Tag Archives: sick adults


Sometimes the point of the blogging is simply that it’s nice to have one thing in my life that is within my control. My blog has no ulterior motives, it won’t do things and refuse to tell me why, it will eat its vegetables when presented with them, and if I tidy it up, it damn well stays tidy.

Other times, the chaos takes over and I’ve no energy for extras, even if they’re the extras that make me feel better.

So much for my lofty (that is, minimal) spring break plans. In the event, Mabel had a short-lived bug and then I had one that lingered, so that today is really the first day I feel like I can tackle things normally again, and the whole week is over. We got through it with a few playdates and a lot of television and minecraft time, and it’s just as well I didn’t really have anything pressing on my list of Things We Could Do, which were mostly just Things To Pass The Time Somewhat Usefully rather than Things That Had To Be Done. The kids got a break from schoolwork and homework, and we got a break from the school run and packing lunches, and the trees are in bloom and everything’s fine.

You can tell I feel better because my world-view has righted itself again. Yesterday that paragraph might have been a lot gloomier.

I think I can impose enough fake order on my life again to write things down about it now. Maybe a list of the blog posts I could write but won’t would be the best way to bring things swiftly up to date:

How to Host a Harry Potter Birthday Party for a Ten-Year-Old Extrovert Who Insists on Inviting Everyone He’s Ever Known. (Contents to make themselves known after the fact, in a few weeks’ time.)

How to Lose Those Pesky Five Pounds Before Summer (MyFitnessPal is helpful or you could just catch a virus, so long as you weren’t wanting to use energy for anything, ever)

Casual Misogyny, Classism, and Racism in the Works of Neville Shute; But I Still Like The Stories

Packing For Dublin in April (Layers. It’s always layers. Maybe a wetsuit.)

That Time I Was Briefly And Expensively Paranoid And Now I’m Getting New Glasses

Dressing For A Black-Tie Wedding in Twenty-Four Simple Steps of Buying And Returning Dresses, Shoes, And Support Garments

Being Sick Is Crap And It’s Much Nicer When You’re Better

Praise cheeses

I’ve spent the past few days layered in tracksuit bottoms and wrapped in blankets, mainlining herbal tea and being completely uninterested in baked goods. Yesterday I suddenly felt that muffins were missing from my life and this morning I actually took an interest in what I was wearing – I’m better! I have the zeal of the newly converted: everything is wonderful, even the feckin’ snow and the two-hour-delay AGAIN and the massive mess of my house; because I am whole once again. I was certain I was dying of consumption or ebola (thanks Ciara) or possibly a relapse of Lyme disease even though I took all the antibiotics last autumn, but it turns out it was just a virus and lo, my health is returned to me and I am victorious and also somewhat sheepish about having been, as usual, such a melodramatic hypochondriac.

Saturday was Valentine’s day, and the children gave us many cards, after an unforeseen uptick in crafting, cutting, glueing, drawing, and generally spreading paper around the house. I had to quickly throw together a card for Mabel, who was feeling hard done by that she’d made all these cards for other people but nobody had done one for her, so I made a quick one for B too, who had bought a lovely loaf of apple cinnamon bread on his way home from his run that morning, so everyone was happy and that was the extent of our marital celebrations of the auspicious date. We’re such diehard romantics, dontcha know.

Mabel gave me a note that said “You look as good as cookies smell”, which was just the loveliest sentiment. I was delighted. Then she gave me this, saying “You used to go to church so I thought you’d like one.” I was lost for words.

Pink paper crucifix with "Jeesis" written on it.

Because, as a friend said, nothing says Happy Valentine’s Day like Jeesis on a cross.



I have a temperature of 101.3 so this might come out as gobbledygook, but I did just take some ibuprofen, so we’ll see.

Of course I got Mabel’s thing. I was sleeping with her every night, she was breathing her little hot breaths into my face; OF COURSE I got it. But it has a pretty long lead time, so I was fooled into thinking maybe somehow I’d missed it. I mean, she got sick on Tuesday evening, and I was feeling fine right up to Thursday of the following week. (That’s yesterday.)

