Role strain

Marriage, children cause more burnout for female physicians

No SHIT. As we speak, I’m sitting here scrambling to trade a call with a colleague because dear hubby neglected to note he has a work trip coming up on his usual day home. We use Google Calendar to juggle our schedules, and he doesn’t even bother to put this on there. I ask him to be available this one day of the week consistently so that I can avoid having to work every weekend, and he can’t even bother to put a trip on the calendar? So yes, this is what I’m doing instead of the 2 days’ worth of charts that I have backlogged. Grrrr…

She gets it

It’s happened more than just a few times, so I really do think C gets it. We talk about the animals, and she names them all, then when she says the name of our cat who died, she immediately says “sad” or what sounds like “I sad”. At first we thought it was a fluke, because she doesn’t really sound all that sad, but it’s consistent. I’ve definitely teared up when she’s said it and then she looks concerned also.

His clay paw print arrived in the mail today. We were really touched by the accompanying card – the vet who performed the euthanasia was really paying attention when we had the other pets say their last good-byes. All of their names were on the card, even though we never wrote them on any of their paperwork. I’m going to go buy a little potted succulent to keep next to it on the shelf in our patio room where he liked to sun himself all the time.

Grieving while your toddler is being an asshole

Well, I haven’t cried nearly as much today as I thought I would, because instead I’ve been angry and raising my voice at my asshole toddler. C has decided this is the perfect time to hit, kick, and pinch to get a rise out of us. If i’m calm and focused, I just stop whatever we’re doing and leave the room. The problem is, I moved past the denial stage of grieving pretty quickly and am in the angry stage. So I have definitely raised my voice and yelled a few times. She of course finds this HILARIOUS, which only serves to make me angrier. I think I’m even more upset that she hasn’t attempted to look for our dead cat, which is silly because isn’t this what I wanted? For her to not be sad and move on? I mean, how much do I really expect for her to understand? She did enjoy looking at pictures and videos of him, but then moved right onto whatever she wanted to do next.

I really wanted to get out of the house too, and C just wasn’t having it. Threw a fit about not picking the right shoes, ran screaming to her playroom for us to open the door. As soon as she went down for her nap, I took off to buy some frames for prints of the animals to keep at my office and at home. Unfortunately, when I returned less than an hour later, she was stirring from her nap and woke up fully when she heard the door. I ended up passing out on the bed in her room for over an hour while she continued to bop around her crib wide awake. So thankful she didn’t fight us going down early tonight.

It’s been a long time. Please excuse the emotional vomit.

This year has been one shit-storm after another. Since I last wrote in February, our dining room floors were completely torn up to investigate the cause of water damage. Basically the landscaping contractor we used last year didn’t bother to grade the exterior paver patio properly, or suggest improving drainage in the area. That plus a small defect in the stucco led to water pouring in underneath the concrete whenever it rained. Several thousand dollars later, plus several more thousand dollars to replace the old A/C unit that had to be moved to fix this, plus gutters and some new attic insulation while we’re at it, and we’re tapped out financially. It took over 2 months to finish everything because our original flooring is no longer available, and we kept going back and forth on what to install in there. We had to open a home equity line of credit, which I was really hoping to avoid, but we can’t sit with all this credit card debt at crazy interest rates. And of course, right after we do that, we’re hit by identity thieves again. WTF. Placing credit freezes come next week.

I’ve been adding shifts here and there trying to make dents in our debt. So much for working part-time. Add in C’s weekly physical therapy sessions, plus nearly weekly vet visits for all the animals, and I’m wiped.

Our cat with lymphoma had been chugging along until almost a month ago, when I noticed he was vomiting and crying more frequently. Unfortunately our regular vet was out for medical reasons, so it was tough having to rehash everything with the covering vet, but she convinced me to go ahead and try the chemotherapy pill. The one that rang up at >$400 for a 6 week supply – the look on the pharmacist’s face… Insurance did cover most of it, which was the only reason why I agreed. Anyways, he did seem to improve with that and subcutaneous fluids 3 times a week (yup, for both cats), until the last 2 days everything kind of went to hell. We noticed he wasn’t hanging around for dropped food at dinner like usual, and he cried almost all that night. Couldn’t get him to eat much yesterday, and then he kept throwing up. That made it tough to give his meds, but I finally managed to drop the anti-nausea medicine down his throat. He seemed to recover enough that he ate dinner and stopped vomiting. But the awful night plus seeing more blood-tinged diarrhea in the box (and many accidents throughout the day) prompted me to schedule for euthanasia today with our regular vet. I couldn’t stomach the thought of another stressful drive and vet visit for him though, and after calling around for estimates and confirming it would be covered by insurance, chose a home-based euthanasia service.

