The up/down side to the med is that its a weak diuretic so I've been SUPER thirsty and drinking much more water.

Feel free to ask me any questions about either!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Monkey Brain

Thanks for your comment on the last post. The bribing is going...OK.  I only take them to school 2-3 times a week, and apparently they are better for G, so the consistency is hard to maintain. Morning are still stressful and awful, but at least I am yelling less since I just take away their "check" which they can then cash in for...something as yet undetermined after they earn 5 (for getting ready when asked, and not hitting each other while they do it).

We are strongly (almost 100%) going to try B on a stimulant for ADHD. Its become VERY obvious that it is affecting his performance at school and leading to lots of stress and anger and even some self-esteem issues for him. Both teachers have brought up his lack of focus, need for additional time for assignments, and utter disorganization many times. We have adapted his IEP for accommodations (reminders, extra time, seating away from distractions) which haven't seemed to make much difference. He often forgets to bring things home or turn them in, loses things a LOT (his violin!), and makes careless mistakes. He can't really concentrate at karate or basketball either---and he likes both of those! He is a bright kid and we want to give him every chance to succeed. He has his annual appointment at the pediatrician next week and I'm going to bring it up. I've heard so many positive stories from parents, and though there are certainly negative experiences, the general consensus is that it helps many kids. We are also looking into therapy for coping mechanisms for him, but I'm afraid that with the weekly social skills group it'll be too much. He has hated any one-on-one therapy we've ever done and he's only gotten more stubborn and ornery with time. Any advice is certainly welcome!

Speaking of brains needing help, I'm still trying to find a therapist accepting new patients and conveniently located! I called a whole list of places my gyn gave me and they all said to call back (next week, next month, next season). The need is so great, I guess. I'm hoping to get into someone before the next major stressful event (a 3 week MIL visit) in later March, so I can work on coping mechanisms besides escaping into social media

I've been having to back off on one my favorite stress-relievers, intense exercise, because something is wrong with my right shoulder and many things irritate it, especially push ups and side planks, which seem to be involved in every class I enjoy (HIIT, body pump, barre). Given that long runs and spinning bother my lower back (it doesn't hurt unless I do certain things, so I just...don't do those things anymore), I am having trouble finding good options. I've been doing Beach Body 21 day fix workouts at home and just skipping/modifying things, which I find easier to do when I'm at home myself than in a class (I have this weird desire to "do well" and not look like I'm slacking).

I was on a GREAT run of reading fantastic books for a while---I read 6 fairly long novels in February when everything seemed to become available at once from the library. And ended, and I haven't read anything for over a week, because the only book I have is just not captivating. Its 100% true, if you have a good book, you will find and even MAKE time to read! I think I need to give up on the one I'm reading but it feels so wrong (because its Obama's Dreams From My Father! I should be loving it! I not). Our library doesn't have the audio version which I know I'd enjoy much more unfortunately.  I think I'll have to decide its just not the time for that book for me right now and move on.

 I'm very very late in the line for Nine Perfect Strangers, The Great Alone,  Evicted, and several others. Any more book recs for me?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Serenity Now

Happy Valentines Day! Life is chugging along with its ups and downs. I am doing really well in some realms and falling behind in others, as per usual. We don't have any couple or family V-day traditions really. L took cheap drugstore Valentines in for his class, B didn't want to this year which was more than OK by me. The boys did pick up some flowers for me on the way home yesterday. I think I'm allergic to them, my throat & eyes got itchy. We will have dessert after dinner and maybe some wine for G and I after the kids go to bed.

I've been yelling a LOT at the kids lately and I'm trying to be less reactive. Its so much easier said than done. The mornings are the worst. We get them up early enough to have plenty of time for breakfast and getting ready, but then they have 2-3 minutes to spare, start playing, and end up late leaving the house. When I call them down to get going (we set an alarm that goes off, but they ignore it), they inevitably fight with each other, dawdle and get distracted (i.e. put one shoe on, then start walking over to the kitchen again), and generally need LOTS of prompting to put on shoes and coats and grab their bags. Many MANY mornings our short walk to school involves crying/grumpiness. Not an ideal start to the day and it doesn't feel good to send them out into the world feeling bad. 

