A lot has happened since my last post regarding the failure of the ESI. Penelope had a complex febrile seizure that almost took her from us. I had an emergency microdiscectomy and decompression. Penelope turned one. That second discectomy failed. And now I am scheduled for an anterior and posterior spinal fusion on Thursday.
On Sunday June 24th we borrowed a friend’s jeep and headed out for some off-roading and a picnic at Canyon Lake. It was an absolutely perfect July Arizona day- a thousand degrees, slightly humid, and generally miserable. We ended up eating our picnic inside the air conditioned Jeep and heading home a little early for a family nap. Around 6pm we got dinner together and sat down to eat. Penelope refused her dinner…This was quite unusual, since this girl will generally devour anything that’s put in front of her. I asked E to get her some puffs (her favorite) and jokingly said, if she refuses the puffs, we’re taking her to the hospital. She refused them and I was about to eat those words.
I gave her a bath, put on her PJs, and noticed she felt a little warm. A quick check with the thermometer confirmed- 101. I gave her a dose of ibuprofen and we sat down on the couch with a bottle of chamomile tea. I was casually talking to E, who was cleaning up dinner in the kitchen. He walked past the entry way to the living room, and P was startled, which was very unusual. I shrugged it off, and we continued talking. E went into the office. It was 8:15. P started to shake. She shook twice, and when I looked into her eyes, she looked glazed. I yelled to E something was wrong, we were out the door in less than two minutes on our way to the ER.
I have no experience with seizures. No one in my family has ever had one. I have never been around anyone who was having a seizure. I wasn’t entirely sure the episode on the couch was in fact a seizure. As we rushed to the car, she started to vomit. E quickly fastened her into her carseat, and I climbed into the backseat with her. She was largely unresponsive, and continued vomiting. Withing a few minutes, she started to have another seizure. This time, I knew for sure it was a seizure. I was saying her name, and her eyes were open, but she was not looking at me. We live 15 minutes from children’s hospital…It was the longest 15 minutes of my life.
Finally, we arrived at the ER. I ran her inside and yelled to the woman at the front desk “my baby is having a seizure”. She measured her oxygen, and when the reading came back, I saw the woman’s expression quickly change. She picked up the phone, said “code something or other” and grabbed my sweet girl and ran. Another women escorted me back to the room where P was laying on a table, and within a matter of seconds the room was filled with 8 to 10 doctors and nurses. I unfortunately do not remember a lot of what happened during the next few minutes. P was pale blue, unresponsive, lifeless, hooked up to several medical devices, and being pumped full of Ativan. I asked to sit down, and a social worker came in to talk with me. The medical teal was not sure if she was going to make it. I overheard the head ER doctor say “she needs another dose of Ativan, she is still seizing”. He was ordering a slew of tests, CT scans, blood work, urine tests, and then a spinal tap. They were finally able to stop the seizure. It lasted a total of 35 minutes.
After a seizure, the body goes into a period of deep rest. The doctor explained it as if her brain had just run a marathon. I sat next to my baby, who laid sleeping on a table, wearing only a diaper and covered by a pillow case. I held her hand while she had a spinal tap, the first attempt in which the doctor hit a blood vessel. Her fever during all of this had spiked to 105, which is what was believed to cause the seizures. We learned her seizures were complex febrile seizures, which is a seizure that lasts longer than 15 minutes, occurs more than once within 24 hours or is confined to one side of a child’s body. P had three seizures within a period of an hour, the third one lasting 35 minutes. In addition to this, the seizures were asymmetric, meaning it affected only one side of the body. Because of the atypical characteristics of her seizure, she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. The doctor also told us it would be several hours before she would wake up.
E and I agonized as P lay sleeping in her hospital crib. There were a lot of unknowns…would there be any effects from the lack of oxygen? Would she continue to have seizures? We tried to sleep, but mostly just sat, scared and massively shaken. How could an otherwise healthy little girl come so close to death in such a short period of time. At around 3am, or 7 hours after the last seizure ended, we heard a faint “dada” come from the crib…We rushed to see her, and quickly noticed something was wrong. Her left eye was drooping and she was not able to sit up on her own. This, a child that 10 hours early was crawling, cruising, close to walking, was not my P. The nurses and doctor assured us this could be temporary and she had been given a lot of medication. We would need to wait and monitor her condition over the next few days.