Our 2 cats are the first pets I’ve ever owned, while hubby has always had pets since he was a kid. I have been a mess since yesterday morning when we decided it was time. I’m still not sure how I made it through my afternoon at work. By end of day yesterday, I’d given myself the worst combination of TMJ pain / tension headache / migraine, and threw up 3 times after barely eating anything all day. After slamming myself with Tylenol, Aleve (the first NSAID I’ve taken in 2 years since learning my kidney function isn’t so great), and Zofran, I gave up trying to catch up on work and went to bed.

We were supposed to pick up the dogs from my MIL’s (they stayed out of the way during our floor installation), but instead she drove them up with the plan to stick around to keep an eye on C in case she didn’t go down easily for her nap (thankfully she did). The anti-nausea medicine was effective, and he had a return of his appetite this morning. We let him eat whatever he wanted from our plates, tons of his fave freeze-dried chicken, and we also took him out to the backyard to roam around – something he’d always wanted to do as an exclusively indoor cat.

The euthanasia vet arrived, and he sat and petted both cats for a bit, asking us about his history and learning more about them and our dogs. The dogs were barking because of the new person, and we tried shutting them in the patio, but they managed to escape, so we gave up and let them watch behind some gates. I gave both cats some special treats, and the vet took the opportunity to give him the first injection in his thigh, the sedative, while he was distracted. Within a few minutes, he was wobbly, and stumbled a bit, ending up on one of the several beds we had out. His sister sniffed around him then went back to looking for crumbs. After petting him for a while longer, it was time for the final injection, in one of the large veins in his leg. The vet had told us we could tell him to stop and wait if we weren’t ready, but we signaled it was OK. The medicine went in, then the vet picked up his stethoscope to listen for a good minute until he confirmed his heart had stopped. We gave him some final pets after the vet wrapped him up in a blanket, and then they left. We chose not to keep the ashes, but will receive a clay impression of his paw print within a few weeks.

I know that C is not even 2 yet, but I have been prepping her for this loss by talking about our cat being sick and not getting better, and that we needed to say good-bye today. Since she woke up from her nap, she hasn’t asked for him, but still cheerfully says his name when she sees his picture. Hubby has been teary, a very rare sight. Our other cat, the runt of the litter who’s been near death so many times – never did we think her brother would go first – seems to be acting fine. Hubby jokes she’s so stubborn, she’ll likely live at least another 3 years, with fluids 3 times a week and all. She’s on no other meds so I can see that happening. We’ll have to figure out what to do with her on future overnight trips, likely ask a close friend to house-sit. The dogs have been a bit more subdued than usual. The older dog is definitely limping more, but still acting well overall, so we’ll see how much longer she keeps hanging in there.

I’m also very worried that we’ll lose hubby’s grandmother this year. She’s deteriorated quickly since the beginning of the year, and barely eats anymore. Somehow, she still insists on coming up with my MIL to visit C, even though we keep protesting that we’ll drive down. Unfortunately, C is going through a shy/clingy phase these days and isn’t as willing to sit with her. Hoping this passes quickly. I’m just exhausted.

The plague continues

Since I last wrote, we discovered we had a leak in the kitchen for who knows how long. Thankfully the leak detector was able to fix it without tearing up the floor. As to how much moisture it might have caused under the floor, we will have to see when we finally renovate the kitchen in a few years. Then my husband felt water drop on him in our new playroom. There’s a tiny leak coming from the seam between ceiling panels. Never ending!!

C and I have now been trading cold and cough for a good month now. Miraculously, hubby seems to be avoiding the worst of it for once. I was so bad off last week I called out sick and took myself into see my own doctor. Had a chest X-ray just to be sure but it looks like just one cold after another aggravating my asthma. It finally seems to be dying down a bit, but then C woke up with a fever and worse cough this morning. Again, I had to scramble to call out sick because hubby had something he couldn’t miss at work today. I’ve booked her for sick kids care tomorrow, but they warned if she has another fever they won’t accept her since flu is still hitting pretty hard. Thankfully I already have the morning off, but of course hubby says he absolutely needs to be at something by 5pm. Maybe he can drop her off at my office on his way up? I don’t know…

Please let this awful cold and flu season be over soon!!

