Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You know you're sick when . . .

WARNING: Long, "detailed" post!
First of all, thanks to Jules for her ideas on fixing meals, etc. About 2 weeks ago I made a plan for myself and continue to work on that plan, regardless of the past week of bumps and setbacks. To say the past 7 days have been some of the most challenging I've experienced in a while would be close to the truth. One of the greatest things I learned on my mission was that trials, if taken and used the way God intends, lead to strength in spirit, testimony in miracles, and growth in wisdom. I also learned that there is an individual and personal plan He has made for each one of us. He has promised that if we are willing to trust Him, He will guide our paths for good.
That being said- this past week has been a trial of health, mind, and faith. I met with a surgeon earlier in the month to plan for gallbladder surgery the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Not the most ideal, but most convenient and manageable. I felt good about this decision and the next few days were filled with good health, strength, and energy.
Wednesday: I came to work as usual, went to class as usual, came back to work as usual . . .then I passed out at my desk, which was most unusual! Well, I didn't actually pass out, but rather yelled to my coworker to grab me because all I could see was black. Yes, this was in front of my kind, grandmotherly patient and her sweet husband who jumped up and yelled for help with me. After laying me down on the floor in front of EVERYONE, my coworkers called the radiologist (the closest DR) to come check me out, called my family, and pulled me into a wheelchair to take me over to the ER. Embarrassed, but very lightheaded, I was pushed over to the ER waiting room, still cycling with black outs. I have never passed out in my life, so it was an especially strange and scary experience. Skipping over a few parts . . .skip . . .skip . .skip . OKAY, after some testing, the decision was made for me to get ANOTHER EGD with colonoscopy ASAP. I went home, frustrated, and made the appointment for the procedure at IMC.
Thursday : ready to go to bed, I start feeling a little pain and fullness in my stomach. I lay down to see if the symptoms will go away, only to end up at the toilet (um, I won't get too graphic, but it was probably the worst case of "spewing" I've ever had.) After some other discouraging signs, mom and I made the decision to head back to the ER at 2:00 am. Wrapped in a blanket, with the hospital's little blue baggie held close by, I wrenched in pain, exhausted and weak. They gave me zofran. Still doing it. They gave me more zofran. Still doing it. They gave me some morphine. Still doing it, while experiencing a warm and fuzzy sensation. They gave me some phenegrin (sp?) and FINALLY things slowed down. They worried about a bowel obstruction, so they sent me in for a CT scan. I sat on the cold table while the sweet rad tech got chewed out by my nurse because my IV line wasn't working and she had to poke me again. (I don't blame her for her grumpiness. I'm sure it's no fun to measure your patients' barf, change the sheets twice because the barf (and . . .whatever) didn't make it in the toilet or stupid little blue bag, try drug after drug to get your patient to stop barfing, and do all this at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning at the end of your 12 hour shift. No, I don't blame her.) The rest of the night . . . morning . . . I don't remember. I do remember waking up in a hospital room with a young resident doctor asking me my name and birthday for about the 100th time. I remember him writing down my whole history for the past 2 months and then telling me his theory. I remember the 2nd young resident doctor waking me up and asking my name for the 101st time and asking me to repeat everything I had just told resident #1. I DO remember his boyish smile, dark hair, beautiful blue eyes . . . and strongly wishing we could have met in better circumstances when my hair wasn't plastered to my face, my arm hooked to an IV pole, and my breath smelling like 4 hours of barfing. I also remember doctor #3, the actual hospitalist, coming in my room with #1 and #2 following her, asking my name, birthday, history, and current symptoms. At this point, any goal to be a friendly and good-tempered patient slowly slipped away and frustrated, annoyed, weak, and sick Megan took over. I "nicely" demanded to know why I had to stay in the hospital, what, or if, they had found anything yet, and what they needed to do so this never happened again. From the looks they gave me, I realized that they were no closer to an answer than I was to being voted "best-dressed" in my sexy checkered hospital gown and matching BP cuff.
To make a long story much, much longer . . . I stayed in hospital room 930 for another 24 hours, watched, monitored, filled with fluids, and driven out of my mind. As I started to feel sorry for myself, I decided to take a walk around my floor. As I dragged my IV pole behind me, I would look into the rooms I passed and see patients sleeping, visiting, and staring out their windows. I then remembered reading "medical oncology" on Suzie's badge (the best nurse ever!) It hit me that many of these patients, unlike me, were here for a much longer and harder stay, and their doctors' answers didn't have as much room for hope and cure. I continued to ponder this as I watched a good friend sleep on the very uncomfortable couch next to my bed, as I packed my things and left the hospital with my dad the following morning, as I gagged down the prep and water in preparation for the colonoscopy, and as I walked through the doors of endoscopy, turning around to hug and kiss my mom as she was escorted to the waiting room and I was escorted to the procedure bed, IV hooked to my arm again and 4 EKG leads hanging around my neck.
What hit me were the words of my wise mother, who has been dealt her fair share of health problems. Saturday night I fell into a dark place of discouragement and after crying to her, she said, with tears in her eyes "It really stinks. Believe me when I say 'I understand completely'. But, at this point you've got to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and keep going. The light always comes. Don't doubt that it will come for you." As I lay on the bed waiting to talk with Dr. Fenton, I attempted to identify the successes and "rights". Good doctors, good nurses, medicine to help feel better, state-of-the-art facilities and ability to find out much more much quicker. I was inconvenienced for a week, even a month. Others are inconvenienced for the rest of their lives. I have supportive family, friends, coworkers, and classmates, who give of their time and effort to make sure I'm okay. Most of all, I have the knowledge that I am never alone.
For the most part, this post was meant to inform concerned friends and family, but also to journal this experience so when other things come up, which might happen, I can look back and see that the "light" did indeed come and there is always the hope that things will be better tomorrow. In conclusion: there really is no definitive conclusion to why the past week has been so rough, but some educated guesses include: 1) my gallbladder really really REALLY needs to come out, yet this doesn't explain the persistent diarrhea (w/bld) for the past month, which leads to guess 2) checking for Crohn's disease or enzyme levels that would indicate irritation or intolerance of certain food groups (i.e. milk, wheat, etc.) I really hope #1 is the right answer. It was considered at the beginning of this exciting adventure that internal bleeding might have been causing some of the symptoms, yet my blood levels came out normal, with a Hematocrit at 42. I had an EGD about 4 weeks ago where ulcers where identified all down my esophagus and small intestine. It was thought that maybe the ulcers were getting worse and bleeding, causing dark diarrhea and + for blood in rectal exam. But, yesterday's EGD showed the ulcers were gone! Dr. Fenton reminded us that even though they did scopes from both ends, there still is a great amount of small intestine to be checked and so they did some blood tests, along with biopsies, to check for Crohn's and allergies to the different foods. There is slight inflammation in the stomach and colon, but nothing that could be the cause of what's happened over the past week.
I want to thank all my family, friends, coworkers, etc. for their prayers, love and concern. I do feel better and hope to be back to work/school tomorrow! As far as a plan, we will continue to watch the symptoms and wait to hear back on test results in a week or so. I will do my best to keep you informed. Peace!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Are you kidding? This carbon-based life form needs some serious "H2O"!

