Friday, January 17, 2014

Next time your doctor is running behind schedule

I had an epiphany.

Tonight Jake is working a 30-hour shift at the children’s hospital, so I spent an hour making dinner and 25 minutes of driving so we could enjoy a homemade meal together. Our meals are usually anywhere from 30 seconds to 25 minutes. Tops. 

I waited on the bottom floor of the hospital for him to come jogging down the stairs like he usually does, anticipating our meager dinner and few quiet moments in the resident’s lounge, updates on my day and details about his.  

Five minutes pass. Then 10. Sure enough, 45 minutes pass and my hot salmon dinner is no longer warm — and neither is my mood. Eventually Jake comes rushing down the stairs only to tell me he’s so sorry, but we can’t eat dinner together tonight. I had to hand over the meal and jet. 

His young patient was out of surgery and not quite stable yet. He couldn’t waste any time and needed to get back to his room.

Duh. He was late for our classy hospital dinner because he was dealing with a sick child who needed him. Lots of children, actually. And worried parents.

For a moment, I had forgotten. I was only concerned about my time, my comfort, my needs and my meal.

I was grumpy that I had to wait, only to be turned away. And I bet you, too, get impatient when you wait in a doctor’s office. How dare the doctor make us wait, right? He’s just “in it for my money,” anyway. He’s out to get me.  

Fallacy. (No one seems to consider how much medical school costs. And how many years it takes to get out of debt. Personal message me if you’d like details. And our W2.)

Doctors put other’s kids before their own. They miss dinners with their pregnant wives, anniversaries, birthdays, sports events and baptisms. They commit to putting their needs second, working thousands of hours, studying for a million more — not to mention the lack of sleep and emotional toll of deaths and child abuse.

You may be waiting an extra 30 minutes for your appointment, and that’s got to be frustrating. I can’t speak for all doctors, but from what I’ve witnessed firsthand on the inside, the majority are doing their very best to give every patient the attention and care they need.

We may never know what struggles the child and parents are having in the appointment before our own, or what cold dinner waits on the doctor's table at home. 

So let's lighten up a bit. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

An attempted allergy shot that changed our lives forever

I haven’t written in exactly 30 weeks.

Fear of jinxing my pregnancy maybe. Or a bit of irony considering the last gut-wrenching entry.

On June 11, I woke up feeling like I wanted to rip my Kleenex-abused face off and cut down every tree in Oklahoma. I’ve never experienced allergies like I have in this pollen-ridden state. Jake suggested I call my doctor and get an allergy shot since I’d be spending a week in the “mountains” for Young Women’s camp — like a spiritual retreat filled with hundreds of girls, bugs, pranks and late-night stories.

Since my own Doc. P didn’t have to work until 12:30 that day, I convinced him to come with my to my appointment because I am in love with my family practice doctor. It was time my two bffs met each other. We drove separately since he’d have to leave immediately after. (Good man, eh? Tagged along just for me.)

After my two favorite doctors finished making small chat, we discussed getting a shot. Per my usual the last 12 months I said, “But if I’m pregnant by chance, can I still get the shot? I mean, I’m two days late.” Usually by that point I’ve taken three tests, but up until now I’d only taken one. Like a script she said, “Well no, if you’re pregnant you can’t get the shot. We’d better do a urine test.”

She and I have been through this before. She looks me in the eyes and repeats, “It’s a God thing. When it’s supposed to happen, it will. I promise.” Deep down we both know it will be negative but instead of bursting my bubble, she lets me take the test. I usually go “tinkle” (as Mama Willie still says) in the cup only to find out it’s negative. So this time I told her, “If it’s negative, please don’t tell me. Just come in with the needle for my shot and pretend I never took the test.”

Almost in tears I retreated to the bathroom. Nervous, anxious, doubtful — I felt it all. Yes, there were even “signs” right then that indicated I was starting — to the point where I set the cup down and decided not to subject myself to another letdown. After a minute of mental ping pong, I changed my mind and peed, just in case.

I moseyed back to the room and took my place on the scrunchy paper, prepared to drop my pants and get my shot. Jake and I talked about the pictures of Ireland on the wall and how cool I was that I went there. Obviously. Then the doctor walked in: “Sorry, Brooke, (cue meltdown) but you won’t be getting your shot today — you’re pregnant.” (Instant switch from meltdown to shock.)

Tears welled up from 13 months of waiting barreled down my face. And his. And hers. After she grabbed me for a hug, I buried myself into Jake’s chest with my hands over my mouth, sobbing like our future newborn. She quickly left the room and told us to take our time. 

After having those sacred minutes to ourselves, we walked out of the room with much bigger smiles than when we entered. And at the end of the hallway were two nurses and our doctor — waiting to congratulate us with our positive pregnancy in a bag to take home. 

Now I’m sitting here in Jake’s OSU sweatshirt and Christmas pajama pants, just five weeks and five days away from meeting Baby P. It’s been a crazy eight months and I am still in shock that I'm even pregnant.

