Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Organ donation

Somewhere, in this country right now, is a person--young or old, male or female; I don't know. All I know is that he or she is alive, and loving and laughing and enjoying life. And I know that someday, probably within the next two years, this person will die. Probably tragically, accidentally, unexpectedly. And his or her parents or spouse or children will have to make the unthinkable decision to donate the organs. This person, brain dead and hooked up to machines, will be taken to the operating room and organs will be removed. Time of death will be called. The organs will be packed into containers of ice and readied for immediate and rapid shipment to places all across the United States. One of those places will be Rochester, and one of the recipients will be me.
I have a condition called keratoconus. It is, basically, the deterioration of the cornea, resulting is loss of sight. It cannot be corrected by soft contact lenses or glasses, and the only definitive treatment is a corneal transplant when the cornea has collapsed completely into a cone shape. Many people with mild keratoconus find they have much better vision with gas-permeable contact lenses that reshape the corneal structure; I am not one of them. I have gone from 20/20 corrected vision in my left eye to less than 20/200, which meets the definition of legal blindness. I am one of the fortunate ones; my right eye is still correctable to 20/20 vision.

We are to the point now where we no longer treat my left eye at all; I wear a contact lense in it only in case something happens to the lense in my right eye while I am not home. My right eye compensates completely for the left, though I have very limited peripheral vision(NOT GOOD when you have to back up an ambulane into a bay---thank God for spotters and coworkers who understand and offer to do it for you!) and my night vision is worsening. My optometrist promises that should something happen to my right eye, I will be rushed to the top of the transplant list. Someday, soon, my right eye may stop compensating, or develop worsening vision, and I will then start the process to receive a transplant. This isn't really a question of if this will happen, but when.

So I am a huge fan of organ transplants. I am an organ donor(well, all except my corneas), and I want everything--organs, skin, tissues--to be taken. Establish brain death, I told my husband, and then tell them to go for it. I have seen a lot of tragic deaths this summer. I don't know if they were organ donors or not, but if they were, I know there are ten or eleven people who got to live, to see, to feel again because of that sacrifice.

So wherever you are today, thank you. It may seem macabre, but I do think of you and your family often. Someday, I will get to see again through your eyes, and I pray that I will make what I see and what I do worth your loss.

If you are not an organ donor and would like to become one, talk to your family and make your wishes known, then go to http://www.organdonor.gov/, and print out and sign a card.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Just the other night
the baby was crying
So i got out of bed and rocked her awhile
And my mind went back to a few years ago
When we tried so long we almost gave up hope
And i remember you comin' in and tellin' me the news
Oh man,
we were livin'
Goin' crazy in the kitchen
We danced and we screamed and we held each other tight

We laughed until we cried...
(Jason Aldean)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


So, about that last post...

Sometimes, things just happen when you least expect them....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Baby thoughts

Recently, everyone has been asking me if I'm pregnant. I think because I'm almost 28 and have been married for six months, everyone seems to think I should get onto it. As I've mentioned before, I'm infertile, but most people are either unaware of it or exactly what it means. And, no, it wasn't a surprise; we knew before we were married that children weren't going to come the normal way. Yes, it is something that can be taken care of with fertility treatments, but our insurance doesn't cover them, and my husband is not interested in anything further than the ovulation stimulant I took for two months, with no success. So for us, fertility treatments, while they would give us a biological child(or two), are not an option. There is an almost certainty that I could get pregnant and carry a child if we used in vitro, but that is very expensive, and requires a great deal of tests and medical appointments and doctors to get to that point. Those things are just not something we want to pursue.
Adoption, of course, is an option; but more for my husband than for me. I have no doubt that I could love a non-biological child, but, again, the $40,000 and home studies and general hassel of an adoption just doesn't interest me. To be honest, I don't want to be a mother bad enough to go through all of that, trying to explain to a social worker that my husband and I are never, ever home, and probably never will be.
This leaves us pretty sure we will remain childless. Clomid, the drug I've been taking, generally is going to work in three months, or it doesn't work at all. I've taken it for two, no pregnancies that stuck, and I'm not interested in taking it a third month. I gained eleven pounds on it, and to be honest, a potential pregnancy isn't really worth eleven pounds in six weeks for me. My husband agrees with me, and so we're not continuing that.
And the thing is, we're happy. Our lives are busy, and hectic, and I honestly cannot imagine putting a child in them. Our work schedules are conflicting and abnormal, and so often we work on call from home, making a baby difficult. I can't imagine being up all night with a baby, only to fall asleep for two hours before I have to be at work for another 12. I hate the idea of losing the spontaneity we have--if we want to fly to Kentucky for a weekend, we can do that. If we want to sleep in all day, we can do that, too(I did that today, but then, I was at work till 3 am). There is very little we can't do, and I like that.
Sometimes I wish people would stop asking, but I usually just say no, and when they ask why not, I just tell them I don't want kids. Which I think, honestly, is the bottom line--I could have a baby if I really wanted it, either adoption or more fertility treatments. But I have no desire to pursue either of those, and I think what that's telling me is that, deep down, I really don't want to have kids right now. This isn't to say that won't change in ten years, but, for right now, I'm perfectly content kneeling beside a patient with a serious head injury in the cool night air, intubating while my husband slides an IV into the patient's arm. We love each other, and we love our life, and, someday, people will stop asking us when we plan to make it different.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


