Thursday, January 22, 2009

Boiling Frogs

I finally managed to see my primary care doctor yesterday about the stomach/back/belly pain I've been experiencing. Since I saw her partner for a sick appointment the last time, I had to bring her up to speed on the whole scenario of what happened and what tests I've had so far. Every test has been normal, yet the pains persist.

Of course she asked me what my level of stress has been. I said, "Heh," and briefly outlined what's been going on my personal life for the last three years. She gasped here and there, and stated that it sounded like a traumatizing level of stuff. In addition to giving me a referral to a gastroenterologist, she suggested I should take antidepressants and possibly seek more counseling, since I haven't gone to any therapy since right before Little A's birth.

I expected she'd refer me to a GI doc, but the antidepressant discussion totally threw me. I get that GI problems are often linked to anxiety and stress. I'm absolutely sure some part of my stomach problems are stress, given that they began around the time of Little A's lung CT scan. And I appreciate being asked how I'm coping.

BUT ... the thing is, my doctor didn't actually ask how I was doing. She just listened and said, "You look really sad and tired. And when you were just talking, your body was really tense. You just don't look well. I think you should seek psychological counseling and possibly medication to help your mental state."

"Um ... I am tired," I stammered. "I've been up since five a.m. with my sick toddler. And I'm in pain. For three months."

"Wabi," she said. "I worry that you're a boiling frog."

I wasn't aware of the analogy, so I asked her to explain it.

"If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, he'll try to jump out immediately. But if you put him in a pot of cold water and warm it up gradually, you can boil that frog alive and he'll just lay there and let you."

My mouth dropped open. There was so much I wanted to say, but it was all jammed up behind a huge WHAT THE FUCK that had to come out first. So I just took the referral and left, mulling and simmering for the rest of the day.

Seriously though, WHAT THE FUCK?

1) Is she saying that I'm a retarded frog just happily paddling around the boiling water, completely oblivious to the roil? Because I kind of recall telling her that I was well aware I was under lots of stress.

2) Doesn't the frog die in either scenario of the analogy?

I bet I did look stressed telling about my life. But frankly, it would have been a little bit less awkward and, well, stressful if my doctor seemed to have any memory of our last exchange about these subjects. Because we've talked about my medical history before. Then I must have done a better job at keeping my voice from cracking, because the other time her reaction was, "SQUEEEEE! Weird medical mishaps -- tell me all the details!"

Which was also disconcerting. For different reasons.

I'm the first to admit that the last couple months I haven't been twirling on a mountaintop singing with Julie Andrews. Aside from a fabulous summer, 2008 sucked. And lord knows, I've got my scars and mental tics. But I also don't drink heavily, snort coke, or smoke anything. I don't beat the kids or daydream about driving my car into the ocean. I'm basically ok. Functionally disfunctional, and cracking jokes along the way. Enjoying the kids and trying my best.

I thought I was some sort of a success at this. Moving on and getting over. And then she went and decreed I wasn't. It made me wonder if I was completely dellusional -- am I just telling myself I'm ok, when I'm really hanging by a thread?

So ... What is your idea of "good mental health" after a trauma and a tragedy? Do you have to be able to talk about it 100 percent of the time without feeling it? Do you have to stop thinking about it, or just stop minding that you think about it?

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Big A flunked the eye exam at her five-year-old well visit with the pediatrician. No surprise to me, since I've noticed she now sits on the hardwood floor right in front of the TV rather than lounge on the comfy sofa ten feet away. World'sBestPediatrician referred us to a kid-friendly optometrist. WBP and I shared stories of getting our own glasses when we were kids to show Big A that glasses were normal.

Turns out Big A needs no convincing that glasses are neat. "I want to have glasses like Mommy and Daddy!" she shouts, "When can we go?" I am wondering if there might be some sort of replacement insurance one can buy for children's eyeglasses, since there must be 50 different ways she could crush her specs every day of the week.

Insurance musings were pretty much the beginning and end of my internal dialog about Big A's eyes. At least until I mentioned the optometry appointment to DH. Surprisingly, he seemed crestfallen at the news that Big A is nearsighted. He wondered if Big A was distracted during the eye test. Since then he has pointed out moments when he thinks Big A is seeing very well from beyond ten feet.

"What's the big deal? I asked him. "We both got glasses when we were in gradeschool."

"Yeah," he said wistfully. "But I had hoped she would be more perfect than us. Glasses mean she isn't, and that she'll have to deal with this for the rest of her life."

I get what he meant. Really, I do.

But the thing that popped into my head was we made one kid with an extra eighteenth chromosome, another with brittle asthma, and you're seriously sad about this one having 20/80 vision?

Somehow, it didn't seem appropriate to share at that moment. So I just changed the subject.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2009 Resolutions

Oh, what the hell. Maybe I'll have better follow through if I put these out there:


1) Go for a walk every single day for the first 100 days of the year. This probably sounds totally lame to anyone who spins, swims, or runs on a regular basis. But I tend to lie around like veal in the winter months. Walking for the first 100 days of the year will probably net me many extra hours of exercise compared to normal. And then when I have my annual oh-my-God-it's-almost-swimsuit-season panic attack in April or May, I'll be in better shape to start exercising more strenuously at that point.

2) Organize my bedroom closet. They say a bedroom closet is a metaphor for what's going on in the rest of a person's life. That's so true for me -- mine has been a den of chaos since I became a mother. It seems like I never have anything to wear, yet the rack is so full I can't wedge another hanger in there.

Time to ruthlessly prune my wardrobe of everything I don't wear anymore. Even if I do manage to get back down to my prekid weight, those prekid work outfits I've been saving for years? Out of style. Likewise, I have tons of too-big clothing from early postpartum days. All of it needs to go.

3) Go to the dentist. It hit me the other day that I haven't had my teeth cleaned since my pregnancy woes began in 2005. I don't think this is a coincidence -- after my nearly two decades ago, I also stopped going to the dentist for a long time. I think there is something about the dentist experience that tweaks my sense of being vulnerable. Getting teeth cleaned makes me feel ... invaded. But, time to suck it up. I'm way overdue for a checkup.

4) Renew (or, depending on age/passport status) or apply for brand-new passports for everyone in the family. Currently it seems unlikely we'll have the extra money to go on any foreign adventures this year. But not having valid passports for everyone just ensures that we stay home. At least having the valid travel documents leaves the possibilities open for us. (You know, in case I inherit megabucks from some long-lost relative ...)

Wishing much resolve to others in the resolution boat!