Medical Issues Suck

Of course medical issues suck. When was the last time someone said, “Hey, I suddenly feel better than ever! I think I need to go to the doctor and fix that!”

No, medical issues tend to only go one way, and that’s to the bad. Look, I know we’re all getting older, and this is the way things tend to work. When you’re young and healthy, you have no clue how lucky you are because that’s all you’ve known.

Then you get a little older.

Okay, maybe a lot older.

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You reach the time in your life when not only are your friends getting sick with more than just a summer cold that a couple shots of vodka will fix. (Learned that in college. Who knew?)

It’s also the time when you start having to accept the mortality of your parents and grandparents (if you’re lucky enough to still have them).

A sinus infection sends your grandmother to the hospital because a simple course of antibiotics isn’t enough. Your parents, aunts, and uncles are still talking about the latest sports game, but now they’re suddenly also talking about cholesterol medicine, diet restrictions, and cancer scares.

Yeah, like I said, medical issues are never good.

But I will tell you this. When you do have a medical scare, it puts things into laser focus. What is important to you?

For me, I learned a few things.

  • My kids were the very first thing I thought about. I double checked life insurance policies to make sure they will be taken care of. I want to be there for them, to do mommy daughter things, have long talks, and watch them grow into amazing women. But if I can’t? I want to know they will not suffer financially. A lot of you are like, “Of course you thought about them first. They’re your kids!” But years ago, before we started a family, I’d never have guessed that. People change. I changed after having them, and it was more than mom jeans and baby weight.  (picture of girls hand in hand)
  • My second thought was my husband and how hard it would be for him to have the girls alone. I was trying to think of ways to make it easier on him and failing miserably.
  • Then I thought about my writing and how I’d race to get all that I’m working on finished and published. That this was something I wanted to do, really wanted to do.

 

You know what I didn’t think about at all? My day job.

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Maybe not that strange, but definitely worth considering. Makes me wonder if it’s not fulfilling enough, challenging enough that I’d miss it, or if being a corporate cog means you really do it just for the financial security.

The challenges haven’t changed my need for that day job to support my family, but it has made me take a hard look at career advancement. Is it really something I want? Is a promotion, that means more money but more hours, really better than what I have now? I don’t have answers yet, but the questions themselves are worth asking.

 

How about you? Ever have a medical issue that made you really take stock of where you are and what you’re doing? Did it help realign your priorities? Maybe it made you realize your priorities were fine all along?

Miserable, Sick, and Unproductive

I recently was miserable, sick and completely unproductive when I caught an especially nasty cold that turned into bronchitis. If you’ve never had it, bronchitis sucks. A lot.

I was nasty enough the doctor kept me home from work for a couple of days so I might actually get better.

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We’ve all been there, right?

I feel like I have been sick A LOT more since having children. I mean, a lot more.

As part of being unproductive, I did a little digging. Turns out, I was right.

“The team found that people living in childless houses are infected with viruses just 3-4 weeks per year. Meanwhile, adding a single child to the household bumps that figure up to 18 weeks—which is 35 percent of the year—and a second to 29 weeks.”

Holy wow was I right. From an average of 3-4 weeks per year to 29 weeks. No wonder I think I’m sick more often. I am.

I also feel like I’ve been a lot sicker, as in the colds I get I worse.

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Me to DH as a sick child climbs into my lap to snuggle

This may or may not be the case for me, but in some specific cases, kids’ illnesses in adults can be a whole lot worse.

So, what to do about it?

Yeah, science doesn’t have much to offer on this if you read the articles. Really, it comes down to hand-washing.

Wash your hands a lot, make your kids wash their hands a lot, hide in a protective kid-free bubble.

Oh, wait, yeah, about that last thing. Maybe not so much. Probably just the racking cough I still have talking.

 

How about you? Figure out any ways to avoid getting sick when your kids are sick? Do you cringe when see another kid with a cold at your child’s daycare? Any tips on avoiding getting sick when your spouse is sick? Or a co-worker? Can’t believe how fast something can go through the office.

 

Completely Derailed

After finally finding a groove in my writing again, the whole thing was derailed by a string of migraines. Five days in a row. For those of you that suffer from them, you know these as “boomerang” migraines. They are increasingly intense headaches as your treatments aren’t getting rid of the migraine. They’re merely making it angry.

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Several people asked me if I could just sleep them off. I wish. Migraines will wake you up and keep you rolled into a ball all night long not sleeping. They can also let you sleep, only to plow into you the moment you open your eyes.

I’ve known people who get migraines because they haven’t slept and then can’t sleep because of the migraine.

For me, they always start behind the same eye. I don’t get auras, but I do get pressure that means one is going to start. Time to take medicine or I will pay and pay dearly.