It's been a long time. Almost 2 months in fact. So what have I been doing that has taken up so much valuable time-time, obviously too valuable to be interrupted by blog posts about my rather simple life? Let's see, 3 classes/2 labs, chemistry, full-time employment, chemistry, church calling, chemistry, new korean roommate, chemistry, new *signifcant other*, chemistry, doctor visits and hospital testing, chemistry . . .wait, there's something I'm missing . . .Oh yeah! CHEMISTRY!!! A lot has actually happened in the last little while, with a lot of personal milestones made. So, tell me this: Why is chemistry at the forefront of any memory made in the past 2 months and why is it blocking out any goodness or joy felt from any other accomplishment I have made during this same period of time??

I feel no remorse or guilt when I state: I hate chemistry. I am not good at. I do not like it. It does nothing for me except make me more ill, frustrated, and feel like destroying things . . . like my chemistry book, which is followed by more frustration because I can't destroy it because I refuse to NOT get bookstore refunded for that piece of junk, which is followed by guilt because the information in that book is not junk but fundamental building blocks of the universe, which is followed by feelings of inadequacy for not understanding those fundamentals, which is followed by "WHY? WHY DON'T I UNDERSTAND?", which is followed by . . .well, we could play this game all night (but we can't because it will take up valuable time that could be spent studying CHEMISTRY).

Okay, "for reals", (Whit and I always used this phrase when we were kids. "No Whit, for reals this time. No, I mean for reals. Hey, I'm playing for reals.") But really. . .for reals. . . I knew going into this class that it would not be an easy run. I knew it was going to be extra challenging because I, in fact, have never EVER taken a chemistry class in my whole educational career, except a few concepts in elementary school and Mr. Browning's class in 9th grade (and that's another joke I will tell at a later period . . .) I also knew that working full time would limit the amount of time I had to obtain indepth study of this wonderful subject, and that with the addition of a "someone special", my interests would be further deterred from electrons and protons in order to make my own "ionic bonding" ;) Let's add a calling as relief society instructor, a girl named Soo Jean, and a whole bunch of CRAZY (family & friends) . . .yeah, I knew this wasn't gonna be no cake walk.

