Archive | May, 2017

My Heart Will (Hopefully) Go On

30 May

Life certainly doesn’t ever slow down. While we’ve been traveling to and from Asheville obsessively over the last month to visit and house hunt, I’ve also been taking a deeper look into my heart. This is not just psychological heart ache (per usual), but recently I’ve been to see the “family cardiologist.” My grandmother, my aunt, and my mom have all been his patients.

My mom’s mother is almost 94 and is still going strong. She’s at a nursing home and has been since her strokes the summer after Dave and I were married, so just about six years ago. She actually looks better now than she did Christmas of 2011. My mom’s older sister suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke over a year ago, and it’s such a miracle that she’s alive. She’s doing fantastic now and has really seemed to mellow out.

Four days after I had Rex, I couldn’t fall back asleep at 2am because I had a fever and my back hurt when I breathed. When I called my MIL around 7am, nursing a sleeping baby — and crying — to see if she could watch Walter so I could schedule a visit with my midwife, she told me that Pop would come get the 4yo and that I should go immediately in to the ER because I might have a pulmonary clot. This is a woman who usually dismisses my flus as mere colds. So Dave and I did as she said, deliriously tired with the tiniest of babies, and they took an EKG and a chest x-ray. The EKG read as slightly abnormal but the x-ray was fine. The blood they drew had elevated numbers, so both they and my MIL, who was an OB/GYN at Piedmont hospital for over 30 years, recommended that I should get a CT scan.

To make things more fun, they totally freaked me out when they said they were injecting me with a radioactive dye and that I shouldn’t breastfeed for 24 hours. My milk supply had just come in, so I didn’t have any saved up (hello, I had just left the other hospital!), and I was totally unprepared to feed my baby another way. Besides that I just cried because I had spent two years yearning for another baby to nurse, and here he was, brand new, and I had to give him up for a day.

We researched it as best we could — called the MIL, the ER doctor brother, Google — and were given the CT disclosure, and as best we could conclude, the stuff leaves your body in 15 minutes and isn’t a big deal. So we decided to ignore what the one nurse had suggested that started the whole debacle, and I continued to nurse Rex post procedure. Maybe his insides glow in the dark now.

The hospital then kept me somewhat hostage, denying me food and water in case of possible surgery, for about four hours after the procedure. I was a newly nursing mom, horrible postpartum hormones, body out of whack after growing another human being for the last nine months, and I couldn’t get a sip of water for about six hours total (wasn’t allowed it before the procedure also). The hospital I had just left after giving birth told me that I needed to drink 5 big cups of water and 2 cups of milk every day to establish my milk supply, and it wasn’t until I literally started crying and begged for the results and for something to eat or drink (I’ve never known hunger and thirst like when I’m pregnant or nursing around the clock) that they produced all three and told me I could go home. I did, at some point before this, sneak some water from the bathroom sink in the ER. God knows what diseases I could have picked up there doing that.

Right before they sent me on my way with my $900 bill, they described the irregularities of the EKG and told me that I should follow up with a cardiologist. Low and behold, I kinda already had one! I’ve read those stories of women in their thirties having heart attacks etc (and not knowing about it because the only sign was that they threw up twice or something like that). Well, I don’t want that to happen to me. So I made an appointment with Dr. McGorisk, who is this very lovely cardiologist at Emory with a to-die-for Irish accent. He knows what he’s doing and has the greatest glasses. When I told him that I was related to the Fleeman women, he brightened up even more.

Unfortunately, the repeat EKG showed that the irregularities were still there — even though I’ve been working out 2-3x a week recently! How very unlike me! — so I’m getting an echocardiogram this week, which he says is a much better diagnostic tool than the squiggly lines of the EKG. He’s not worried (as the results still fall within normal range), but my blood pressure was super high at the appointment. Hopefully that was related to white coat syndrome. I did wake up earlier than normal and drive through an hour of I-85 collapse traffic to get there. I have struggled with high blood pressure in the past (runs in the family on both sides), but it has usually been pretty good since I had Walter. I stopped regularly eating ramen noodles around that time, so that might have helped. But it’s something to keep an eye on.

