Thursday, February 27, 2014

Stick a Needle In My Eye

My sister-in-law told me a couple of years ago that 42 is when it happens.  Either you start falling apart, or you have a mid-life crisis.  I wasn't close to 42 at the time.  And I'm still not close to 42.  But I'm getting closer.  I thought I had a few more good years left in me.  Until recently.

Tomorrow is the last day of February.  That means that one of my most favorite months begins on Saturday.  And my birthday is now three weeks away.  I'm a birthday snob, but I can't help it.  It's my favorite day of the year!  But this year I'll be 30-something-and-officially-over-the-hump-to-40.  I am not looking forward to 40.  At all.  I mean, it's still a few years away.  I'm sure they'll be short years though.  So, anyway, as I began pondering being over the hump to 40, I experienced a midlife crisis of sorts.  Really.  I think that's what it is.

I decided two things.

1.  I need to do a better job of taking care of myself.
2.  I need to re-evaluate my skincare, makeup, hair and nail polish regimen.

So let's talk about skincare, makeup, hair and nail polish.  I am a girlie girl.  But I'm not a fussy girl.  When I realized that I still have the same skincare routine and use the same makeup that I started with 20 years ago, I thought perhaps I needed a little update.  Perhaps it would be a good idea to invest a little more time into daily skincare since this is the only skin and face I'm going to get.  And I absolutely do not like the fine lines and little crow's feet that are staring me down lately.  And my makeup?  Well, about as adventurous as I get with that would be the four tubes of lipstick I have - two spring/summer colors and 2 fall/winter colors.  Which have been my go-to colors for at least five years, probably more.  Everything else, except the two eyeshadows I have to coordinate with the aforementioned seasons, stays the same and has always been the same.  Besides, I hardly fool with makeup anymore except on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  I don't even wear makeup to the grocery store anymore.  But, now, one thing I DON'T do.  I don't allow pictures of myself to be taken if I'm not wearing makeup! Not ever.

And my hair?  Well, it's been with me for 30-something years.  And I finally decided to embrace the hair I have and stop trying to make it do something it was not made to do.  I mean, it's been with me nearly my whole life.  I say nearly because I was bald until I was two.  It is thick and wavy, and there is a lot of it.  It is never going to be straight and smooth no matter how much time I spend with a straight iron.  And then I spend all that time with a straight iron, and you can't even tell, and it surely doesn't look like I spent any time at all with it, much less the 45 minutes it took me to straighten it, which didn't really straighten it.  I've been in limbo with my shampoo and conditioner for the past few years, too.  After extensive and rather scientific research (meaning I basically picked my new hair care products based on the recommendations of several mommy bloggers that I follow), I am loving my new shampoo and conditioner and that fancy morocconoil stuff that adds a little shine to it.  And it smells so yummy.  In a good way.  And I'm currently in the awkward phase of growing it out so I can wear it wavy again.  Because I think it looks stupid short and wavy.  So that means I wear it in a ponytail pretty much all the time these days.  

I used the exact same data and scientific research to map out a more effective skincare routine for someone approaching 40 in a few years, and I made some changes to my makeup.  Don't worry.  You'll never notice.  Even though I just told you, you won't notice.  But I will.  So it makes me happy.

When Abbie was over here a few weeks ago, she and Hannah Kate opened a spa.  She came to me with two bottles of nail polish in her hand, one a pink color and the other a red color, and asked me where the rest of the nail polish was.  The rest?  That's it.  She couldn't believe it.  I don't paint my fingernails because it doesn't last.  One sitting at the piano has the polish all chipped no matter what I do.  So I've never painted my fingernails.  Besides, I prefer to watch nude nails play the piano!  And I don't paint my toes during the winter months because I don't wear open toed shoes.  What's the point?  Nobody sees them.  I try to keep them painted during the summer, but that's been questionable the past couple of years.  Hence only two bottles of nail polish. Inspired again by one of my mommy blogger friends, I decided I'm going to always keep my toes painted no matter what time of year it is.  I'm also going to change my color at least once a week, and I am going to branch out a bit.  So today I came home with some new polish.  I showed it to Hannah Kate, and she was so excited.  So we have a little home spa date tomorrow night.

I guess if my midlife crisis only involves cleanser, makeup, morocconoil and a new shade of polish, I'm doing pretty good.  Crisis averted.

So let's talk about taking care of myself.  I don't really take care of myself like I should.  And I always use the same three excuses.  Mason.  Hannah Kate.  And Ellie.  I don't keep up with doctor's appointments and things for myself.  At all.  I guess it's no big deal really.  I mean, I'm never sick.  And I mean, never.  I really can't remember the last time I was sick.  I don't even have a general doctor person.  I don't even know what they're called.  But lately I've been thinking that if I want to be the best mommy I can be, I need to also take the time to take care of myself.

