Friday, December 25, 2015

An open letter to doctors everywhere

It could have been a lot of things—you may have a bad day, or you may have formed an opinion about the patient beforehand. But it’s important to remember that doctor-patient interactions are human interactions. That’s important for both doctor and patient to remember.
Wednesday I sat in the specialist’s office for the 4th time for the same problem, because my primary care doctor wanted to be sure we weren’t missing anything. Rather than look for a reason why I’m still having problematic symptoms, this specialist chose to intimate I was at best exaggerating, at worse faking my symptoms. She also told me I’d gained so much weight that I was almost unrecognizable compared to the photo they had of me from my first visit. Then she proceeded to tell me that she no longer needed to see me, that if my doctor had any questions she could call—but it was no longer necessary for me to return to the office.
Almost five months ago I got a concussion at work. Despite rest, medications, and following all my doctors’ instructions I am not better. I still can’t drive. I have pain every single day. If I don’t recover I’m looking at a future devoid of many of my favorite things. It’s changed my life irrevocably. I can’t go to Disneyland with my family anymore—the crowds, the rides, it’s all done for me if I don’t get better. I’m a writer who can barely stare at the computer for more than a couple hours a day. I’m a mother who can’t attend her daughters’ concerts or her son’s basketball game. Car rides that last more than a few minutes are torture. Even the crowds at church freak me out, thanks to my new anxiety.
Beyond all of that, I’m a person. A fellow human being. But I wasn’t treated like one that day. I was treated like a problem. A dark smear in her otherwise perfect record. She made a point of telling me none of her other concussion patients had symptoms that lasted as long as mine, as if I was not being wholly and completely honest about my experience.
I wish I could have said these things to my doctor that day. I should have, but I was honestly so taken aback by her words that I just wanted to get out of there. I’m glad I don’t have to see her anymore. Apart from the visit itself, the hour long drive there (and then an hour back again) is miserable. At least I know that my primary care physician hears me.
I know the world we live in. I know too many people fake injury or illness to live off disability or workers’ compensation. I know there are people who defraud the system. But I’m not one of those people. If you knew how much this stupid injury has changed my life you wouldn’t doubt that I am in daily pain and misery. I’m failing my family every day. I’m on a ton of antidepressants for pain, and guess what? I’ve gained quite a bit of weight due to the medication and the fact that I can barely move. I can’t exercise without sharp, shooting pain in my head. I’ve tried. I try regularly. I want to be better, but after so many weeks of this my fragile optimism is fading fast.
The last thing I need is to feel like my doctor doesn’t even believe me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

December Fifteen

We're basically halfway done with December 2015, so I'm looking ahead to January. 2016. It's going to be a huge year for us.

Epic, really.

First of all, this is happening. 
Elder Brandon Chesley reports to the Provo MTC January 27. You know, basically 6 weeks from tomorrow. No pressure, right? ;)

It was a hugely emotional, exciting day yesterday. It was almost like Bry and Chris's wedding day, where afterward we all went back to our friend's house and collapsed, we were so exhausted.

Because, not only did we get Brandon's mission call, we also got to unleash more good news into the world.

Yup, you read that right. I'm going to be a grandma. Bry called us a week or so ago to tell us the news, but they waited until everyone in their family circle was told personally before going public with the announcement. So even though we knew already, being able to announce and brag about it publicly yesterday was HUGE. I didn't expect it to hit me that hard, but it did. So amazing, so happy. it's the greatest news.

Like I said, yesterday was pretty epic, and looking forward to 2016 has all new applications. Brandon going on his mission is a big deal for us. Having a grand baby is a big deal for us, too. It was like Christmas came early, and I'm totally set now. I don't need more gifts.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

It's December...

...and the holiday blahs are here.

This isn't really news to anyone since I go through it every year. Although every year I hope it's going to be better. Nobody wants grumpy mom for Christmas.

We planned ahead this time. Over Thanksgiving break, Bryan and I decided when we would put up the tree as a family. He likes to do it about 2 weeks before Christmas. Some years I want it up sooner, other years I don't want it up at all. We put it up yesterday, and ideally it was the perfect time. Bryan didn't have to go to work until after bedtime, Brandon didn't work at all, and everyone would be home. No concerts, no games, we could all do it together.

Reality was that Bryan was still groggy from sleep and sat on the sidelines and directed more than participated. Brandon is getting sick and was beyond exhausted and had been home all day. Baby Girl was also not feeling well, I was miserable with this stupid headache and did way more than I was physically able to do. And the twins wanted to be silly and goofy when all I wanted was some cooperation. So, it was less than perfect. Though we did wind it all up with cinnamon rolls, so there's that.

I woke up today so sore from everything I did the night before. I've been taking it easy today, thinking of all the things I should be doing. I have gifts to make, a book to edit, etc. But I had no energy. And now, even though I've been staring at the tree all day, I'm hostile and downright angry. I don't want to be around anyone. And I hate Christmas.


