Sunday, August 24, 2008

Need Baby Shower Gift Ideas... And There's Starbucks In It for YOU!

Hello, lovely readers -

Today marks a first here at Average Everyday Super Woman: I'm running a contest!

WOOHOOO!! YIPPEEEEEE!! ALRIGHT!!!!!

Here's the scoop....

Super Man's cousin's wonderful daughter Amanda and her husband Andy are expecting their first child, and are having a baby shower at the end of September. And Super Woman needs to find a fabulous gift for their new little one.

So I need your help. :)

Now, I know that I could get something off their registry and they would be perfectly happy with that - but I want to give them something special and unique to celebrate the birth of their first baby.

Unfortunately, it's been about 5-1/2 years since Super Woman had a baby shower, or had to regularly look for or buy baby stuff, so I'm kinda outta the loop as to what the hot new baby things are!

Let me say that I adore Etsy and I often spend several hours at a time browsing the various shops and offerings there. I'd love to support someone there, as long as I can find something wonderful that is gender-neutral, since Amanda and Andy have chosen not to find out the baby's gender. That said, I'm also open to getting a gift through another online store.

In terms of price range, I'd like to find something that's no more than $40, not including shipping. Is that reasonable? Can we do it? (Please say yes - your favorite Super Family is still jobless at the moment!) ;)

So... SEND ME YOUR IDEAS, READERS!! Send one idea; send 20 ideas - as long as they meet the RULES outlined below, they're valid entries to the contest.

Whoever sends me the idea I end up choosing will WIN a $15 Starbucks gift card! (Note: If more than one person recommends the same thing, the first person to recommend the winning item will be chosen as the winner.)

RULES:
* Be sure to include a link to the item(s), as well as any other information I might need so I can find and purchase the item(s) you suggest online.
* The cost of the item(s) must be less than $40, not including tax or shipping.
* MAKE SURE that you all have a valid email address registered with Blogger or that you provide a valid email address in your entry so I can notify the winner!
* All entries should be posted by 9:00pm CDT on Sunday, August 31, 2008 in order to be considered valid.

If I'm unable to see and order the item online, or if the cost of the item is more than $40, or if I have no way of notifying you that you've won, I'll have to disqualify the entry. (And I really don't want to have to do that!)


I will choose, email and then post the winner the evening of Wednesday, September 3, 2008, and will mail out your Starbucks gift card within 2 days of making contact with you and getting your mailing address.

~~Thanks for the help, and THANKS even more for being loyal readers.~~

I look forward to reading and checking out your ideas. GOOD LUCK!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tight Cervix + Endometrial Biopsy = ACK! ACK! ACK! (And Results!)

WARNING: THIS POST IS NOT FOR THOSE WITH WEAK STOMACHS!

Holy. Crap.

I had my "procedures" (the pesky endometrial biopsy and endocervical curettage) on Tuesday morning the 19th, and all I can say is: OUCH!

Bear in mind that I've undergone a colposcopy (cervical biopsy) before (not to mention a 30+ hour labor that ended in a C-section) and found that to be fairly uncomfortable. This, however, went well beyond just "uncomfortable."

It felt as though someone was stabbing my cervix and uterus with a very long, sharp knife. Repeatedly. And it made me cry.

So, in other words, it wasn't much fun.

God bless my mom for coming to the appointment with me - and actually staying in the room with me - because I don't know how I'd have made it through all of that alone. Heck, I don't know how SHE managed to make it through and she wasn't even the one on the table! My poor mom... I think I may have crushed some of the bones in her 57-year-old hand from squeezing so hard. :( (Sorry, Mom!!)

(SIDE NOTE: By the way, Super Man - had he come with me - would've passed out during the worst of it FOR SURE. God bless the man, he's one of the sweetest, most compassionate, strongest and manliest men I know, but he simply cannot take the messier medical stuff of life. And he's unfortunately saddled with a wife who can't seem to get away from messy medical stuff these days. He wants to be there for me, and he tries really hard, but he just can't do it. He passed out when I was in the recovery room after my colonoscopy last November just from listening to the gastroenterologist talking about how everything went - even though it all went fine - and he also passed out during our first childbirth prep class when Super Boy was born - even though he'd already done it all once before, including observing his daughter being born vaginally. Seriously. The poor guy...)

