Tag Archives: hospitals

The one where I start feeling like a bad mother

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, or so I thought. It’s insanely hard to pin down my doctor long enough to find a decent appointment time and when I arrived at the clinic (medical records in hand because that’s how we roll in Chile *pause for dramatic eye roll*), the receptionists informed me that she was out-of-town and my appointment was really next week.

My memory may be bad, I mean, it’s pretty craptastic these days thanks to all the hormones, but I’m pretty sure that I would have remembered making an appointment on the mother effing 4th of July. It’s kind of an important day for us gringos. I called my husband and sprouted off my theory that they bumped me without contacting me. Fortunately, it occurred to him to call the clinic and they had an appointment with another doctor in the afternoon.

So for the second time the same day, I pulled my bag of medical records to the clinic and waited to meet my new doctor. The bag was also half full with tissues, baggies to throw the tissues away eventually, because I also have the world’s worst head cold. It’s the third cold I’ve had in six weeks.

At any rate, I sat down with the doctor and tried to put a semblance of order to the multitude of tests I had brought her. She fixated instantly on one. At first, I didn’t understand what she said. Then she looked me in the face and repeated it, ” You’re anemic. That’s why you keep getting sick.”

Now, keep in mind folks, that was a blood test that they ran while I was hospitalized three weeks ago. Yes, in the hospital with 24-hour access to doctors and nurses and a plethora of medical treatment. Instead, they let me leave none the wiser. And that was a good hospital! Or so we keep hearing. I have to say that although all my friends disagree, I have not been very impressed with my medical care here.

The doctor went on to explain that my mutant morning sickness in early pregnancy, plus my continued food aversions were making me malnourished – quickly. She gently explained that if I can’t make myself eat more, I need to improve the quality of the calories I can eat.

I have to eat more of this stuff, guys.
Photo by Irwin-Scott/Flickr

I walked out feeling like an utter failure as a not-even-mother. My daughter is still being formed in the Easy Bake oven that is my body and I’m already depriving her of something that could put her at risk for a premature birth.

Now, I get to take these gag-licious liquid iron supplements that taste like the bastard child of Robitussin and blood. The good part is that since I know I have to, I can do it with minimal full body convulsions. This is improvement!

My husband was commenting last night that it makes sense that I’m anemic since I’m “always tired and crabby.” My response went something like, “When your uterus is the size of a CANTALOUPE, we’ll talk about who’s tired and crabby, okay?”

My mom reminded me that she was anemic during both her pregnancies and had to eat liver every week. She started offering me liver cooking tips, like this was a normal thing that normal people Skype their mothers about. That’s something I never thought would happen. Well, two things: 1. my mom offering me cooking advice 2. and having said advice be about a cow’s liver – of all the unholy organs!

The good news is that once I can beef up (get it? get it?) my iron, I’ll stop catching all the colds being passed around on Santiago’s overcrowded metro.

But, I’m starting slow. I just made a dish with garbanzos and spinach, with my doctor’s blessings.

I’m off to take a shot-glass sized portion of liquid iron. Cheers, everyone.

One Year Ago *Almost* Today

One year ago today, I was preparing for surgery, scrubbing myself down with antimicrobial wipes (it was disgusting, by the way), learning how to tie a headscarf on YouTube, and praying for the first time in a long time. Someone joked that we should buy a “brain tumor cake” to commemorate the event. I declined. What would I put on it? “Happy One Year Brainiversary” ? On second thought, I would like to film the baker’s reaction.

Too much has happened to get maudlin about it. Again.

Moving on…

Over the weekend I was reminded why I hate hospitals when my grandfather had a mild heart attack and spent the holiday weekend in one. I walked in a recalled all too well the rooms that are never the right temperature, the bland, lukewarm food, the boredom that stretches on forever, and the smell of the hand sanitizer that hangs outside every room. Today, when the nurses entered the room to transport my him to the angioplasty in their full surgical regalia complete with the blue bonnets, I felt my blood pressure rising. I didn’t even know I had blood pressure.

Other than that, I’ve been occupying my time with my new toy: a TomTom GPS. I walked into the electronics store, where I could have used a GPS to find the selection, and picked out one of the cheapest devices available. I brought along a friend who explained to me that all the GPS thingies use the same satellite triangulation system (whatever that means)–she said it may help me to think of it as a tiny gremlin–so spending the extra cash isn’t worth it…necessarily.

The first time I entered an address it got itself confused getting me to the main road. Instead of saying the annoying, but reassuring, “Recalculating” like my old GPS, it silently replotted my route. I mentioned to my friend that I much preferred the exasperating, mechanical voice promising that I would eventually find my way. If it doesn’t tell me, I demanded, how do I know that it is really recalculating and that the signal isn’t just blocked by cement or cloud cover?!? That could happen!

Remember how a few days ago I pondered what it would be like if we had a life GPS? The stupid robotic voice could tell you every time you took a literal or figurative wrong turn. Then you could hear the devices of other people as you cross them on the street, “Hey loser, turn around.” I’m sure you could program it to a friendlier voice. Maybe that’s a little too The Matrix or Adjustment Bureau.

In another one of those odd “everything comes full circle” moments, I’m taking the same class (Managerial Accounting) that I was supposed to be taking last year at this time, but postponed it because of my surgery. I started out the class by introducing myself and saying that I’m not a numbers person. I said that I have steadfastly avoided anything resembling a calculator or spreadsheet for years. I deduced that if I set the bar sufficiently low enough any improvement would, at least, get me pity points. (A language dork turned MBA student is a weird breed, let me tell you!) However, the good news is that, including this class, I only have four more classes left until I can add the letters “MBA” to my electronic signature.

