A Breasty Situation

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“You will need to return for a sonogram” were words strung together and thrown at me. Me. Clearly she didn’t know who I was. I’m a doctor. I’m a warrior mom. And our type don’t get … nevermind.

Secretly, I’ve always thought that those multiple breast jabs and elbow stabs that I’ve endured from my dual-diagnoses, Autism/ADHD, son was bound to show up on a scan somewhere. He is relentless.

But true to my profession, I’ve ignored “self-care” and the phone call. Not to mention, it took nearly an act of Congress to get me to the Mammogram. My doctor sent me that prescription in all forms but a telegram. It eventually got done. And again, true to my profession, I strongly recommend you getting one.

But now they want me back. Oh for heaven’s. What for?

Alright. Let’s run the possibilities.

1)It’s fake. The results are fake news. Aka, artifact, aka scars (thank you, Nolan), aka plain-ole tissue density. Yea. Yipeee! All because I paid the extra $75 for 3-D imaging in search of every spec. And … thinking deeply … paying for that kind of test kinda means that I do want to know. Doesn’t it? Moving on.

2)It’s real. The results are truly news. Aka, not artifact. Aka, not scars. Aka not plain-ole breast tissue density. Alright. I’m breathing. Then what the heck is it?

Let me ask you a question? Have you ever taken a photo of a pond, through a screen door and then converted it to a black and white photo and then tried to determine what kind of bug was flying by as you snapped the shot? Neither have I.

But you would be close in saying that it was a flying insect as opposed to a leaping frog. I’m also sure that it would be challenging to say that it was a yellow jacket and not a bee.

To be certain, you would have had to be by the pond and notice the bee and the hive up close in person. In medicine – we would akin that to a tissue biopsy.

But the nice thing about imaging, whether it be a picture or a mammogram, is that it gives you a very good idea of what you are looking at. Aka, it’s a flying bug or it’s a mass that does not look like the surrounding tissue. The limitations, however, are such that it cannot be specific.

Yet, here I sit, tooled with knowledge, having not made that phone call.

Is it because 2 years ago, I went through the same and the follow-up sonogram was negative and now I’m complacent? Or is it because I’m a dual-diagnoses autism/ADHD mom and I have a plethora of annoyances that leaves me too drained to drive? Or is it that I’m using my love of blogging to procrastinate?

Yes.

Seated with you, in the office, hearing you rattle off the above, I would level with you and say “Stop making excuses.”

And would likely have gone on to saying something like “The sick you is of no good to the busy you or to your life’s priorities. So, make the call. Get your screening done. Complete your follow-up.”

Pausing for effect. And my own thoughts.

What’s my final action? Thanks for the talk. I’m ready now. My booth is waiting. I’m off to make that call. Cue the soundtrack to Super-Doctor-Mommy!

The Home Run

In a world beyond my right now but within my hands reach, I energetically scribbled across the page. Pearls of wisdom poured from the podium and flooded my brain. A headache. I felt it coming on.  Clutching my coffee cup tighter than I need to, I settled in to becoming a #Harvardwriter.

The next 3 days delivered as promised.

I drank from its thunderous downpour of power-packed content. I learned of the wonders of deadlines, of the secrets to maintaining motivation and of the magic of the couch.

But should I say hello? The density of genius that packed the room was at infinitum. The Harvard Medical School Course on Writing, Publishing and Social Media for Healthcare Professionals attracted physicians, psychologist and healthcare professionals world-wide. And there I sat, one of them, yet, in awe.

Then someone approached and said “Hello.”

Staying in the moment and connecting with thought-leaders had fueled my pre-conference decision to ditch the laptop from my things-to-pack list. But regret gnawed at the grey matter of brain until it was jolted by that in-the-moment MOMENT.

Did I just hear that? Did Dr. Julie Silver, Director of the course and author extraordinaire, just offer up a momentous opportunity, on a larger than life podium, at the Fairmont Plaza, for a #HarvardWriter inductee, to pitch a book idea, on the fly, in front of an accomplished panel of authors, editors, agents, coaches, publishers and social media judges while in a packed ball room? What the what?

Catapulted by my initiates, I stood before giants. And seized the day. My book is coming out tomorrow.

Okay, no it’s not.

But unknowingly,  being consciously present as the audience of pitch-practiced authors, as they braved the ice-cold world of engaging the publishers, had taught me how to land the 70-second elevator pitch.

I had 23 out of 23 judges at “No! Don’t pee there!”

Ok. You had to be there. But that laptop-free session became my pitch-on-the-fly prep and I was ready to change my world.

Magnetic people interactions were my destiny. A midnight dinner with the author of the book, “I’m not a Princess, I’m a complete fairytale”. A reminiscing stroll with the author of “Hindsight: Coming of age on the streets of Hollywood”- a book worthy of Netflix, Energizing conversations with Blogger and Twitter Top-Voice, Dr. Melissa Welby,  group selfies on a backdrop fit for social media rounded my stay as I  watched starry eyed writers, published professionals and accomplished doctors dream.