You'd THINK they'd use some sort of local anesthetic - but no. You'd also think that maybe they'd slip me a hardcore painkiller beforehand to take the edge off. But no. To my NP's defense, she did "recommend" that I take some ibuprofen (to which, sadly, I'm allergic) or Tylenol. Unfortunately, that barely touched the pain.

The only saving grace is that the procedures were done mercifully quickly, so the stabbing only lasted for a few minutes. Sure, they were among the longest minutes of my life, but really it didn't take very long at all.

Horrifying pain aside, the NP said that things looked good to her just eyeballing everything, and she assured me that if we were talking scary cancer, she'd most likely be able to see some abnormality. It was also reassuring to her that I didn't bleed very much despite the repeated stabbing, especially since I was also at the tail-end of my period.

And - aaaaaamen - there was also a small upside to the situation: Apparently, we've learned that I have a "very tight cervix." (Sounds sorta kinky, yes. But it's actually not. Really, it's not. Trust me.)

In fact, it might explain why Super Man and I have had ZERO success trying to conceive another Super Baby these past two-and-a-half years. The NP had to really put some muscle into getting the long scary instruments past my cervix and into my uterus for the endometrial biopsy, and both she and I felt when my cervix finally gave way, much to our mutual surprise. She feels that her rough manhandling of my cervix might be just the thing my poor uterus needed to finally get pregnant, since my cervix was so crazy-tight that she doesn't think Super Man's swimmers were making any headway on their journey to The Promised Land all this time.

I sure hope she's right. That internal massacring I endured has to result in SOMETHING good, as far as I'm concerned.

Alright, now, for all of you who will one day have to undergo an endometrial biopsy, PLEASE NOTE that unless you have a ridiculously tight cervix like your old pal Super Woman does, it apparently isn't supposed to hurt that bad. In fact, my NP was telling me that with the new tests that have come out, endometrial biopsies can be virtually painless. This was not my experience, but again, I've got the crazy-tight cervix and you, you lucky girls, may have normal, somewhat flexible cervixes!

If you're not sure which you have, let's just assume you have a flexible cervix, okay? You won't know otherwise until the rubber hits the road anyway, so there's not much sense in worrying about it. :)

I also want to mention that while I was physically and emotionally exhausted for the duration of the day Tuesday, and I experienced intermittent cramping similar to the worst days of my period along with some spotting for the past two days, I feel like I'm at about 99% today. So, that was pretty much it. It wasn't pleasant by any means, but it was done and over with quickly.

The other upside to the new test is that labs are supposedly able to process them faster. And, in my experience, that seems to be true: I got my results this morning! And I'm VERY pleased to report that they were normal and benign. So I don't have cancer.

I don't have cancer.

Can I tell you how great it feels to say that? I've been dreading that, dwelling over the possibility of that, anguishing over it for the past few days, and now I can be done and move past it.

The bottom line is that my cells are unique, unusual, weird. But - pathologically, at least - they're still within the realm of normal. And I couldn't be happier about it.

For those of you who have yet to go through these procedures, my thoughts and prayers are with you. If you take away nothing else from this post, at least take these three things:

1) Take some pain medication (OTC, unless your doctor will prescribe something for you) before the procedures to help offset any pain you might experience. Remember, you may not feel much, if anything.

2) Try not to worry. I know it's easier said than done. (And I'll admit that I never take my own advice.) But I also pay the price for all that worrying in the form of no sleep and stress headaches and stomachaches. Not worth the trouble, believe me! You need your energy focused on positive, strong, healthy thoughts. Chances are, everything is going to be just fine. :)

3) Remember that you're NOT alone. Even if you can find no one else close to you in this situation, you've got me. And I'm here for you.

Hugs and kisses to all of you who've read about my situation, whether you commented or not. The more we share and open up about the things that happen in our lives, the more we can help each other through them, so please don't hesitate to comment on my blog, on this or any other post. We're all in this together!

Peace out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Say A Little Prayer...

I've posted about this before and, yes, it's a pretty personal topic that not everyone would be comfortable discussing publicly, but hey - I'm NOT everyone. I'm the crazy lady in Wisconsin known as the Average Everyday Super Woman. So I'm going to discuss my personal crisis publicly. Again.

