Category Archives: medical chitchat
Let’s talk about boobs! Again!
So last night, I had the extraordinary pleasure of experiencing my first, but probably not my last, breast MRI. Oh the fun!
Blah blah, risk of cancer, blah. No, nothing’s “wrong,” unless you count having some rather shifty genes “wrong.” Anyhow – I had my first mammogram back in November, and then in January, upon further reflection by Dr. Judgey Gyno (who, yes is judgey, but she is a good doctor), put in all of my family cancer history, along with whatever else, and lo and behold, I qualify for being high risk for el breast cancer.
So, in addition to mammograms and breast exams (by her, not just me) four times a year, I won the Breast MRI prize. I also, depending on insurance and the cost, might pony up for the breast cancer gene screening. First things first.
I tell ya, there ain’t nothing much more fun that laying on an MRI bed having someone adjust your boobs that are… well, hanging freely underneath of you. Now give that whole experience a southern accent and you’re practically there with me.
I had to have contrast (hence the injector thing that the cartoon lady has), so eventually I got all dangled properly, tucked in the hole, and then injected by the machine (!!), not even the lady, when it came time. After the contrast finished being cold (running up my arm), it made my whole body very warm (disconcerting), and then the whole creepy sensation went away.
A very long experience (I arrived at 7:20pm, left around 9:45pm), but done at least. Long, but not scary.
I think this is the part of parenting that I didn’t realize would happen. The intense self-care in an effort to stay alive as long as possible when it comes to uncomfortable procedures like laying DEAD STILL on hard table in a LOUD room for 45 minutes while your boobs hang under you.
Oh what’s new these days. Well, we’re waiting. And waiting some more. As ya do.
I had a wee boob scare this past week. Boo! I can tell you these things, because you know more about me than most people I know in real life, right? Right!
Long story short, it’s nothing, everything’s fine. Last Tuesday, my right breast was acting weird, so I went to the doc, who checked it out and said it was probably something muscular, or having to do with weight loss/boob loss. Somehow in the process of all of the obsessive self breast exams (me) and aggressive breast exam (doctor) I started having Unexplained Nipple Discharge, which was alarming AND disturbing. Fun! However, my annual gyno visit Monday revealed that it, also, is nothing to worry about. Nothing like spontaneous lactation three years after you’ve last lactated on purpose!
Bodies are weird, folks.
My mom had breast cancer when she was 52, so I think I’m hyper-aware of my breasts and if they start acting up.
Oh! I did get to feel on the “Breast Cancer Model” what breast cancer really feels like. Really, how am I 35 and just seeing one of these?
My favorite (kind of) parts of BOTH doctor’s visits was both of them making sure that my wife hadn’t been too frisky lately. HA! Awkward? And then the subsequent telling me to TELL my wife to lay off the friskiness. I don’t think either of them said the word “frisky” but I think the horror of either/both of them thinking and then TALKING about what my wife and I do together in our naked alone time made everything that came out of their mouths sound like mush.
Breast lessons? Cancer doesn’t hurt. Bodies have the right to be weird for any old reason that they choose. When all else fails, go to the doctor. Or two.
This afternoon, I head to the OB’s office for my six week postpartum check-up. I know. Six weeks. What? Plus! I have to go without my wife, who is staying home with a napping RR. Seriously – who will I sit with in the waiting room and mock the other pregnant ladies and uncomfortable couples?! Sigh.
Let me just start with saying that it’s no fucking joke when they say that recovery after a C-Section takes longer. Longer than what? A vaginal birth? The ice age? Since I have nothing to compare it to, I’ll just say that it takes longer… than I expected. I’m sure some of the issues are the same with any other woman after birth, like the carpal tunnel in my left hand (screw playing the guitar for any length of time) and subsequent swelling and wedding-ring absence still. Thanks, internet, for telling me that both are completely normal, and that it could have gone away four weeks ago, any time now, months from now, or never. Recovery, just like pregnancy, is so much different from one person to another. Duh.
The items… well, item… that is C-Section exclusive, though, is the incision. I can chat chat chat about how my back still hurts from the spinal block, but where RR made her great escape is right at the top of my complaint list. It’s not as bothersome as it could be if I keep to my gym short attire all day, every day, but as soon as I put on anything with a button – ouch. Mostly, it’s because of my body shape, and although things certainly aren’t the same as pre-pregnancy, my actual waist location hasn’t changed. I can easily fit into a pair of my pre-pregnancy shorts, but the waistband conveniently rubs against my scar. Short-waisted much? Before the thing heals completely, I’m stuck with solutions that involve padded gauze as a barrier at the site, more panties, trying to keep my pants hiked up in an unnatural place, and yes, only pants with elastic bands. Awesome. Thanks, internet, again for telling me that the scar’s sensitivity could last until RR get’s her learner’s permit.
