Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The case of the red lentil pasta

When I first got this job, I had a week of training in another city at another store. The company put me in a hotel, a pretty nice extended stay with a pool (that I didn't use because I was sick either from the antibiotics or the infection that raged on despite the antibiotics) and my own dinky kitchen. This meant I cooked. One night I was at Giant Red Box store getting laundry detergent and dinner. I was perusing the dinner-in-a-box choices and discovered a kit for mac and cheese that has some veggies and green lentil pasta. The price was within my dinner budget so I decided to try it. Only the next day when I was raving about its deliciousness did I realize it was gluten free. 

So then I demanded my spouse try it. While viewed as tolerable, it was not much favored. I decided to try red lentil pasta, because why not? It might be awesome. And it totally is awesome. Om nom nom. BUT! The best part? Little Monster is forever stealing my food. I always make extra just in case. Tonight she liked my red lentil pasta with Parmesan cheese so much she needed her own fork. So instead of cereal for dinner that my spouse served the girls (no judgement, cereal happens, I get that today was busy and such), Little Monster also got fiber and protein and a bit of fat from my pasta. Victory!

On the food front, I have no real hope of the Kid expanding what she eats, although today she did try a cinnamon roll and ate it. That's not technically a new food since she ate them until maybe 18 months ago so it's a return to an old food. Still! baby step maybe. Sigh. Yesterday LM discovered her ribs and noted how much bigger and poke-ier her sister's ribs are than hers.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The here and now

At long last the Kid really reads. She didn't feel confident she could read well enough up until just lately when it clicked that she could do it. I could pretend that I have no idea where she gets the "it must be perfect or I won't even start, it's too hard if it takes more than 2 tries, fear of failure paralyzed me" mentality, but clearly it's her parents modeling that in some behavior or other. It sure isn't in what we tell her or how we praise her efforts (and she often points this out and uses great effort as a reason why something must be kept FOREVER) so we adults need to look over ourselves and root out the perfectionism. Her favorite books are Wayside School gets a little stranger and Calvin and Hobbes. She got really into a patent law discussion recently when we tried to explain it after a strip where calvin's dad starts telling him the story of the Extra Awesome Tool Patent or some such. 2nd grade. Whoa. I mostly kick myself for not having taken a job that meant we could have stayed put because this school is so inferior to her previous one. She may learn something this year but it's hard to say. We do multiplication at home, they do single digit addition to equal something under 20 in school. Her outfits tend toward bright and with patterns regardless of whether the patterns match each other. Unicorn socks are much sought after but we just have the one pair, 3 sizes too big because I guessed wrong at the store.

Little Monster is going through the most terrible part of being two. She has strong opinions about everything, including that the only song in Just Dance that can be played is Istanbul (not Constantinople) by They Might Be Giants and that the color of her controller's light change at least twice a song. Screaming and tantrums occur every few minutes because she is so MAD. Naps are mostly gone but sometimes that means a sane bedtime near 8pm so that's all right. She loves her purple "fizbee" and her toy bulldog and white rat. The rat looks real enough that I often start and think a dead rat snuck into my bed or onto the driveway before I look again and see its fluff and tag remnants. She keeps changing her identity from Donnie (fav ninja reptile) to Little Monster, Esquire (her full name with all its syllables, no nicknames or omissions) and then to Princess Something (Sofia, Elsa, McStuffins, Mer-da, Anna, Baymax, etc.). She must be going through a gross motor growth or development spurt because she crashes and leaps to her crashing scraped-up sadness often. Last week she was being raced down the block in the stroller by the Kid and she got tipped forward onto her face. I think a front tooth moved in addition to a tiny chip but it didn't bother her too much so we let her be. The girls now can only go 2 houses from home and never across the street for LM and absolutely no stroller. Today she first refused bandages for her dripping blood scrapes, then demanded them, then cried and hid when we tried to put them on her at all, with hitting and writhing when the bandage got within 6 inches of a scrape. Most nights she sleeps on our floor and still has the accursed baby plug (aka pacifier) and someday that will change but not yet. I can't bring myself to make her give up that last baby vestige.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fantasy versus reality

I am recognizing that my ideas about life after pharmacy school were, well, idealized and wrong.

