I went to hell last week (and lived to tell about it)

It’s 12:50 am on Wednesday, March 1. I went to bed 45 minutes ago but my brain is churnin’ & burnin’ and can’t be contained. I’m happy! Why?? Because I feel 90% normal again. Normal!! I never thought normal would be my ideal, but last week I thought I’d never get back here. We really take our health for granted, don’t we? But let me go back …

Several months ago I started attending a holiday survival fitness camp. It was one night a week of high intensity interval training (hiit) in a small neighborhood studio plus we could attend the other scheduled classes during the 5 week session. I did, I got hooked, and I joined. Attending these classes have made me feel stronger, body & soul, and helped me in confidence and just general fearlessness! It’s been so great. 

So two weeks ago today I started to feel a little pain in my left flank. We had recently worked out our obliques so I naturally thought I was just sore. I popped a few ibuprofen Wed-Fri as the pain came on, usually in the afternoons. But Friday night it wouldn’t go away. It woke me up 3 times in the night. I went to class Saturday morning and told my trainer. We took it easy on my obliques that day. Several hours later the pain came on with a ferocity that had me writhing on my bed, and the ibuprofen & acetaminophen I was alternating wasn’t touching the pain. I called my health insurance’s ask a nurse line and she was like get thee to the hospital. So I did. 

Alone. My boys stayed home because what could they do with me at the hospital? They’re young teenagers. Better off to make frozen pizza, play video games & wait for my call. So I drove myself because I hate inconveniencing others. Stupid trait. 

As you may have suspected by now, my pee indicated an infection of some sort and I was hooked up to all kinds of things to take blood, measure heart rate (fast), and blood pressure (high), but thankfully I was given an painkiller as well and, oh Lord almighty, was I happy. Four prescriptions later and I was allowed to leave to go wait at the 24 hour pharmacy for my lifeline of drugs. 

Sunday the vomiting started. The pain was merciless. The Norco took the edge off but there was no doubt the pain was horrific. 

Monday was a holiday. Tuesday I called my doc & was asked to come in, and ordered to have a ct scan. Meds switch on the antibiotic & a stronger pain killer – Percocet. Oh yeah, baby!! I remember Percocet from my c-sections and that’s the good stuff. But, no, it STILL just took the edge off. 

The next day the doc’s office confirmed: a kidney stone currently in my left ureter and almost to my bladder. 

I don’t remember Monday-Friday very well. It was a pain fog cycle. Sleep, lamaze breathing, take meds, eat jello, vomit, have sweaty fever-induced hot flash, sleep. I was also mothering my kids in there as well. They were mothering me more than a little. I still helped them get out the door every morning but then I collapsed and cried/slept/vomited the rest of the day. They made their own dinners. They brought me water & meds & hugs on demand. My goodness, I love my sons. 

Friday I went back to the doc. Blood draw. Some things don’t add up. The kidney stone was in my bladder now so why am I still in pain? Why can’t I keep anything down? Why do I feel like my body has betrayed me? 

Friday I stopped all meds except the antibiotic. I’d had enough of this pain fog/vomit/sleep cycle. I suffered through residual pain over the weekend. Slept. Rest. And started to feel better. 

But where was my head? Not in a good place. I felt demoralized. Weak. Diseased. Incapable. I felt I would never feel like myself again. I got winded walking around Winco & almost had a panic attack. Driving was hard. Standing. Walking. Impossible. I was broken. 

Monday I vomited my breakfast. I attempted to go to work. It was hard. I cried. My doc called & said my bloodwork showed several abnormalities and they wanted me to continue to rest & push fluids. I was ordered to work from home as I recover. 

And then today came. The pain in my belly is gone. I feel like I can get up & down without pain, or fear of pain. Oh good Lord am I happy to feel almost normal again! I was still careful with my food today, and my tummy is still a little unsettled, but the pain is entirely gone and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! 

And yes there may be other things going on but I think they are improving too. I can’t help but feel positively about this. 

I have to say, the psychology behind pain & demoralizing depression is not familiar to me, but I felt it last week. I felt like I was no longer myself. All my positivity about life was gone and there was only pain. I’m thanking God, my doc, and my lucky stars tonight for the relief I feel today. 

