Wednesday, October 21, 2009

BlackBerry, CrackBerry

Yes, folks, your old pal Super Woman has finally - FINALLY - entered the 21st century.

I got a BlackBerry Curve last week!

A little background...

Two years ago when my trusty old phone was limping along with its poor cracked screen, almost perpetually drained battery and archaic features, I realized I had to get a new phone. However, at the time, money was tight, I wasn't into texting, and I was perfectly content to use my laptop to access the internet and our great little Canon digital camera to take any pictures. So, when I was looking at new phones, I ended up just getting the most basic - and FREE - phone that Sprint (my long-time carrier) offered. It made phone calls, stored my contacts and COULD access the internet and all that, but there was no built-in camera, no good keyboard, and no bells and whistles.

Don't get me wrong, it too was a great phone. It was slim (I could fit it in my pocket), the battery held a charge for a respectable period of time, and it did what I needed it to do.

Except that when I started to receive texts from people and wanted to text back, it took me in the neighborhood of five minutes to formulate a reply using the standard phone keys. And I was getting texts more and more frequently, but we didn't have texts included in our service plan, so I was paying a premium each time I replied.

It occurred to me then that my two-year contract was coming up again this fall. So, one day I went to the local Sprint store, just to confirm when I would be able to upgrade and renew my contract and to look at the current offering of reasonably priced (or free) phones.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that they had a few BlackBerry phones for under $50, after rebates! Seriously, I was shocked: I always thought they were at least $150, if not more, and had never considered spending that kind of money for one in the past, especially because I never really needed to look at them before.

I left the Sprint store that day without getting a new phone, but armed with information about how we could change our service plan and add a data package and still SAVE money with me upgrading to a BlackBerry Curve at the end of the billing cycle. And then I went home and did some more homework.

I found that BestBuy had the same phone on special with Sprint for $19 with a two-year contract renewal or new contract. So, I went to the local BestBuy store to make sure the price was accurate given my circumstances, and to make sure they could do all the service plan updating I needed done with Sprint if I were to get the phone there. They assured me that they could, so I decided to go back there at the end of my billing cycle to get my new phone. And so I did, last Friday.

So now I'm a BlackBerry user.

It's different; I will definitely say that much! It's like having a little computer with me everywhere I go. Which is great, but so much more complex than the simple little phones I've used for the past half-decade. I discover something new about the BlackBerry every day.

The one thing I DON'T like is that my battery drains quickly. The phone guy at BestBuy warned me about that, given that it's working harder because of the internet access, etc., so it wasn't completely unexpected. It's just an adjustment. I have to make sure I charge it at least every other day, or I'll find the battery is dead when I go to use it.

I have to laugh, because I was told to give it a solid five days before making a decision about it one way or the other, and I can see why. It's not as intuitive as my old, basic phones. But I can see how it's addicting. I've been told I won't go back to a "regular" phone after having a BlackBerry. We'll see.

What I really wanted was an iPhone, but even though they've dropped in price, they're still $99, and I'd have to switch to AT&T, and I really don't want to spend that much for a phone or leave Sprint. So, maybe in a few more years. We'll see how this whole CrackBerry thing pans out. :)

Technologically yours,
SW

Monday, October 12, 2009

finally sinking in

My hysteroscopic surgery is scheduled. It's happening on the 21st of this month. And, as I fully expected of myself, I'm freaking out over it.

I mean, sure, I've been thinking about it ever since the words "you need a hysteroscopy" left my original fertility doc's mouth. But meeting with my new fertility doc this afternoon for my pre-op appointment - and, specifically, having to sign the consent form, which was riddled with words like "complications may include uterine performation, perforated bowel, stopping of the heart, massive blood loss and DEATH" - really made the reality sink in. Deep.

First, it's SCHEDULED now. It's not a theoretical possibility left hanging out in space anymore; it's actually on the books. And I've actually signed a consent form. One with the words POSSIBILITY OF DEATH on it.

Second, I've now talked to the doctor who will be performing the surgery about what said surgery will entail. In detail. And about the risks. In detail. I know pretty much exactly what's going to happen and how it's going to happen - provided everything goes off as expected - and while I'm okay with all of it in theory, the reality is that the only surgery I've ever had is the one that delivered Super Boy into the world, and I really had NO choice but to go ahead with that one because he was stuck.