When the Kid was little, we both read her bedtime stories and shared the tuck-in routine. It was nice. When I started pharmacy school and she discovered being an insomniac no matter how early we put her to bed or how totally we attempted to exhaust her, I ceded all bedtime routine to my spouse. I always expected it to be temporary during school but then just-about-bedtime became my regular study group time so I would get cut short reading a story, crying would ensue, so I stopped helping with bedtime entirely. When Little Monster was tiny and during the summer she was zero, I would read her story and my spouse would read the Kid's story. Even as she started toddling I still helped with Little Monster's story, reading it ten times over while the Kid had her story read to her. Then rotations happened, I was gone for the year, and then I was hunting for a job or waiting in near-snarl suspenseful anxiety. I opted out of bedtime because I get super short-tempered when I'm tired and I am fed up (see: bedtime with a stressed anxious kid and a 2 year old for the definition of "things which push a parent to get fed up"). Now that I have the long-awaited job and things are almost settled, I had thought I would be getting back into bedtime.

Instead I am realizing that I am snarly and short-tempered when my feet hurt, as they do every day lately, and I make bedtime so much slower and incite triple the Kid rioting that my spouse does. I kind of hate that in the morning I'm the taskmaster who is hurrying the kid along and at night I am hurrying her along to bed so I can get some rest and we never have the chance to go her speed (because she ignores my prompts that would keep her on schedule and then demands a full hour wind-down starting 30 minutes after her bedtime. For now we just need to get through with as little tension as possible so I will continue to opt out of bedtime. Hopefully the solutions will present themselves soon.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Turn and burn

We have been wildly busy this last month. I got the job offer on a Friday at noon and started training that Monday, with no time to do much packing over the weekend. It will be an interesting place to work for, and I think it will be lovely in time. The first year will be hard or horrendous or both alternating days, but that's life. I have no night hours and only a half day every other weekend so that's amazing.

This move has gone somewhere between very badly and "train wreck" level awful. The new house is bigger, with 4 bedrooms upstairs and a larger overall downstairs (before the third bedroom was next to the living room downstairs). It came with no fridge and broken central air, so we bought a fridge and sweltered until our landlord could get here to fix the AC. The windows open at least, even if the lead paint chips are plentiful. None of the cupboard doors latch or fit right, but there are plenty. The washer and dryer hook ups exist but no appliances there either. The literal closet half bath is missing a toilet, and that's fine by me as it's kid sized at best.

The first weekend we had a moving truck, only 2/3 of our stuff made it on when we ran out of time, then the next weekend we rented a truck that was way too small to load up the rest so a lot of things vanished (in addition to the dumpster of junk we intentionally ditched on top of the dumpster of stuff we ditched back in May). It's freeing to have less stuff, and yet it is still more than we need so we will pare down some more. There will be more discussion of this.

Little Monster is handling the change in residence fairly well. She didn't have many little friends she saw often anyway. My spouse will be home for some time to hang out with her. In cool weather I can walk to work. The Kid is floundering badly but that was expected but it's still so hard. She is testing every boundary almost every day, if not every moment.

