Sunday, February 16, 2020

My Severe Reaction to Vancomycin “It Could Have Been Worse” Part One

I started 2020 off with a bang! I told my sister that I was so tired of saying, “It Could Have Been Worse,” but that is really the best description for this ordeal.

As my son Seth said a few weeks ago, before things did get worse, “It all started with a bone infection.” That is exactly right. It all started with a fungus in my right big toe nail specifically. But as a pharmacist told me, “A dog cannot become a cat.” Somewhere along the way an opening occurred in the toe nail and bacteria got in. That bacteria became an infection and that infection traveled down to the bone of my toe.

Although that alone sounds bad enough, it could have been worse, and technically it still could be worse. That bone infection is called Osteomyelitis and it can lead to damage to the bone and worse case, amputation. The podiatrist that I went to see didn’t see the infection on two x-rays taken four weeks apart. He decided to do an MRI on my toe and that’s where he was able to pinpoint the infection. I’ve been told several times that if he had found the infection on the x-ray it could possibly been too late. It could have been worse!

The podiatrist sent me to an infectious disease doctor. I thought I’d be on oral antibiotics for a few weeks. To my surprise it wasn’t going to be that simple. The doctor explained to me that the only way we could attack this infection was through intravenous antibiotics. And the only way to do this was for me to go into the hospital to have a picc line inserted into the big vein in my arm. PICC stands for a peripherally inserted central catheter. The catheter runs the antibiotics through that vein, right above my heart and straight into my blood stream so they can reach the far regions of my toe.

So on Thursday, January 9 I went into the hospital to have this PICC line inserted and to begin my three and a half week experience with Vancomycin, one of the strongest but most effective antibiotics for bone infections.

The doctor has a pharmacist on staff and a pharmacy in-house. The pharmacist compounds the medications and each week I had to go in to see the infusion nurse and the pharmacist. The nurse draws blood and changes the dressing around the picc line. The pharmacist would hand me 14 globes of medication that closely resembled a buzz ballz cocktail, a week’s supply. I was responsible for giving myself these antibiotics twice a day for two hours each time.

They check the blood each week for kidney and liver function. Each week I was told I was doing great. I was being very proactive and when I started this antibiotic treatment I had also decided to start a detox diet. I was drinking a probiotic each morning, drinking a body cleanse drink, drinking detox tea, kombucha and a ton of water.

I have no idea how I did it those first three weeks. Somehow I fit this picc line and these antibiotics into my daily routine. I would go to work each day, check in, go to a meeting or check email and respond to important items. Then I would go to the nursing mother’s room in one of the restrooms where they have a table and a chair. I would hook up my buzz ball, would put on an apron with a pocket for the ball, and then I’d throw a poncho over me to hide the whole thing. I’d go back to my desk to work until it was time to disconnect and clean the line with saline and heparin.

There were a couple of times that I connected or disconnected in my car. I’d infuse sometimes while driving and once even while having lunch with someone. The second infusion was always at home before bed. There were times when I fell asleep while infusing because I was so exhausted. In retrospect I was wearing myself down.

I was planning a big trip to Las Vegas for my 50th birthday the weekend of February 7th.  I really wanted for the doctor to tell me that I was getting all better by week three and that he could remove the picc line of February 6 so that I could go to Vegas without it.  At my January 30th appointment he told me that wasn’t going to happen. He told me that I needed to hold on for another two weeks. I cried but I accepted my fate and even joked that I was going to name my picc line Piper and that she was going on an adventure with me to Vegas.

Ironically at that visit he suggested that I change over from Vancomycin to Daptomycin, a different and stronger antibiotic. My response that sealed my fate, “Why change antibiotics when I’m doing so well with the one I’m on. What if I change at this late date and I have a reaction to the new one?”

Five days later I had a delayed allergic reaction to Vancomycin.

To be continued...

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Ten Year Recap of ShoeGirl Corner Blogs

We are at the end of 2019 and some debate whether it's the end of a decade or not. Technically the end of the decade will be December 31, 2020 but since I was born in 1970 and I've always referred to each decade as the 70s, 80s, 90s, etc. I'm going to treat this as the first end of the decade. The end of the 2010s and I'm going to recap the last ten years, looking at the last blog of each year.

My Favorite Quote of the Decade
Apparently 2010 was a tough year. I can't remember exactly why, but I know that my marriage was coming to an end around that time even though I didn't say it.

