Tag Archives: health

Room to Breathe

So since my last post I went on a truly incredible vacation, I fell off the good health bandwagon, I endured a lot of frustration at work, I moved into a new house, I got some great news, and I recommitted to my diet and exercise routine (and just now I recommitted to blogging!). But today I’m writing about atmosphere.

When we moved into our apartment two years ago, I was still jobless and had no idea when or if I would have any income. It was the cheapest place I could find that would fit our family. It had a bedroom, a loft-style room, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. It had carpet everywhere but the kitchen and bathroom. BAD carpet. I came to find out it was susceptible to disgusting mold, and bugs, and creepy neighbors, and general awfulness. But at the end of the first least we could not afford to move and had to stick around another year. By last month I felt like I was not going to survive this place. I dreaded going home (and I dreaded being at work), so life was pretty miserable. I would try to just curl up on the couch or in bed and pretend the rest of the place did not exist. This led to a bad, self-perpetuating cycle of the apartment getting grosser and grosser and me getting more and more stressed out about it. Cash felt the same way, so as much as I found it difficult to take pride in my home he found it difficult to help me do so. It was a bad situation. And let me tell you, it was number one on the list of things that had to change before we have a baby. I would never put an infant in that environment.

All that complaining, and I am deeply cognizant of the fact that millions of people in this world live in vastly less palatable circumstances. I don’t think that people who were born and raised in the middle class–people like me–understand the significant impact of the intangible experience of poverty on human life. Of course I can in no way be said to have lived in “poverty” because of my bad apartment. But I felt like it was a taste of how exhausting and fruitless the simplest actions can feel, when you cannot afford comfort at home. It makes cooking harder, which leads to unhealthy and expensive restaurant food, which leads to reduced savings and inability to invest in your future. It makes cleaning harder, which leads to poor health, more frequent medical visits and bills, and again, reduced savings and inability to invest in your future. It makes staying organized harder, which leads to difficulty keeping important documents together and can also lead to missed payments, missed opportunities, etc. You probably get my point by now.

I am especially aware of the atmosphere factor the last few weeks because we moved into our first single-family residence at the end of April. Wood floors (a priority for me because all four of my pets are shedders), fenced backyard (again important for the pets), enough room to appropriately organize (not just “stash” and “hide”) my things, a clothesline, a shady neighborhood off the main streets! It’s an old place and it has its little faults, but I love it. It feels like home, a feeling I haven’t had in a long time. My time at home is restful, not stressful. I am proud of it and I enjoy doing all the little things that keep it nice…all the little things I could not bear to do in the apartment.

We are so lucky we found this place, and that we are in a position to afford it. I know that millions of people could not dream of what we have: just a little room to breathe.

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Not Enough Information

Please be advised, this post will include clear references to the following sex and gynecological conditions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing medical advice or fetish eroticism… Heaven knows I haven’t felt all that erotic, and all of creation knows I’m not a doctor and you should not take medical advice from me. I’ve just had an extraordinarily long, frustrating few weeks and I’m jumping back into my blog with extreme candor! Consider this your opportunity to click on to the next blog if you  don’t want to proceed. No hard feelings.

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Except… maybe some hard feelings. The year is 2013 and we females have been around for all of recorded time. Yet every woman I know (including me) prefaces conversations about their own health with the phrase, “This may be too much information, but….” In fact, the title of this post was originally “Too Much Information,” until I took an anonymous, blog-bound, principled stance against such nonsense.  (Color me courageous, hmm?)

I’m not blaming anybody. I am blessed with a husband who will uncomplainingly go to the drugstore late at night to buy me tampons or yeast infection medication, even though I know he is embarrassed by the much less daunting prospect of standing in Victoria’s Secret while I shop. I’m not offering solutions. I don’t know why we still feel socially restricted from speaking of normal (and bloody frustrating) bodily functions, even among good friends. The point is I’m tired of it, I’m feeling cranky, and you’re all about to get an earful of my personal information (custom be damned)!

This story begins happily. Last weekend my beloved Cash and I made love well and vigorously, because despite the stress and anxiety over conception that leaks into this blog making a baby is, in fact, a good time. Yay us! But we may have overdone it just a smidge because a couple of days later I started feeling under the weather.

In specificity, I suspected the beginnings of a UTI. (The last few moments of urination were painful and too warm). Many women are plagued by frequent UTIs, but I am mercifully not one of them. So I did a little research–surfed the internet, quizzed my best friend who is a nurse in training, etc. I did not particularly want to go to the doctor because I was leaving for Italy in 9 days and I did not feel up to the rigmarole of trying to get an appointment/get diagnosed/get formal treatment. Besides, I prefer not to take antibiotics unless they are really necessary; I don’t intend to contribute to the superbug

 problem! My ad hoc research tended to indicate if I drank the equivalent of the seven seas I might (might) be able to get rid of my UTI before it really got started. And so, I began to guzzle. Aside from peeing ALL THE TIME, I did feel quite a lot better!