I know this is my depression rearing its ugly head and shouting for attention. Stupid depression.. And maybe it's hitting extra hard this time because of my head injury. I don't know. I can't even say it's disproportionate to what I experience every holiday. The worst thing is that I can't even pinpoint why I hate holidays so much--why they're such a trigger for my depression. I've been with Bryan for 20 years. Half my life. And every year we've had a great holiday, despite our less than glorious circumstances. (in his words, "why are we always broke at Christmastime?!") But the day itself is always great. The kids are happy with what they get. We have a nice, quiet day at home. Sometimes we've had snow. Sometimes not. Some memories are better than others, like the time the kids unwrapped our Disneyland trip for Christmas. That was fun. And, naturally, the Christmases we've had Sissy have always been favorites.

I know Christmas isn't about what's under the tree. I know it's about family, and living a Christ-centered life. It's about celebrating the birth of our Savior. This week has been such a roller coaster for me. I've been so grateful for getting a new roof, so blessed that the cars have held up and my kids are safe, so glad that my kids are so awesome. But at the same time I've been fighting my dark holiday mood swings. I want to just crawl in a cave and not come out till spring. Oooh, maybe I'm a bear.

Okay, maybe not.

There's no denying 2015 has been hard. Rough. My concussion and pathetic, ongoing recovery. Bryan going months without a job and then being underemployed. The house falling apart and being unable to do anything about it. Same with the vehicles. But there's been a lot of good in there, too. Brandon graduated high school. He's waiting now for his mission call (any day). All the kids are doing and have done well in school. Jeffrey's having a great basketball season with his team. The roof got replaced and looks awesome--and just in time for some big weather. The cars haven't given out on us. Inigo has started catching and killing mice. All the animals have been healthy and injury free.

Sure, we still have a lot of needs that require tending. And right now I have no plan to make them happen, aside from waiting for our tax refund. I don't know if some of our issues will wait that long (looking at you, Durango). Today's been bad. Far more negative than positive. That's been difficult for me, and by default hard for the family. (If mama ain't know the rest) I try so hard not to break, but yesterday I snapped at Jeffrey and today I got rather grumbly at my daughters. It's hard to hold it in, and I fail sometimes. I know they don't deserve it, and I'd love to be better. But I don't know how. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

My Beautiful Daughter and World Opinions

My 14 yr old daughter came home from school yesterday and proceeded to tell me about cultures around the world who embrace and even revere people of larger sizes. They consider skinny people to be sickly, unappealing, unhealthy.

But we live in America, where Twiggy set a standard 50 years ago that nobody can shake. Today I read about a lingerie company that has announced they won't photoshop their models anymore. Yay? I guess.

Why did they start doing it in the first place?'re all familiar with this quote attributed to Harry Potter author JK Rowling. And, for the most part, we believe it. I mean, wouldn't you rather be told you're fat than vindictive or cruel?

Our instinctive behavior would indicate otherwise. Anyone who grew up on a playground of any kind heard it. The heavy girl is called fat. When insulting one another, the popular girls call each other fat. How is FAT the worst thing we can think of?

I was "big boned" in middle school. Translation: I grew taller faster than my petite friends. I dieted at age 13 to wear a borrowed dress I absolutely loved to my 8th grade graduation. Looking back, I don't know what I was trying to prove. (truth probably had more to do with the fact that I couldn't afford a new dress, and this one was the only nice one I had access to)  I weighed 125 lbs from age 13 to age 21, when I got pregnant with my first child. In that time I grew 5 or 6 inches in height. 

Think about that. 125 lbs on a girl who's 5'3" or even 5'4" might look a little heavy. But on a girl who's 5'9"? My favorite pair of jeans to wear on dates with Bryan was a bright red size 5. I kind of had to squeeze into them, but they were my "wow" jeans. I was maybe a size 8, which his perfectly healthy and even a little slim. For a normal human being. But you know what? I was ashamed of my "belly." It wasn't washboard firm. It was embarassing. I tried to hide it from my husband after we got married. (Yeah, didn't work. Turns out he didn't care, but that's another story)

Back to my daughter. She struggled with weight issues in 5th thru 7th grade. Interestingly enough, she was also horribly bullied during that time. I worried about her health (and mine at the time, still do) because she has a major sweet tooth and abhors any physical activity that might lead to sweating. I mean, seriously. She's the only child who complained at Disneyland. So we discussed things with her and with her doctor, we implemented healthier eating habits and she got healthier. As a side effect, she also lost some weight. She also grew like 3 inches, so that took her off the "obese" charts at the Dr's office. 

I just want to point out that our obsession with thinness is a societal thing--not a health concern or even a world problem. Sure, other societies do embrace thinness as the ideal, but many many societies DON'T. 

What I'd really like to see is a focus on healthy, if you're going to focus on the appearance of a person at all. Healthy is good, and it's DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE. Eating smart is a great idea whether you're 5 or 55. Moving your body is good for your body--physically and emotionally. The food industry is there to make money, not to help us be healthy. 

We have to be our own advocate and shop and eat smart. It would also be great if the side effect was a society-wide departure from fat-shaming and other horrid behavior.