Fritz is Awesome

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On Thursday I had a bad reaction to the pain medication they gave me. In the hospital I kept forgetting to breathe when they gave me morphine. Coming out of the anesthesia they had to regularly remind me to breathe. Apparently that particular side effect is one I get from narcotics. The first couple days, the Norco worked fine. Thursday, however was a different story.

Jamie gave me a pill and then headed to work. Not long afterward I realized I was forgetting to breathe and felt like I was going to pass out. I called Fritz upstairs. He called his father and told him was was going on and asked him to come back home. Then he sat there rubbing my arm continuously for 40 minutes straight keeping me awake. My brain was in a complete fog, but that rubbing was something I could focus on. He watched me closely and whenever my breathing go too shallow, he’d remind me to breathe.

Eventually, the medicine started wearing off and I was okay. That was a relief. Looking back, I realize how utterly scary what happened really was. (Especially when a friend said, “You didn’t have him dial 9-1-1?” Honestly, I didn’t think it was that serious at the time.) Fritz has a tendency to get really anxious about weather and medical issues. He’s had panic attacks in the past over medical issues. This time, he stayed completely calm and knew just what to do to help me. He never left my side until Jamie got home. He was rewarded with a blue “good job” star to go on his uniform in taekwondo. I don’t think Fritz realizes even now how much of a good thing he did. He said he just did what he thought I needed him to do.

As for me, I’m steadily healing and feeling better. Needless to say, I haven’t taken the Norco since Thursday morning. Tylenol doesn’t kill the pain; it just takes the edge off. But it’ll have to do because no way am I taking the narcotic again just in case.

Current Adventures

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On Saturday I turned 36. It was a lovely day. Jamie and I went to kickboxing and then had some breakfast tacos at a new place near us. Not long after we got home, Jamie, Ani, and I headed to the book festival. Ani had to do a shift at a booth for her magnet school. I finished reading Blackbriar. We dropped Ani off at home and Jamie and I went to dinner at Olive Garden. My parents gave me a gift card for that dinner. It was delicious.

But eating that dinner apparently set of a stress test for my gallbladder that did not end well.

Go back nearly 6 years. After Adrian was born I kept throwing up and I’d have pain between my shoulder blades. We figured out it was gallbladder attacks. I’d take Lecithin and Tylenol and throw up and within a couple hours I’d be fine. Time went on and the attacks happened less and less often. I never told a doctor because I did not want surgery. The last attack was in May of last year.

And then Sunday happened. I woke up about 3:30 or 4 in terrible pain. This time it wasn’t just my back hurting. It was also right under my ribs on the front right. I threw up several times. Nothing helped. We went to Urgent Care. They couldn’t do an ultrasound. Looking back we should have said we’d go elsewhere since we walked in saying we thought it was gallbladder. But I was in pain and did not want surgery so when the doctor (who reeked of cigarette smoke) said it was typical gastroenteritis, I was willing to accept that (even though deep down I knew that had to be wrong). They gave me fluids and anti-nausea medicine. They told me to take Tylenol for the pain. I already had. Twice. I threw it up both times. Jamie questioned two or three times if the doctor was sure it was no gallbladder. The doctor said it definitely wasn’t, and if it was it was a 1 in 1000 chance. Jamie said I had thrown up the Tylenol and was there something else I could have. That’s when the nurse asked me how long I’d had this “muscular disorder.” Ummm… 6 hours? I think she thought I was a drug seeker (and all I was asking was if Advil instead of Tylenol would be okay!).

Meanwhile, the doctor and nurses had a very loud conversation in the hallway (with only a curtain between us) about the previous patient. I know all the details of the case. Can you say HIPAA violation?

I was sent home and took the Tylenol as instructed. Jamie headed to Walgreen’s to get the anti-nausea drugs. I really felt like I was throwing up because the pain was so bad it was causing me to become nauseated, but I still didn’t want surgery and was willing to try anything to get rid of the pain. The doctor clearly decided I pulled a muscle because I threw up. The pain was first. He wouldn’t listen (of course, he also said pain in the places I was pointing to were “definitely not” signs of gallbladder problems). 10 minutes after I took the Tylenol I was running back to the bathroom and throwing up so violently I bled some and felt like my throat was trying to turn inside out.

I Skyped my parents and burst into tears. My parents, aunt, and uncle all told me to go to the ER. I didn’t want to because I still didn’t want surgery and I knew that’s where I’d be headed. Jamie got home some time in there while I was sobbing to my parents. He called the Urgent Care since they said to call if anything changed and they said I should go to the ER. But I didn’t want to go because Ani had a spoken word poetry competition Sunday afternoon (one of my amazing visiting teachers took her – and Ani won her age division and will be moving on to the finals in May). The Elder’s Quorum President (Jamie’s in the presidency) ran over and helped Jamie give me a blessing before we left for the ER.

I was taken back in the ER very quickly. When the PA came in checked me over he said I was having textbook signs of a gallbladder attack (the Urgent Care doctor was crazy to say I wasn’t). Plus my mom, her mom, and her mom all had their gallbladders out (and my dad’s sister, too!) so family history is there, too. He ordered an ultrasound which showed that my gallbladder was full of little stones and the bile duct was super inflamed which meant one was probably stuck in there causing the pain. Once they got the results of the ultrasound, they called in the surgeon. That’s when I had to come to terms with having surgery sooner than later. The doctor over the PA came to make sure nothing had been missed and he concurred that it was definitely my gallbladder and it needed to come out.

At some point, the Urgent Care got creepy. They called Jamie’s phone (apparently several times) but reception in the ER wasn’t great. Since Jamie didn’t answer, they called the ER to check on me. Um… HIPAA, anyone? The ER nurse was a little weirded out by that. Jamie called the Urgent Care and told them it was in fact my gallbladder and we were waiting on the surgeon. Some much for his “1 in 1000 chance.”