Slouched in exhaustion and dizzy from the weekend’s speed, I sought refuge on seating tucked deep into the lobby.  The bustling noises had faded and I now dreamt of home. I listened as steps pattered close behind me and heard someone say “I’m so glad that we met.” Uncurled from the cough, barefoot on the floor, I stood and smiled widely. The last person to wish me good bye that weekend was none other that Dr. Nilsy Rapalo. The same someone who started my weekend with “Hello.”

It was magical. It must have been the couch.

The Needle Is Out!

You sat there and you wondered if the needle was still in. After all, it was a needle that punctured your vein. And the evidence is left strapped to your arm.

But little do you know of the magics of medicine delivered daily. The slight-of-hand tricks-of-the-trade that we pull off on a regular bases.

Because, shazam! The needle IS out. Did you see it?

But what is in? What is that residual poking feeling that remains? It’s not all in your head. It’s right there. You can feel it.

And something IS there. It is called a catheter. A fancy term for a straw. And it is left behind after the needle is retracted. Yes! Retracted. Pulled out. Gone. Removed. Usually manually but often with a spring-action, click-of-a-button, snap-back into a safety cover.

But why is the catheter there? Well, that’s there because we, your doctors, would like direct access to your blood stream. Yes. Full, unfettered, direct access right to your heart! Or Lung, or toe or belly button. You get it. For the administration of treatment.

So next time you swear that there is still something poking you. It’s not in your brain. It’s in your vein. It’s a venous catheter.

The Hate U Give

I stayed up late last night with my 11 year old daughter, watching the movie THUG: The Hate U Give.

I was so starving midway, there I was at 2am, air frying salmon to stay within my weight watcher points. Anyway.

It was an emotional ride showing all sides in the case of police shooting of a black man. It exposed the hard gangster life of the projects and a family’s desire to want more for their kids. It exposed the very stupid moves that fake-thuggers make that gets them killed by assuming cops. I was afraid that it was a little too real for my daughter.

So after the movie ended and we prepped for bed, I asked her this question. I said … what was the most important lesson you learned from this movie? And then I braced myself for the answer. She could have had so many. She could have hated the white cop for killing that black kid. She could have felt angered at the message that she should acknowledge life is unfair and just put her hands up. She could have hated black cops.

But she paused a while and then said … Chose my friends carefully.

I had to pause. And process that. Then I said to her. EXACTLY. You’re exactly right.

She identified with the main character of a Black Girl going to a rich private school. Because that’s who she is. And she drew her own correlations.

But you know what …

The Bible said … shun the very appearance of evil.

My Grandmother said … show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.

I read … 2 cant walk together unless they agree.

And I always said to her … take that dam hoodie off your head or I will stop buying you those sweats you like.

I teach her that all lives matter but that her black life matters the most to me. And that’s why I support #blacklivesmatter. Because my color is the weapon that others fear. And I cant put it down. I can only only draw a smile on it.

And with that, we fell asleep.

#autismsibling

Another Bad Idea

You know how it goes. I’m with him a lot so I know him. And I want what is best for my son. I’ll even go as far as saying that I know what is best for my son. So I called his Developmental Pediatrician and made the request. I said “Please decrease his dose of Adderal. I think that it’s causing him to tense up and bite his lips.”

That was a bad idea.

By all means, the request was granted! Afterall, it is a controlled substance. There is always the concern of diversion and misuse. So, his requested lower dose Rx was never written faster.

Let me just mention this early on. Adderal does not treat Autism. It will not treat stims. And it does not make your child normal.

But it surely treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And since my little man has been gifted with both Autism and ADHD, you will soon get my title.

Wikepedia being one of my favorite sites, I will quote them: “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder of the neurodevelopmental type. It is characterized by difficulty paying attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behavior which is not appropriate for a person’s age. There is also often problems with regulation of emotions. The symptoms appear before a person is twelve years old, are present for more than six months, and cause problems in at least two settings (such as school, home, or recreational activities).In children, problems paying attention may result in poor school performance. Additionally there is an association with other mental disorders and substance misuse. Although it causes impairment, particularly in modern society, many people with ADHD can have sustained attention for tasks they find interesting or rewarding (known as hyperfocus).”

So my hyperfocused, electronics junkie of a 7 year old son was non-stop jumping, squealing, hands flailing, singing, touching, fidgeting, running, and eating out the fridge of all its contents. I was amazed. His home ABA instructors were at loss … as if to say .. who is this kid? You see, they didn’t know him a year ago … off meds.

It is truly amazing to watch how a stimulant, like Adderal, calms a kid who naturally behaves as if his blood runs on expresso. Is there short circuit that occurs? Or does it just line up his neurotransmitters to fire on cue. Either way, he needs more in his life and I’ll be the first to say … Another bad idea, know-it-all mom.

But I won’t give up. He’s counting on me. I got you boo.

Killing Me Softly

It’s amazing how often we hear the word, Wellness, in our current era. #Wellness. It’s cool. It’s trendy. Remind me to go buy my KALE sweat shirt because seriously, I’m trying. I am all about this new push on society to be well because well, we are not well.

