Monday, February 12, 2007

The downside of meds, and the story of The Pie

So I've been back on the meds for a couple of weeks now and I think it's affected my ability to identify blog-worthy events in my life. For the unmedicated, I should first explain how my meds work.

Disclaimer: I don't know if it's true for all anti-depressants, but this has been my experience with WellbutrinXL, my med of choice.

If you imagine your emotional responses to the events in your life as a series of waves on a continuum, for me, meds take out the peaks and the valleys, so to speak, and keep me closer to the center. It's a good thing. Unless you blog a lot. Then it just kinda feels like nothing remotely interesting has happened since the last time you posted. Nothing really great, nothing really sucky, and that's usually the stuff I write about.

Looking back, I know that there are several things that might interest you, the reader. Particularly if you knit. Or have kids.

What have I been doing with the time I usually spend writing witty and clever cathartic musings for your amusement? You won't believe it. Seriously, you won't.

Is knitting your guess? Good guess, but wrong. Ok, I have been knitting like a crazy person, but that's not as unbelievable as the fact that I have been...





Not a parenting book, not a knitting book, not a self-help book, not a money-management book, not a diet book, not an organization book, and not a crappy kids' book with pictures.

A book by Celia Rivenbark called Stop Dressing Your 6-Year-Old Like a Skank. How could I have walked away from that title when I saw it in the library? It reads as if I had written it myself, which has made me wonder if I have it in me to actually write something publishable.

The caveat, of course, would be that it would have to be something that my in-laws could read without causing major humiliation to them. And there's the rub.

Ok, so, yes, I've actually been reading a book. I can't even remember the last time I read a book just for fun. And this one is a lot of fun.

I've also been knitting like crazy. I finished the back of the shell I was working on for my class, and I've gotten a good bit done on the front. I really liked my class and I even signed up for another class... SOCKS! I'm really quite excited.

Other things going on include Mr. Pie turning 5. I don't know if I've ever gotten into the drama surrounding his birth, so this is as good a time as any to give you a sense of just how significant it is that he is now five years old.

R and I were both laid off from our jobs in 2001, and we were both unemployed for four months. Not much to do when you're sitting at home all day, is there? We found out we were having Pie right after R found a job. One day when I went in for routine bloodwork, my OB said that I needed to have a Level II Ultrasound.

Rewind to four years earlier when the same blood test (AFP) indicated that I needed a Level II Ultrasound for Beebie. They sent us to genetic counselors and gave us all kinds of worst case scenarios - Spina Bifida, Down's Syndrome, all that stuff, and then when they did the ultrasound it turned out to be nothing. I remembered all the stress and panic that I'd been through and if they had given me the option whether I wanted to take this particular blood test, I would have said no, but they went ahead and did it and thank God they did.

I reminded my OB that I'd been through all of that before, and couldn't I just come in for my regularly scheduled ultrasound in two weeks? No, she said, I want you to come in, like, NOW. Tomorrow was the soonest I could get.

I went into the ultrasound room, and for a full FOUR HOURS, the doctor pushed and poked and prodded me with the transducer, without saying one single word to me. You kinda have to appreciate how much I hate that. I talk to everyone. Really. Elevators, in line at the bank, whatever. I don't enter a conversation with everyone, but I do always say "Good Morning" or something like that. You'd probably hate sitting next to me on a plane.

I can't stand it when I'm getting my haircut and the stylist doesn't make idle banter (Oh, incidentally, remember my kickass haircut and the chick that sliced herself in my hair? I just got a postcard from the salon saying that she was no longer working there. Never fuckin fails, as soon as I find somebody good.). And here I was, in a rather intimate setting, with a doctor who wasn't saying ANYTHING. You know it's bad when the doctor's aren't talking.

After the ultrasound, I got dressed and met the doctor in his office. The first thing he said to me was that I was having a boy. Ok, I thought. Then he said, "This little guy might not make it."

Turns out, his bladder wasn't emptying properly. Pie had some sort of bladder obstruction that was causing urine to back up into his kidneys. There was potential for it to affect the lungs, which was obviously a huge concern. He painted a rather bleak picture that included catheters and kidney transplants and paralysis, and basically a lifetime of medical problems, and he pointed out that I did not have to have this baby. For me personally, that was never an option, so I told him I would not consider it.

