Monday, April 15, 2013

Another American Tragedy

I have so many happy memories of Boston Marathons past: runners from around the world and thousands upon thousands lining the race course in celebration, through cold rain or muggy sun, brimming with soul and grit, and kindness. It is a race full of kindness. It is hard to get a bib for Boston. To qualify, you have to be a very good amatuer runner, or an elite runner. The remaining runners--many, many, many people--get their bibs by running for charity, after personally raising thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. When I've stood on that racecourse in the past, it's brought tears to my eyes to see spectators, deep and thick, out on Heartbreak Hill or around Cleveland Circle, miles from the finish line, calling out names from runners' bibs, cheering on unknown strangers as though they were best friends on the cusp of the actual finish line. The energy is special. There is no other marathon like Boston.

 As a New England native, I've had countless friends, family members, and acquaintances run Boston, some every year. It is shameful that someone has tried to mar this event, this day, the accomplishments of 27,000+ people. You know what, though? Boston is tough and resilient. Today we mourn, we pray for the injured and their loved ones, we weep for a little more innocence lost. Tomorrow, we will stiffen our backbones, strengthen our resolve, and start to rebuild. We will come together, we will rise up, we will overcome. That's what we do.

Friday, April 12, 2013


As of today, my Spanish is officially "good enough."  I have been deemed fit to do my job in Spanish.  No more Spanish lessons for me, at least for now!  I can't even begin to express how relaxed this makes me feel.  Now I can just watch the Mexican version of Grey's Anatomy for fun!  And read books. . .in English!  And relaaaaxxxx!!!

I am so proud of myself.  And so relieved.  It's really, really good to have this accomplishment behind me.  Now the countdown to the big move really begins.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What's Your Theme Song?

I often think of the old episode of Ally McBeal where she picks a theme song for her life.  For years, whenever I had a big project at work, just before things really got intense in terms of workload, I would create myself a cd of music to listen to in my car during my late night and early morning commutes.  When I was working 18 hour days and racing against the clock, I considered these cd's my "theme songs" for the project.  The real purpose behind the music was that I would blast it loud and roll the windows down and use it to keep myself awake, especially when I was driving home in the wee hours of the morning after a killer day at work.

I would always label the cd with the name of the project, so that eventually I had a collection of cd's with project names scrawled across them.  I would listen to nothing else on my way to and from work, other than my "theme songs," so this collection of cd's essentially became a collection of memories of the projects and of my life at the time (although to be fair, often my life at the time WAS the project).  The cd's were always a mix of songs that were currently popular, and songs that reminded me of the project.  On one project for example, I had Carly Simon's "You're So Vain," because it reminded me of a jerk that I had to work with, who was working on the project from another company.  Every time I played the song during that project, I thought of him and laughed.  Years later, when I run across these old cd's and pop them into the cd player, I am transported back to those times.  They are like auditory scrapbooks.

I have to show off my (newly acquired) Spanish skills later this week, to see if my company thinks I am sufficiently proficient to do my job in Spanish.  If I am not, I will continue studying (sigh--both a blessing and a curse).  If I am sufficiently proficient, then I move on to do some other things and gear up for our big Latin American move.  So of course, I made myself a theme song CD.  Since I'm not commuting at this point, I've been playing a song or two as I start and end my day.  This Silvio Rodgriguez song is one of my favorites.  Plus, it's full of the subjunctive, so I can call listening to music "studying."   :)  

Do you have a theme song for your life?  If you had to choose one, what would it be?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

And Now, Fun With Amoxicillin Allergy!

Argh, we have not had the best of weeks.  I post the following as a PSA, because I found other mothers' blog posts on the same topic helpful.  So if you are reading this at some point in the future, I hope that you, too find it helpful. :)

Miss M (age 3) has been sick. . .well, for like three months.  It always ALMOST went away, but there was this lingering little cough that never quite resolved.  Then she got snottier again (as did I, as did SB, who is 1) , and we decided that enough was enough, and we went to the doctor.   They checked her for strep, but it was negative, but the doctor nonetheless prescribed Benadryl and a 10 day course of amoxicillin.  All was initially well, and the damn infection finally went away after about 5 days of the antibiotic.

On the afternoon of day 9, Miss M came home from school and took off her socks.  "Mommy," she said, "this really hurts.  It's bothering me."  She showed me her foot.  I took one look at it and stripped her naked.  What the hell??!!  She had these crazy spots all over her feet, including on the bottom.  They looked exactly like mosquito bites, and there were tons of them, all touching.  They were huge on her feet, but got smaller as they went up her legs.  On her upper thighs, she had some tiny little pin-prick red dots that had white circles surrounding them.  There was nothing on her torso.  I found some spots on the back of one arm, near her armpit, but her arms were otherwise free of the spots.

I immediately called the doctor's office and left a message on their "if you have an urgent need to talk to someone" line (it was 5 minutes of 4, of course).  The nurse called me back a while later, clearly in a hurry.  I explained the rash.  She told me that it was most likely bites from a sand bug from playing in the sandbox at the park, and that they were getting tons of calls.  When I questioned this, and the fact that there were spots higher on her legs, she told me that the bugs were really aggressive, and they had simply crawled up her pants.