Other issues include feeling like my abs have been obliterated (oh wait!), residual (and occasional shooting!) back and hip pain, and floaters in my vision. My short term disability officially ends tomorrow (thanks, work, for those awesome six weeks!) so the next few weeks I have off will be a combination of taking vacation days and “working from home.” Hopefully some of these issues will resolve themselves by the time I have to look like a human who leaves the house and talks to other people 0n a regular basis, and showers before 5pm daily.
The good news is that RR is a rock star daughter already. She’s smiling, cooing, focusing, following voices and faces, and balancing a ball on her nose. Every day I’m reminded of my discomforts, but just after, I’m reminded that they are all so very worth it, and I would take even more numbness and pain gladly in exchange for her grins and giggles.
Yesterday’s 36 week check-up was the first dance-off, pants-off check-up, which, you may find surprising, I was actually looking forward to. No, I don’t have some kind of strange medical kink (although there’s nothing wrong with that), but after 36 weeks of long conversations and walks on the beach with the OB, it was nice to shake things up a bit and start paying attention to the area of my body that’s going to have the spotlight soon enough. The taint-swab was quick and practically unnoticeable, and after some eye-widening prodding, we learned that Vegas is head-down, like a good baby.
There was no bleeding afterward, which would have been “normal,” but some definite stop-me-in-my-tracks discomfort after sitting in the car for five minutes, then getting out and walking. My wife says I need to use my words instead of just walking along making Quasimodo faces, since that might not be the best way to communicate my discomfort. The lady from redneck childbirth’ says that the person you are before you are in labor is the same person you are when you are IN labor, which makes me fear that I’ll be contracting and the only way to let anyone know would be through facial contortions.
We also learned that my cervix is hard and closed. Additionally, we got the go-ahead to schedule our weekly appointments from here on out through the due date, which has caused much relief since we were able to avoid scheduling one with Dr. Georgardo. And honestly, if he’s the one there to catch Vegas when the time comes, that works for me, but it will be nice to see other folks in the meantime. There’s a reason his schedule is always open (cough douchebag cough), and when we were scheduling only a week out, we were finding ourselves completely screwed out of seeing anyone else. The other OB’s are simply delightful, so I feel really good about having that set.
Tonight, we finally complete redneck childbirthin’ with a tour of the hospital. It’ll be a little sad to say our goodbyes to the Mr. John Deer’s.
Also, see? Racing stripe. I think we’ll install the sucker this weekend, if only to get used to seeing it back there, and to give the dog a chance to get used to sharing his space, since he’s often in the car with us. Maybe it will also put some of my under-prepared mind at ease.
We had our week 33 check-up with Dr. Georgardo yesterday and all is still well – well, at least with the pregnancy. Still (some would say finally) gaining the appropriate amount of weight, BP is still good (which means that the hot hot heat is causing my swolleness, and not anything life threatening). Blah blah blah, see you in two weeks.
To our credit, we actually had questions this time – Tingling hands! Swollen feet! Are these Toni Braxton Hicks I’m experiencing? Apparently, we are unoriginal in our questions, as we received feedback as canned and old as the 1970’s that he surely hails from. He thinks the tingling must mean carpal tunnel, which = wrist splints while I’m sleeping. How about support hose for your feet if the swelling gets worse? And yes, those are Toni Braxton Hicks. A little measure (right on target) and a listen (whoosha whoosha whoosha) and we were out the door. Not like we wanted to spend any more time with him, frankly. I thought maybe we had given him a less than fair shot at impressing us around week 14, but even here at 33, he is still a douchebag who refers to pregnant ladies as “gals.” With our recent luck, he’ll be the one catching Vegas seven weeks from now.
Moving forward, we’ll see our most favorite (and hot) OB two weeks from now. Oh happy day.
In other news, I’m afraid I have a diagnosable popsicle problem… or iced fruit bar, or creamsicle, or anything fruity and frozen, really, in any mode of delivery. I’m sure this is the next most normal craving besides pickles and ice cream, so I’m not claiming to be doing anything groundbreaking. I’m merely pointing out that if you are nearby with one, I may pry it from your hands before you’ve finished eating it. Fair warning.
We’re staring down the 31 week mark coming on Wednesday, and I have a feeling that the next nine weeks are when this movie gets reallllllly good. Regarding the check-up, I had actually gained some weight since the last visit (err, rather, since the last few months), which is totally reassuring that the baby is growing, and I’m not going to give birth to the world’s smallest human, or a squirrel. My stats were good, we heard the heartbeat, and chalked some of the weight gain up to a wee bit of swelling in my hands and feet. I’ve preemptively taken my wedding band off, just in case. It gets tight in warm weather anyhow (much like it almost falls off in cold weather), so it’s tucked away in a safe place until my body gets back to normal. It’s a really freakish feeling (and a little sad) to take it off after five years of wearing it every day.