I am enjoying how varied this pharmacy is and it's nice that it keeps me on my toes all day. I just wish I could take 5 minutes for lunch. Maybe in a few months I can find the time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

This is home

Growing up on a farm near a claustrophobic little town, I ran as fast as I could out of there after high school. Much to my surprise, I only ran to the nearest city for college, but it worked. City! I loved it for the first year or so. Then I wound up with my own apartment in a big old house that had been split up. It was the oldest house for miles around and had originally been at the center of a big estate so it was on the highest hill around. It was 27 steps up from the garage (aka carriage house) to the front door. Sitting in my living room I looked into the third floor windows of the apartment building next door. The best part about that apartment was the giant yard. If anywhere reminded me of Tatania's bower, it was that oasis. So much green, lovely flowers, big old trees, it was awesome. Back there I could pretend I was out somewhere with no neighbors for miles around for up to 10 minutes at a time. Then someone across the street would shout or kids from the next block would come screaming by on their bikes or there'd be a car crash.
Since we've been together, the spouse and I have wandered a great deal. In the last ten years, we've moved ten times and lived here for three of those years. Nowhere before has come close to being ours. Some of those changes have been good, a few very sad, but hardly any nostalgia. We took a picture of us with the kid in her baby bucket when we left the apartment where we lived when she was born, but I have no idea where it is now. We would have stayed there if we could have but the place and the people weren't worth cobbling together work until a real job opened up at the time. In pictures I have to guess the age of the kid to tell you where we lived then because the places are meaningless, hollow, just wherever we had landed.
I've noticed that folks either want a job and that takes them to a place, but they don't let it become home most of the time because they know they're chasing the job wherever it takes them, or they are attached to the place and will take whatever work there might be to stay, sometimes to the point of starving during unemployment. Complex place-work relationships seem to be the norm these days with so many people unmoored or feeling tied to a place.
I've been trying to see what I think about this place we live now. I mean, it's been a good three years here. We've built a good niche in the community and have improved our little corner of it. But when the moment of truth came, we didn't choose to stay and take the work this place offered. We decided on chasing the dream job (spoiler: dream 1 didn't work out so there has been frantic job searching while I've mostly stayed pretty chill that the right job will appear). I guess I'm not sure if that choice means this place isn't worth fighting for, or if all that wandering has meant we are no good at recognizing a great place when it's right under our noses. At any rate, here we are, at an end and a beginning.
It's further interesting to have a job interview where the employer really wants to be sure you want the place as much as the job. I get that rural healthcare is hard because since most folks train in cities, they get used to cities and want those amenities, so rural places are a pit stop used only to get enough experience to get the city job that's always been the goal. I believe I've complained about it as a patient. We've been here three years and I've run through five primary care providers (and the ob I liked has also left) and I didn't have one for the first 8 months we were here. Still it's strange to have the "why this place?" question weigh so heavily. I have to decide how honest an answer to give in the second interview - the place meets my minimum criteria of a pizza place, grocery store, school, and job by far and it even has a dealer for our quirky little car, or I could try to capture the intangible "I think this may be my place" gut reaction I had when I visited the town. I'm a very private person. In almost no interviews have I mentioned the girls early on. In one, I got asked "so you live with your parents in Town then?" and I laughed so hard. So I explained that no, none of my parents are in the "we" who have lived here three years. For this second interview, my family is asked to come so my spouse can also be on board with this move and this place so hopefully we stay for years to come. Strange to think of an employer who wants an employee as invested in the place as the job, but yet that's the kind of place I want to work, where when they say they're committed to quality rural healthcare, they mean it.
I just hope we have time to get ready to move if this job happens since I'm likely to start right away.

Monday, July 20, 2015


During one of my rotations, I worked with the physical therapy department on a resource about medications that suppress the vestibular system for them to share with doctors when managing mutual patients. While attempting to review the literature (it's slim) and then designing a table of medications relevant, I often imagined the little circular deal in cartoon form saying, "Help! Help! I'm being suppressed!" 

(Nitty gritty aside: if we are retraining the body and the vestibular system so the patient feels not dizzy while doing ordinary things, suppressing the vestibular system is bad because it prevents the development of compensation, so while the meds help a dizzy person feel better in the short term, it hinders their ability to get better in the long run.)