Wow… It’s been a crazy year.

I’m leaving you with another picture I took while jogging. I’m one of those maddening people who tries to “assist” the wildlife by touching them, feeding them, or moving them, thus getting my human scent all over them. This fuzzy baby was contemplating a jaunt across the street–sort of like me, except for street insert “country”.

Why I suck at “taking it easy” and photos of stuff

I’m a fast paced, impulsive person. To those of you who know me well this is no surprise and I’m sure it even comes off in this blog (hello attacking my paparazzi in Tottus), so let’s just say that recovery and all this “taking it easy” is harder than it looks. I’m not really the kind of person who can veg out easily. I like to be up and active. A normal day for me consists of very little down time mostly because I don’t know what to do with myself.

I’m wondering if half of my superhuman energy has to do with the fact that I’m still on some very potent steroids to take down the swelling in my brain. That’s the reason I’m able to exist on sleep that wouldn’t suffice for even a gerbil, and I’m breaking out and eating like a 16 year old. Oh, also I tend to be a liiiitle more angry emotional. Fortunately, I’m on a sliding scale and I’m definitely running down the steroid hill at this point soon to be off of them. The only part that concerns me about that is that my unusual energy (my doctor thinks I’m some sort of brain surgery miracle) is that I might actually be tired. Then, I might have to calm down this pace and actually rest.

Right, so I’m not out running marathons or anything. I still get a little tired walking up the stairs and around the corner, but I’m doing things that other neurosurgery patients might not be doing mere days after being discharged like: shopping at the mall, going out to restaurants, getting lost in public bathrooms, taking *large print* books out at the library, and going to the University of Minnesota Arboretum (so I sat on a bench in the shade a lot….I had a good excuse!).

It’s hard because I have so many plans now. Like. So. Many. Plans. My entire perspective on life seems to have shifted. Nothing seems impossible anymore. Nothing. All those little things that used to hold me back? Gone. Things seems clearer. Relationships are more important and my goals have an entirely new meaning. Sorry. I’m not trying to get all Hallmark card on you, but it’s true. It’s one of those things I think about when I’m busy not sleeping at night.

I’m excited because on Monday I have a doctor’s appointment with my neurosurgeon to remove my “sutures”. Bear in mind that I have hardly even looked at the back of my head. I did take a good look once and saw that I have quite the gash (a good six inches down my skull) full o’ staples and other “hardware” and it honestly made me feel a little weak. That’s why L. and my family are such saints because they have to rub me down with antibiotic ointment (I love using the word ointment….ointment…ointment…ointment!) once a day. Bleh….

I heard a rumor that I have a plate of some sort in my head now. I wonder if that means I get one of those medical cards to bypass the metal detectors at airports. *fist pump* You know the ones they give to the little old grannies who have more metal in their hips than box-spring mattress? Yes, well they are not just for old ladies anymore…

My friend M. told me the other day that I surprise people because I look so freaking healthy, but I’m pretty blind still and well, get confused in bathrooms for crying out loud. I’m sure that’s what the woman who I barreled into today thought. Or the people at Caribou Coffee who were eyeing the IV bruises on my arm like I was some sort of addict. Or the guy today who made eyes at me in Target, but I had no idea I was even looking at him until he was right in front of me. Seriously. I have no idea how long I sat there stupidly gaping at him because I couldn’t even see him.

And now before I bore you with more possibly steroid induced ramblingd, some photos from the Arboretum today. I managed to get a little sunburned (another possible thing to check off of my post-surgery to-do list).

Okay… and I won’t even take credit for the photos. Add that to the long list of reasons why I will miss L. when he leaves: he takes great pictures.
I got so many flowers while I was in the hospital but most of them did not end up coming home with me because my cat has a plant addiction problem. Yeh, he eats them and then vomits in a corner. It’s one of his more attractive qualities. So, being around color was amazing. Oh and I can see the flowers. I Love hibiscus. I have no idea why. Like I said, I did a lot of sitting on benches in the shade, but L. managed to snap this of me in motion. I have to keep something on my head at all times just as much for my scar’s sake as for not scaring the rest of the public. That hat was sooo hot, but I am wearing the earrings that I told Deidre from Decoy Betty about when she sent me a darling red scarf all the way from AUSTRALIA! I love the blue of this one. It looks perfect against the reddish pink (that is reddish pink, right?) of these. Oh and I don’t even remember what these are called (brain tumor moment? You decide).We saw a timid little cardinal. L. followed him for a few feet because we told him that cardinals are usually very shy and this one seemed to want his picture taken. There was a pond with tadpoles and baby frogs. What is cuter than a baby frog? All green, and tiny, and slimly. (Yes, I was one of those children). In the same fountain a group of tadpoles had started masticating the body of their tiny tadpole brother. No picture for that. Apparently that’s how frog families work. Fun. I love this last one with the bee. I’m terribly allergic to bees so I was nowhere near this flower, but what else can say summer besides an image like that? There I hope you have enjoyed my rantings and Arboretum slide show. I think it’s probably a good idea if I retire now to stare at the ceiling try to sleep. Good night! Or Good Morning if you happen to be waking up in Australia…