My Confession

Ok, readers, it’s time for my confession. Much like Charlotte, I have something I need to get off my chest. I recently discovered something about myself, and, well, I just can’t hide it anymore. So here goes: I. Am. Cheesy.

How do I know this about myself? Well, Netflix recently released the entire Full House series, and, in need of some comfort television, I put it on the other night. Now, I loved this show as a kid. I thought it was hilarious. I laughed so much, in fact, that my sister used to get mad at me when we were watching it because she couldn’t hear the TV over my laughter. As an adult, though, I assumed that my tastes had matured, and while I expected to enjoy watching these reruns of a childhood favourite, I didn’t think I would find it as funny as I did as a kid.

I was wrong. I watched the pilot the other night, and when Jesse and Joey are trying to figure out how to change Michelle’s diaper, I laughed so hard I cried. And that is when I had my revelation: I am cheesy. Because Full House may be one of the cheesiest sitcoms of all time, and not only do I love it, but I actually find it FUNNY. Laugh-out-loud, tears-rolling-down-my-face, FUNNY.

(Slightly off topic, but during my viewing of Full House, I had another revelation: John Stamos has not aged AT ALL since he was Uncle Jesse. What kind of pact with the devil has he made? And how can I sign up for that pact??)

So there you have it. I am cheesy. Not only am I older than Danny Tanner, I may be just as lame and nerdy as he is.

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Sigh. My sweet girls have no idea how lame I am. I wonder how long I have before they realize it and are (rightfully) embarrassed?

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NPO

It has been just about a year since Penelope had her first swallow study done, where we discovered the extent of her swallowing difficulties and subsequently had the feeding tube inserted. Over this past year, she has made a lot of strides. I had been working with her on her oral feeding- giving her purees, cereals, yogurt, etc, to taste, in the hopes that her swallowing would improve and she could start taking more and more by mouth. These feeding sessions were very hit-or-miss. Some days, she would be very interested in eating, and would take everything I offered her. Other days, she would gag or choke and vomit after only a bite, and I would have to stop the session. The feeding team following her wanted another swallow study to be done to see what progress she has made with her swallowing. This was done on Monday, and the results were not good.

Penelope can no longer swallow food with even the thickest consistency. She aspirates everything she tries to swallow. Even more troubling, she doesn’t have a protective cough reflex- she aspirates her food, and there are no outward signs that this has happened. She will appear happy and want more food, which will then go into her lungs instead of her stomach. And so we have now been given instructions that she is not to have anything by mouth- in medical terms, she is NPO.

To say I was shocked by this is an understatement. I was fully expecting the study to show an improvement in her swallowing, especially given how many other improvements she has been making. I’m worried that this swallowing regression is a precursor to regressions in other areas. It’s also really hard not to feel like this is my fault, somehow. Should I have been giving her more food to improve her swallowing? Less food? Could this regression have been avoided? And then of course there is the worry about the fact that she has been silently aspirating on an ongoing basis- what if her lungs are damaged? It is a miracle that she hasn’t contracted aspiration pneumonia. I am taking her to her pediatrician next week, and hopefully he can address these concerns with me.

Clearly, it has been a rough couple days around here. I am trying hard to stay positive and focus on the good: Penelope gets enough nutrition from the G-tube, so being NPO isn’t really a big deal to her. She didn’t contract aspiration pneumonia. The living room ceiling didn’t collapse. Penelope is happy and has made progress in other areas. I know all of this, and I am thankful for it. But I am still reeling from this unexpected blow, and I think it’s going to take a few days to get my balance back.

Charlotte and Penelope at the soft gym

Charlotte and Penelope at the soft gym

Penelope likes playing with books

Penelope likes playing with books

Playing with her cousin, Juliana

Playing with her cousin, Juliana

Hair finally long enough for a clip!

Hair finally long enough for a clip!

A Little Drip and a Lot of Stress

Oh boy. It has been a busy few weeks around here. Busy, but good. I’ve been busy, but happy.

Winter with my girls is keeping me on my toes

Winter with my girls is keeping me on my toes

Happy, that is, until Sunday night, when the living room ceiling started dripping water.