Yours, in pain & understanding,

Xoxo,

Stef

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A spoonful of sugar

Friends, I’m writing with a heavy heart. Someone I love very much is hurting and I can’t help her. But I can sympathize. And, even more importantly, I can empathize
Babydoll, I’ve been there. 
I have SO been there, more than once, and I’ve looked down at the depths of my despair, sprawled out in front of me, and I have crawled back up out of that pit. More than once. The thing is – it gets easier because the 2nd time, and the 3rd and the 4th, you recognize the path better. You see the signs and don’t let yourself get quite so far down that it’s harder to come back up. Oh, my girl, I have been there. 
But I’m okay right now. My little family unit – we are okay right now. Like, literally, at this moment. But tomorrow could change. And yesterday may not have been as good as today. 
Marriage & divorce, sickness & health, babies & kids, money (lack of) and bills, time and energy leeches, housecleaning, cars, pets, grocery shopping, dentist & doctors appointments, lack of sleep, lack of motivation, fear, worry, resentment, anger, and, finally, hopelessness and despair.
Show of hands: who has been there? Yes, no?
If any of you said no than, please, walk away right now. This blog, today, isn’t for you. Much love to you – but get the hell outta here and come back when you can say, “Oh yeah, I’ve visited that big-fat-monkey-ball-sucking-place and I have your back.”
Here’s my hand. Way, way up high.
I have lived, for long, long periods of time, with nary two pennies to my name. When I have maybe paid *some* of my bills and had 10 days until my next paycheck, $20 in my bank account, and four mouths to feed, two cars needing gas (to take us to daycare and work everyday), and somehow we all survived. I would make myself sick with worry (sometimes that still happens, but I try to let it go). I thought if I didn’t pay my bills by the due date something awful would happen. Or, at the very least, my power company, or credit card company, or whatever, would judge me and I didn’t want to be one of “those people” who didn’t pay their bills. 
You know what I’ve learned? Eff that. Life is too short to let something stupid like money dictate my happiness. I try, more than ever, to live in the moment these days. To enjoy the time I’m with my kids and not spend that time worrying about something that, at that moment, I’m powerless to fix. 
JUST LET IT GO.
But what if, just for arguments sake, that you’re broke and barely getting by on one paycheck. Your kids seem determined to throw every elbow they can at you – including getting diagnosed ADD, or Autistic, or OCD – and rant and rampage and say every mean thing they can to tear down your already fragile confidence. You know, you really do, that they aren’t doing it to be mean but because they are scared and confused and don’t know how to express it so they are lashing out at you – their rock – because they simply CAN and they know you’ll still be there. Because you are their MOM and you live your life for THEM. That, coupled with your guilt, all-consuming, mind-imploding, never-ending, wrack-your-body-until-you-are-sick GUILT for making the hard, hard decisions you have made that, yes, may sometimes seem to be a mistake but in moments of great clarity you KNOW, in your very heart, that it was absolutely the right decision – for you and for your little angels. But what if you just don’t have that clarity all the time and the guilt, and the arguing, and the signs of mental anguish you see in your kids, and the lack of money, and the all-consuming oh-dear-god-I’m-just-going-to-die feeling doesn’t go away. What if it doesn’t go away? And they still need you to be their rock? 
I’m not a psychologist and I don’t have any fancy answers . . . but I say: go to your happy place. Sound cliche? It is. Totally. But this is how you crawl out of that pit. This is how you shrug off the despair. You find your happy place. Your happy thoughts. Your silver lining. The brightness in an otherwise dark and dreadful sky. 
Let me ask you this: What is good in your life RIGHT NOW? Name one thing. Then, tomorrow morning, name two things. Then, tomorrow before bed, name three things. Before you know it you will have climbed out of that pit and, damn, if the world isn’t much, much brighter. 
Will your troubles be gone? Nope, not at all. They don’t just disappear. (I’m not delusional, after all). It’s all about perspective, honey-child. You know that old saying that you can catch more flies with honey? The same is true for walking through a quagmire of problems. Be confident and optimistic and things tend to work out a little better. Or at least you feel better about it and that’s the part that matters, right? YOU choose how you deal with problems. You, or me – we – are humans with thinking brains and, hopefully, above-average reasoning skills (my readers, you see) and we can conquer the negativity that threatens our healthy perspective. Ooh, I like that. Let’s say it again, shouting, in all caps:
HEALTHY PERSPECTIVE.
Can you parent effectively if you are simultaneously wading through a deep, dark pit of despair? No, right? Are you taking good care of yourself then? No, right? Then let’s turn on our thinking caps and dial into the healthy perspective channel. Then we can parent with love, compassion and understanding rather than guilt, fear and anger.
Choose to be happy. Choose acceptance – in your lot, in your kid’s foibles, and in the consequences of your decisions – and let.it.go. Let it all go. Choose to honor the decisions you made with faith in yourself. 
I love you, my dear girl. You are not alone. You are smart and beautiful and kind and devoted. Please don’t, any of you, forget that ever. Bring yourself back from that pit. Love yourself. Do what you need to to understand that. You deserve it and you need it. To be the best mom, person, employee and just the YOU in you.

Gentle readers – holla back if you’ve been there, por favor. Let’s build up one of our sisters. Mwah.