Monday, June 19, 2017

Desperate measures

For the first time in my life I have Poison Ivy.

How I managed to make it for 36 years without getting it, I have no clue.  Especially since I grew up on a farm and spent a significant portion of my childhood outside.

I must have contracted it last week when we were doing some outdoor work in our yard.  I know what the plant looks like and I knew there was some in a particular area in the back of the yard, so I was careful to avoid it.  I should have been wearing pants and sleeves, but since it was slightly cooler than the surface of the sun outside, I opted for shorts and a tanktop.  This was a mistake.

Anyway, it started on my ankles/lower legs on Thursday.  Annoying but not a big deal since legs are easy to slap some calamine lotion on, cover, and go on with your day.  Then a few spots started to appear on my upper legs.  Then my abdomen and back.  Then my neck.  Then my face.  A blistery, puss filled rash ON MY FACE.  Each day it seemed to double in size.  It wasn't too bad until it started to creep to areas that I can't cover.

From everything I've read, the rash itself isn't dangerous as much as it is annoying. The danger comes from the risk of secondary infection (from scratching the blisters open) and if it gets to your eyes or in your mouth/throat it can cause some pretty serious issues.

I tried everything I can think of to manage the annoyance of it and try to get it to stop spreading.  I tried several different types of cream, plus oral Benadryl, plus my regular allergy medication. Minimal relief and very short-lived.  So I turned to Dr. Google (I know, I know, desperate times call for desperate measures.....) for some less mainstream cures.  Pouring vinegar (two different types) yielded no effect.  Same with rubbing alcohol.  Same with a cold coffee compress.  A cool shower provided temporary relief, as did making a paste of baking soda, rubbing it on my skin, and letting it dry (though I'm not sure the mess it caused was worth the minor temporary relief).  I stopped short of putting bleach on my skin, though I did briefly consider it before my youngest sister (who has a well established history of acquiring and treating severe cases of poison ivy) reminded me that it was fucking crazy to put a caustic agent on my face.

When I woke up Sunday morning it had spread again and was less than a 1/2 inch from my mouth.  I decided it was time for medical intervention.  I'm fortunate to have e-visits included as part of my health insurance plan, so I didn't even have to leave my house to go to the doctor.  I logged on to my account, entered a few bits of information, snapped a few pictures, paid my $5 copay (which, I know for some of you paying to see a doctor is reprehensible, but by American standards, $5 is a steal), and waited less than five minutes to see a nurse practitioner.  She had seen my pictures so had a pretty good idea what we were dealing with.  She asked a few questions to verify what I'd already done to manage it and how it had spread, verified my medication allergies, and told me she was going to prescribe a seven day course of steroids to treat it (because apparently my reaction was pretty severe for a first reaction).  Hopefully they work because I'm done dealing with this crap!

Oh, and apparently reactions get more severe with each exposure.  So the next time I get it, it will be worse.  Joy.

This morning, I realized that seeking alternative treatments for poison ivy was much like seeking alternative treatments for infertility.  I got to the point of desperation where I was willing to consider anything, even things that seemed "out there" or were potentially unsafe.  It was a weird trip back to that place of desperation, one I hope I don't have to revisit for a long time to come.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

That day

There are things in life that you should do.  Because they are the right thing to do.  And because they are the socially acceptable thing to do.

Like sucking it up enough to wish your own mother a Happy Mother's Day.

Yet this year, for the first time ever (including the really hard years during infertility), I didn't have it in me.  I. Could. Not. Do. It.

It wasn't a terrible day.  I avoided the usual social media triggers.  I went out and about shopping for a few things for our upcoming trip (though I'm not going to lie, I purposefully selected checkout lanes with early 20s appearing males figuring they were the least likely to wish me a Happy Mother's Day). I had a long chat with Sarah.  Despite the fact that she has a fuckton of stuff on her plate right now, Cristy made it a point to check in on me throughout the day.  And I got several other texts or emails from friends made through blogging but don't have blogs themselves.

But despite all of the love and support from friends there was an intense feeling of being different, especially when it came to my family.  I was caught in the middle of a group chat with my mom and my sisters. Messages were flying back and forth.  Plans for the day.  Pictures.  Descriptions of gifts. Not one big hurt, but 100 little hurts.  And not one inquiry about me or how I was doing.

As the day wore on, I knew I couldn't call.  Or even text.  I didn't have it in me.  I cried a little.  Hubs reassured me that I didn't have to do it.