Fraying

This month isn’t quite over, but I am so done. In the last couple weeks, we dealt with C’s cold turning into croup with me having to convince the hubby to pick up some prescription Decadron at 1am, to avoid taking her to the ER. She missed 3 days of school in just her second week there. It was a relief to finally send her back because she was going stir-crazy at home. Then she picked up another cold and give it to me, and I’m still coughing a ton at night thanks to asthma. I really need to just suck it up and get myself on some steroids too, but I hate how insane I feel on it. Otherwise, she seems to have adjusted pretty well to school, so long as hubby drops her off – she’ll run and hug the teachers, and cheerfully wave bye to him. I usually pick her up and she’s fairly cranky, fighting getting in her car seat and all the way home. She’s also now in a bath-hating phase. Ugh!

One cat is getting once a day antibiotics for another week, and subcutaneous fluids every other night. I had to take her in for follow-up labs this morning, and at least she’s still weak enough they could do the draw without too much fuss. We’ve had to resort to using a cat muzzle on her for the fluids because otherwise hubby can’t hold her still long enough for the fluids to get in.

The other cat had his lymphoma follow-up earlier this week. He’ll stay on Prednisone and Flagyl sort of indefinitely. The vet brought up a chemotherapy pill that we could use if things get worse, but at $90/month after insurance coverage, I don’t know that I could justify that plus I’m uncertain about restrictions with him hanging out so much with C. I guess we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get there.

Then our older dog had to go in also earlier this week because she had some blood-tinged urine. So she’s on twice a day antibiotics. This is her 4th presumed UTI in a year, and it’s perplexing because there really seems to be no great explanation other than presumed incontinence. I’m about ready to start her and the first cat on D-mannose just to see if it might help, since at least it can’t hurt.

I had a great Tuesday off where I actually didn’t have work to do, and was able to catch up on some household tasks. Even thought about going to watch a movie. I should have just done it, because work has sucked since Wednesday, and I’m working through the weekend also. 2 admissions in 3 days, no charts done, and I’m so fried when I get home I just crash into bed. Part time seems great, but I’m still carrying a full (overflowing) panel, and have to deal with the forms, messages, etc. This was my fear – that I’d be paid less but still have to do almost the same amount of work, just not necessarily in time seeing patients. I don’t know what the answer is…

One big sick household

Our cat who’d been having diarrhea since we came back home continued to be sick, to where we couldn’t wait for a home visit from my vet friend. Hubby brought her in, and she was weak enough she didn’t fight for the exam or labs. Thankful for that, since sedating her is too risky. She’s in stage 2 chronic renal failure, along with fighting a kidney infection and pancreatitis based on the ultrasound. Also an awful-looking left conjunctivitis and now the sniffles. Somehow she’s doing better now, thanks to taking her meds in Pill Pockets. She is fighting us more now though, we’re at 4 out of 10 days of subcutaneous fluids at home and she is getting eye ointment 3 times a day too. I swear this cat has been on death’s door at least 5 times in her almost 16 years.

I took her brother in for a routine exam and recheck of his hyperthyroidism. Was sucker-punched in the gut when the vet quietly asked me if we’d noticed his pupils being asymmetric. Holy s***, I look and yes, his right pupil is at least 1 mm larger than the left. I start to feel sick to my stomach and teary as she finishes his exam. She mentions feeling a mass in his belly, and asks if he’s been constipated. No, if anything all we’ve seen are somewhat sloppy poops in the box. Several hundred dollars later, he’s had full set of blood and urine and whole body X-rays. There’s a bit of poop visible but not in the area she’s concerned about. There’s some spots in the lungs that are likely metastases. Presumptive diagnosis is lymphoma, with metastases in his brain that are causing the pupil asymmetry. We declined to proceed with ultrasound, biopsy, and chemo – it doesn’t feel right in our hearts (or for our wallets, frankly). He’s now on Prednisone and Flagyl for symptomatic treatment.

Overnight, C starts crying and coughing a bunch, and after the second time, I gave up and laid down with her on the mattress in her room. I’d been fighting sniffles for a while, which got worse today with cough and an awful-feeling throat, probably thanks to all the crying and lack of sleep. I could probably make it into work this afternoon, though it’d be tough with not much voice, so I called out for my sanity.

So now, we wait… for the cats to tell us it’s their time.