Anyway, the vestibular system is what should help keep a person in balance. Fluid, little crystals, all that jazz with technical names I could bore you with. The cool thing about this particular type of dizziness that happens when the rocks get into the wrong place within the ear, the kind treated by PT that we can kind of manage with medications but not really and the side effects are big, is that the PT works very suddenly. One minute the world spins and then the patient is guided through some fancy falling in just the right way, and the world is right again.


6 or 7 weeks ago, I was reaching into the closet for something at the back, diagonally from the far side of the open sliding door. I whapped my head on the frame of the closet and was immediately super dizzy. I thought it would go away, and it got better, but not much. I could barely move my head without getting super dizzy and sometimes a bit nauseous. No bending, certainly no bending and then getting up quickly or repeatedly (say to pick up the thousands of blocks on the floor and return them to a bin), no quick turns of the head to see Little Monster scaling the coat rack moments before it started to tip toward a table covered in books and no darting to rescue her, or picking her up from the floor when she tipped the thing over and banged her knee again.

After about 2 weeks of the dizziness, I went to see a doc and got referred to PT, but then had another 10 days to wait before the appointment. After just that first session I felt 60% better and I picked up the floor of the garage for 25 minutes before I nearly threw up. Then after the second session, I was miraculously all better.

I mean it's one thing to read the literature and hear from experts that the "poof" moment happens, often even when treating this condition. It's another to suddenly feel normal again, to remember what normal was like and to experience it again just like the memory. Whoa.

I think that "poof" sensation is what we are conditioned to think will happen if we've experienced infertility and/or a loss and then start parenting. It is certainly a lie we get fed and a myth we need to dispel. I must admit I was sure this "poof, now the dizziness is gone!" might exist for some people but based on my experience, I doubted it would work for me. I'm never so lucky as to have things go smoothly or simply of as expected. But then it did.

Maybe I will try being less jaded in the future. Mostly I plan to remain cautiously open to miracles and "poof" moments.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Of monsters and bedtime

Friday morning, the spouse and Kid went off to some science-y adventure or other early on. I was still sleeping on the couch when they left after a long night attempting to sleep and failing. At about 10am I was awoken by Little Monster crying upstairs. I figured she would tromp down any second to announce she wanted seeral for breakfast. Eventually she arrived, still sobbing and dragging her blankets. We have a "no downstairs blankets or pacifiers" rule and she had both so I figured she must be really upset so I hugged her extra tight.

She told me "I have a bad dream. The monsters scare me. Then the dragon come flying around and it carry me away." I hid my shocked face, because seriously, whose 2 year old says stuff like that, and how did they sneak her into my house and why does she look so much like my aunts? Then we talked about it until she had settled down under her blankets next to me on the couch. I let her watch all the princess movies she wanted because she seemed feverish and yanked on her ear so I suspected yet another ear infection.

Then at noon she perked up and demanded food. She ate a vast quantity of food and then demanded another hot dog upon learning the berries were all gone. The rest of the day she was pretty close to normal but at "nap time" she had a fit about being alone in her bed and wouldn't sleep anywhere, despite being staggeringly tired. Bedtime rolled around and I knew big measures were needed to convince her to sleep at all.

So I told the girls about Monster Spray. You spray it around the room before bed and it keeps all the monsters out. (Some pharmacy in North Dakota made all the pharmacy news blogs a while back selling the stuff. Smart. I bet theirs smells nice.) They settled in for stories with my spouse and I dug out a little spray bottle, one I thought was broken and wouldn't spray even if there were water in it (why do we have so much junk?), loaded it up, and then sprayed around the room twice for good measure. On the second pass we discovered that the bottle still works eventually... Whoops. Saturday night I sprayed the room again after stories, because routines are always wise.

Sunday night after we put Little Monster to bed on time for once (after a 1.5 hour battle, but still before we officially crossed the line into "whoa it's late"), the Kid finished her stories and bedtime routine and seemed to be staying put in bed after a half hour. Then she snuck downstairs and asked me if I would use the Monster Spray on their room.