Week 22 has been spiritually and physically challenging and uplifting all at the same time.
It began with an early morning Sunday call that my sister-in-law has rare form of renal cancer. The family on both sides is just utterly devastated. No prognosis yet, but hopeful for one soon with the transfer from one hospital to another. She and my brother will be grappling with treatment options and child care issues for some time to come. This news just struck a nerve with my own private fears about mortality and motherhood. She is so young, early 30s, and my nephews are just a year behind my daughter. I always have prayed to God to let me live at least long enough to raise my children to adulthood, as any mother would. I contemplated about flying out immediately, but decided to wait. My prayers are with her.
Towards the end of the work day on Wednesday, I just felt so out-of-whack. The tush numbness from sitting all day has pretty much resolved itself, only to be replaced with backaches. But, there was something else wrong. I could not put my finger on what was ailing me. I got home and my normally light intermittent constipation quickly became a vicious attack of it. I knew better than to strain myself because of the threat of hemorrhoids, but could not make myself comfortable. I drank prune juice and would eventually get some relief an hour later, but my entire abdomen started killing me. I laid down, but no matter what position I assumed the pain was unbearable.
Thinking it was constipation and gas related, I then started drinking apple juice and water once I ran out of prune juice. But the pain seemed to shift to my right side. Appendicitis crossed my mind, but I had no accompanying classic signs and symptoms. I was running a slight fever though. In the absence of no obvious pregnancy danger signs, e.g. vaginal discharge, contractions, I stayed in bed the entire evening praying that nothing would keep me away from defending my thesis the following day. I ran to the OB/GYN's office early the next morning and was told that it was most likely round ligament pain. I protested by explaining that this pain was an 11 on a 1-10 scale (childbirth pain aside), but this was the diagnosis. Apparently, from what I read it can be very painful. This is my third pregnancy and a new experience for me. I just assumed that I would be all good and stretched out by now. I felt better within 24-30 hours.
This is the last week of the orientation period at my job. Yes, it has been three weeks but I feel as though the company is eager to throw us to the wolves. Well . . . get their money worth out of us. In fact, every time I see the director he always asks me how it is going and if I am ready to hit the pavement. I always answer kindly with some sort of affirmation, not wanting to give the impression of ineptness. However, it is clear that some of us in the group are not ready to begin working autonomously. It was kind of like information overload and then: "Okay, go get 'em!" So, the thought of working alone next week has had me stressed out big time.
Fortunately, I am one of two registered nurses of several in my hiring cohort who have actually had experience in case management previously. Thank God for that or I would be totally lost. However, the insurance company I worked for before was much smaller. We only catered to one particular type of client with one specific chronic disease. This time around, there are numerous clients, each one with different disease management protocols and so many rules and regulations to memorize.
At the end of the week, the director of nursing clinical services approached us to ask individually if we felt prepared or if we could benefit from additional mentoring. One of my colleagues, sitting next to me, quickly answered that she needed more time. I echoed the same. The rest of the cohort were a short distance away, so we could not hear their responses. We did not learn until later that they answered that they indeed felt prepared and as a result were assigned clients immediately along with weekend work schedules. Whereas, my colleague and I will continue with professional mentoring this coming week Monday through Friday. The others later bemoaned their responses, but it was too late.
I might have been tempted to report that I felt ready and able, but it has been an incredible amount of information to digest. The Medicare rules and regulations alone are enough to scare any American. I had no idea that Medicare insurance was so complicated and offered so little coverage for Americans who have worked all their lives. It's extremely heartbreaking. Nevertheless, I do need more time. The additional week will do me good.
I met with my former nurse-midwifery professor to propose the possibility of home birth assistance. The last I knew of they were not doing them. So, I was prepared to go with a lay midwife. However, surprisingly, she indicated that they have been doing them since November. The charge would be $1,500-2,000, but they would have a meeting to discuss a possible discount for me as a professional courtesy and get back to me. I left feeling so encouraged, because I do not want to leave the house. A home birth is truly the best option for me. I left our meeting ready to clean up and arrange things ahead of time.
On a happier note, the thesis defense went very well. I took a day off of work to accommodate the date. Next week the professor and the department head will officially sign off on my degree. I am jumping up and down on the inside, but it does not seem real until I see something official. Graduation is not until June, but degree confirmation is simply a formality that consists of a couple of signatures. I will most likely not attend the graduation, although a picture with me in the cap and gown would look nice on one of our walls. My younger brother is graduating too next June with an undergraduate degree, so I would prefer the family not have to chose which one to attend (financial wise) because we both live out-of-state. Besides, I will eventually study for my PhD and everyone better attend that one. For now, I am just satisfied with the degree, passing go, and collecting my $200 so to speak.