I've heard that my mom's feelings are hurt, so there will probably be fences to mend when we talk next.

The day is not about me, nor will it ever be.  And I'm not trying to make it about me.  But I don't think it's asking a lot for my family to realize that the day might be difficult for me and to cut me a little bit of slack.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Healing Place

There were many reasons that we chose to buy a house.  Interest rates were at historic lows.  Rent kept rising (and finding a new rental with a large dog was next to impossible).  We scrimped and saved enough to have a decent down payment.  For the first time in a long time we knew that the city we were living in wasn't just a temporary stop, that we'd be here for a while.  Buying was the next logical step.

And honestly, after infertility, after officially closing the door on parenthood, I needed something big, something positive, something special.  A fresh start of sorts.

So we looked (and looked and looked and looked) and eventually we found the house that would become ours.  It felt like home the minute we walked in to the open house.  The vintage 1950s glass door knobs sealed the deal.

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of buying our house.

One of my hopes was that our house would be a place of healing, and it has been.  I feel comfortable here.  Happy.  At ease.  Safe.  Stable.  For the first time in a long time.

There will be no negative pregnancy tests here.  Or ovulation tracking. Or sex when we don't feel like it.  Or month after month of disappointment. Or conversations about how far we want to go down the fertility treatment path.  And no envisioning any of the rooms as a future baby's room.

I'm also proud.  We've done all of the work so far ourselves.  With our own blood, sweat, and tears (literally and figuratively).

We still love our bold, funky paint colors.  The hardwood floors that we refinished ourselves have held up remarkably well.  I planted a garden and managed not to kill the plants.  We're chipping away at the landscaping which was minimally maintained for probably close to 10 years, but suffice to say that it looks a heck of a lot better compared to when we bought the place.

Our projects for this summer are more landscaping, to paint the exterior of the house and garage as well as gut the bathroom.  I hope we're not getting in over our heads....

I feel like I'm failing miserably at saying what I want to say.  Our house is the healing place I'd hoped for, and so much more.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


It's been a weird week.  Yes, I know it's only Tuesday. I would have said the same thing yesterday (by noon).

When it comes to work, I am what a colleague once described as a "worker bee." Basically I get done what needs to be done, no matter how long it takes, how hard the task, and with no expectation whatsoever of recognition. I'm a behind the scenes sort of girl.

Before noon on Monday a professional opportunity presented itself. A promotion of sorts, though not really because it will involve all of my current responsibilities (with a small bit of redistribution) plus new responsibilities. This is something that I estimated was in the 5-7 years out range in my career trajectory. There are still a few conversations that I need to have and some negotiations will need to take place, so nothing is final yet, but despite people who are my senior being eligible for this, my name was the first to come up when the position opened up, so I must be doing something right.  To be honest, I don't feel like I have quite enough experience for this, but I've been assured that others have faith in me and my ability to do this (maybe more than I have in myself).

Later in the day on Monday I was called into a meeting and asked to do something, again that I didn't feel like I had the experience or seniority (though, in this case, I knew that I had the skills) to do.  Something far from fun but absolutely necessary. And it sucked. But it needed to be done.

I thought the day couldn't get weirder. It did.

The phone rang.  It was a person calling to inquire about my interest in a job.  I don't know this person and I didn't apply for the job.  The call was completely out of the blue. It sounds like a cool opportunity, but not a good fit for me, if for no other reason but it would require us to move to a different state. Still, I'm not going to lie, it feels good to have people contacting me about jobs instead of the other way around.

The day was just plain weird. Not bad weird, just weird. With potential to be really cool.

So how does this all relate to infertility? It doesn't, at least not directly.  The most significant thing for me is that I really feel like I'm finding myself again.  I lost me to infertility and then grief for a couple of years. I'm not fully back, but I'm getting there. And apparently others are noticing.

I'm not going to lie, I hope the rest of the week is normal!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I miss

I love spring.  Everything wakes up.  Things start anew.  The sun comes out of hiding.  I start spending a lot of time outside.  My soul is recharged in so many ways.

But there are things about spring that amplify what I'm missing out on thanks to infertility.  Soccer, for example.

One of the things I most looked forward to about parenting was sharing our love of sports with our kids.  There are few things, in my opinion, cuter than a swarm of four and five year olds chasing after a soccer ball, everyone cheering when a goal is scored, no matter which team scores or whether or not it was in the correct goal.  The pure joy of sport.