But the thing is, while I am CHOOSING to have this surgery to give my reproductive organs a better chance of getting pregnant again and sustaining a second pregnancy, there's also a part of me that feels I don't have any other choice but to have the surgery.

I say that because as the doctor and I were taking a close look at my ultrasound results today, and looking at them from several angles and depths, etc., he noticed that there is another unusual thing in my uterus that he now also wants to check out during my hysteroscopy. He thinks it's a polyp.

Of course (and as usual), my mind immediately screamed CANCER! (I'm sorry; I can't help it.) But when I was able to form the question to ASK if that was a possibility with a polyp, my doctor said that yes, it's POSSIBLE, but for a woman my age who is NOT post-menopausal, it's highly unlikely. Won't know for sure until next week though.

And that's why I no longer feel like I have a choice BUT to have the surgery. If I opted not to do it now (purely out of fear, in case that wasn't clear), what if that other thing we see on the ultrasound IS cancer - and I didn't find out now and deal with it? The fear of THAT outcome is greater than my fear of having surgery, no question about it.

I just can't think too much about the risks. For what it's worth, the doctor said that the above mentioned complications arise in less than 1% of people who have this procedure, so that's reassuring. Odds are strongly in my favor that I will go in for the procedure, all will go well, and I'll be out and on my way within a few hours. I'll be visualizing that, anyway.

On another note, in a totally bizarre twist of fate (considering that I was meeting with my doctor for my pre-op appointment this afternoon), while I was waiting for my drink at Starbucks this morning, I just happened to glance at the cover of today's New York Times -- which I NEVER do at Starbucks, for whatever reason. Anyway, front and center on the cover is a story about the risks of IUI for those struggling with infertility.

WHA...?

What are the ODDS of that?!?

I couldn't resist - I had to spend the $2 for the paper so I could read the story and find out more about what I'm getting myself into with all of this.

Big mistake!

Suddenly, instead of envisioning the SLIGHT (7-8%) risk of possible twins instead of a single baby, I'm scaring the pants off myself at the thought of somehow ending up pregnant with quintuplets or sextuplets! I'm optimistic that we could manage with twins, but there is no WAY we could manage with five or six babies.

No. Way.

Needless to say, I had to discuss this article with my doctor today.

Now, let me just say that even I picked up on the fact that the focus of this article was on injectable fertility medication, not on oral Clomid (which is all I've taken - and all I will take). After discussing my concerns with him, my doctor assured me that the risk of more than two babies being conceived at once on oral Clomid is less than 1%, and the risk of twins is about 7%. I can deal with that. I think.

What I did not realize, however, is this: While I've been panicking a bit over the risk of ending up with MANY babies as a result of IUI with Clomid, I didn't know that the odds of IUI with Clomid working for me in any given month is only 20%, because of my age. Without the Clomid, the IUI has a 5% change of getting me pregnant in any given month. Without the IUI, I have a 3% chance of getting pregnant in any given month.

Three percent. No wonder all our efforts over the past three and a half years have been unsuccessful.

Even with IUI and Clomid, I'm looking at a 20% chance. And my doctor said he would try four cycles of IUI on me. In those four cycles, there's a 50% chance I will get pregnant - and a 50% chance I won't.

Am I ready?

I sure hope so.

SW

Thursday, October 8, 2009

a sick boy and a plea to parents

This has been a rough week. After a busy, action-packed weekend spent in good health, Super Boy woke up Monday morning with a headache and a low fever. No other symptoms, but already the alarms were starting to go off in my head because that was exactly how Super Boy started off when he had strep for the first time in the spring: headache and low fever and nothing else.

I waited for some other symptoms to kick in as the day progressed, but none did. The Motrin would take his fever down and have him acting his usual self until it wore off, and then he'd have a headache and fever again. Because of the ongoing fever, I knew he'd be home from school on Tuesday as well, but wasn't sure what the next day would actually bring.