The following morning, she had an EEG. And then an MRI. All normal. The neurologist was puzzled by her eye and lack of balance and coordination. Mentally, she seemed to be fine. And by the second morning, it looked like her balance was improving. On day three, her eye droop was barely noticeable. We don’t believe in miracles, but this was close. We were discharged and sent home with strict instructions to medicate at the first sign of a fever.
It has been five weeks since the seizures and hospital stay. Last week we had our follow up visit with her neurologist, who happily reported P is showing no neurological effects from the seizure, or otherwise. And we couldn’t be happier…We do know she is at an increased risk for future seizures, and there is a good chance she will have one again. But we know now what to expect, and will be better prepared to handle it. We are so thankful to still have our sweet squishy girl to snuggle with.
So, the last couple weeks have been shit. It started with some pain in my back, which then moved into my leg. An MRI showed significant amounts of arthritis buildup on my vertebrae, a tear in the disc where my discectomy was performed, narrowing of the disc space, irritation of the S1 nerve root, and on and on and on. So, I am back at pre-surgery pain levels and now I also have a toddler to chase.
So they referred me to a guy who apparently specializes in Epidural Sterioid Injections (ESI). An epidural steroid injection includes both a long-lasting corticosteroid (e.g., triamcinolone, betamethasone) and an anesthetic numbing agent (e.g., lidocaine, bupivacaine). The drugs are delivered into the epidural space of the spine, which is the area between the protective covering (dura) of the spinal cord and the bony vertebrae. I was told the worst that could happen was my pain would be the same after the injections, but there was a 50% chance I would gain some relief from the procedure. I said sure, I’ll take two please.
On the day of the injection I opted for the twilight sedation. Partially because I am still having PTSD from my botched spinal when I had P, but mostly because I never turn down drugs. Especially when they are of the intravenous sort. So the Dr comes in and asks me how much sedation I want…Well shit. I am taking the day off, P is in daycare, and I don’t have to drive. I tell him to be liberal with the dose. I lay facing down on the table, some kind of nurse tech gives me the juice, and the procedure begins. Hold up, I don’t feel sedated at all? And then I feel the first needle go in. And then the second. And then a strong current like feeling in my left leg. “Um, am I supposed to be feeling all of this?”, I ask. The doctor assures me there is nothing wrong, and maybe the sedative just wasn’t strong enough. But at this point the procedure is almost over, so I just said fuck it. After the procedure, my legs felt very heavy. But I got right up from the operating table and walked myself to the recovery room. They offered their apologies for the lack of sedation and gave me a diet 7-Up for my troubles. Fair enough.
The next couple hours were totally fine. We went to lunch, drank a beer, sat on the couch, and then decided to take a nap. At around 5:30 that evening, I started having pain in my left and right side of my back, and radiating pain down my legs. On a scale of 1-10, this pain was a 9. I was in tears. And on top of this, I was starting to get my usual reactions to steroids- nausea and insomnia. Based on my research, I knew I might have elevated levels of pain after the injection due to irritation, but this was far worse than I expected. I was in more pain that after my discectomy. I couldn’t sleep because of the steroids, I couldn’t sit because of the pain. I spent the night pacing the house hoping by morning it would be better. It was not.
Both Saturday and Sunday were miserable. By the time Sunday night rolled around, I was a mess. I had taken way too many hydrocodone. I hadn’t slept in 48 hours. I was in a total fog. On Monday morning, I called the doctor to tell him shit was bad, and they asked me to come in right away. I explained how sick I was, how bad the pain was. And guess what his mother effing response was? You need another ESI. Um, ok. Let me get this straight. You gave me a double ESI on Friday. I have been in terrible pain and experiencing awful side effects ever since. And you think I am voluntarily going to have ANOTHER one! ::Refrains from punching doctor in the nuts:: So, yeah. I’m not having another one. And his response was I have two options. Live with the pain or have another surgery.
And so this is where I’m at today. Chronic pain is depressing. They have prescribed me Lyrica in an attempt to manage the nerve pain. But since I started taking it on Monday, all I have felt is tired and unfocused. So yeah, call the waaaaahmbulance.