2011 was not a good blogging year. By the end of that year I was divorced but not talking about it yet. It was definitely a turning point in my life.

In 2012 I didn't even bother to do an end of  the year recap. My last blog was in October! I know 2012 was an interesting year because that's when I was single for the first time and I dated. I just didn't blog about it.

December's blog in 2013 was a really good recap of the year and what I had been up to. That's the year I took a break from the Chronicle and when my dad came to live with me.

It seems like 2014 is around the time I started becoming more aware of getting older as I got closer to my 45th birthday.

2015 is when I started asking the question:  What do I want to accomplish before I die?

2016 was one of those years when I didn't even blog in December. My last blog was in October and it was about raising successful Latino kids. This is when I started counting down the years that I had left with them  The blog in August was actually more introspective.

It's funny that I ended 2017 with another blog about the kids and my advice to parents about the Vanguard and Magnet school programs. My next to last blog was more of a recap on the year and things that I was grateful for.

2018 was a tough year. My father passed away in February, right around my 48th birthday. This is what I said about that year: Here I am on the eve of New Year's Eve reflecting on a really hard year that came with sadness, pain, but also gifts and blessings.

Which leads me to the end of 2019. This has been a really great year! I've been blessed beyond measure with my career, my kids and my personal growth. I've had a great boss and great accounts.

I went to New York three times this year. Once to visit LIU with Miranda, another to take her to school and then for Thanksgiving. I went to Vegas for my 49th birthday in February and had a blast. I took the kids to LA in the summer to visit their cousins and the babies.

Miranda graduated from DeBakey and received a huge scholarship from LIU. I de-cluttered my house a lot. I still have a lot of work to do but it's a huge difference and has made me feel so much better. Especially my bedroom! I'm working hard on making sure Seth is growing up to be a good man and finishes strong at DeBakey too.

Spiritually I'm on a great journey of finding my peace. I call it My Inner Journey . I'm in a good place and I'm very fortunate to have what I do. I'm really working on "taking ownership of my freed self." I started a project that I love called Little Libraries in Laundromats. I have four little libraries in laundromats in my neighborhood and doing this really feeds my soul.

2020 is a significant year for me because I turn 50. I'm planning another trip to Vegas and this time I plan to party a little harder. I want to see Gwen Stefani and I want to spend more time down in the slot machines in the casino. I want to have that "casino" experience. So far that's the only trip planned for the year. I may go to New York again for Thanksgiving but there's still time to plan. I plan on making my last 1/3 of my life count! I'm looking forward to what 2020 will bring!

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Buy the Toys!

This past late August when I was dropping off my daughter at college at Long Island University, I was in Oyster Bay and I walked by a toy store with beautiful unique toys inside. I always love toy stores like that. I think of stores like Big Blue Whale in the Heights and Imagination Toys in Bellaire. Stores that have such beautiful unique toys that make you want to buy them for yourself.

My daughter's Russian Nesting Dolls 
Since I was dropping off my daughter at college I was especially sensitive and melancholy. Seeing all those beautiful toys through the window brought back memories of the children when they were little. I thought of how fast time goes by. I thought of all those times that I said no to them when they asked me for something. (I have to admit there weren't too many times.) But none the less I thought about all the times I didn't buy them the toys and how now they don't want them.

My advice to young parents. Buy the toys! Even if you think your kid has too many toys. You can always recycle toys and donate the old ones to the needy. There are children out there who don't have any toys.

Buy the unique toys, the ones you'll cherish and that your children will keep on a bookshelf. My 15 year old son has this Star Wars cantina on his bookshelf along with a lot of other Star Wars toys.

My Son's Star Wars Cantina
I know it's super cliché and corny to say it but yes, it's true, time does fly. And once you have children the time goes by faster. One day you're taking them to kindergarten and the next you're in New York dropping them off in a new town and state and they will be too old for toys. You'll lament over all the toys that you didn't buy for them and now you're out of time.

And don't forget the books! I love libraries but my kids could not have enough books. They had books since they were babies. Same thing with those. We've been giving those away in the Little Free Library but we are keeping the cherished ones on the bookshelf.

As I wind down the second third of my life and I'm a half empty nester I'm glad that I have great memories to fall on. I just got off the phone with my daughter and I told her what I was writing about and she told me about some of her favorite toys, like her Barbie doll house, which she still has in her room. It made me happy to hear her say that.