I think a bit of a back story is needed to set the scene here. Mark is away on a ski trip with his students. I was scheduled to work evenings all weekend. When we first heard about this ski trip, I wanted to come along with him; I mean, who wouldn’t? A trip to Blue Mountain, paid for by the school board-  umm, yes, please! Okay, so I’m not a skier, but couldn’t you just see me cozied up by a fire in a chalet, with a good book and a glass of wine? I so wanted that to happen, but alas, it was not meant to be. I couldn’t get my shifts switched, and then Penelope had a swallow study scheduled, so it just wasn’t going to work out. Although disappointed, I soldiered on, and Mark dropped me off at work and then headed on up to Blue Mountain on Sunday.

As my evening at work progressed, the unit was quiet, and I was offered the opportunity to go home early. Thinking of my in-laws, who were watching the girls, I jumped at the chance, so that they would get to go home at a reasonable hour instead of after midnight. All was well at home when I arrived. I bid farewell to Rick and Pam, got Penelope’s feed going, and settled on the couch to watch a few episodes of Full House on Netflix before heading to bed myself. I hadn’t been sitting for more than ten minutes when I started hearing a strange noise. I paused the TV, and started moving things around to investigate. I noticed some water on the floor, and looked up, and sure enough, there was a small crack in the ceiling and water was dripping down.

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At work, I can face things like patients vomiting, worried parents, multiple STAT IV medication orders, babies in respiratory distress, and they all cause less anxiety in me than what I felt when I saw that leaky ceiling. My insides turned to mush as I considered the possible scenarios: a burst pipe, a caved-in roof, the ceiling crashing down to the floor, a flooded living room and ruined flooring and furniture. After an initial panicked phone call to my father-in-law, a Google search, and a less-panicked call to my dad, I deduced that the source of the problem was an ice dam on our roof. There is no plumbing in that area, so it couldn’t be a burst pipe (thank god). And as the temperature outside continued to dip, the dripping stopped. Still, I moved furniture out of the way and laid down some plastic garbage bags to protect the floor and some basins to collect any errant drips.

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Thankfully, this wasn’t an emergency-repair-sort-of-situation. I realized I could wait til morning to call someone to fix the problem. The next question was what, if anything, should I tell Mark about this? My initial thought was to not say anything to him while he was away- I wanted him to be able to relax and enjoy his little getaway. So I went to bed, and planned on waiting til he got home on Tuesday to tell him about the problem. I was almost asleep when my phone rang- it was Mark, wanting to see how things were going. He was calling late because he thought I was working late. Sleepy and disoriented, I managed to stick to my plan to not say anything to him. He asked me a couple times if something was wrong- I guess I wasn’t able to keep the stress out of my voice- but I told him everything was fine. After we hung up, though, I felt terrible for keeping this from him. Probably an overreaction on my part, but I tossed and turned all night, and got very little sleep because I felt so guilty about it (yes, I was raised Catholic, why do you ask?). I mean, my intentions in not saying anything were good- I didn’t want him worry unnecessarily- but then I was worried that he would want to know and would be upset with me for keeping it from him. Sigh. I found myself in a classic no-win situation.

Monday morning, exhausted and worn out from lack of sleep and stress, I decided to just tell him about it and reassure him that everything was fine. I think you can guess how THAT phone call went (not well). My initial instinct not to tell him until he got home was right- he wasn’t exactly thrilled to receive the news, and I can’t say I blame him for that. I told him I would take care of it, and I did- I arranged for a company to come on Wednesday to remove the ice dam and repair any damage to the roof, which should fix the immediate problem. And then we can get the ceiling repaired later.

So that was my exciting Sunday night. There is a silver lining, though- I have been so busy lately that it has been hard to find the time to write, but I couldn’t NOT write about all this, so it has got me back to the blog again- and it feels great.

Separation Anxiety

So last week was a pretty busy week, which you may have surmised from the fact that I didn’t post anything all week. For starters, I was coming off a stretch of evening shifts, so my internal clock was mixed up, and I spent most of Monday in a zombie-like state. As well, there were a lot of appointments to attend last week- a feeding assessment for Penelope, dentist for Charlotte, grooming for Barkley, and doctor for me.