Now Dash is upstairs in his bed when he should be at PE or music or something because he had a funny-feeling tummy this morning and a sore throat. Fascinatingly, neither of those are symptoms that Mabel or I had, so this could be a whole new thing that we can all have fun getting too.

And we’re all meant to be going to Delaware (two hours’ drive) this evening for B to run a marathon tomorrow. I’m pretty sure that’s not happening; the question remaining is whether he’s going on his own or I’m going to rain all over his parade by declaring myself not well enough to look after one sick and one healthy kid alone for two days and one night. What I would really like most is for Dash and me to feel miraculously better in about two hours time, but that seems unlikely.

So that’s how our weekend is looking. How about yours?

Non-compact disc

Spine (and something else)

The one on the left. I don’t know what the one on the right is.

I suppose I have to update you on my back. It’s pretty boring, so feel free to skip it. I don’t think blogs about people’s minor health concerns are particularly interesting, unless by chance you happen to share that particular health concern. But maybe I’m wrong and you’re champing at the bit out there.

So I had an MRI and some neurologist tests and all the blood tests the doctor could think of, just in case there was, I don’t know, something he might find out by doing that. And I’ve been going to the chiropractor twice a week, where he cracks my back and pushes my legs around and I get buzzy electric massage and then he gives me some exercises to do.

My bloodwork is fine, the results of the neurologists’ tests were all perfectly normal, and his interpretation of the MRI was just what I already knew. I have a bulging (or herniated) disk between the two bottom vertebrae in my back. It’s impinging a little on a nerve on the left-hand side, so I could get pain down that leg. But so far, I don’t.

The neurologist talked about prescribing some sort of non-habit-forming painkillers, and I explained that I’ve yet to take as much as an Advil for the discomfort, so that’s jumping the gun. Mostly, I hope to keep it under control by working on my core so that my ab muscles can take up some of the slack and help my back stay up. Not flop over. Whatever it would do otherwise.

It’s a bit unnerving when someone tells you about the “visible degeneration” of your bones. It feels as if possibly the next step is death, because your bones will finally just crumble away and you’ll be gone. I do worry about how this is going to affect me as time goes on, because it’s not going away on its own, and I don’t know how fast it will get worse. Both the chiro and the neurologist said that many people with this level of – bulge, degeneration, whatever – would have a lot more pain than I do. So either I’ve a high pain threshold (um, I don’t think so) or I’m lucky, for now.

I do feel it, and I can’t really tell if I’m noticing it more now because I know it’s A Thing, or if it’s actually got worse in the past two months. I’m trying hard to sit up straighter and use my muscles to pull in my stomach and do the exercises, and that helps.

So I will use it as required to get out of lifting heavy objects and shovelling snow, but otherwise will hope it motivates me to work on my core and that I can just shut up about it from now on. I’m sure you hope that too.


photo credit: General Popó via photopin cc

Squid sandwich (not actually a food post)

While on the outside, this week has been about snow, and concomitant school closings and late openings, on the inside for me it’s been about having a back problem. Not that my back is any more painful than it was last week or the week before – in fact, since that first visit to the chiropractor it’s been a lot less painful in bed at nights, and the rest of the time about the same; a twinge here, a nudge there, bending at the knees not the waist; doesn’t everyone’s back hurt when they sneeze?

No, I suppose everyone’s doesn’t, but this has just snuck up on me so gradually that it really felt pretty much normal. Not something I should be whining about and certainly not going looking for medical intervention over. The chiropractor and then the nurse at the MRI both asked had I done something to it – an accident, I suppose, is the most common reason why someone relatively young like myself (don’t shatter my illusions) would need such treatment. But there wasn’t anything. It just sort of wore on.

I didn’t think I was fretting about any of it overmuch, but the night before the MRI I had that classic anxiety dream that my teeth were falling out. I was brushing them vigorously and then I leaned over the sink and several enormous molars just popped out. I thought “This is a dream thing. Maybe I’m dreaming.” So I poked a tooth to see if it would wake me up and it didn’t. I was disappointed but not very surprised, and annoyed that now I’d have to go and see the dentist as well.