What I didn't expect: the last 4 weeks meeting with doctors, EGD's, HIDA scans, ultrasounds, more doctors, blood work and possible surgery and biopsies. Yeah, didn't see that coming. Neither did chemistry. As pain increased on my right side, so did my doctors' interests. Working in the healthcare field, I know that everything's a process. Being the patient, I have a greater understanding how frustrating that process can be when sitting on the other side. To make a long story short: met with gastroenterologist, got an EGD, got an ultrasound and HIDA scan, met with doctor, got some bloodwork, recieved a surgeon's number, still waiting to hear from doctor. Right now: Ulcers all the way down my esophagus and small intestine. Gallbladder is working at 25% (lowest normal is 35%) and doctor feels it "probably" is the cause of my pain, but she also is concerned about ultrasound finding of fatty liver. What I understand is that when there is fat in the liver, it can just be a benign process, or it can cause scar tissue which can lead to cirrhosis. (don't have to be a drinker to have liver damage I guess) So . . .why not take a biopsy of the liver while someone's in there taking my gallbaldder out? No surgery has been set yet, just possibilities. (za plot zickens . . . all my blood tests came back normal. What???)

Although this news has been a little disappointing and unwelcome, I have been open to a greater understanding of the importance of nutrition and healthy living.  I have set a goal for myself.  Any ideas or tips on how to eat healthy and nutritious while "living in the fast lane" are welcome.  Life gets pretty hectic as I rush from class to work, back to class, then home, etc.  By the end of the day I am exhausted and tired.  Any recommendations?  

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Med School or Bust: Steve goes from blue to red

After several months of working in the outpatient lab department at UVRMC in Provo, UT, Steve Christiansen has decided to move on to bigger and better things- medical school at the University of Utah. Not able to forget his "roots" as a young courier boy, transporting specimens to and from the lab day after day, he is excited to start this new journey, in hopes that he will, at some point, be the one on the other side of the phone giving orders and diagnoses. Coworker Megan Shaw describes this transition as "hard, but exciting." "It will be difficult coming to work everyday, knowing there won't be anymore KSL at 5, 'Leverage' episodes on a slow Saturday, or milkshake runs over at the hospital- not to mention the prank calls as 'batman'." Shaw firmly believes Steve's ability to make a statement was a major factor in his acceptance to med school. "Yeah, Steve was a trend-setter. His sunglasses and pee bucket-hats were 'all the rave' among patients. I wouldn't be surprised if it caught on amongst his fellow med students."

The atmosphere at UVOC is quiet and less enthusiastic as the reality of Steve's absence continues to set in. Each coworker agrees "It's just not the same without him." Yet, patients continue to come and blood, poop, and pee continue to make their way to the main lab in pink buckets, carried by the hands of hopeful replacement Javier. "These are big shoes to fill, but Javier seems determined to try his best. Although no one can ever take the place of our Stev-o, we are willing to take a chance."

To my good friend Steve: Good luck Buddy! Keep following your dreams with confidence and faith. We love and miss you!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

You're a Shaw? Can I see your Mickey Slurp?

When my little bro (P) was about 3 years old, he recieved his "big boy" bed, decorated with Mickey & Friends. He even had a pillow case that had a big picture of Mickey's face. Thus, every time P would wake up with a big ol' cowlick on the back of his head, dad would say "Hey! Great Mickey Slurp!" History was in the making and today we have "slurps" abounding abundantly around the Shaw household.

I was reminded of this when T came downstairs the other morning before I left for work. On the back of her head was a BIG OL' mickey slurp. In fact, it looked a little more like Mickey puked instead of slurped . . . bless her heart. It's not her fault- it's just part of her genes. All mom could say was "Oh sweetie . . ." All I could say was "I need my camera!" After chasing T around, clicking and laughing, the desire to find more "slurps" grew stronger inside. I ran upstairs to find P "almost" awake. This was good, because he believed me when I said "I need to take a picture of you- it's for a project." He sat up and . . . Oh, yeah! P did NOT disappoint! CA-peesh!! Meg and mom gave it 2 thumbs way, WAY up!

At this point, P questioned what exactly my project was. My response "You'll see" provoked a suspicious look and response "Do NOT post this on your blog! Megs . . .Megggaaan . . !"

No worries, P. No worries. ;)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Megs, what are you going to be when you grow up? I guess dog trainer is out of the picture!

One of the most common questions I get from my concerned dad is "Megs, what are you going to do with your life?" It's an ongoing joke between the two of us, but deep down we both know he is serious. I guess he has a right to be a little weary, given the fact that I have changed my career and education goals twice in the past 2 months, not to mention the 2 times in the previous winter semester, and the 4 or 5 times pre-mission.