I’m only forty..ech..ehm..something but I still recall when wellness was expected. It was forced on us by our mom figure and desert was not before dinner. It was a broccoli eaten with resentment. And a long walk home from school. Wellness was not covered by insurance payers and you were certainly not rewarded for choosing to go for a walk. Fat-shaming was in and Wellness, well, it was not a thing.

Personally, I think that this frameshift in how we present wellness is smart! Brilliant even. We all know the old cliché … If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Rewarding Wellness is doing just that. Who doesn’t love gratification? And since human nature is prone to the path of destruction, a little encouraging nudge to nibble on nature’s goodness may be where it’s at. After all, if you give me options like Study or Play? Apple or chocolate? Coffee or water? without an incentive, I will be energized for my all day play at Hershey park. Gone are the days of discipline and self-control. It was a hard lost fight and we, the fat, need more than a healthy LDL goal to propel us to maintaining wellness.

Seriously. every convenience is at hand. What’s a person to do? And don’t tell me about how healthy our forefathers were. My forefathers ate fruit because that was the path of least resistance! So yes. They were lazy too. Need I remind you that they preferred to ride on top of a mule. I too recall when it was easier to grab a fruit, off a tree, than to husk a coconut, grate it, make sugar and bake it all together so that I could have a sweet treat. That was why I ate fruit then too. But now, I eat fruit because I’m rewarded. Hey!

But whether we like it or not, convenience is here to stay. And I’m sure that somewhere, someone is coming up with a way for me to get to the fridge without standing. So smart is how we must now think. How can I pull off being well? Because, as you know, to be well these days requires planning and scheduling and tracking and staying on top of things. I will need a personal assistant so that I can remain well each day. A wrench in my day plans never leads to a 10 mile walk home. No. It leads to missing the gym class and picking up pizza because I have no time left to make dinner before that PTA meeting at 6pm.

It’s all killing me softly.

But what I love about life, is that to every problem, there is a solution. Death happens to be one of them which brings me right back to this wellness thing. I’m not ready for the ultimate solution and discipline is low in supply so what’s left? Ah… yes, the mythical, mesmerizing carrot stick. In my case, the dangling hope of losing 50 pounds.

So, I went and found a game changer? It’s Weight Watchers! (They should pay me for saying that. I’m so doing this all wrong). But despite being a medical doctor and telling everyone to eat right and exercise, I too am (present tense) prey to the pull of pizza. I too need a rewarding way to budget my time and energies. Life depreciates us. It just does. You try and win and repeat and win and who cares? Not even you sometimes. Then one day, someone gave you a bravo sticker and you’re like … Wow! … that felt good. Suddenly, you want another friggin sticker! And everything is well with the world again. Next thing, you’re driving past the bakery to the farmer’s market. And you want to take an extra 5 mins of your day to track your breakfast on an app that is programmed to say “Good Job.” Wow! Again!

So, half the battle is already won. I’ve acknowledged that convenience is killing me. Now onto the next half … Rewarding Wellness!
Oh, for me? A little icon on my app for my 25lb weight loss? Shucks. (Insert bashful smile).

BLAZE!

It was the only word out of his mouth. BLAZE.

I know what it means. He knows that I know what it means. And he knows what is coming next … the prompt!

I want a full sentence and I don’t want to have to ignore or prompt him to get it. But there we were … in a battle of who goes first … So , I went.

“Full sentence please,” I said. To which he replied. “I want Blaze please” and then looked at me with his smiling, bright-eyed face, mouth ready to say “yea” after I say ‘yes’ but there it was … on my face … the smile that’s turned upside down … a frown.

2 years before – I read him the story “Blaze and the Monster Machine” off of my kindle. He was … eh … about it and I felt that the story was a little wordy for him at the time. It used sentences that played on words like “Gimme some speed” and “I’d like to hang out with my new friends.” He was certainly not at the level to understand that speed was not something that I would hand him or that hang was a slang.

But here we are, fast forwarded 2 years, having zoomed past lots of resistance to reading despite his abilities, here reading a bedtime story. It was not Blaze. It was “Pete the Cat: and the treasure map.” He allowed me to read it. He was even quiet and listening. Off Adderal for 2 weeks. But then the story ended and I closed my kindle app. No sooner than I did that, his head popped up from the pillow and he said “Blaze!”

I looked at him puzzled. I haven’t read Blaze in over 2 years. Even moreso, I’ve purchased him the truck and he doesn’t play with it. There’s is Blaze on TV but he’d rather watch Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood. Regardless, who am I to refuse a request to read a story. So, I re-opened the app, found ‘Mighty Monster Machine” and read him to sleep.

It is the next night, hence my frown. But as autism moms know, you play along. “Good asking Nolan. But a better sentence is … can you read me the story of Blaze, Please?”

“Yes” he said, as he parroted the sentence after me.

I sighed inwardly and wondered when this will get easier. When will he ever conversate and not parrot. And then immediately comforted myself with the victory of potty training and my mantra of “One day, this too shall pass.”

We won that night! Because he verbalized a new sentence.

And I responded with “I will read it to you as a bedtime story. Are you ready to go to bed?” Surprisingly, he placed his cute little 6 year old hand into mine and tugged me all the way to his room where he again fell asleep to “Gimme some speed.”