Life is short and the time with your kids is even shorter. Really!

Sunday, September 08, 2019

"She's Leaving Home"

The day before we left to New York last week I finally played "She's Leaving Home" by the Beatles to Miranda while we were in the car. I cried for the first time. It hit me that she was leaving the next day. I didn't outright cry, I just shed a few tears but she saw it. We were leaving on Wednesday morning at 5 am to the airport so the song really hit a soft spot and I know I sound cliche but it does feel like just yesterday she was going to kindergarten.

Move In Day at Long Island University
So last week her father and I flew to New York with our girl on a Wednesday morning. We went shopping with her, helped her move in on Thursday, shopped some more, stayed with her near campus, and left her there on Sunday early afternoon. I was sad but I didn't cry. I was strong because I am so happy and excited for her! I'm so excited as she starts this new journey and has this amazing opportunity to attend an east coast small private school. I know it will offer her so many great opportunities in the medical field. She has her whole life in front of her and it's such an exciting place to be. How can I not be happy and excited?

Unpacking in her dorm room.
Long Island is such a beautiful area! I knew nothing about it before she applied at Long Island University. The towns are great. I can't wait to explore different areas on other visits there. There's a lot to see! We stayed in an Airbnb in Glen Cove so we were very close to the campus. The school is in Brookville.

We loved Oyster Bay and Teddy Roosevelt's house Sagamore Hill. I loved learning so much about this total bad-ass president. He did so much in his life! We visited Beth Page Black and saw the beautiful club house. I even got to visit an old cemetery across the street! I didn't have time to drive the whole length of the Hamptons, which I would have loved to do, so I just went to West Hampton. It was still beautiful and the houses are amazing.

On our last night we went into the city. Those of you who know me know how much I love Manhattan. I just feel excited when I'm there! We went to Zabar's to buy coffee and Miranda got a couple of things for her room. Then we drove down the length of Manhattan to the financial district to a place Rey and I hadn't been to in about nine years. It's this great Irish restaurant pub called Killarney Rose. The pastrami was just as delicious or more delicious than we remembered it! Miranda said that it wasn't just the best pastrami she's ever had, but the best food she had ever tasted.

We ended the night by walking to the Brooklyn Bridge and getting ice cream before heading back to the car to drive back to Long Island.

Eating Ralph's Ices
The next morning we had breakfast in an adorable diner where I heard about egg cream for the first time. I'd never heard about it before so the waitress made me some so I could taste it. Miranda and I decided it tastes like cream soda. I also had to try Ralph's ices before leaving. The only thing I forgot was to buy bagels to bring back home and to the office.

Today makes a week since we dropped her off . She started class on Wednesday and we've talked and texted every day. We've only Facetimed a couple of times. She's been getting adjusted and learning how to adult. I was so relieved to hear that they have a shuttle bus that takes them off campus to the Broadway Mall or the train station. Now I don't feel like she's going to be stuck on campus without a car. So far she likes all her classes and I love that they are tiny. Her biggest class has around 30 people in it.

She is starting a new phase in her life just as I get to the end of the second third of my life.  Her going to college is the start of my #3yearplan. These are my last three years with a child in the house and I need to start my plan for what I'm going to do once I'm an empty nester, or the last phase of my life. More on that later.

I just bought tickets to visit with Seth for Thanksgiving. He didn't get to go drop off Miranda because he had started school. We will be there Wednesday through Saturday so she doesn't spend Thanksgiving alone.

As I write this the song "Landslide" (Dixie Chicks version) plays in my ears. Never did these words ring so true, "Can I handle the seasons of my life?"

"Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I'm getting older too"
- Stevie Nicks

Monday, August 19, 2019

That Jar of Happiness, Part Trois

I'm more than halfway through 2019, but only 6 months to 50. I pulled out the Happiness Jar so I can start keeping a list of the good things happening between my fabulous 49th Las Vegas birthday in February and my Big 5-0 in 2020. Maybe Vegas in my future again??

I hope to do this jar justice these next six months and really keep record of the wonderful things that happen to me. I am so grateful for all the good things these past two years, from the trip to Germany, my new roof, vacations with the kids, a trip to Paris with my BFF Vicki, Las Vegas birthday, trip to NYC and Cali, and my daughter's awesome scholarship to LIU.

I do appreciate everything you've thrown my way Universe! I know not everyone has so much to be thankful for and I appreciate it wholeheartedly.