But have no worries, I KNOW. . . FOR SURE . . . NO DOUBT, that any minimal or inconsequential idea of having a career in trendy dog training has completely left my mind! This past week, our house became the local neighborhood dog retreat. Both of our neighbors left town and asked if we, no wait . . .if P (my little brother), would watch their dogs. Adding our own little Yoda to the mix, we had three crazy canines, in need of MUCH attention and care, running around the Shaw pad. Sunday afternoon, Park seemed to be a little tired and declined the prompting from parental unit to take the dogs for a short walk. Feeling a little charitable, I decided to go in P's place. Tay and I hooked the big white dog Laya and other little white dog Powder to their leashes and put old little Yoda in my parent's old baby stroller (I know- he's old and can't make it back up the hill after we walk him down it). After having a little fit because of how "embarrassing" it looked to push a dog in a stroller, T conceded to handling Yoda and we took off down the street.

We stopped at our fav J&T's house for a water break (I know, pathetic) just as a gentleman and his gentle lab walked past us. Of course, there was barking and jumping and wagging tails, but nothing we couldn't handle. Just when we thought everyone was back under control, little Yoda makes a miraculous and very impressive hop off the stroller and heads toward the man and his dog. Deciding this was our "cue" to leave, I grabbed the other two and made my way towards screaming T. At this point, Laya (BIG white dog) sees gentleman and gentle lab and jerks forward, snapping the leash, leaving me with a look of horror and rest of the leash. I ran towards the fiasco, yelling my apologies to the man and his dog. The man did not look happy. Neither did his dog.

"Come get a dog! You have to get a dog! Hurry! This is just too much! Get a dog- NOW!" the man yelled.

My face turned bright red and I attempted to grab Laya with no luck. In my frustration and total embarrassment, I pinned Yoda to the grass. He looked up at me like "Uh . . .what are you doing? Whatever." I yelled to the man "Go. Now. Go." With disgust flairing from his nostrils, he stomped down the sidewalk, huffing and puffing. Sheesh capeesh!!!
After throwing all of the dogs in the backyard, I scowled at P as I slammed the back door and swore off any dog caring for the rest of the day, week, month . . . .

So . . .1030 pm. P can't find Laya in the backyard. Grumpily, I slipped my navy keds on and head out the back, calling Laya's name. Nothing. We went out to the front and called. Still, nothing. Thinking the latch on the gate didn't shut because I slammed it too hard in reaction to dogwalk drama, we decided to check the uncultivated grassy hill behind my house where she might have run off to after getting out. In pitch blackness (with dinky flashlight), P and I hiked the hill, while mom and Whit checked the hill down from our house. Slipping, sliding, and puppy Powder at my feet, I cussed my way through the brush and branches . . .calling, calling, calling Laya. Thinking I see something white and fluffy, we hiked up. Thinking I see something behind the trees, we hiked down. Nothing, nothing, nothing. We drove to the park, up the street, back down the street, past the park, up the other street . . .etc etc. NOTHING! Exhausted and creeping early work hours weighing heavy on her soul, W bailed. Still driving, calling, hiking, slipping, slopping, and praying. At 1230, I pulled out and abandoned the troops, using work in the morning as my excuse. At 130 am, mom came into my room to tell me they found the dog at the bottom of neighbor's backyard, scared and whimpering. Feeling bad, I almost wanted to run over to Laya, hug her, kiss her, give her a treat, take her on a walk . . .


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Delivery for the Blog World: Meg's Gunk

Don't mention this to my boss, but 8 hours a day/ 5 days a week at a desk can lead to, as described by my observant co-worker Steve, lots of "blog stalking".  I guess I should get the hint when every time he looks over my shoulder he asks "Who's life are we stalking today?"  Don't get the wrong idea- I'm not THAT creepy.  I just LOVE reading blogs.  ALL kinds of blogs.  Of course, I love seeing pics of long lost friends and their "blossoming" family- husband, 2.75 kids, dog, cat, fish, and ferret (yes, a ferret.)  I am a sucker for wedding pics, baby announcements, family reunions, and vacations . . . etc. etc.  I understand the "handiness" of blogging for these reasons.  Yet, my fav's are what I refer to as "the everyday gunk".  Gunk = joys, pains, ups, downs, wrongs, rights, jokes, laughs, or wisdoms gained from simple life experiences.  I so enjoy sitting and reading these little treasures.  But, as suggested by co-worker Steve, maybe it's time I join the "blogging world" and share some of my own "gunk".  So, here it goes: Meg's gunk.  I will try and make this as interesting as possible, but feel free to comment, suggest, or blog your own gunk!!  What's yours is mine, what's mine is yours- Capeesh?