NOTE:  This is where I erred.  I didn't tell her that she was on medication, and she obviously had not pulled the chart.

So of course, we gave her another dose of the amoxicillin.  Now, I have allergies myself, and when I first had a reaction, my torso broke out in spots.  It never occurred to me that a drug allergy would start with spots on the feet.  I feel horribly guilty about not catching this.  Because you know what happened next, right?  And we are damn lucky it wasn't worse. . .

I covered Miss M's spots in cortisone cream and put her to bed.  She woke me up at about 2:30, complaining that she was really, REALLY itchy.  I stripped her down again, and discovered that the spots were worse--all over her torso, arms and legs now.  I woke up my husband, and he informed me that we'd put her in the same pajamas she'd had on the night before.  I thought maybe there were sandbox bugs in the pajamas (I know, I'm an idiot, but it was the middle of the night), so I gave her a bath and put on clean pajamas, then put her in bed with me.  I noticed that she was wheezing a bit, but she fell back to sleep.

The next morning (Thursday, about 18 hours after first discovering the rash), it was all even worse.  What had been tiny red pin pricks on her thighs, surrounded by white cirles, had turned into big round raised red bumps that looked like mosquito bites.  Her ankles were looking red and angry.  And the rash had spread everywhere--it had even started up her face.  It was like the rash was working its way from the bottom of her body to the top, getting worse on the bottom parts as it spread north.  The rash literally started at her jawline, and gradually moved up her cheeks.  

At this point, we realized something was really, really wrong, and we decided not to give her any more medication.  We decided that she needed to be seen by a doctor that day, but that it wasn't so bad that we needed to go to the ER (after our horrible UT infection with SB a while back, I would MUCH prefer our lovely doctor to the horrible ER's here).  I had to go to work, and told T. that I would make an appointment for him to take Miss M to the doctors as soon as they opened.  

This is where men and women are different.  After T and the girls dropped me off at work, he apparently drove over to the doctors' office and sat there until they unlocked the doors, then he took them inside and told them he needed to see someone immediately.  And, they saw him immediately.  Our own doctor, in fact.  He said she was having an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin (or possibly to penicillin, because apparently you can be allergic to one and not the other).  He said we could do a test in a few weeks to determine what was going on.  For the time being, to resolve the rash, he prescribed a three day course of prednisone and Benadryl three times a day.

When I talked to T at 8:50am Thursday, he was all like "hey, the doctor said," and I was like "what do you mean?  I just made the appointment."  It cracked me up.  But I digress.

On Friday, she didn't look any better, but she didn't look any worse.  She didn't develop any new rash, or at least I didn't see anything new.  Then today, the appearance of the rash changed.  It had been solid pink.  But today, less than 48 hours after appearing, the edges of the rash look dark red and the middle has faded to a lighter pink.  I tried calling the doctor's office, but they didn't return my call today (even though they were open).  T said her behavior was normal (he has her off doing something today, and I'm working), and he thinks her spots actually look lighter and are fading (especially on the top part of her body, where they were lighter to start)

However, I'm a little worried.  This is what it looks like now.  Horrible, isn't it?  
Anyway, I will be sure to update on her progress.  Ojala, she'll be better tomorrow.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Thankfully, the tests came back fine today. It has been a long couple of days. Thanks for the positive thoughts and prayers. I still have no idea why my bloodwork is all wonky, but at least there is no evidence of a tumor or something else horrible. At this point, I am guessing that my wonky results were probably caused by a virus or a toxin that I've been exposed to. Fingers crossed that it clears up soon. We are going to repeat the bloodwork in a month and see what happens. I think (hope, pray) we have crossed the worst possibilities off the list, though. I had the nicest, nicest u/s tech today. She could tell I was freaking out about the results (two to three days for the report?! I don't think so!!!), so she made arrangements for the radiologist to see me immediately after my scan. He went through the pictures with me frame by frame and explained to me what he saw (which was basically nothing, except possibly a small stone in my left kidney, to which I say both WTF and okay fine--that's definitely not causing my wonky bloodwork, though). He was awesome (and hot, and like 35). But anyway--so thankful tonight for awesome u/s tech, awesome doctor who took the time to go over the scans immediately after they were done, and for awesome results. Now I can go back to studying Spanish. The company's evaluating my progress this week, and I've been a tad distracted lately.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Trying To Hold It Together

Three weeks ago, I had routine bloodwork done, just routine stuff as part of my list of things I needed to do before we leave for South America. Only, when I finally sat down with my doctor this week, she told me there is something wrong. She ran more tests, but they also show a problem. Tomorrow I will have another test, to determine if I have a tumor or something similar. I would be lying if I said I wasn't freaking out. Honestly,it feels off. Something feels of. I happened to have that kidney thing lady year, and the CT scan then didn't show any other problems. My bloodwork was fine last June. I am really scared. What has happened in the meantime? I can't be sick. I just can't be. I made the mistake of googling the possibilities, given the results of my bloodwork, and they are pretty horrible. I can't be sick, and I certainly can't die. I have two little girls to raise. Anyway, test is tomorrow. Please say a prayer for me that it is miraculously nothing serious.