Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dear Mrs. Mitcham...

A consequence of being sick is rapid weight loss. So rapid I didn't even consider it a consequence but a gift! At work a group of us were in the middle of a weight loss challenge and every week the winner took home a cash prize. To be fair, when we started it, I had no idea I had a problem. I started exercising once a week and thought I had kicked my metabolism into overdrive. I went for a walk and lost 5 pounds? Amazing!! Obviously that's not how weight loss really works, but I was winning! I finally dropped out of the weight loss challenge when it felt too much like cheating. In less than a year I have dropped 40 pounds! And it continues to come off steadily. I am constantly going down in clothes size. I actually bought a dress from Target in the kids section - its adorable! Its sad, scary and stylish all at the same time. I discovered the shopping app Poshmark, and have decided to try to post a new outfit on here once a week. Being underweight is so unhealthy, why not at least make it look good, right?

So back in December I had the best sleep ever in the past 10 years! It was of course drug induced. It was the endoscopy for my biopsy. Unfortunately my daughter had to have the same procedure just this week, so it got me thinking back to December and just how horrible the whole process is when you're on the other end of the needle. Now, my daughter has a pediatric specialist so she really lucked out, her experience as well as my son's experience is completely different. Their doctor is nice, supportive, informative...oh how I wish my maturity level matched my age in numbers then I could have this doctor!

When I went in, it was all very procedural. I got into my gown and they forced me to wear the most ridiculous socks! Then you wait around until the doctor comes in 15 minutes before. He comes in with a very rehearsed speech - I know because I had already heard it 40 minutes before when he visited the guy before me. Its just a square room with beds lined against the walls and cloth curtains. With this system you're hardly even a patient; just another bed, just another speech.

I finally got wheeled down the hall and the entire time I couldn't stop thinking about those stupid socks! I told myself if something bad happened and I didn't wake up 1)this guy is totally getting a bad yelp review, and 2)they better not bury me with these damn socks! I just wanted to be knocked out, it was what I was looking forward to all week. The nurse was nice, they usually are. I had to say my name and date of birth, which I never look forward to because someone always has a comment. You were born on New Year's Eve? How fun! I bet its always a party! No actually it's not, no one acknowledges your birthday when its eclipsed by a bigger holiday. The only thing worse is when medical professionals decide to comment because that's usually the worst time. Let me stop in the middle of my contraction to discuss with you my date of birth. There are 365 days out of the year, its statistics, its just a random day that gets picked.

There was some other guy in the room, maybe the anesthesiologist. He was joking around and I was like, oh someone with a personality, finally. He said it was his first day and hoped all would go well. I'm sure he uses that joke 8 times a day. I told him as long as I didn't leave with another baby, it would all be just fine. And then I was out. I woke up sometime later, back behind the same curtain I had started out in. I remember Nodurft standing there putting something in my chart, but he didn't say anything and walked away. I wanted to get out of there quick! I had two days ahead of me to pretend to not feel well enough to cook or clean. I wanted to get started on that right away.

By the time I got home, the meds were wearing off and my throat hurt. I sat on the couch and the kids complained about what was on TV. I checked the paper work that I was sent home with and there was a typed note from the doctor. Weird. How impersonal. Remember the episode from Sex and the City when Carrie got dumped via a post-it note? Dear Mrs. Mitcham, I cut up your esophagus six ways to Sunday, have a nice day!

I got the phone call from a nurse about a week later. I was at Food 4 Less selecting red apples. I thanked her, finished up with my apples and the rest of my grocery shopping and then cried in the car. It was as if I had been taken out into a riptide. It was a lonely and cold moment that seemed too overwhelming. It was a really cold way to be told. My life changed and I just wished it hadn't changed in the middle of the produce aisle. Its weird the things you focus on.

Everything happens for a reason. I try to think that I take the brunt of it all, so I know exactly how to support my kids. A little bit of compassion goes a long way. And damn it was a hard lesson to learn.

Monday, November 3, 2014

I love Red Vines. Red Vines are my favorite. I miss Red Vines

I love Red Vines. Red Vines are my favorite. I miss Red Vines. I heard myself saying this to Tem, the bone density tech at Scripps who had just asked me about my Celiac Disease and if cutting gluten out of my diet was hard. Tem was perusing through my medical chart as I said this, then quickly snapped his head up and said, "Oh, I see that’s a problem for you! You don't drink and drive with your kids in the car do you?" I stared back at Tem and said, "Red Vines. I said Red Vines - the candy. Not red wine!" In my head I was saying - God Dammit! Nodurft!! Tem looked embarrassed. I felt slapped in the face. So I did what I normally do and joked it off. "Oh yeah, I drink and drive! In fact, I wait for the kids to get in the car before I start pounding them down! Again in my head, God Dammit! Nodurft!
For as long as I can remember I've had stomach issues. However, when some of your best medical options include Tijuana doctors, you quickly learn to swallow a handful of aspirin and take care of the problem yourself. Stomach pain and diarrhea? Must be lactose intolerant (even though I could handle ice cream and yogurt just fine). Anemic? My mom told me it was because I had started my menstrual cycle. Thanks mom. Horrible itchy rash? Stress...or new laundry detergent... Well, after 30+ years of putting up with it, in August of 2013 I woke up to stomach pain so bad, I was doubled over unable to move. It felt as though I was being disemboweled. I would have rather gone through child birth it was so bad. ER visit or doctor's appointment you ask? No. The next morning I went on WebMD to diagnose myself and hoped I would never experience that kind of suffering again. I did okay for a couple of months until it happened again. Suddenly in the middle of the night, I was awakened with such horrendous pain that I was almost certain I was going to die. In all honesty, the pain was so bad, I was actually hoping I would die! Again, I refused to go to the ER. I couldn't imagine being in that much pain and sitting doubled over in a waiting room for hours. If I was going to die, I figured better to die in my own bed. I don't often make alot of logical sense, but it works for me.