And here's my Knight In Shining Armor moment for R. He hadn't heard from me and he knew something had to be wrong, so he left work and came all the way to the hospital to find me. He found me as I was walking out to my car. I just started sobbing as I told him all about the four hour ordeal and what the doctor had just told me.

Over the next several months, we researched Prune Belly Syndrome. As birth defects go, it's very rare, so not a lot is known about it, but of the 40,000 babies it affects each year, 50% of them do not live to be born. Of the remaining 50%, half don't live past the age of 2. The rest live with varying degrees of functionality, sometimes requiring multiple surgeries.

At 20 weeks gestation, they removed 100 ccs of fluid (about a 1 cup measuring cup) from Pie's bladder using a giant syringe through my tummy, keep in mind, and after that the problem appeared to improve. I went to three ultrasounds a week for about 6 months, but there was no way to tell how bad it would be until after he was born. That really sucked.

At one point they recommended that I meet with a specialist in Tampa who performs in utero surgery on babies and places tiny shunts inside them somehow so that their bladders can empty like they're supposed to. It's extremely risky both to the baby and the mother, and I was terrified. R couldn't go with me, so my dad flew from San Antonio and met me in Tampa.

I had never been so scared in my life, and to this day, still haven't. Mostly I was scared that something would happen to Pie and I would have to tell Beebie she wasn't going to have a little brother anymore, or that something would happen to me and R and Beeb would have to go on without me. I broke down in the hospital chapel with my dad before I met with the surgeon for, what else, another ultrasound. This one was that awesome 4-dimensional kind that allowed the doctor to turn the image completely around to the back, side, top view looking down, it was amazing to watch.

The doctor said that Pie actually was too well to do the surgery. Only he didn't say it like that, it was something like "I think the risks outweigh the potential benefit", which at the time didn't really sound like good news. As soon as the doctor left the room and it was just me and Dad again, I nearly collapsed in tears. It was like having been wound so tightly in anticipation of this absolutely terrifying thing, and then having someone say, "Never mind!" It takes a minute or two to decompress.

So all they could tell us was that we had to wait. Oh, and then they put me on bed rest for two months. If only I'd had a blog back then.

And in the end, Little Pie was born and as soon as I got to hold him and kiss him and say "You made it!!", he was whisked away to the NICU where they had to wait and see if his urinary function was working right. And somehow, it was. He stayed in the NICU for four days, and we had to keep a close eye on him for a while and give him penicillin daily to prevent infection (which he took like a champ), and he's had two surgeries for undescended testicles (which we were prepared for), but he's really fine.

You probably wouldn't know there was anything wrong with him, unless you saw him without a shirt on. He has a big kinda doughy belly, and sometimes kids make fun of it, but he knows that he was born that way and it's not because he eats too much. One time, in fact, Aldigirl told Beebie that Pie was fat and he needed to go on a diet. And ya know what my Beebie said? She said,

Aldigirl, it's a miracle he's alive.

When she told me about that, I teared up. I was so proud of her. It IS a miracle he's alive, and everything works like it's supposed to. And now he's FIVE. And he's brilliant and hilarious. And I just registered him for Kindergarten. Good thing I'm back on the meds or I would have wept the whole time I was there filling out stupid paperwork.

I must say, while I don't miss the emotional valleys that the meds counter, I do kinda miss the high points. Good stuff doesn't seem as good. For example, can you believe I haven't mentioned the cool new knitting bag I got? Just look at it! It's the Lexie Barnes Lady B bag in the kickass Baja print with the little skulls on it. It is SO effin righteous, it makes me want to be a better knitter so that I might one day be worthy of it. I cuddle it at night.

Oh yeah, like the other Knittyheads, I made a Calorimetry and it was too big so I made another and I like it better. I actually made a gague swatch and everything. I learned that in my class.

Lest you think I've completely lost my sense of humor to the meds, let me show you what Pie took to school when it was his turn to fill The Counting Jar with sixteen items for the class to count and share...

Other moms send lollipops, I send funny glasses. Yes, I'm still me.


Bezzie said...

Awwww, that was a great story. You've got a great set of apes there chica. I'm glad I got to meet them in person.

Carol said...