Thursday of this week also kicks off our childbirth preparation classes, occurring once a week for six weeks, which will include a tour of the hospital, plus lessons on how not to kill the baby. Perfect. We’re planning on pushing Vegas out the old fashioned way, yet with the aid of modern medicine (i.e. Mr. Epidural). And mostly, our plan is leaving the hospital with a baby, so however that comes about, cigars all around. Next week, we have a double-whammy with our weekly class, plus a supplemental breastfeeding class on Monday. That’s a lot of baby classes, man.
So far, so good, folks.
This morning we had our 29 week check-up, with today being week 29 right on the nose. Weight, check. Blood pressure, check. Pee in a cup, check. Let me expand on all three of these, in reverse order.
- Peeing in a cup: This is getting harder to manage the bigger my belly gets. Mind you, I was terrible at peeing on a stick all those hundreds of times during the days of ovulation prediction kits, so it’s no surprise than blindly peeing into a cup is challenging, at best. I can only imagine how much more awesome that will become.
- Blood pressure: Fine. 1-something over 60-something? It’s written down in “the book” that’s in “the car” so I don’t know specifics. It’s definitely not high, and if anything, might be a little low? No cause for any concern across the board.
- Weight gain: You’re excited about this one, aren’t you? It’s been three weeks since I weighed in last time with not a single pound gained. So I’m guessing you won’t be surprised when I tell you I’m still at the same weight I was three weeks ago, despite my reckless consumption of cinnamon rolls, ice cream, bacon, and a curious amount of Vienetta ever since. Despite our wide-eyed concern, no one else seems the slightest bit concerned. For pete’s sake, Vegas, stop eating me alive. But really, my belly is growing, and if anything, is making my head look like it’s shrinking.
OB#45 (OK, OK, he’s like… number 6 out of 7) seemed nice enough while he checked in with us, asked us questions about classes and breastfeeding, and put in our records the name of Vegas’ pediatrician (who will end up being the doctor that my wife and I both see who works in a family practice. Score!). We heard the heartbeat (150’s) and got my fundal height measurement on (we’re around 30 weeks). The glucose tolerance test came back fine, so no gestational diabetes, which is one in the win category. A couple of handshakes later and we were on our way to check-out.
We start every two week visits now, so we’ll be back there in practically no time, hopefully with more junk in the trunk, although I can’t make any promises.
OK, two posts in one day is (for me) excessive, but c’mon now – how am I not supposed to talk about the appointment today in which I have gained zero (0, none, zilch) pounds between weeks 22 and 26? For real. We heard the heartbeat (in the 140’s), got my blood pressure taken (in the perfectly normal range), and asked the OB several times (as well as the RN weighing me) to reassure us about the lack of weight gain, of which they both, delightfully, did.
I suppose we finally have proof that Vegas is already a little thief, holding up the various disappearing parts of me at gunpoint. If I’m remembering the math correctly, I’m still not back up to the weight I was when we got pregnant, when the nausea starved me slowly month after month. I’m sure (right? right?!) that I’ll eventually start weighing in heavier and heavier as we dive head first into the third trimester soon here, or if not, I’ll be forced to have a milkshake with every meal (per the OB’s suggestion). What a horrible suggestion.
Fascinating, this whole parasite thing. Take what you need, kiddo.
Now THIS is what I call exciting pregnancy symptoms! Hot damn!
Ok – a little back story. A couple of months ago, I noticed a tender spot on my right leg. Think, that spot near beneath your kneecap, on the outside of your calf. You know, that place sometimes young men get unfortunate calf tattoos. Not on the backside, on the side-side. Initially accompanied by three tiny dots, we thought maybe I had gotten bitten by a spider sometime in the night. It was tender, sometimes warm, occasionally itchy, and made it practically impossible for me to get on all-fours without sending shooting pain throughout my leg and making it feel like the skin was being pulled so tight in that one spot that my leg might explode. Priceless, feeling, I can assure you. And no, I’m not telling you why I’m on all-fours to begin with. OK – maybe next time.
So at the last check-up, the Dr. checked it out, as they do with any kind of leg pain, apparently. Since, at this point, there was only pain, dots, and some redness to complain about. It wasn’t swelling, said the man, and we left it at that. Diagnosis: probably a spider bite, with a dash of Whiny Baby Syndrome.