For any die hard La Leche lovers out there, this post may be just the *slightest* bit offensive, but please know that I adore my local chapter of LLL and I am a card carrying member. Ok, they don’t have membership cards, but I do carry a copy of the statute in the Arizona State code that protects a breast feeding mother’s right to nurse her baby in any public place. Same thing.
Ever since I attended my first La Leche League meeting, I knew I wanted to write about my experiences. One of my good friends was an assistant leader (or whatever they’re called) and so she invited me to attend a meeting. It just so happened the meetings were held in my ex-OBGYNs office (the crazy “I’m gonna heal you with chiropractics and crystals” lady) and so I was excited to see how we could possibly combine rekki with feeding our babies.
At my first meeting, I walked in with no preconceptions about how the meeting would go or what topics would be covered. I took a seat (aka sat on a rug on the floor) with P and whipped out my boob to start feeding her. Other than the obvious militant emphasis on exclusive breastfeeding, a lot of what LLL focuses on is helping women become comfortable with nursing in public. This might come as a surprise, but I was never terribly shy about breastfeeding in public. When P was six days old my in-laws took us to lunch at a local restaurant and I openly nursed her at the table. Even before I became a mother, breastfeeding was on the same level to me as giving your child a bottle. It could be, and should, be done in public. The “nursing in public” debate sickens me to no end and I don’t participate in nurse-ins because I believe it sensationalizes nursing. When people ask me how I am still nursing my eight month old, I just tell them it is what’s normal for us. Breastfeeding is normal, end of story.
The LLL meeting dragged on forever. And when the discussion finally drew to a close, the leader asked if anyone had any questions…So I threw my hand up and asked what the other mom’s experiences were like with breastfeeding and working? And whether anyone had issues with pumping and bottle feeding their babies? Everyone just sat looking at me like I was from another planet- the working mom planet. The question actually caught the leader off guard…Because here we had a group of stay at home moms on a Thursday afternoon having a nice meeting about nursing our babies and discussing the latest trends in baby wearing and cloth diapering, all the while not knowing a working mom was in their midst…Working moms should be at work! Everyone knows working moms do not wear their babies, they don’t cloth diaper, and they definitely don’t breastfeed. They send their snotty nosed kids to daycare to be raised by twenty-somethings with half-completed bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education. A REAL mom would give up her career for her kids and become a domestic goddess and dote on her wage earning husban. And while this might be a slight exaggeration, any of you working moms out there who have attended these early afternoon, mid-week LLL meetings, you catch my drift. So back to my question. After some careful thought, the leader responded that the goal of LLL was to promote breast feeding. And in the most polite way possible, she basically told me that she couldn’t help me with any bottle feeding issues. Are you focking kidding me? So because I choose to work AND breastfeed, which means I would have to pump bottles for my child to eat while we are apart, I can’t be in your club?
And when my friend, the now LLL leader who was not present at that first meeting I attended, asked me how the meeting went, I pretty much told her how I felt. The leader was a pretentious bitch that had very little knowledge about real life issues that mom’s might be having with breast feeding. I mean, she had no clue how difficult it is to work full time, pump, nurse all night, and still have time and energy to do things like cook and maintain a house. How nice it must be to be able to nurse your baby whenever they are hungry. Instead, I have to stop whatever I’m doing and hook up to a pump for 30 minutes three times a day. And then, I have to deal with cleaning bottles, and storing and transporting milk. If I only knew then what I know now, I would have asked that leader if she knows what it’s like to pump for 30 minutes and look down only to find you have produced four ounces of milk. It takes 30 seconds to mix a bottle of formula and sometimes I wonder how I’ve managed to pump this long. But, *gasp* I did start supplementing with formula when P hit six months.
One area that I feel is sorely misrepresented by LLL is the fact that breast feeding is NOT an all or nothing activity. When it comes to Breastfeeding, some is better than none. There has long been a divide between stay-at-home moms and working moms, each side proclaiming their superiority in motherhood. If you work, you are taking time away from your children and are therefore essentially raising orphans. If you stay home, you will fail to be an equal financial partner in your relationship and a strong role model, holding especially true if you have daughters. The place I have found this to be most evident in my personal experience is at LLL meetings.