Remember when I had that pesky little first-ever abnormal Pap smear last summer (July of '07), and then I had to have a cervical biopsy (colposcopy) done in August of '07 to make sure that the abnormal cells were not cancerous cells? And everything came back normal then? OK, good - then I won't go into all of that detail again here.

Well, after that, I had to have follow-up Paps every four months. At the December follow-up, the Pap came back abnormal again, but my doctor and I weren't too terribly alarmed, because the biopsy had just checked out fine four months earlier. So we opted to do a "wait-and-see."

At the April follow-up, I got some great news: That Pap was normal! Hoorah!!

I (mistakenly) thought that my days of abnormal Pap smears were behind me and that my awesome body had kicked whatever-was-going-on-in-there's ass and we were all moving forward, healthy and happy.

And I was wrong.

I went back for another four-month follow-up Pap in late July, the timing of which happened to coincide with my annual Pap. And instead of the "normal" result I was fully anticipating, it came back abnormal again.

And this time, my OB/GYN doesn't want to just "wait-and-see." She wants to do two more procedures - an endocervical curettage and an endometrial biopsy - to check further for cervical or endometrial/uterine cancer, since the abnormality that I keep producing is pretty rare, accounting for only 1% of all abnormal Pap results: atypical glandular cells of unknown significance, or ACGUS.

Lucky me, AGCUS findings seem to be associated with a higher risk of cancer, which is why it's acted upon with more urgency and testing than the far more common and less worrisome ASCUS (atypical squamous cells of unknown significance).

Yeah.

So, I'm having those procedures done tomorrow. And I'm scared.

Now, I'm the first one to admit that I come from a long and robust line of worriers, and my nurse practitioner Super Sister will also happily tell you that I'm without a doubt THE biggest hypochondriac in my family. HOWEVER, I tend to have pretty good gut instincts about certain things, and my health is one of them.

Of the many times a red flag has gone up in my head about something going on with my body, I've actually been RIGHT to worry on more than one occasion. For the record, I've even managed to worry my unflappable nurse practitioner Super Sister on one occasion when the health scare could've been quite serious - but thankfully wasn't. So while I may have more "concerns" than the average everyday human, I've actually been rightfully worried on a few occasions. For the record.

For any of my readers who ever suffer from anxiety, you know what I'm saying when I tell you all that I have pretty much NO control over the fear that grips me at times like these when I feel that my life is potentially on the line. Nonetheless, I try to think very positive thoughts and to expect the best, but there's always that part of me behind the scenes that's still preparing for the worst.

Only it even goes beyond just "preparing" for it. No, I start imagining what it would be like to be told that I have cancer, and how I would react to the news. I imagine what it would be like to go through chemo, radiation, a hysterectomy - all at 34, when I still desperately want another child. And with my horrible fear of vomit and vomiting. I shudder to even imagine it...

And, yes, I also cannot stop my subconscious mind from horrifyingly traveling to "The Worst Case Scenario": Me dying and leaving behind my 5-year-old son. I start fretting over how I would prepare my baby for losing me, his mommy, the first and biggest love of his life to date. I imagine the desperate letters I would write him, trying to pour into them the essence of who I am and to communicate to him the indescribable and overwhelmingly wonderful impact he's had on my life. Trying to give him motherly advice for each phase of life he'd encounter without me, trying to assure him that I would never EVER leave him if I had the choice.

It's horrible, that fear and anxiety. I don't want to dwell on "The Worst Case Scenario," but as a mother and a young woman, how can I NOT?

Then again, luck favors the prepared, right? RIGHT??

{Deep breaths - ommmmmmmmm.... ommmmmmm......}

Right. So, please, please, PLEASE say a little prayer for old Super Woman tonight that the procedures go well and that the test results come back normal. It's one thing if I just have weird-looking cells, as long as they're still normal and healthy. And, hey, if you're not one to pray, then please send me good juju, good karma, whatever you've got. I happily accept all of it and hope that it's enough to move the universe to make me healthy and whole and good.

I don't think I ask for much in life, really. All that really matters is that I live. Live to see my son grow up and become a highly-functioning, happy, well-adjusted adult, at a minimum. That's all I ask.

Thank you in advance, universe.