At my doctor’s appointment, I was weighed for the first time since I started my whole healthy-lifestyle/ weight-loss initiative back in July. I was pretty pleased to discover that I have lost over 60 pounds in that time. Even without knowing how much weight I had lost, I knew that I was reaping many rewards from this lifestyle change. I feel great, both physically and mentally; I am less self-conscious and I’m fairly satisfied with how I look (I know “fairly satisfied” isn’t exactly a glowing review of my appearance, but it’s a vast improvement over how I felt 60 pounds ago, which was “want to cover my body in a burlap sack and never go anywhere or see anyone, ever”). So yeah, a definite improvement.

Down sixty pounds and no longer hiding from the camera!

Down sixty pounds and no longer hiding from the camera!

There was one benefit in particular, however, that I was hoping to receive with my fitness regimen that sadly has not come to fruition (and this is where you should stop reading if you are at all squeamish): I really want to get rid of the enormous, hideous hernia that I have as a result of C-section number two.

This particular type of hernia is known as a diastasis recti, and is somewhat common among women who have given birth. Basically, the muscles in my abdomen which hold my internal organs in place have separated, and so when I stand up, it all spills outward. My separation is pretty large- around 7 cm- and despite my focus on core exercises, I haven’t seen any improvement. In fact, it is far more noticeable now that there isn’t a cushion of fat surrounding the area. It isn’t causing me any physical problems- it is completely painless- but I hate the way it looks and I worry that it will cause physical problems in the future.

I spoke with my physician about it at my appointment last week, and she is recommending Pilates-based physiotherapy to help close this separation, as well as an abdominal binder to help keep everything where it should be. (Side note: when my doctor was palpating my abdomen, she commented, “Wow, I could reach all the way to your spine if I wanted!” I am not a squeamish person, but hearing that made me want to vomit a little). So this week, I will be looking further into my physiotherapy options and hopefully coming up with a plan to get rid of my unsightly bulge. Any readers have any experience with this? I would love to hear from you!

Alright, I am off to try and track down my belly binder of choice: the Squeem. Apparently, it is more comfortable and easier to wear under clothes than it’s popular counterpart, the Belly Bandit. The only problem is that is tough to find here in Canada. I will not give up though- if I can lose sixty pounds, I sure as hell can find a way to acquire the belly binder I want, right?

Confessions

So, Charlotte has developed a rather… interesting habit of very seriously needing to tell me things, much like a guilty party confessing to a crime. A typical exchange goes something like this:

Charlotte: “Mommy, I need to tell you something.”

Me: “Ok, what’s up?”

Charlotte: “The thing that I need to tell you is (insert long, dramatic pause before the big reveal) I ate a bagel for lunch.”

Me: “Oh. Well, I made your lunch, so I already knew that.”

Talk about a letdown! From her serious tone and apprehensive look on her face, I thought this was going to be big, troubling news, like she had hacked into the school’s grading system, had changed all her grades, and was being expelled.

I pretty quickly learned that these confessions were not particularly life-altering and that Charlotte just enjoys being dramatic. Some more examples to underline this:

“Mommy, I have to tell you something. The thing that I have to tell you is that Barkley barked at a squirrel outside.”

“Mommy, I have to tell you something. The thing that I have to tell you is that Penelope and I are wearing matching jammies.”

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(In the bath): “Mommy, I have to tell you something. The thing that I have to tell you is that when I put bubbles between my hands, it looks like a sandwich.”

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Thank you, Captain Obvious. I have eyes and ears, too, so it really isn’t necessary to highlight these everyday events. I am somewhat worried that she is just lulling me into complacency with these meaningless confessions so that I won’t notice when she finally DOES confess something of importance.

Charlotte: “Mommy, I have to tell you something. The thing that I have to tell is you is that I bought a one-way ticket to Nepal with your credit card and I’m leaving to climb Mount Everest.”

Me (absently): “Oh, that’s great, honey, thanks for telling me.”