Friday, January 27, 2012

I fired my neurologist

Today I fired my neurologist, but he doesn’t know yet. He will when he gets the request for my medical records from my GP.

I’ve been frustrated with the doc pretty much since the beginning. He’s arrogant and has terrible bed-side manner, but I put up with him because he seemed to know what he was doing. After being his patient for four years, two events spurred the final break.

The first happened back in September. I called his office because I was in the grips of a blinding migraine that wasn’t reacting to any medications. At my previous appointment with him, he had told me to call in any time that happened. So I did. And got no response for 24 hours. By the time the nurse called back, I’d already gone to the ER and gotten the good stuff.

I went in to see him a few weeks later, and he had the ER report in my file. He asked why I hadn’t called in, and when I said that I had but had gotten no response, he just rolled his eyes and told me I should have just come to his office because they are always there. Except for when they’re not answering the phones or returning messages, that is.

At that same appointment, he also prescribed daily preventive medication that I’d taken in the past without result. He also referred me to a pain doctor to have nerve block injections. This was in the middle of living in the cute little rental house and trying to find a new house and dealing with B’s much more serious health issues, so I never had it done.

Last week I called the pharmacy to have my migraine meds refilled, and they called back to tell me the doctor had declined to authorize the refills because I hadn’t gone for the nerve block injections.

Final straw.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have migraines. I can do a great deal to avoid triggers, and I can take medicine when one starts, but there’s never going to be a magic cure.

Before you suggest something, or tell me that your friend’s cousin’s brother-in-law had great success with a treatment – yes, I know. I’ve tried it.

In the years since my diagnosis, I’ve gone to acupuncturists, massage therapists, chiropractors and physical therapists. I’ve done biofeedback and meditation. I’ve done yoga. I’ve taken preventive meds that dropped my blood pressure so much that I couldn’t walk across the room without getting dizzy. I’ve taken anti-seizure medications that came with a warning that if I got pregnant, the baby would have birth defects. I’ve taken stuff that suppressed my heart rate, which made it impossible for me to run. I’ve gotten Botox injections that were both hella expensive and painful. I’ve taken supplements and nutrients and enzymes.

And none of these thing has ever reduced my migraines. In fact, most of them made me feel worse, much, much worse. So when the neurologist suggested going back on medication that had made me sick in the past, I decided it was time to try something else.

I have come to peace with the fact that I have migraines. I know what can trigger them and do my utmost to avoid those things; I don’t drink wine or eat strawberries, for example. The medication I take when a migraine comes on works four times out of five. And when it doesn’t work, I can take a pain pill and go to bed. The times I’ve ended up in the ER with a migraine I can trace it back to not taking my medication in time or not having my medication (because the doctor is slow to call in refills) or to letting the migraine get away from me.

So, instead of taking more medications that make me feel terrible or having shots of neurotoxins injected into my neck, I’m going to work hard to manage the migraines I have. Today I saw my GP, and he has agreed to my plan and will handle my prescriptions from now on.

In the next year, if some magic cure comes along, I’ll give it a try. But for now, I’m done experimenting.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


When I say we have cows just past the fence . . .


I mean, we have cows just past the back fence. And even though we’ve lived here for 6 weeks now, I still get a kick out of seeing them every morning. They show up at 9:00, just like clockwork.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The thug life

I really need to pay more attention to what my kids wear to school. All he’s missing is a trucker’s cap.


Oh, and the white patches on his butt? Holes in his shorts big enough that you could see the Wall-E on his underpants. I didn’t notice until we were already at school. Not one of my finer parenting days.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Going Dark

Since I don’t actually know how to take my blog dark for 24 hours without losing all my content, I’m just going to link to this post from The Oatmeal.

Stop SOPA.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Ella and I made a quick trip to Atlanta so she could climb in Divisionals, which is the competition that decides who makes it to Nationals. Quite honestly, I didn’t have any great expectations about Ella’s climbing. She missed a lot of practices during the past month due to moving, illness, holidays and meltdowns. She is also in a new age group, which means she’s climbing against girls who are almost two years older than she is.

Saturday’s round got off to a rough start. Ella wasn’t able to finish her first route despite repeated attempts, and that seemed to throw her off her game. Her second and third routes were trainwrecks. I watched through my fingers. Before her fourth route, Ella sat in the waiting area with tears running down her face. I wanted to go get her and tell her she didn’t need to climb anymore. Instead, I promised hot chocolate when she finished, which got a teeny smile.

Apparently the promise of hot chocolate really works, because she climbed great and finished the route; one of the few girls to do it.

She finished convinced she was in last place and wouldn’t be climbing in finals on Sunday. When Ella asked what we’d do on Sunday instead of climbing in finals, I said we’d go hiking at Stone Mountain, which kept her quiet for a while.

I also talked to her about the fact that she’s in a new age group and is climbing against older girls and that Divisionals is supposed to be hard. She didn’t buy it.