Had things worked out differently, this is probably the first year that our kids would have been old enough to participate.

But we don't have kids.  So there will be no soccer games.

And I miss it.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sometimes I'm firing on all cyllinders

I have a warranty on my engagement and wedding rings that requires them to be inspected twice per year.  Yesterday I knew I'd be near the store, so I decided to pop in for the inspection and get it out of the way.  Not a big deal, usually in and out in under 10 minutes.

Upon entering the store, the following conversation ensued:

Me: Hi, I'm here for a warranty inspection on my rings.

I hand my rings to the saleswoman and she looks up the warranty information on the computer.

Salesperson 1: I'll get these inspected and back to you in a few minutes.

Meanwhile I'm just sort of wandering around the store (because what else is there to do in a small jewelry store?).  I see a second salesperson approaching me.

Salesperson 2: There's still time to order a custom mother's ring and have it here in time for Mother's Day!  You could pick out exactly what you want and take the paperwork home to your husband so he can order it.  Then the kids could surprise you with it on Mother's Day.

At this point, I'm thinking that it's April freaking first, like six weeks from Mother's Day.  What gives?  I decided to educate (with a little bit of snark thrown in for good measure).

Me: Actually, Mother's Day doesn't apply to me so I won't need a mother's ring.  Do you have any special promotions going on for National Infertility Awareness Week?  It's coming up soon and applies to me.

Salesperson 2 looks at me like I have three heads and was completely speechless.  I continue.

Me: Considering one in every seven couples struggles with infertility, it would be genius from a marketing standpoint.  Nothing says "it sucks that we're having trouble making a small human" quite like a diamond necklace.

Salesperson 2 is still speechless when Salesperson 1 returns with my rings.  I thank them both and leave the store.  I quite enjoyed the awkward silence.

Sales is difficult, I get that.  Their whole job is to sell things to people.  If they don't sell things they don't get their commission, they have bills to pay, and that's pretty darn motivating to sell things.  But it's not ok to assume that every thirty-something woman that wanders into a jewelry store is a mother. Maybe she is a mother.  Or maybe she is trying like hell to be one.  Or maybe she wants to be a mother so bad they can taste it, but hasn't found a suitable partner.  Or maybe she has already closed the door on motherhood and is moving on. Or maybe she lost a child. Or maybe she have no desire to be a mother.  I really hope that my response made her think twice before deploying the "mother's ring" sales strategy to the next thirty-something female who walked in.

Luckily I was in a good headspace on Saturday afternoon and my reaction was one of "are you kidding me" as opposed to her words being painful.  A few years ago I don't think I would have handled it so well (or with so much sarcasm).

Friday, March 31, 2017

There is no need to be condescending

Earlier this week I attended a retirement reception for a colleague.  I don't know the woman well, but the reception was right across the hall from my office, there was food, and I forgot to pack my lunch. It was a good time chatting with people that I don't see that often.

It was all fine and good until she started giving her speech.  She's retiring because her daughter is expecting her first grandchild and she wants to spend time with the baby.  Groan.  Ok.  Whatever. Good for her.  I wish her the best, I honestly do.  I thought I was a few years out from dealing with granzillas, so the irony is not lost on me.  But hey, at least she's retiring, so I won't have to be around the baby talk.

But the retirement reception just provided the setting for the part I want to write about.  I want to write about is what happened as people were mingling.  I found out that a colleague is leaving in May.  I knew that, while she loved her job, she also longed to be closer to family, and apparently she's found a position that will allow her to do something she's excited about and be closer to family.  She and her husband also have two kids under three, and I know that was part of the reason for the move too.  While I will miss her, I understand wanting to move closer to your support system.

But that brings me to a conversation with a different colleague who felt the need to tell me (twice) that raising young children is a really difficult phase of life.  I know it wasn't meant to be condescending, but it was.  I don't have kids, that's no secret, but I am a reasonably intelligent person who can look at a situation and understand the difficulty in it.  Not on a personal experience level, but still.  I've never climbed Mt. Everest either, and I'm quite confident that it's pretty darn difficult too.  I'm not going to lie, it hurt a little bit.  It sort of felt like I was in that all to familiar position of "less than."

The person who said it gets a bit of a pass.  She's normally quite sensitive and someone who I can count on to be an ally.  But it still hurt, and it's ok for me to acknowledge that.  Next time I hope I'm not caught off guard and can come up with a witty response.

It gets less hard as time passes, but there will always be curveballs.