The surgeon got there and discussed what was going on and said I could choose to try to stop the inflammation and go home and be back next time it happened or I could have surgery. By then I was okay with surgery. I knew it was when, not if. And the pain was so bad I needed to be done with my gallbladder (morphine, by the way, didn’t quite take away the pain and made me feel weirdly heavy and made me not care about the pain). So within an hour I was being prepped for surgery. At 6:30 on a Sunday night. They gave me some Versed and the next thing I know I was waking up after the surgery.

They used a da Vinci robot for the surgery, going through my belly button. It’s pretty fascinating watching videos about that thing.

Once I was awake they took me up to a room for the night. As I was trying to move from the gurney to the bed I needed to throw up and proceeded to throw up quite a lot of blood. It’s a little scary to hear a PACU nurse say she’s never seen something that bad and she’d contact the surgeon. My blood pressure was good and they repeated my blood work the next morning and since my hemoglobin and hematocrit were fine, they didn’t worry about it. I suspect it was a combination of throwing up so violently all through the morning and then being intubated so I bled a lot down my throat and it had to come out. There are a few places inside my throat that were very painful the first couple days and are much better today so I am sure those were the problem areas. It was scary anyway. More for other people than me, though, I think, because I was still pretty out of it.

I spent the night at the (very, very nice) hospital and went home about 10:30 or so Monday morning (and a few minutes later the Urgent Care called *again* to check on me). Since then I’ve been working on getting better again. It seems slow, but probably isn’t. Jamie stayed home from work Monday and Tuesday. People from church brought us meals and came to visit. Jamie went back to work today and a friend of mine came to “baby-sit” me for a couple hours so I wouldn’t have too long without help over the age of 7. She even bought pizza to feed my boys (and hers) lunch.

I can’t do taekwondo for at least 2 weeks which is a bummer. I’ll see the surgeon for a follow-up on the 21st and he’ll decide if I am sufficiently healed to go back to it. I’m needing the pain medication a little less today and even was able to take a shower with Jamie’s help, so I’m happy with my progress. It’s been a crazy few days for sure!

Taekwondo Tournament

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Yesterday we all competed in a taekwondo tournament between the Victory schools in the area.

Cameron

Adrian got best forward roll for his board break (they don’t score the little people the same as they score everyone else), Fritz got 4th (participation) for his traditional form and 3rd for his traditional weapons form (nunchucks), and Cameron got 1st place for both his traditional form and extreme weapons form.

Adrian, Cameron, Fritz

Jamie got 3rd for his traditional form, Ani got a participation award, and I got 3rd for board breaking.

Jamie, Ani, Me

Standardized Test Season is Upon Us

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The other day I took the paper my older kids brought home with them a few weeks ago and highlighted the dates of the standardized tests they’ll be taking. Ani’s first is on Monday (English). She also had to take algebra and biology. Cameron will have to take reading and math.

I hate standardized tests. I get that we apparently have to prove kids are learning something in a way that isn’t teacher given grades. But I’m not sure standardized tests is the way to do that.

A few times over the course of the year so far they’ve taken what they call benchmark tests. These tests give an idea of how well the kids are doing in class and whether they are likely to pass. But those benchmarks have pretty much nothing to do with the reality of classroom work and assignments.

For example, Cameron got a 64% on his most recent reading benchmark. This was apparently a “good” score. If it was the actual test he would’ve passed by a large margin. Never mind his next lowest grade for the quarter was 80%. The benchmark scores count in their final grades (though his reading teacher actually dropped the benchmark score in his third quarter grade calculation because it was so ridiculously out of the norm for him). Ani’s had some similar way out of the norm scores on her benchmarks, too.

For the last week and a half in Ani’s English class they have been prepping for the test on Monday. Basically learning how to pass. This means that’s 2 full weeks (plus random days through the school year) devoted to test prep. They could have used that time to learn things that are actually relevant in the real world.

Standardized testing doesn’t start until 3rd grade. And yet my kindergartener and second grader were doing test-prep-lite on occasion. From early on these kids start getting stressed over these tests. Ani’s a bit anxious about her English test on Monday. Never mind she’s gotten high A’s all three quarters this year in English. Then again, a sophomore friend who is brilliant failed his English STAAR last year the first time he took it. He had A’s every quarter in English, too.

The superintendent said he’d get rid of the standardized tests if he could, if they weren’t required by the state. I know a lot of parents would stand up and cheer if he did.

My Fourth Reader

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I taught three kids to read, but my fourth insisted that he had to go to school and have a teacher teach him to read. Mommies can’t do that. Never mind he had already learned his letters, their sounds, how to sound out CVC words, and a few sight words at home. In public kindergarten, he learned just a few more sight words he didn’t already know. That’s it for learning to read in 5 months. Since I brought him back home in January, I’ve been working on teaching him to read (actually we started after school before I pulled him out). I got Primary Arts of Language: Reading (which we love). And now he is reading. Reading quite easily, actually.

On Friday, since he had proven he could read all the words in the first reader without a problem (well, down is still giving him a little trouble), he got the reader. This video is him reading it the second time (he actually read it better the first time because he was much less distracted). The video is very long and I mostly just videoed it so when he is older he can watch it and see himself reading his first ever book. I don’t have a good stapler so I had to put it together a bit wonky (it’s 28 pages long plus the cover) so when I tried to video him holding and reading it, it didn’t work out because he was more concerned about the flapping pages and strange placement of the staples. It worked better with me holding the book while he read (and Cameron using the camera), but he still had some random questions and comments every so often.