I have been hurrying to get it all in before my husband quits his current really great job for our adventure in Asheville. I pretty much had met my out of pocket maximum for the year the first two weeks of January, and this new job change means our insurance is already starting over. I better not need a doc in the second half of 2017! Dealing with insurance (and then still owing a ton of money on top of our deductible) is a huge stressor for me. No wonder I (might) have heart problems.

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Huuuuge News

26 May

This is one of my top five biggest announcements of all time:

We are moving to Asheville, NC in less than a month!

Woah. Just woah.

Some people move around a lot (or at least once!), but I have never lived anywhere but Atlanta, Georgia. Well, except when I was three — my first memories of life are out in the desert in Claremont, California. But everything else in my life has been right here in this metro area.

This is why my brain has been so frazzled lately. I am trying to live life to fullest, transition us up there in the next few weeks, and all while needing to keep the house clean and running after two tinys.

I thought we were done moving for a long time. We finally just got settled in the new house and were enjoying our suburban life as a family of four, when this opportunity came to us. It was literally only a couple weeks after I said to Dave and my mom, “I want to live somewhere besides Atlanta,” but I was thinking of something like Alaska or Canada. Thank goodness we’re only going to be three hours away by car, not six hours by plane. The Universe knew I didn’t really mean that far away.

I’m nervous, but also really excited.

IMG_20170520_221652_716Life will be like this all the time. #SierraNevadaBrewing

It now feels like moving to East Cobb was a baby step for this move. I was very happy to get where we are now, but it had its challenges. I was pregnant, feeling terrible, and spent a lot of time being lonely. Moving 30 minutes away at times felt like an entire state away. But I navigated (and cried) until I got to a place where the boys and I are happy and busy — almost too busy!

Besides uprooting the great life we have here and leaving our beautiful home and yard and all our friends and family, one of the things that makes me the most sad about leaving is the diversity of East Cobb. I have been very happy to be a part of a really diverse (and not just black and white too!) community over the last year. We are sometimes the only white people at an event, like story time at our local library. Asheville, unfortunately, is pretty white-washed. I know the mentality is open-minded there, but still. I like being in a melting pot of culture.

However, I feel in my soul that this is the right move for us right now. Dave is very excited about his new career path. We met our realtor — and so far our only friend in Asheville — through our current next door neighbor, who has been super great to us ever since we moved to Marietta. I’m a hippie at heart who cares more and more about the earth, and I love the artsy, green, sustainable, local culture up there. I’m looking forward to this next challenge and all the opportunities we’ll have. I’ll really miss where we are, but sometimes you just gotta take a leap!

 

A Time for Renewal

24 May

In the past month, as Spring has come to the land again, we’ve been out and about celebrating with friends and family.

I attended my first Seder dinner, which might have been my single most moving religious experience yet. A new friend couple who live in Inman Park had us over for their first time hosting Seder at their house.

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It was a beautiful dinner with great friends.

The next day we drove up to Chattanooga to celebrate Easter with my in-laws. The rituals of Christianity are always interesting to witness.

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And it’s a great excuse to dress up to celebrate the rebirth of earth (well, in this hemisphere)!

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A couple weeks later we went to A Perfect Circle concert. Finally. It was my first time seeing this band live, although I’ve seen Tool seven (nine?) times and Puscifer three times. All three bands are led by Maynard James Keenan: vocalist, poet, musician, and guru. Seeing him perform is usually like “church” for me.

He started his show with giant black and white shadows of the band, then turned the primary colors to red and yellow (the first colors we supposedly see as infants after black and white), and then spent most of the rest of the show in purple light, which I imagine as a very complex and enlightened color.

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Keep it coming, world! This is fun!

 

Trumpcare, Obamacare, Whatever

5 May

It’s all the same mess to me. As a health care consumer (do I consume health care?), I am thoroughly disgruntled by the entire scam.

I am a relatively healthy person, and so is my family, thank goodness. Yet what we pay for health care and insurance is outrageous. Dealing with fertility testing, treatment, pregnancy, and birth recently just solidified my feelings regarding the health care industry in this country.