I can’t explain what a tender mercy that was, to find out like we did. I had taken so many tests in the bathroom, usually with Jake gone, expecting to find out the news that way. But to have someone come into a room and announce it to both of us was so special. And exciting. 

And the funniest part? I haven’t even had any allergies since.

One of his excited faces. In case you couldn't tell.

His forced excited face upon my request. In case (ahem) you couldn't tell. 

My favorite take-home prize from any doctor's appointment I've ever had. 

Just after the news. Crossing my fingers Baby P looks just like him. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Broken promises and candybars

I commit to the same thing every month. And if my math is correct, I’ve made that same promise 12 times in a row.

And yet I fail every time.

You see, on about day 27 or 28 of every month, I wake up early in the morning and drive to the Dollar General. Usually I’m still in my pajamas, but today I wore jean shorts and actually put on a bra. The odds of us taking pictures and a video were high because I was convinced this month would be different.

I left the door open to the bathroom as I completed my routine pee, excitedly chatting with Jake who was on the couch. But within a few seconds, I knew this would not be the month. Sounds of crinkling plastic caught Jake’s attention and he asked what else I bought at the store.

“Well, they’re mini Snickers bars. They’re celebratory or condolences. And I guess today they’re condolences.”

And then came memorized-promise No. 13: “I refuse to do this to myself in July. I will not subject myself to this disappointment. I will not take a pregnancy test unless I have missed my period by more than a week.”

I’m amazed at the human heart — the ability to be so incredibly discouraged one day and 100 percent hopeful a few weeks later. It’s quite the vicious cycle, actually. The promise to avoid the test is usually made during full-fledged vulnerability — pants down on the toilet, negative test in hand with tears on my cheeks. But somehow, against all odds, I find myself in that same (hopeful) position every month.

My promise today feels firm — I can’t handle this emotional setback next month. (But if we’re going to be realistic, I know over the course of the next 30 days, my spirit will revive itself and my mind will do a little convincing. “This is it! This is your month.”)

“Just don’t think about it. If you don’t think about it, it will work,” they say. Why don’t you give it a try: Don’t picture a pink elephant. Avoid it at all costs. Ignore the fact that the women in your family have pink elephants, that your friends have them, that social media news feeds flood your thoughts with ultrasounds and videos of pink elephants, and that you're Primary president over 120 of them. Oh, and avoid talking about it, too, even though your husband is a doctor for pink elephants.

Now stop focusing on it ... and you’ll get one of your own!


Unless you’ve struggled with infertility, it's hard to relate. How can you not think about it? And why does "not thinking about" mean you'll get one? (Hate to break it to you — thinking about it doesn't affect the rate sperm swim or eggs drop, nor the timing they connect.) 

Sure, I apply the Atonement. I have a solid understanding of trials and faith. I’m not ignoring the fact that Doc. P and I have had sacred spiritual experiences and answers from Heavenly Father. I hold those moments very dear and we both know children will eventually come.

We just don’t know when. Until then, I suspect many more broken promises, trips to Dollar General and binge eating.

Four down and two to go. Err — make that five. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Our would-be baby

We lost our babe a year ago —
Our 9.5-week miracle.
Just when I think my heart has healed,
Strings in my gut — they pull.

A blood clot here, some cramping there.
“It’s normal,” they did say.
But in my heart, I knew it well —
That second day of May.

I climbed in bed, where doom did lie.
I tried to sleep it off.
But I knew deep down, this was the end,
Our baby’s growth had stopped.

In that lonesome, restless night,
Bold words filled my mind.
A blessing I got, two weeks before.
It made sense — I did find.

Atonement: you will come to know
Deeper than you do now.”
“Of course,” I thought, “The Lord — he knew!”
On my knees, then, did I bow.

I knew the moment I’d stand up,
Gravity would take its toll.
Signs of miscarriage would stain my pants.
That blood … how it would roll.

And sure enough, at 6 a.m.,
I got the courage to stand.
And right on cue, our lives did change.
The pain, by no means, bland.

My dear Jake leapt from the bed.
To my rescue, he did come.
Cleaned me up and got me dressed.
(Where did this boy hail from?)

Tears in our eyes, fear in our hearts.
The hospital we did go.
Doc said, “Maybe not — lets double check.”
In reality, truth bestowed.

Twelve months have passed and still no babe.
When will this trial end?
Just when I think I’ve overcome —
I’m barely on the mend.

The Lord was right. I have learned —
Plenty about His Son.
I’ll be frank — it’s not been fun.

Highs and lows, trust fluctuates …
Not perfect, still in pain.
Is he disappointed — did I fail my test?
Was this trial all in vain?

I hope, in time, I can see more light —
The plan He has in store.
But I can’t deny, I know his plan
These trials, these tests — there’ll be more.

For I agreed in the pre-earth life,
To receive a body, and such.
Hardships and loss I knew would come,
In quantity, though, how much?