The MRI was fine, though it did go on for EVER – they made me as comfortable as I could be while lying on my back and I listened to NPR on the headphones, which was moderately distracting, and every now and then I’d feel my shoulders and hips tensing up and I’d have to consciously relax. The noise wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated after all the warnings from kind readers – I think if it’s an MRI on your head maybe it’s a lot louder.

Afterwards the tech showed me on the screen where the dark shape of my cartilage was pushed out on either side of the vertebrae in the affected area. I had been envisaging it like a sandwich with the jam pushing out on either side, but of course cartilage is solid stuff so it’s not dripping away into the rest of my interior; it’s just sitting there and maybe being squeezed a bit more as time goes on. I have no idea what they do with that, and so far I haven’t googled to find out. I’m sure someone will tell me soon enough.

B suggested I should envisage the cartilage more as a squid, but I said it would have to be one with no tentacles. So now I’m seeing the head of a squid sandwiched between my two wholewheat vertebrae and wondering if it would just break in two and drop off on either side at any point… but it’s probably connected to the bone better than that…

At least I still have all my teeth.

Back issues

Sometimes, like when I decided to move the blog – sorry about any broken links, by the way; still working on figuring out the redirects – I take action remarkably swiftly. Other times, not so much.

For instance, she said ominously:

I’ve had a vaguely sore back for a while. I put it down to carrying a heavy toddler, and bending the wrong way, and having children jump on my back for the pure hilarity of my reaction whenever I happened to be crouched down doing something, and all those things that you do in life. I certainly didn’t have a car accident or fall off a horse or crunch someone in a rugby tackle. I kept assuming it would wear off after a while. It would come and go and some days I’d be gingerly loading the dishwasher sideways because I couldn’t bend straight forwards and others I’d be fine. Lately it had taken the form of a sore back that would appear after a few hours in bed, bug me enough to wake me up and make me painfully change position, and make me hobble like an 80-year-old getting up in the morning. But by midday or sooner it would have worn off and I’d put off doing anything about it. Again.

When I had my annual doctor’s appointment in October or so I had mentioned it to the doctor. She was supremely unhelpful and said I could find some exercises to do for that on the internet. I basically ended up thinking that I was 40 now and maybe that’s just how life is. Or that maybe we need to buy one of those nice squishy mattresses that you can rest your wineglass on without fear of spillage while a rhinocerous jumps on the other side.

At some point – actually, I know exactly when it was; it was when we went to Ithaca last July – we drove past a building that said “Acupuncture, Chiropractor” and I wondered why those two would go together. In my mind, a chiropractor was a special and important and very wonderful type of doctor who did something that was not clear to me, while acupuncture was sticking needles into you, which might somehow help but was definitely on the alternative side of the medicine scale.

This set off a long train of thought that buzzed away in the back of my mind over months and months. I began to notice that the two types of practice often went together, and that chiropractors were definitely also in the “alternative medicine” box, in this country at least. Maybe it’s different in Ireland, but I know my parents used to speak in hushed tones of the revered chiropractor. (My mum had had a bad back many years ago, and my dad had a badly broken leg in 1971 that has given him pain on and off ever since.) I always assumed the chiropractor was just as much a doctor as a surgeon or anyone else in St Vincent’s would be. Maybe he was.

So it gradually began to dawn on me that maybe I should take my back to a chiropractor. But if they’re alternative, then does insurance pay for it? And will they dupe me? Maybe they’ll pretend to fix it but actually only partway fix it so that I have to keep coming back.

Eventually, I asked my local Facebook friends if anyone could recommend a chiropractor in the area. They could – several mentioned the same one. I put that at the back of my mind, because Ireland, and Christmas, and everything else. Every night in bed as I winced and rolled over, I would resolve to make the call the next day; every morning I’d put it off because now I was fine, and it’s not so bad, and I have an irrational disinclination towards making phone calls.