Fast forward a week or two. I wake up in the middle of the night, cured up on my side, hugging my body pillow that we’ve named Joe Jonas. What wakes me up is this very odd tingling/burning/itching which has taken over a spot at the very top of my left leg/hip (where your leg meets your ass?). Assuming it’s dry skin? More spiders? Whatever I assumed it was at 3am, I investigated the spot in the bathroom, then slathered it with lotion. I ended up dropping-trou and sleeping pantless (hott!) since the touching of my pajama pants to my skin only made the tingling and skin-crawling/creeping feeling worse. My wife woke up the next morning to find me a pantless, air-assed bed partner. I explained. We were stumped. We tried more lotion, cortizone, changing into different pants (maybe some FREE AND CLEAR laundry detergent was irritating me), and a couple of nights later, it stopped all together.
Back to the calf-pain. The dots went away, and eventually, the only symptom that remained was the fact that I couldn’t kneel on that knee without the shooting pain/skin stretching awfulness.
Fast forward to a couple of days ago, when apparently calf-pain and leg-ass itchiness had some sort of a conference and made a pact to make my lower half unbearably uncomfortable. After some intense internet research, we landed on sciatica (everyone say together now, “Well Duh!”), which is what we’re going with for now, until we see the Dr. in a couple of weeks for a confirmation. The tell-tale sign, apparently, is the flesh-burning sensation, coupled with the spider-crawly feeling, on top of topical skin numbness. Awesome, hm? So last night, I did a variety of stretching exercises and balance ball sitting to hopefully relieve some of what’s going on inside that’s pressing on the nerves. My wife, the wonderful, beautiful woman she is, donated a significant part of her evening rubbing my lower back and legs. We put the rice sock on my calf, and it immediately stopped hurting. I slept pretty well, considering the nighttime is when the sciatica spiders come out of hibernation.
Other preemptive options include walking the 1/2 mile to and from my car (up hill, both ways!) in the morning and afternoon, plus some dog walking in the evening, on top of making sure I’m not sitting for too long at my desk during the day. This also means, closing my door for some stretching and taking laps around the building or the campus (on nice days). Let’s see if that helps. Any other therapeutic recommendations from you folks out there in the internet land?
Since this was never intended to be a fashion blog, I’m stepping away from my maternity clothes anger. Breathe in, breathe out. Rinse, and repeat.
This morning brought our 22 week ultrasound and check-up. Finally. For pete’s sake, January, you took long enough. I went to the counter to check in, and made sure to unzip my coat to flaunt my glorious finally-looking-pregnant belly, which was immediately noticed and smiled at by the lady who always remembers my name. We had a different sonogram lady than back in December, and this woman meant business. She may have a sense of humor somewhere, but she would need to use her own machine to find it.
She did a cervix check (vagwand!) and then she went to business wanding my belly. Brains, check. Heart, check. Bladder, check. Arms, legs, wiggling toes, fingers, check. When she first started, Vegas was curled up in the breech position, facing stage left with his arms and hands up by his face. Little did we know that this is the least productive position ever, as we took a few breaks in between the wanding where she’d leave the room and I’d do a variety of movements trying to get him to situate himself differently. My wife poked him, I jostled him, I leaned over, twisted around, trying laying on my left side, then my right side, got dressed, and so forth. The only thing he offered us was a more straightened spine and some hiccups. Everything is developing as planned, as well as a stubborn attitude. Bonus!
Mistress Sonogram indicated that she could tell the sex, but didn’t tell us and didn’t write it down. And honestly, as hard as I looked at the screen, she could be telling me “and that’s the elephant trunk” and I would have believed her, since the parts other than the beating heart and the limbs all looked like varying shades of grey. No sassy profile shots this time due to Vegas’ persnickety positioning, but we did get one face shot straight-on, where you can see his arms and hands up by his face, and clearly make out his nose and (moving!) mouth. Already, he’s insisting on his privacy. Or feeling dejected. Or playing peek-a-boo.
My wife wrote down all of the stats (blah blah number number number blah blah), but all I know is that the doctor (Dr. Fast-Talking and Efficient) told us that everything looked right on target, and that Vegas looks good. Phew. Our only question was regarding this strange area on the outer part of my right leg, just under my knee, where I have three mysterious dots (bites?) where the area around it is a little red, and always feels sunburnt. It’s been this way for two weeks. He evaluated both legs and ruled out swelling or clots, so we’re treating it as a topical issue. Or, you know, signs of alien abduction. Whichever.
My weight gain is still going well. I was up two and 1/2 pounds from last month, which means I’ve had a total weight gain of six pounds. Considering I lost eight pounds during the first three months, I’m still down two pounds from when we started all this way back when. It could be that I’ve always had the body type of a pregnant woman, I just now have a baby to put inside all that belly.
We go back on March 18th, which seems just around the corner, with all of the expectant visitors we’ll be having over the next few weeks, and our mini-vacation the first weekend in March. Thanks for hanging in there with us thus far – 22 down, 18 to go.