Taking medicine at the first sign of an impending migraine usually heads it off, or at the very least, reduces the symptoms. This can be the difference from making it through the day with a headache and curling up in a ball because sound makes you vomit.

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For the severity of the pain and the number of people migraines affect, we know very little.

  • They tend to run in families (thanks mom!), but don’t have to. We have yet to find a genetic marker.
  • They may be hormonal. Adult women are 2-3 times more like to get them than men, but in pre-adolescence, boys are slightly more likely to get them than girls.
  • Frequency and severity tends to reduce significantly for women after menopause.
  • Pregnant women usually see a decrease in them, unless you’re unlucky. Then, even some of the best narcotics on the planet can’t end them, though they’ll make you care a lot less about the pain (migraine medicine passes through the placenta to the baby and narcotics don’t).
  • They cause nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, and smell. Someone once equated it to a really bad acid trip. I have no idea if it’s true.

It breaks my heart when pain shoots through my head just because my little ones are yelling my name in excitement when I come home from work. Not to mention, well, you know, pain bad enough to make you vomit. I do my best to keep them under control.

It just doesn’t always work.

I’m careful of personal migraine triggers. For me, diet soda is a huge one. I’ve cut anything with aspartame out of my diet completely.  I’ve often wondered if migraines can be triggered by institutional lighting. I’m far more likely to get them at work than at home. I don’t think it’s the computer screen as I don’t get them from reading on my Kindle.

Whatever the cause, this is not a modern problem. Migraines have been around for a long, long time. Earliest records we’ve found so far describing them are from Egypt around 1,500 BC.

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They are also widespread. Approximately one billion people suffer from migraines. Yeah, one billion. Most, though, don’t get them several times a month like I do. And even fewer get the ones that chain (where you get them successive days) or boomerang.

With so many people affected, it’s an expensive problem. Twenty-seven billion euros in Europe per year, plus an additional $17 billion in the US.

Despite all these sufferers, there is no cure for migraines. Just drugs to treat them. All I can say is thank goodness for the triptans. The aspirin, Tylenol, full-sugar coke cocktail I took in my youth has nothing on the triptans.

Before the advent of these drugs, I could fight a migraine for days on end. Any amount of light felt like daggers being poked through my eyes, and sound made me vomit. It was awful. And while I forced myself to go to work or school, the pain could be crippling, and it most assuredly made it harder for me to learn and made me less productive.

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Migraines are sneaky, and if you don’t treat them, they can steal your life. Not in the here one moment and gone the next way, but drip by drip. Night after night spent home hiding from light and sound rather than participating in and enjoying life.

I lost too much of my life to them. I’ve learned to fight back and fight back hard.

They may have knocked me off track from writing for the moment, but I will prevail. This has been a particularly nasty bout, but I haven’t let them win before and I won’t now.

 

How about you? Ever suffer from migraines? Maybe other headaches or recurring pain? How did/do you deal with it? Do you find it makes you less productive or enjoy life less? What do you do to push through it?

Time Thief: The Common Cold

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Yeah, I’m kinda a baby about being sick.

Being sick sucks.

Combine the common cold with one of the busiest, most hectic times of the year for me at my day-job, and you have a recipe for a cantankerous person. A cantankerous person with no energy or will to get off the sofa much less write.

I can really see no upside to being sick. You ache. Your ears itch and burn. Your throat feels like you used sandpaper on it. Your back hurts from coughing and sneezing. And your whole face feels like it’s stuffed with so much cotton that you should be sneezing it instead.

Things you took for granted, you now have to think about. Like breathing. Especially breathing.

Doing any task, even small ones, suddenly seems overwhelming. Like getting up to make that third cup of honey-infused tea that people promise will make you feel better. (Hint: they’re lying.) Or going to the bathroom after that third cup of honey-infused tea.

I totally know where I got it from. The “heroes” at work that came in sick because we couldn’t possibly function a couple of days while they kept their germs at home, rested, and got better.

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Of course, once the VP of Engineering and the VP of Sales come to work with the Martian Death Flu, or whatever is going around, we’re all expected to suck it up and come.

So of course I did.

Taking medicine rarely helps me. I replace the aches and misery with a lesser form of it, but then I get fuzzy-brained, easily confused, and forgetful.

Concentration is hard with a cold, even if I am taking over-the-counter medicine that still requires me to show three forms of ID, and that makes my day-job very difficult. I’m supposed to be analyzing things and piecing together a coherent picture from disparate data. With a cold, I’m lucky if I can figure out how to piece together a sandwich.

Writing has come to an abrupt halt. Not sure if I should keep poking at it, or just accept I’m sick and leave it alone.

I want to say that anything I do write won’t be worth the electrons spent on it. But that’s not entirely true. It’s just that much harder. And with everything else going on, maybe I’m just going to cut myself some slack, rest and get better.