Sadly, the second day of symptoms was significantly more uncomfortable than the first day, and I found a bit of blood at one point.  So I decided I needed an actual medical opinion and probably a urinalysis to identify the pesky bacteria causing me problems. My OB/Gyn’s office got me an urgent appointment with the nurse practitioner the very next afternoon.

All of day and evening 2 I was stressing out. I was worried that my simple UTI was not a simple UTI. I should be ovulating soon and I was so frustrated that my condition (whatever it was) and subsequent treatment would get in the way of making love at the right time. I also got it into my head somehow that I was suffering from prolapse and would have to have surgery to fix it. (This hypochondriac reaction was probably colored by some medical records I had to review recently, rather than anything to do with my own issues.) I never used to be a hypochondriac. I’m still not much of a germophobe. But gynecological issues seem so wrapped up in my long term happiness that every small thing causes my mind to go into anxiety overdrive.

I woke up on day 3 and my symptoms had effectively disappeared. By my appointment that afternoon I felt 100% normal. I told the nurse practitioner the whole story and she said I might have managed to kick it with my excessive fluid intake. We did a urinalysis just to be safe, and I was told to continue drinking a lot of fluids to ward off any additional symptoms. The test came back negative so it seemed like I was in the clear. I was so relieved! I was also pleased with myself for beating that UTI off with wave after wave of water/tea/cranberry juice/anything watery and unsweetened.

Then that evening, I started feeling off again. This was a really mild “off.” My plumbing just didn’t feel normal. I am not at all sure I would have even noticed the onset of symptoms a few years ago…but over the past eight or nine months I’ve gotten into the habit of paying such close attention to my body. I knew that consuming so much water and cranberry juice can alter your body chemistry–that’s why it helps the UTI symptoms. And I knew that altering your body chemistry can throw off your natural balance in the baby factory. So I thought, maybe I just back off for a few days and everything will return to normal. Sadly, my discomfort only grew.

I felt like it was probably the beginnings of a yeast infection (itching), but I wasn’t sure (zero discharge). I’d only had one before, and the first one had been different and more severe (worse itching, significant discharge). By Day 4 I was freaking out again. Why should I have to go to the doctor again when I’d just been cleared? Of course, my nurse practitioner had not been informed of these new symptoms because I didn’t have them when I saw her.  But the difference between Day 4 symptoms and my prior yeast infection made me nervous. I felt so pressed for time: I was leaving for Italy and (hopefully) ovulating in less than a week. Even if I gave over the counter yeast infection treatments a shot, I wouldn’t know if the experiment was successful until I was in a foreign country.

On the other hand, I had to do something. My symptoms were going to be a distraction at work the next week and I frankly can’t afford to miss out on more billable hours right before vacation. Out of my anxiety, I unfairly yelled at Cash for not knowing more about women’s health. Eventually I sent him to get me a pack of Monistat 1-Day. When he returned, we had a calmer discussion about how I do wish he would take a more personal interest in the medical requirements of conception, even if not women’s health generally. I feel like I’ve explained the ovulation cycle a hundred times and I doubt I’ve explained it for the last time. I don’t think he means to turn off his brain, but he hasn’t really committed the information to long-term memory so far.

Back to the point, the Monistat seems to be working even though it’s only day 2. Next time I will actually be going for the less potent 3-day dose, because the 1-day dose felt very strong and uncomfortable for the first few hours. Fingers crossed I’ll keep feeling better! The instructions in the package recommend against intercourse during treatment, but unhelpfully they don’t indicate how long treatment lasts. The dose itself is administered just once, but it takes up to a full week to fully cure an infection, so it’s anybody’s guess. Anecdotal internet reports suggest waiting until a few days after symptoms subside.

Vacation is in 4 days. Estimated ovulation is in 3. I might still miss the mark on ovulation and that makes me pretty unhappy. After the past several weeks, I was really looking forward to the chance to build my family. But, the consolation prize is a trip to Italy with my husband and two good friends, and that ain’t too shabby! So, the story ends happily, too. I hope this post will help someone out in the future, although it is anecdotal and unscientific and can’t offer a whole lot more than moral support. Then again, let’s not underestimate moral support.

UPDATE:  I woke up the morning after this post feeling fine. Less than 12 hours later my UTI symptoms were back with a SERIOUS vengeance, bad enough that I left work to go to the nearby urgent care center even though I have a doctor and good health insurance…COULD NOT WAIT. Then I peed pink. They’ve diagnosed me with a UTI and this time I took the freaking broad-spectrum antibiotic. Let’s hope it works.

UPDATE 2: On the second day after starting the broad-spectrum antibiotic, I feel better again. I don’t feel totally normal, but I am not suffering anymore. But I got a call from the lab that did my second urinalysis today and they said they really didn’t find “much bacteria at all” in the cell culture. The person I was talking to was the nurse at the urgent care center, so not the doctor, and not the person that actually analyzed the cell culture. She couldn’t tell me what the heck “not much bacteria at all” is supposed to mean. Does it mean it was a UTI? It wasn’t a UTI? WHAT? Because whatever it was, it was not normal. At this point I’m not sure what else to do but wait any see…and I’m leaving the country in 2 days. Urg.

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