Finally, in my fit of proactivity on Wednesday, I called up, and they took my insurance details just like any regular doctor’s office and gave me an appointment the very next day.

Of course, Mabel decided that Thursday morning was the time to throw a fit about going to school, or staying for lunch, or whatever she could sling at me, and I was working so hard at promising her that I’d consider thinking about letting her skip lunch the next day that I left the house without my wallet. So when I’d hurriedly peeled her off me and left her wailing at the feet of her teacher, I was not only consumed by parental stress and guilt but also had to rush home to pick up my stuff before trying to get to the optimistically scheduled 9:15 appointment.

I got there only a few minutes late, filled out all the forms in the world, had some interesting tingly electric massage thing, talked to the lovely man about my back – feeling a bit of a fraud since on the 1-10 scale of pain I hadn’t called it more than a 3 at its worst (but then, as a friend pointed out, once you’ve given birth without an epidural, the pain scale sort of shifts and it’s hard to tell what’s considered bad) – and he did some interesting maneouvers on my hips. (Phwoar.) He also took some x-rays, just to make sure there wasn’t anything funny going on with my bones, and told me to come back this morning to discuss the results.

I wasn’t convinced anything useful had happened, because nothing felt any different. And then in the middle of the night I roused a little and wondered at my lack of pain. I wasn’t feeling anything. I turned over with the greatest of ease and not a wince in sight, and went happily back to sleep. When I woke up I got out of bed like a 20-year-old and did not have to creep in an elderly manner to the bathroom as I usually do.

“I’m cured!” I announced, with jazz hands.

So I went back to tell him he was a miracle worker, and he showed me my x-rays, which demonstrate an odd lack of cartilage between the bottom two lumps (technical term) of my spine. Not none at all, just much less than there is between the other ones.

“So, it hurts because there’s actually something wrong?” I felt somehow both vindicated and utterly amazed. How strange that my body manifests a problem with pain. Huh.

So  now I have to go have an MRI next week to see if I have a bulging disc or a herniated disc or I have no idea what else it might be but I probably shouldn’t google it. Ever had an MRI? What should I expect?

And I suppose I should have gone and done something about this sooner, but on the other hand I’m glad I did it eventually instead of just believing that once you’re 40 your back starts to go and there’s nothing you can do except maybe buy a new mattress and yell at the kids to get off your lawn.


Damn nature, either way

We all know by now that I am not really very Good With Nature. I like it in small bursts away from which I can easily get. I like my concrete and my pavements and my tall buildings, actually. I feel safer on the asphalt. Nature is unpredictable. One misstep and you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with a gammy ankle.

On Sunday we went Into Nature, not far from home. We saw deer and found geocaches and got fresh air and the weather was delightful and by the time we were done it was too late to go home and make dinner so we had to go out for burgers and chips. (Fries.) (We still say chips. It’s our one victory over our children’s American vocabularies.)

Opening a geocache box in the woods

Well, feck nature, I said the next morning, as I plucked a whole bunch of pin-head-sized ticks off my son’s body, and one slightly bigger one off my own a few hours later. Fecking deer. Sod off, Bambi.

Deer in woods

Dash is always a magnet for wildlife, and he had been wearing shorts too. That evening I was still combing him – almost literally – for ticks when I noticed he seemed to have met a particularly angry swarm of mosquitoes as well. On his lower back.

That’s odd, I thought.

Then he disrobed for his bath and I found more little welts coming up all over his hips, as if he’d rolled around naked in a hornet’s nest. Very odd. Exactly the opposite of where mosqitoes normally get him, on his arms and legs – though he had a few on his neck and ears too.

By Tuesday morning I was having Other Thoughts about the bites. Like that maybe they were not bites, but a rash. A rash I couldn’t blame Nature for, apart from the regular nature that we have to put up with because it is Us because we are not yet cyborgs. (Oh, how I yearn for those cyborg days.)