Most of the antidepressants do that clipping of the peaks and valley thing you've noticed. If it's any consolation, the reason you need the clipping is that your highs are (were) higher than "normal" and your lows lower. So, really, its's the missing contrast that you are noticing. Moving on, I had no idea Pie was a miracle baby. How moving! And my calorimetry would have been too big too. I wound up decreasing the cast on to 100 stitches and it fit fine.

Elizabeth said...

Wow. So glad it all turned out ok for your little guy and you.

Kenyetta said...

Very emotional story! Makes me want to hug my little ones.

OldLadyPenPal said...

I have missed you!
When we found out about Chloe's kidney thing, we were this close >.< (that's supposed to symbolize really f*ing close) to losing her. Her stupid docsaid she had a bad cold, give her fluids, blah blah blah. She actually had a raging UTI, pyelonephritis, and double pneumonia. She was gray. Her circulation had decreased so much that she was actually gray. So we skipped her moron doc and took her to the ER. Very scary. Her kidneys have significant scarring, she's had two corrective surgeries, so I'm right there with you, sister, on the kidneys/bladder/am I going to lose my child front.

Also, I love Beeb. What a wise, strong woman. Just like her Mom. Dang you for making me cry.

Batty said...

What a cute little guy! I am so glad he made it and you get to have him in your life. He's tough. He'll be OK.

Great book title, by the way!

Mamma said...

I sobbed my way through the story of your miracle baby. Kindergarten, wow. They grow so fast.

Cheesy Knit Wit said...

Your Cali looks great! And the story of Pie is just awesome. Children are miracles!

Bob said...

What a brilliant little boy! Yea for Pie! Just for the record, I've been missing 'peaks & valleys' for about six months now. Yeah, it sucks to take meds every day but my wife likes that I don't beat her anymore. KIDDING! Kidding, people. She likes that I have more of a sense of humor about things like scrambling to pay bills, changing poopy diapers, and bi-annual conjugal relations.

Speaking of wives who knit, my wife has the entire female chorus of our current opera knitting and crocheting. She thinks she should use her hubby's talents and make some 'Learn to Knit' videos. How do you think those would go over?

Carina said...

That has to be one of the scariest pregnancy stories I've ever heard--and Hubby did his Ob/Gyn rotation in med school right after I had Anna. I've heard some scary stories. That one takes the cake, though. *shudder* Miracle baby indeed.


ZantiMissKnit said...

Awwww. . . .cute little guy. You have great kids, you know, and I'm not one to just say that about any kids.


Cindy said...

I'm glad you're back. You need to lighten up on yourself. Alot. And, your kids are adorable.

amylovie said...

I've never heard the whole story before. Just bits and pieces from mom while you where going through it.

Glad you like your bag. You are now a member of the "REALLY COOL" knitters club.


k-good-row said...

Yay! You're back! I missed you. And, I love the story of Pie.

kemtee said...

He's here, he's healthy, and he's yours. That's all that matters now.

And I don't like being "flattened out" by the meds either, sweetie. But it does keep me from sitting on my roof with a loaded AK-47.

Cora Zane said...

I usually lurk, bad me. But I loved hearing the story of your miracle baby, and had to say thanks for sharing. They do grow so fast. Kindergarten sign up. I know my day is coming, and I better have tissues in the jeep.

Happy Valentine's Day

Joel Widdershins said...

I can relate to the antidepressant thing, as I was on zoloft for a month or two after my particularly traumatic auto accident. I understand how it makes you feel, not REAL bad, but kinda just vaguely shitty. Still, if it keeps you here to knit, blog, and chase apes, it can't be all bad, can it? And I have faith that you'll pull out of your funk one day, and then you'll know that your ready to come off the meds. So what if you may need them again someday? Your still the coolest and funniest mom in the world!

Alisha said...

I am sorry that blogging dosen't seem the same to you because of the meds. I think your posts are great!!! I loved hearing about your sons story. He is such a gem!!

My oldest daughter was a preemie...2lbs 10 oz. It is a roller coster ride when your baby/child is not well or has complications but I do believe it helps us see the world through a different set of eyes. You never take a single thing for granted.

Love the bags...those are so funky. Your Calorimetry turned out great!

Love the funny glasses!!

LilKnitter said...

Aw, your posts still rock, PK, truly. We all keep coming back for more!
Happy mommy birthday! It's just as special a day for you as for him! I'm so glad that he's a miracle baby: yay for miracle babies!