After a little incident last summer, my mother insisted I go to the dermatologist to have a mole checked.  And she was right.  When I was in high school, I had three moles removed as a precaution.  I also have a history of little skin cancer issues in my family.  I did not immediately make the appointment with a dermatologist.  Because that meant I had to first of all find one.  I mean, I'm sure there are plenty out there.  And then I actually had to make an appointment and GO.  That's easier said than done these days.  So Mama waited a couple of months before she brought it up again.  And then it came up again at Thanksgiving.  At least by that time I had the name of a dermatologist and had an appointment scheduled at the beginning of December.  I felt good about that.  I felt real good about that.  It was almost empowering!

So I got crazy.  I made an appointment to see the dentist, too!  Mama was so faithful to take me to the dentist twice a year every year from the time I was a little tot until the day I moved to Louisiana.  And I have no idea how much my parents spent on all that metal in my mouth (I'm sure it was A LOT), but my teeth are still straight to this day.  So you'd think I'd stay on top of that.  I used to.  I'll not tell you the last time I went to the dentist.  And I used to LOVE going to the dentist.  Oh, and I also take my own children to the dentist every six months.  But not myself.  I hadn't been since we moved back here.  That was 2009.  So I finally saw the dentist in December, and she told me I had the best set of teeth she'd ever seen on a 30-something year old.  No cavities.  She also told me there really wasn't anything she'd be able to do for me except just basic hygiene every six months.  So, rest assured, Mama, my teeth are doing really good!

But that dermatologist appointment?  Well, it went from, "Hey, can you please check this one spot out?" to "Ummm, you have FOUR moles that need to be removed.  Right now."  So that happened at the beginning of December.  They were biopsied, and my dermatologist called with the news that she needed me to come back because ALL FOUR of them were not necessarily melanoma, but they were abnormal, and she needed to remove more until she got to clear borders.  So I went the day after Christmas and got sliced and diced and came home with 15 stitches.  The second round of biopsies was clear.  So now I will go once a year for a "mole check."  And, yes, I'll be keeping those appointments.  Promise.  Cross my heart and hope to die and stick a needle in my eye!

And that stick a needle in my eye?  Well, that happened, too!  Okay, so it wasn't exactly in my eye.

Since I was on a roll and had such stellar results with the dentist and dermatologist (and my girlie doctor appointment is scheduled on March 28 and has been since last fall so you really should be proud of me), I decided it was time to go to the eye doctor.  Mainly because I was out of contact lenses and couldn't get anymore without an eye exam.  It's been two years since that.  But don't worry, Mama.  Dr. L makes me come only every two years now, and the last time I saw her was May 2012.  So I'm ahead of the game on this one!  The contact lens situation wasn't the only reason though.

Last May my left eye started watering.  I thought it was allergies and figured it would go away in a week or so.  But it didn't.  So around the beginning of July, I thought it was my makeup.  Hello?  Did you not just read what I wrote above?  I haven't changed makeup in 20 years.  So why would I now, all of a sudden, have a reaction to my makeup?  By this point, I was getting aggravated with it.  I mentioned it to Mama when we were there last July.  We both decided that, just to be on the safe side, I should change my mascara.  It was the only Walmart cosmetic I used.  So I paid $15 for a new "name brand" mascara.  That didn't work either.  But I did like my new mascara.

By September, my nurse friend diagnosed me with dry eye.  That would be nice.  IF ONLY MY EYE WAS DRY!  But it was not!  I then learned a thing or two.  "Dry eye" is deceptive.  It actually causes excessive watering.  I definitely think we need to rename that.  She suggested I use an over-the-counter eye drop.  So in November I finally did.  And guess what?  That didn't work either.  At that point, I realized I would need to go to my eye doctor to figure out what was really going on.  But I decided to wait until after Christmas.  And then "after Christmas" came.  I still didn't make the appointment.

And then one day I was just over it.  My eye wasn't hurting or anything.  It wasn't affecting my vision.  It was just ANNOYING.  I mean, I was the 30-something with a kleenex in my hand at the grocery store and at church and at Bible study because my eye won't stop watering!  My mother-in-law mentioned Mrs. N at church who also has watery eyes.  Well, that's fine and all, but Mrs. N just celebrated her 80th birthday!  So I'd expect her to walk around with a hankie all the time.  But not me!  And not to mention the fact that my face needs all the help it can get, and I really need my makeup to stay put.  But my mascara would be smudged all over the place, and I hadn't even walked out the door yet.  I was over it!  OVER.  IT.