After sleeping well through the night, Super Boy woke up Tuesday in much the same way - a low fever and a headache. Because of the H1N1 hysteria, I figured a call to his pediatrician was in order to see if we needed to be concerned/tested/treated. The nurse assured me that while it didn't sound like H1N1, strep is going around and because he was having the exact same symptoms as when he had strep in the spring, they wanted us to come in to swab his throat. Quick-strep test was negative, but they were going to grow the culture and see what happened (should hear today). The doctor felt that the culture probably won't grow strep, as there are also some viruses going around that have these same symptoms (and, incidentally, which he said are lasting up to a week in some kids), so it was a "wait-and-see" sort of deal.

Anyway, Tuesday was almost a mirror image of Monday except that his fever actually stayed away after his afternoon Motrin wore off, so while I was still planning to keep him home Wednesday (after all, they're supposed to be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school), I was hopeful that he'd be able to go back today, just in time to make his class field trip to the local book store, which we'd both been looking forward to!

No such luck.

Wednesday went pretty well at the outset - he woke with NO fever, feeling pretty good other than being a bit congested in his head. But he was playful and active and his usual bubbly self most of the day, so I felt very good about his planned return to school today.

Until he ran another 99.9 fever yesterday evening.

Now I know that there are parents out there who won't consider their kids to have a TRUE fever until they're over 100 (and some even stretch that further, for reasons I can't fathom) and will still send them to school (most often pumped full of fever-reducer so they won't get sent home), but I'm strongly of the opinion that if my child is running a fever, he's staying home. And he's one of those kids who is almost ALWAYS an exact 98.6 sort of person, so when he's got a temp of 99.9, I know that he's not healthy.

He fell asleep fine last night, slept well, but again woke super congested and hoarse. No fever, no headache, but he said he felt lousy (and he sure looked lousy), so the poor kid stayed home again today and missed his field trip.

He's frustrated about missing out on seeing his friends, missing his field trip, and missing his favorite class - gym - but even he knows that it's better for him to stay home and get healthy and NOT infect his classmates than to go back before he's really feeling better and get everyone else sick, too.

And that has definitely been on my mind the past few days, too - the issue of parents who send their still-sick kids to school without any apparent regard for the other kids. Because I'm 98% sure that's where he picked up this little gem of a virus.

I get that I perhaps err more on the side of caution than others when it comes to gauging how sick my child is, but there are two reasons for that: (1) Super Boy was CONSTANTLY sick in daycare (and I'm NOT exaggerating that) and it took a major toll on his immune system, so I'm very sensitive to his health after all of that, and (2) I AM concerned about the health of the kids he plays with, or went to daycare with, or goes to school with and I don't want them to get sick, too.

I know that not all parents are stay-at-homes like I am right now, but I lived the full-time working mom scenario for the first four years of Super Boy's life, through his chronic & recurring sinus infections that went on for the better part of four years. I know that it IS hard to juggle work schedules with sick kids. That said, we all have to suck it up and do what we have to do for our children, even when it means seeing if we can work from home or having to use our vacation time and sick days for our kids' illnesses.

When parents send their kids to school knowing full well that they are still sick - and contagious - whether it's with a fever or anything else, those parents are knowingly and willfully sending their kids to school where they are going to get other kids sick. It's not even a question of maybe; it's a guarantee. Especially in a first grade classroom.

I'm sorry, but even the most frequently reminded of kids that age generally are NOT good about keeping their hands out of their eyes/nose/mouth (especially if they have boogers or runny noses, come on!), and they're also NOT good about always washing their hands or using hand-sanitizer after they've picked/wiped their noses, and they DON'T always cover their coughs and sneezes, etc. You get my drift.

So, to all the parents who read this blog, PLEASE do all of us a favor and keep your sick kids home until they are (1) fever-free for 24 hours, (2) clearly feeling better and past the worst of it, and/or (3) the doctor has said they're no longer contagious and can go back. Especially with H1N1 going around, I beg you to consider the health of the other kids in your child's classroom and just keep your sick kid home until they're truly well enough to return. Think about how much less time EVERY parent would have to take off in the long run if all of us just did the right thing when it was our child who was ill?

And to all of you who have sick kids at home right now, I feel your pain and I hope your kiddos feel better soon!

Your germ-conscious pal,
SW