The other night a LLL leader that is working on her certified lactation consultant license called and asked if she could interview me. She is working on an assignment regarding pumping and part of the assignment was to interview a mom on what it’s like to work and breastfeed. She is still breastfeeding her now preschooler and she had never used a breast pump. She was curious about it. I didn’t realize how mysterious the whole process was for women who haven’t experienced it. Personally, I believe all LLL leaders should have experience with manually expressing milk, i.e. pumping. I was researching the LLL International, and there is nothing regarding pumping in their requirements to be a leader. According to the March 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics report on Employment Characteristics of Families, the labor force participation rate for mothers with infants under one year of age is 56%. How could LLL fail to better address these women who technically face even more obstacles than our non-working counterparts? Sure there are some laws to protect our right to pump in the workplace, but most women I have met with have no idea what Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 207) really says. And for anyone that’s curious, here ya go:
Section 7(r) of the Fair Labor Standards Act – Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision
|Effective March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended the FLSA to require employers to provide a nursing mother reasonable break time to express breast milk after the birth of her child. The amendment also requires that employers provide a place for an employee to express breast milk.Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 207) is amended by adding at the end the following:
Basically, if you work for a company that employs more than 50 people, they are required to provide you (unpaid) time and a space to pump. And telling you to go sit on the crapper doesn’t count. There are also various state laws, which I have found coincide with the political tendencies of your state. The more liberal your state, generally the more protections you are afforded. We all know that conservatives don’t like putting their government in our our lady business.
And so, as I dug around on the LLL International site even more, I found something that might surprise that “leader” I crossed paths with at my first LLL meeting. On the online forum section of the site, the forum with the most activity (by leaps and bounds) after “Breastfeeding your Newborn” and “Breastfeeding your Infant” is “Pumping and Milk Storage”. And when I opened the “Working and Breastfeeding” forum, there was a link that stated: “The LLLI Web site features many articles and FAQs about breastfeeding and working as well. There are many articles at:” http://www.lalecheleague.org/bfwork.html. Unfortunately, this link does not work.
Bureau of Labor Statistics report on Employment Characteristics of Families http://www.bls.gov/news.release/famee.nr0.htm
The United States Breastfeeding Committee
US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division
At this time, I do not anticipate writing any further posts about Nature’s One. The “CEO” of Nature’s One is an idiot. And If there is one thing I have learned in business, it’s you cannot reason with idiots. If he wants to believe arsenic is the sixth major food group and creates an empire of lies spreading such on the Nature’s One Facebook page, so be it. Knowing there are parents out there that have blindly put their faith in this pathetic excuse for an organic company is a tough one to swallow, but I believe at this point we have done our due diligence of getting the facts out there. And Mr. Fifty (http://gladscientist.blogspot.com) has made it his life’s work to design a graph for every scenario of arsenic consumption in every unit known to man. Speaking of units, hey Mr. Fifty- have you thought of bringing biblical units of measurement to this party? Given that an omer is one tenth of an ephah in Exodus 16:36, can you tell us how many baths of arsenic are in a log? Inorganic and organic, please. And if the Nature’s One legal team wants to get technical about trademarks and branding, bring it. Nature’s One is a registered trade mark- only because the phrase Incompetent Assholes could not be trademarked.
On another side note, it has been brought to my attention that my blog was “inadvertently” leaked to some family members that may have previously been unaware as to my “hilarity”. I never wrote this blog with the intention of being completely anonymous, but I tend to believe that at least being somewhat anonymous allows for a more uncensored stream of consciousness style of writing. So now I am faced with three options. First, I can abandon this blog. Second, I could turn this into a blog where I display crafts that I have made, cakes that I have baked, shit that I have looked at on Pinterest, and unbelievably cute photos of my child. Third, I can continue with the blog as jesus intended- to speak about motherhood in an offensively honest manner. After pondering, I have decided to carry on with business as usual. Besides, I don’t make crafts, nor do I have time to bake. I do enjoy Pinterest… And to those “new” members of my audience, should you be offended by what I write, perhaps we can discuss it over a holiday dinner. The conversation I am sure would make for a nice post.
I also noticed I had my first international reader today…Perhaps I am becoming famous in the Philippines.
Please click the link below to read his thoughts on the whole Nature’s One “situation”