And then about three weeks ago I put my glasses on one night, and they didn't fit right.  I thought something was wrong with them, but it wasn't my glasses.  It was the side of my nose by my eye.  I felt what can only be described as some sort of bubble in the corner of my eye where my tear duct is.  I knew then that something was wrong and that it was probably most definitely related to the whole watery eye thing.  So the next day I called the eye doctor.  My doctor is very hard to get an appointment with so I requested the next available doctor as soon as possible on a Thursday (because Thursday is the only day I can go to the doctor without having to upset our whole weekly schedule).  That appointment was last Thursday.

I'd never met this particular doctor before.  I was sitting in the exam room reading my book when the door flung open, and he bounded up in there with a "Hey Jules!  Been crying lately?!"  Y'all.  I couldn't help myself.  I'm pretty sure the look on my face was, "Are you kidding me?!?"  First of all, I've never met this man before in my life.  That's fine if he wants to be on a first name basis, but I am NOT Jules to him.  And second of all, "crying lately?"  I wanted to smack him.  No.  I think I wanted to knock him out.  But I gave him a second chance.  I mean, this new makeup I bought is going to be in vain if not!

So he proceeds to tell me that it sounds like my tear duct is blocked.  I asked why and how.  I got the typical, "Well, I can't really answer that right now."  And then he makes me feel so much better when he explains that watery eyes are quite common.  Just not in people my age.  So I'm like an 80-year-old in a 30-something-year-old body.

He explains that he just needs to flush my tear duct out, push whatever it is that's causing the blockage through to the wherever, and then I'll be good to go.  I knew this was probably going to be done.  But I made the choice not to google it before I went.  And thank goodness for that!  He numbed my eye and then he used what looked like a syringe with a really long needle on the end of it (although he assures me, "Now don't be scared.  I know this looks like a really long needle.  But it's really not!"  Yeah, I'm feeling MUCH better now, thank you very much.) to open up my tear duct a little bit and then shoot some saline solution through it.  Yes, my eyes are open.  Yes, I am watching every second of this.  Yes, I am about to come up out of that chair and had to hang onto the armrests for dear life.  I mean, it didn't hurt.  But he was sticking this thing down my eye.  Okay.  Not my eye.  My tear duct.  Same thing.  And then the saline solution shot out all right.  But it wasn't going through my tear duct.  It ran all down my face, all over my shirt and even squirted doc in the face.  By that time, I thought he deserved it!

So that's when he tells me that "we have a problem," and that I'm going to have to have surgery because the tear duct is completely blocked.  As in the I'm-going-to-put-you-to-sleep surgery.  Oh, and one more thing.  This little surgery will require myself and also an ENT who will go up your nose while I go through your tear duct.  And then he walked out of the room.  I am not even kidding.

So his nurse gave me instructions for scheduling an appointment with the ENT and gave me preliminary information about the surgery center.  And, of course, as soon as I got home, I googled.  Unfortunately.  So I'm going to skip all that.  Because that's NEVER a good idea.  But no matter how bad it was, I'd decided it wasn't as bad as walking around with a hankie in my hand and half of my makeup at my chin.

I spent the last week thinking about this.  I'm going to be "asleep."  But my eye will be open for surgery.  So will I SEE what's going on?!  I mean, my eye is going to be OPEN.  How can I not help but SEE when my EYE IS OPEN?  I decided not to google this.

This morning I went back to the eye doctor.  A different one this time.  My eyes themselves are perfectly healthy, and my contact lens prescription hasn't changed since the last time I was there.  After that I went to the ENT.  Two doctor's appointments in the same day!  That should tell you right there how desperate this situation is.  Have I mentioned I NEVER go to the doctor?!

So.  Very long story short.  Oh.  But first.  Y'all.  I've never been to an ENT before.  And I've never been in an ENT's office before.

But WAIT.  I just have to tell y'all this.  At first I didn't understand what my tear duct has to do with an ENT.  That's when I learned that the tear duct drains into your nose, and your nose absorbs the tears or whatever.  So last weekend I was talking about all of this with Seth.  He says, "Well, duh, Julie."  I give him my what-in-the-world-are-you-talking-about? look.  Then he says (and I promise I'm not making this up.  I couldn't even on my best day.), "That's why it's called ENT.  EYE, nose and throat."  Oh, no, he didn't.  I waited maybe a second to see if he was kidding.  I would like to think he was.  But I don't think so.  ENT.  EAR, nose and throat.  I'll bet he googled that later.

