Sunday, March 22, 2009


Like I mentioned in the last post, it's been a busy month. Not fun. My personal epiphany was that no matter how good you are at managing stress or multitasking, or meeting every deadine and managing every personality, sooner or later, it's going to overwhelm you. I like to think I'm really good at managing my life. But there's always ONE LAST THING that sneaks up on you and all of a sudden everything you thought you were handling well is too much.

Example: a few posts ago I begged for advice on dealing with someone who was being a royal pain in my ass. Pete realized this was bugging me more than usual and went through my email history with Doofus. Pete recognized on the spot that this guy has some mental issues (possibly diagnosible) and I was WAY over my head in dealing with him. So Pete dealt with it. Let's just say he has the education and job experience for the task. I don't know what Pete said to him, but I haven't heard a peep from that house since. Problem solved.

I just needed help solving a problem I didn't know how to solve myself. It doesn't seem like a huge deal, but it was - admitting that I had to have someone else take the reins with a guy who's not "all there".

The past couple of weeks had me a nervous wreck. When you have a baby at 40, no one with an M.D. after their name will let you do things the easy way. Lots of extra blood tests - not cut-and-dried either. All interpreted through mathematical algorithms. And compared with some chart of medians that you can't actually find anywhere.

One blood test told me that the baby had an "increased risk" of Down's syndrome.

It makes my heart stop now just thinking about it.

Talk about being out of control of your life. There was literally nothing I could do but wait a week for the scheduled amniocentesis. And after that, there's nothing to do but wait anywhere between 1 and 3 WEEKS to get the results. (The lab literally spreads out the chromosomes from the sample on a microscope slide for a technician to count and read the stripes to see if they're normal.)

I've seen all kinds of medical procedures and cutting-edge surgeries in my old research career. Nothing shocks me. There's very little I can't look at. Even autopsies are business as usual. But when I went into that ultrasound room knowing there would be a very very fine, yet very very long biopsy needle plugged into me, I was a neurotic mess. I was running my mouth without a filter trying to calm myself down. It didn't work.

I wasn't fooling anyone. I just admitted I was scared to death and all of my medical experience was worthless.

And it was OK! She knew I was scared and that I couldn't detach enough to manage the stress professionally and it was OK!

The doctor comes in to perform the test.
"So, how are you feeling?"
"I'm completely neurotic." (No kidding, that's what I really said!)
"That's normal." Another one who's seen this a million times. He gets his prep tray out and sterilizes everything but my eyelids and right big toe.
"Look, doc? Is there...something I can...ya know...hold on to?"
"Something or someone?"
"Barb, go get Julie, willya?" He didn't even flutter an eyelash or roll his eyes at that request.

Julie was a secretary in the department who had a talent for handling scared patients. Again, without looking at me like I had two heads, she just took my hand as I turned my head away and held deathly still. She told me everything that was going on with the tone of voice that I would have used had I been doing the hand-holding.

Five very strange and uncomfortable minutes later, it was over. Not as bad as I thought. But the test itself was only the first half - waiting was the second half, and knowing that there's not thing-frickin'-one you can do. When you're a control freak like me, that is a unique circle of hell.

So here's the sermon for the day kids:
It's OK if the final straw hits you and something has to give. Let it. Decide what someone else needs to handle and let them handle it. It actually helps you keep more control of the situation, by focusing on what you can handle, rather than what you can't. But you have to be honest with yourself.
It's OK to admit you're scared or uncomfortable. In fact, things go much better - for you and everyone else around you - if you just let that go. You're not fooling anyone anyway, everyone can see it whether they say something or not.
It's OK to ask for support. If someone doesn't respond the way you need them to, blow them off, leave them in the ditch, and move on to the next one until you find the one that gives you what you need without judging you for it.

Here endeth the lesson. =D

(PS - the baby is fine - genetically she's completely normal! Pete is going to give my ob/gyn a wedgie for the torture of that false-positive blood test!)

You tell your friends you're fine again, you love the life you got
But the more you say that you're ok, the more they know you're not.