I really thought he had chicken pox, and sent him to the doctor, who sent him back with a label saying “Probably Not,” since he’s had all his shots and the rash didn’t look quite right for that. Apparently kids can just get a rash as a reaction to a cold virus, and he had brought a cough home from school last week that we have all come down with after him.

This morning I woke up with a few scattered itchies myself. Since I’ve had chicken pox too (yes, the real thing; they don’t vaccinate for it in Ireland), I suppose this means that it’s very unlikely to be it. Which is good, because I sent him back to school this morning. From a distance, you can’t even tell he looks like a disgruntled mosquito took out his rage all over Dash’s backside.

So I suppose Nature’s off the hook for this one. For the moment. But I’ve got my eye on you, Nature. (Picture me doing that two-fingers-to-eyes movement that indicates menacing watching. I’m like Tony Soprano over here.)

Children and father walking in the woods


I’m tired of seeing the same post every time I open my blog, and I have several things almost written but who knows when they’ll be fully written or at what point I’ll just say oh what the heck and press publish anyway, so here’s a very quick update for you and I even put some commas in there so don’t complain about this long sentence. Stream of consciousness, baby. Chanelling Joyce.

I’m sure I would be more prepared for our upcoming “camping” vacation (not real hardcore camping because everything is on site, which is very normal in Europe but took a bit of concentrated Googling to find in this country) except yesterday I was struck down in my 40-year-old prime by a stomach virus/fever thing that made it impossible for me to stop the kids watching TV because I just had to nap on the sofa all day and the whole experience left me with a renewed respect for old people and people with chronic ailments because damn if life isn’t much harder and more full of no fun when everything’s an effort.

Contrary to my belief that it would probably last forever and I was probably dying of something horrible, as always comes upon me when sick, my fever disappeared around midnight last night and today I feel much better but after a burst of energy this morning (library, Target, laundry) I’m now a bit tired and prone to being grumpy and can’t figure out what would be a good thing to eat and generally wishing I could put these children into suspended animation for a day. Or a week.

So that’s why it’s been quiet.

Sleeping bags for camping


Mabel and I both woke up with big stonking sneezy snurfly colds this morning (and apologies for quoting my own Facebook status there), which have been sneaking up on us for the past few days, what with my very sore throat on Friday night that had miraculously disappeared the next morning (classic symptom for me of something else to come) and her good sleeping for two nights in a row.

Which is why this blog post is brought to you by Sesame Street in the background and I’ve been staring at it for ten minutes without writing anything. And that’s not counting the half hour I spent trying to write it earlier, and the two posts I have in drafts from last night that are not interesting and will not be making it to the gentle eyes of my readers. At least not till I’ve got some amount of mojo back and can fix ’em up.

If you’ve any requests to get me out of my doldrums, let fly. What do you like hearing about most?

Uncharitable thoughts

My underwire is inconveniencing you? I’m so sorry. But hey, you know what, your entire self insisting on being attached to my breast for as long as it might take you to fall asleep tonight, which is evidently going to be a long, long, time, is inconveniencing me too. My last respectable nursing bra is biting the dust and I really really don’t want to spend good money on another one when their days are so (so, so) numbered, but lying down to get you to sleep in a regular bra, with its underwires all up in my face and poking me under the chin, is not much fun for me either.

Oh dear, my arm is not positioned just so to cushion your head while you nurse to sleep? Well it’s not made of rubber, so it doesn’t bend that way, and also I have other things to do than just lie here being your plaything for half the night, I have foam pool noodles to turn into lightsabres for your brother’s birthday party tomorrow.

You are disappointed to wake and not find me exactly where you left me? Well, I’m disappointed to hear you wake, because I have the stomach flu and it’s really rather gross and I haven’t eaten a thing that’s not banana for two days so I may be a tiny bit grumpy, but excuse me if you find me less than sympathetic when you bounce up in bed at 3.30 am and tell me you’re hungry, because you were offered a full and nutritious dinner, while all I had was a bowl of cereal, gingerly, afraid of repercussions.

You want to sit up and have the big side? Again? And I seem less than forthcoming? I roll onto my front and tell you to go and find Daddy?

Must be morning.