So now back to the ENT's office.  Oh, it was so disgusting!  Don't get me wrong.  It was clean.  And organized.  But the honking and snorting going on in there nearly made me want to hurl!  I do not do bodily functions.  At all.  No burps.  No toots.  No NOTHING.  That is just a very private thing that's not meant to be shared with anyone.  Married or not!  I mean, I know noses can be stopped up or runny or whatever.  And I'm sure that's why those poor people were there.  One lady sounded like a cat trying to hack up a fur ball!  I nearly died every time!  I'm so glad I had my book with me.  I just kept my head buried and didn't look at anybody!  I decided today that I could not ever even think about or want to be an ENT!  I'd have to wear a surgical mask.  All. the. time.  And ear plugs, too.  Eeeewwwwww.  Even thinking about it makes me nauseous.

Now back to the very long story short.  Gosh, how long is this post anyway?!

I absolutely loved the ENT.  He was very thorough and explained everything in a way that made sense and in a way I could understand.  He also took the time to answer all of my questions.

My first and foremost concern was the what.  What is blocking my tear duct?  There's only one answer I found.  Although he can't tell me for sure until after the surgery, he reassured me that he thinks this has something to do with a small birth defect in the structure of my nasolacrimal duct and not necessarily a tumor.  The nasolacrimal duct is just the long, skinny tube in your nose that the tear duct or sac drains into.  He says the narrowing of the nasolacrimal duct is very common in elderly women, and although he has no scientific research to back it up, he believes that it just has something to do with the way a woman's nose is structured because it's always a problem with women and not men.  He did admit that it's very rare to see this in someone my age, but he said mine is just probably a whole lot narrower than it should be (birth defect?) and has likely fused completely shut.  So the "bubble" I feel in my tear duct is probably the sac that is swollen and maybe full of gunk that has nowhere to go after years of washing mascara off my lashes.  Again, this is his best educated "guess," if you will.  He won't know for sure until the surgery.

My second concern was the recovery.  This is so not my nature to put everything on hold during the middle of the school year so I can have someone stick something down my tear duct and someone else stick something up my nose.  I even thought about putting it off until the summer time, but I decided I really don't want to do that.  He said I should take it easy and get a babysitter for the first two days, and then I should be back to my "normal self" (whatever that is) by the fifth day.  That means that Seth has to take two days off of work!  And he's nervous!  He's scared he's going to have to do carpool and dance and therapy and homework (which, when I got home this evening, he exclaimed that he didn't know how in the world Mason was supposed to do his math homework when he (Seth) couldn't even figure it out)!  That might be good for him!

And my third concern?  You guessed it.  Dr. B assured me that, even though my eye will be open, I would be so out of it that I won't see a thing and won't have a clue what's going on!

So.  My endoscopic dacryocystorhinostomy (Say that three times fast.  Or just say it once. Because I can't.  It's DCR for short.) is scheduled for March 12.  It's really a whole lot of adieu about nothing.  The actual surgery lasts about fifteen minutes.  And then I just have to wake up.  And hopefully I won't be crying anymore!

Before I left the ENT's office today, his nurse told me that I'll need to go to my doctor for a physical a couple of days before the surgery.  Can you imagine her shock and horror when I told her I don't have a doctor?!  The conversation went like this:

Nurse: What do you mean you don't have a doctor?  Who do you see when you're sick?
Me: I'm never sick.
Nurse: Never?
Me: Never.
Nurse: Who did you see the last time you were sick?
Me: Well, let's see, we moved back here in 2009.  I haven't seen anyone since then.  We lived in Mississippi for two years, and I didn't see anyone there either.  
Nurse: So what was the last doctor you saw?
Me: The eye doctor this morning
Nurse: Okay, besides your eye doctor?
Me: The dermatologist and the dentist.  Oh, and I see my girlie doctor on March 28.
Nurse: Okay.  Well.  See what you can do.  And if you have trouble finding someone, call me, and I'll try to help you.

So it looks like I'm about to get a general doctor person.  Whatever that is!  But don't worry.  I've already called my nurse friend, and she's on top of it.  Cross my heart and hope to die and stick a needle in my eye! 


Your loving Mama!! said...

I declare, this is too well written not to be published! Yes, the regular dental visits, ophthalmologist visits, and the beginning of a lifelong skincare regimen we began at Merle Norman when you were what, 13? Makeup is optional - nice but optional - but skincare - cleanse, tone, moisturize - that's a daily need, too! So when you ARE 80, comments about how young looking your face and neck are will be many! Love you to forever!!

Kori Page said...

Bless your heart, Julie! I'm soon to be halfway to 70 myself so I don't want to think much about my upcoming birthday, lol. Ever since my car accident almost 12 years ago I am very low maintenance. Now that I'm not working outside of the home its a miracle for me to make it out of my pajamas on a regular basis. I like to wear makeup when there's a special occasion but I don't keep up with the current styles so I feel lost usually. As far as Dr visits I tend to go too long between visits myself. I guess I should start being more conscientious about this myself. Anyway, just leave it in God's hands, He still answers prayers! Thanks for another great read!