The next morning I skipped WebMD and called my doctor, who I had never seen before and found out he had actually retired. So I decided to change my medical group so I could go to the Scripps Clinic 10 minutes from my house. I'm all about convenience. I don't like doctor's, I don't trust doctors, so this was big for me. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain...I endured like 12 years of marriage...but I'm not here to bash. My point is, it was so bad even I couldn't take it anymore, so I made an appointment and in November I saw Dr. Yee. I was surprised. She was really nice. She did a bunch of tests, one of them was for Celiac's and within a couple days she called me back in. She discussed the results and told me I had to go to a gastroenterologist to get an endoscopy for the official diagnosis and gave me a list of GI's. She recommended Dr. Nodurft as a first choice.

Dr. Yee must have sensed my distress. I really didn't want to go to a GI (I hardly wanted to be in Dr. Yee's office). She told me I needed to call right away because it could be weeks before they could get me in. Sure-yeah-right. "Dr. Nodurft's office is right down the hall," she said. "You should walk down there and make the appointment today. If he can't see you soon, you might need to call the clinic up in Torrey Pines to be seen quicker." Sure-yeah-right. "Do you know where the specialist office is? It's right next to the ultrasound department. Walk down there."

I walked out of her office. Did I walk over to the specialist office to make my appointment. Hell no. I walked out of the automatic sliding doors and across the street to the Keg and Bottle, then proceeded over to Subway for a turkey on whole wheat with mayo and extra jalapenos. Don't judge me. I was kid free, that's a rarity.
I first met Dr. Nodurft at the end of 2013. It took me two weeks to get enough courage to call and make the appointment. And to my disappointment, the scheduler said there was a cancelation and could get me in within two weeks. So on December 23, 2013 I walked into Dr. Nodurft's office. He asked a bunch of questions, but the only thing I could really concentrate on was his incessant use of the term, "Gotcha!" But he seemed really nice and not completely in over his head. Plus he said he was going to put me out completely for the endoscopy. Sold!

The only irritating thing he said was that if I did had Celiac Disease I could use it to get a kitchen remodel due to cross contamination issues and what not. Yeah, because we all know that women use ANY excuse to capitalize on retail therapy. I'm trying to get out of my kitchen! Then he suggested a support group to get information from others who live with Celiac's. Okay, clearly this guy didn't get me. In general, I don't like people, so I can't even imagine what seeking advice from a support group would look like. No thank you. I just smiled and nodded. He told me to Google Celiac Disease. Really? Forty dollar co-pay and I could have just googled it? Still, he patiently spent 20 minutes with me. Longer than I had expected. It was like going to Mr. Roger's neighborhood for medical advice. The only thing he was missing was a cardigan sweater and Keds.
I was on winter break from work and he said he could do the endoscopy that Friday if I had a ride. He said I couldn't take care of my kids that day. Again, Sold! I was planning on stretching my recover out for a long weekend. I was feeling pretty excited for this endoscopy. An excuse to not make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the kids and be in charge of the remote? Sign me up. I didn't even care if I had Celiac's at that point. Just on a side note, turns out my plan didn't even work. I took care of my kids that day. Nothing stops the responsibilities of a mom.

As I look back now - that appointment day was really like starting a new chapter in my life. I started down a path to get help and it all seemed very routine. Yet, as this past year has proven, it certainly hasn't been an easy road. So I've decided to document this fun little adventure in a blog. Celiac Disease is hard. It doesn't seem like there's anything I can do to get better. So I keep going back to Nodurft, thus the blog title - Monday's with Nodurft. No, I'm not stealing it from Tuesday's with Morrie. Mr. Important is too important to see patients at my clinic any other day. As if Mondays weren't bad enough. Just about every two months, it's another Monday appointment. He's really put me through the ringer. But truth be told, he's the one who drew the shortest straw when he got me as a patient. I like to make up my own medical theories.

I'm not writing this to help anybody or give others a better understanding of Celiac Disease. Trust me, I'm the last person you're going to want to take any sort of advice from. I tend to make up my own rules that make sense to only me, I curse with such frequency that it alarms even my own children, and I'm more than likely to ask you if it's too early for cocktails...while I have a drink in my hand. I'm just trying to keep my perspective in check. So feel free to check back in on a Tuesday. From my encounters with Tem the tech to a disastrous colonoscopy it will at least make you feel better about your own life.

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