I actually had a talk with them and we figured out a system of good behavior for X days will equal a treat/prize. I know I know, I always resort to the bribery. Today was Day 1 and it did go better. I'd be happy to take suggestions. 

Starting tomorrow I begin a stretch of call. Again, trying for a good attitude about this. I am definitely hoping to stay at work and catch up on some things that are urgent but not important so I can get them off my plate and focus on paper writing during the week. I'm also hoping to somehow get in workouts and all the other weekend stuff. I am dumping meal planning and prep on G (usually my job). We also need to finalize some of our summer plans & start looking at flights. 

Honestly I have no love for February and this month has been no exception. The weather is gross, there are no holidays (for me, the kids & G have president's day), the energy of the New Year is fading, and I'm just really ready for spring. At least the days are getting longer?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Purpose of Guilt

I've had a few different instances of feeling guilty lately---both at work and at home. I know the societal narrative these days is that guilt is useless and we should "banish guilt" and certainly my instinct is to push down and ignore any unpleasant emotions.  But I do believe that guilt serves an important purpose in guiding us to act in tune with our moral compass. So I decided to investigate what it was about the specific situations that made me feel guilty, and how I could act differently in the future to prevent that outcome.

At work there were 2 end-of-day routine follow up patients that showed up late and I had to refuse to see them because I was already leaving/left for the next thing on my agenda (an important 5 pm meeting once, picking up kids and walking dog the other time). I felt terrible because they traveled quite a ways, and I understand that our patients have many circumstances making it difficult for them to get here on time. On the other hand, I carefully create my clinic schedule so that (barring emergencies) I can deal with my other responsibilities.

Then there is the review article I said I would write and submit LAST FALL. That I haven't started. I did ask for an extension, and they are awaiting other submissions but we are a whole season away now and its getting ridiculous. I have been been ignoring the follow up emails politely enquiring as to when I would be able to submit the review.

On the home front, G's been a little overwhelmed with a few weeks of back to back outings I've had (on the calendar, discussed beforehand). He just forgets and when I remind him the day of, he has this dejected look on his face. My kids also keep asking why I'm "always going out" and when will I take them with me, and etc.... And I seriously NEVER feel bad about fulfilling my need to socialize and live my life but this time, it just got to me.

And this weekend, G managed to clean all 3 bathrooms and vacuum, and change the sheets (basically everything the house cleaners used to do), plus get groceries from 3 different stores...while he was sick (he did these things while I took L to soccer, and supervised a play date, made kids lunches, meal planned...I wasn't sitting around eating bon bons, but he definitely drew the short straw). He was so tired and I had promised to take over clean up Sunday night. But...we had our neighbors over to watch the first half of the Super Bowl. And I had a beer (or two) too many and just fell asleep leaving him to get the kids to bed & take out the trash and clean up the kitchen. Oh man, I felt like &h^t.

So, back to the whole "purpose" part. Here's what I figured out.

For the late patients: I am working with the clinic to clarify our late policies, making sure the front desk staff is aware to ASK providers before rooming a late patient, and also remembering to let the staff know that I am leaving for the day and won't be able to see anyone else. If all that is done, I should have no guilt. Hey, I accidentally had the time wrong and showed up 20 minutes late for an appt and had to reschedule. It sucks but its life.

I went back and forth about the review, but basically decided I had to write it asap or let them know I'd backed out. I gave it some thought, discussed with colleagues, and decided it was worth my time to get my name on a review on a topic I'm trying to position myself as an expert on, so I made a writing schedule and I'm working on it. When it was just another task to be done I had no motivation to do it, but now that I actually see the career advantage, I'm actually excited to make it good.

As much as I wish he would, G just doesn't constantly review the calendar(s) the way I do, and if I want to spare him the surprise, we need to sit down and go over the week together. We did it this weekend (I have nothing going on any evening, so it was quick!) and hope to make it a habit. The kids can suck it with their whining, I am home 90% of evenings.

I promised to clean the bathrooms next time, and we are making a chore chart for the house cleaning. I need to make G promise NOT to do my chores on the chart even though he thinks he will do them better. Also no more beers for me for a good long time (I felt ugh the next morning, I cannot indulge like that anymore!).