One thing I will never understand is why there are not menus at doctor’s offices where you can see, upfront, how much a procedure will cost. When hit two years ago with a surprise $1,200 bill for a test that included saline water, a plastic syringe, 30 minutes of my doctor’s time, and my fallopian tubes (not fun), the billing department literally could not even explain the charges to me. But I owed it to them anyway.

When I gave birth, the hospital charged me $3,000 just to use a “private” doctor (whom they almost failed to get into the room before my baby was born). They charged me $1,000 for cold packs I never even touched. I spent less than three hours in the labor and delivery room and a day and a half practically being tortured with inedible food, constant wakeups, and needle pricks in my recovery room, only to be charged around $13,000 for the whole shebang. I shudder to think what the cost would be if I had used any anesthesia.

The question I wonder is, am I truly paying solely for my care? Or is this some kind of crowdfunding?

We need to be a cash system. There needs to be transparency and competition between doctor’s price points — and the ability to negotiate cash costs with your doctor. We should have catastrophic coverage only (which would include long-term illnesses no matter how old you are). We need to be encouraged to save the premiums we are charged every month, building up equity for any problems that should arise. We should be able to keep someone on our plan no matter who they are or how old they are, as long as we’re willing to pay for them.

My guess is that our income is high compared to much of the country (and low compared to others — hello middle class!), and I find health care costs to be overwhelming. It didn’t get better for us during Obamacare, and I don’t see any change in the future with Trumpcare. I can only hope I’m wrong and that someone in power will see the light.

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A Little Mommycation!

3 May

A month ago I got to go on a little trip to Asheville, NC.

IMG_20170408_223427_508Yay don’t we look happy! I was actually a bit disgruntled until this picture because we hadn’t come up with a good plan of what we wanted to do and had pretty much aimlessly wandered around downtown Asheville to no avail. Thank god for the beautiful scenery.

This trip was a little present for surviving two whole weekends home alone with the kids while my husband traveled — once for work, and once for fun. I felt like SuperWife saying, “Yeah, no problem, go hiking with your friends out of cell phone range while I take care of the 4 year old and 2 month old!”

When W was three months old, I was barely able to make it outside to the front porch. It amazes me the difference in my ability to cope with a baby now versus then (though Rex’s personality is way more chill than W was as a baby). For example, we didn’t take Walter to a restaurant for dinner until he was six months old (and we were exhausted and overwhelmed by the experience). Rex, however, by three months old, had been in six different states.

Both weekends alone with the kids presented different challenges. The first weekend Dave was available by text and phone, but all grandparents were out of town, and I was also dog-sitting my mom’s sweet pups Tashi. Just to make life more fun, the dogs were throwing up around the house, the cat got a bladder infection, Tashi got a couple hot spots that needed frequent attention, and Rex had one of his worst night’s sleep ever. There might have been some crying around 3am one night, and it wasn’t the 2 month old.

The second weekend all grandparents were in town, and we hung out with them, but Dave couldn’t be reached 98% of the time. This is very unusual for us as we have seen each other almost every single day since we met (literally), and we also talk a lot anyway. I had an upsetting dinner Friday night, so I spent almost the entire weekend getting depressed and unable to talk it out with my husband. And then Sunday morning I started reading a really psychologically crazy book The Hike for our book club, making me further nosedive. It took me until Wednesday to get out of my funk.

Hence, a little trip for mommy.

IMG_20170409_113322_732 - CopyHoly crap the chicken and waffles are good at King Daddy’s. We both got the sweet potato habanero sauce on our chicken. Perfecto!

IMG_20170409_100446269Walter loved the crayon bucket.

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We returned to a “favorite” — Juicy Lucy’s — for dinner Saturday night. It was yum but the boys were tired (although cute as always).

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We really are mountain-loving people.

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Soothes the soul to see all this land.

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I wanted to go hiking before we came home. The views were fantastic, but I probably won’t be back to Chimney Rock again. I love climbing mountains, but this was a staircase bolted onto the side of a mountain. And you drive halfway up the mountain on harrowing roads just to get to the bottom of the staircase (which you pay a ton to “climb”). My fear of heights did not enjoy this very much. My legs and brain were jelly so the baby and I didn’t climb the last two staircases to the very top. But my other boys did!

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A boy and his American flag. He’s the most patriotic kid I know.