Fortunately, she placed 7th, which moved her on to finals on Sunday with a clean slate. All of Saturday’s scores were erased and the kids started from scratch. At dinner Saturday night, Ella’s coach told her she needed to step it up for finals, and she just hid under the table.

Ella had a bit of meltdown while getting ready on Sunday when she discovered that I hadn’t packed the correct lucky socks. Fortunately she decided that wearing a mismatched pair of my hand-knit socks would be good enough.

And boy howdy was it.

She came out on the floor with her game face on and proceeded to climb like a rock star. She finished her first route on her second try and finished her second route on her first try. The girls before and after had trouble with both routes. On the third, she climbed to within one move of finishing and fell, but she kept trying. I was amazed at how calm she was considering the tears the day before.

Once Ella was finished, we just had to sit and wait for the scores, which was painful. She was convinced she was last. I figured her to be in the top five. But all we really cared about was that she was in the top 7 so she could go through to Nationals.

When the announcer called out that the results were posted, a stampede of excited kids and parents rushed the entry of the gym. Ella came back with a huge, kind of embarrassed smile. She got second place!

I was so relieved. But honestly, I gained a lot more gray hair this weekend.

I would have been happy with however Ella placed on Sunday, because I know she climbed her best and left nothing on the wall. But having her place so well is like icing on the cake.

So now we register for nationals and make preparations to go to Colorado Springs in March.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I won an argument

Since Ella learned to talk, she has fought me on just about everything. Her determination and stubbornness and willingness to debate will serve her well in later life. No one, least of all me, is going to talk her into doing something she doesn’t want to.

This makes being her mom very difficult sometimes, because “Oh my gah, quit talking and just put your shoes on already!” Nothing is easy.

To say that Ella has had a rough time with the transition to the new house and new school would be an understatement. Last Tuesday was her first day, and I pretty much had to drag her out of bed and to the car. Wednesday was just as bad. That afternoon she announced that she wasn’t going back to school and I couldn’t make her. When I explained that the law required her to go to school, we had this little exchange.

E: Why can’t I go back to Brentwood?

H: Because we don’t live in the district anymore.

E: You could just drive me there every day.

H: That would be really bad for the environment.

E: . . .

H: Seriously, there are no buses or carpools there, and it would be really polluting for me to drive to Brentwood twice a day just for you.

E: . . .

I have no idea where the environmental argument came from. It just popped out. But it turns out to have been exactly the right thing to say. Environmentalism has been so ingrained in Ella and her generation that she absolutely nothing to come back with in response.

I think it’s the first time in years I’ve won an argument with her without having to resort to “Because I’m the mom and I say so!”

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Life in a small town

So we live in Dripping Springs now. Actually, that’s not true. Our mailing address is still in Austin and we have a 787 prefix on our zip code. But we’re in Hays County, not Travis, and the kids are in the Dripping Springs school district. And, as the crow flies, our house is a lot closer to Driftwood than it is to Dripping. It turns out the Salt Lick is only a few miles away on the back roads. Yay.

One of the things I’ve always loved about Austin is how it’s retained its small-town feel despite masses of people moving there every week. I always run into people I know at the Saturday Farmers’ Market downtown, and I don’t think I’ve ever gone running on the Trail without seeing at least one friend. Last week at The Nutcracker, I saw five random friends. It’s nice to live somewhere where everybody knows your name.

But life in Dripping Springs is truly small town. I don’t see anyone I know when I’m out and about, mostly because I don’t know anyone yet. But everyone – EVERYONE – is so dang friendly. The baggers and cashiers at the grocery store, the ladies in the school office, the woman on the phone at the school district transportation office, the sheriff’s deputy who did not give me a ticket yesterday. The cashiers at Whole Foods seem absolutely surly compared to people out here.

If I happen to mention that I just moved to town, people get even friendlier. They want to know if I like living out here and where I came from and where our house is. Every encounter ends with “Welcome to Dripping Springs! I hope you like it here!”

While Runnerdude and Knittergran were visiting, I commented on the friendliness every time I came in from running errands. Knittergran’s comment was that you’d think I lived in a war zone before, not north-central Austin.

I’m learning to adjust and to not freak the heck out when the pharmacy tech starts an idle conversation. But it’s just not normal.

And I’ve never been called “Hon” so many times in my life.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Welcome 2012

It’s no secret that 2011 was a rough one around Casa HOK, what with the depression and the 6 months of rental housing and the heat and B’s continuing health problems. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a year end. It was our very own annus horribilis.

But now it’s over.

We’re in our new house. We made it through Christmas. Lily danced in The Nutcracker. The big girls start a new school on Tuesday.

2012 holds a lot of promise for us.

This year I vow to:

  • Unpack the remaining boxes
  • Get my running back on track
  • Kick the depression to the curb
  • Get my freelance business off the ground officially
  • Make friends in my new neighborhood

Nothing on the list is earthshattering or hugely life-changing. I should be able to accomplish most, if not all of them.

At the very least, I got the new year started on the right foot.


Or maybe the left. I wasn’t really paying attention.