Our dreams were dammed, our plans, they changed —
My mind … oh how it churned.
That day so real, that pain so strong.
In my memory it is burned.

In my sweats with eyes swollen red,
I relive the memory today.
With high hopes that years from now,
I’ll understand that third day of May.

*On a lighter note, "Parks and Recreation" nailed it. 


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Here he is: Doc. P. in all his glory. Thank goodness my scenarios rarely follow through — his legs survive another day. 

Jake was shot in the leg

Just kidding — he wasn't.

But those are thoughts that race through my mind. A lot. You see, I have a little something doctors like to tag "generalized anxiety disorder." In other words, GAD. Kind of sounds like gag, which is how I feel when the word "anxiety" rolls off my tongue.

I tend to have unrealistic fears and worries, dozens of which keep me awake at night. So tonight I'm filling you all in on one of the most intense "what-ifs" I've had in awhile — with the solution, too, of course.

So, back to the leg shooting. Doc. P sleeps on the right side of the bed, closest to the window. We are on the bottom floor of a three-level apartment complex. Every now and again, car lights break through our window curtain and stir my slumber. But most of the time, my anxiety does to the stirring.

On one said occasion, I imagined the occupants of a car barreling out of their unmarked vehicle, only to get into a scuffle with each other. Their fight would escalate until occupant #1 would pull out a gun. (What now, sucka foo.) However, occupant #2 would lunge forward, knocking the gun out of #1's hands. But just to my dismay, the gun would still fire, and because we live on the bottom floor, it would  shatter through the window and pierce Jake in the thigh.

Now that the backstory is taken care of, scenario-leg-shooting turns to solution. What would I do first? Do I call 911 or do I apply pressure? Wait, how do you apply pressure to a gunshot wound? Would I press my fingers over the masacre first or call 911? I'm pretty sure I saw something about a tourniquet on TV once. (That's probably gotta be in the picture somewhere.) Wait, do I need to get him on the floor? I'm CPR trained and was strictly told to not do CPR on a bed. Would Jake even need it? If so, how can I put pressure on his bleeding leg, while getting him safely on the carpet, while calling 911? If it's to save his life, yes to all of the necessary actions listed above.

The task seemed daunting.

After coming up with what I thought was a plausible solution, I "relaxed." First, stop the bleeding. Next, call 911. Third, push him onto the floor without throwing my back out. Fourth, make sure to unlock the door so the dispatchers don't have to break my door down. Not only would that be traumatizing, but expensive, too. They come, they save his life. Problem solved.

Or so I thought.

I attempted to wake Jake up to run my plan by him. You know, with him being a doctor and all, I had to get his stamp of approval. I guess it's his life too. For some reason he groaned and rolled when I said, "Psst. Jake. What do I do first if  you get shot in the leg?" (Guess this wasn't a pressing reason to wake him up. Seemed pressing to me. Cold sweat: Party of 1.)

So the next day, I relayed my plan to him. With a resounding, "WHAT?!" he let me know my plan was completely backwards, as was my brain.

"First of all, multi-task. Aren't you a woman? Call 911 and stop the bleeding. And never use a tourniquet if I'm just shot. Geez. Don't you know that whatever is below the tourniquet dies completely? I'd lose my whole leg. And why are we even talking about this — it will never happen. Bless your little heart, Brookie."

What would I do without him ... and my nutty imagination.

*What crazy scenarios and solutions keep you up at night?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Time-induced heartburn

You win.
All of you who supposedly obsessed over my repulsively descriptive missionary letters. You win. I've joined the blogging world. 

One of the hardest rules for me to follow as an LDS missionary was this: "Don't write any letters unless it's on your Preparation Day." 

How I interpreted that rule:

"Sister Willardson,
We know your life is full of erroneous happenings that seem virtually unrealistic — however, you do experience ridiculous things that nobody else does. So, in order to not flood the Internet with your exaggerated discourses, just write once a week. K? Thanks. 
President Monson." 

The rule made sense — I had a particular focus of teaching families about Jesus Christ and eternal families. If I were distracted by writing home too often, I would cheat the Lord. My alternative was making bullet points in my daily planner, reminding myself of all the little, irrelevant details that I felt were life-threateningly important. 

Oh, and on an "unrelated" note, I have acid reflux ... and here's why:

On preparation day, we had one hour to email our families. 

I repeat, 60 minutes

My missionary companion Jones — who I will throw under the bus on many glorious occasions — used to say that I just "pretend pounded" on the computer keys because "surely no one could type that fast." Well I did, and I still do. I felt like I needed a shower after every email because I was so worked up. Over time, this resulted in reflux which became a close companion. (Or maybe the reflux companionship came from my obsession with Flaming Hot Cheetos? Either way.)

So here I am: Free to write with no time constraints, free to embellish and free to entertain. And by entertain, I probably mean annoy.

There. I said it.