My house is clean, with a few things here and there. My homework is about done, done enough for tomorrow. Dinner--whole wheat penne with a cheese and ground turkey mixture in between--is in the oven. Rob is fast asleep, after having worked 7a-7p at Schuyler Ambulance yesterday, 12a-12p overnight at North Seneca, and then I called him at 12:30 pm for a transport...all this to say he has almost 36 hours without sleep, and he works overnight tonight. I ran three miles today, walked two, did grocery shopping, worked for 6 hours when I got called in, and almost feel like I'm on top of my life again.

I am someone who hates being disorganized. I hate dirt, clutter, and cats that scratch my furniture. I hate feeling behind and overwhelmed. I like cozy, clutter-free living rooms, and bookshelves with books in alphabetical order. And for the first time in I-don't-know-how-many-years(ten?) I almost feel like I am there.

Almost. My bookshelves need to be cleaned and organized. I sold six or seven more books online and need to wrap them and ship them. I still need to submit my marriage license and social security form to change my last name, though I don't expect anyone to use it. I am seeing popcorn kernels hiding underneath my desk from where I type, and I need to sweep those. The bathroom needs a quick wipe down and there's a small pile of clothes in the bedroom to be put away.

I could go on. But I won't.

Things will never be perfect. I will never be perfect. My husband, my house, and my marriage will never be perfect, and sometimes we fall far short of these things. I have no need to pretend that I in any way attain perfection, or ever will.

This is what I fear in many of the blogs I read. I talked about this before, but accidentally deleted the post. I have a fascination with fundamentalist Christian blogs, the type where they have 12 kids, all in perfectly matching, home-sewed outfits and arranged by age, homeschool and all their kids get all their schoolwork done every day and then graduate at 16, prepare a full five course dinner every night with vegetables from their own garden and meat they butchered themselves that afternoon, and still find time to clean the house to immaculate perfection, sew slipcovers for all the furniture, exercise and nurse the six-month-old while fighting morning sickness with the next one....and they are still running their home business.
This is such a freaking lie.

Please don't think I'm knocking sewing, homeschooling, gardening or large families. I think I've made it clear that my husband and I have not and will not use any form of birth control(though I wonder if we would rethink that if I woke up tomorrow incredibly fertile). I understand this leads to the possibility that we could have fifteen kids, but considering that I'm 27, have been married six months, and no babies on the horizon yet, I'm not too worried about that possibility.

What I am knocking is people who set themselves up for perfection. No one seriously, at the age of 32, has a multitude of children and homeschools and cooks and gardens and sews and cans and runs a home business all at the same time. It's perfectly possible that you can do these things one at a time, gardening and homeschooling and raising kids in one decade, running a home business and sewing the next decade. No one can do all things at once and do them well...and I'm afraid that, in these cases, it's the children who suffer.
And not just the children--I can only imagine what it would be to be a 28-year-old young mother with several children under the age of 9, and a husband who works long hours and makes $27,000 a year, and she thinks she has to homeschool and keep a neat house and survive on her husband's budget and take her children flower picking and lamb-shearing and can and sew...and guess what, she can't. She's set up for failure by reading these images of perfection. She wakes up late and her kids don't want to do their schoolwork and don't want to do chores and refuse to wear clean clothes, and getting dinner on the table by the time her husband comes home just really doesn't happen, and she feels like a failure as a mother, when, really, she's just plainly normal. But I can only imagine what it must feel like to think you're a failure as a mother, and then read other people's images of perfection.

So I am not perfect. If you are looking for a blog of perfection, this is not it. We work long hours here in this house, and often we are tired and grouchy with each other. Sometimes I spend more time on facebook than talking with my husband. Sometimes I let things slide that I shouldn't, like dishes, and sweeping, and scrubbing the bathroom, just because I hate doing them. Sometimes I get annoyed and upset when everyone else but me is having babies, and I am still chasing around my kittens.

But if you are looking for something where we can be unperfect, but real, this would be the place.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You know you're married to a firefighter when...

You know you're married to a firefighter-paramedic when:

You can unplug the toilet, fix the refrigerator leak, and handle the cat being run over by a car, all by yourself--since your husband is halfway through a 36 hour shift.

You hide the candles, lighters and matches a half hour before your husband is supposed to get home from work.

You're used to eating meatloaf while watching someone get a chest tube on Trauma 911.

You have more portable radios and scanners in your house than shoes.

You text your husband to see if frozen pizzas are okay for dinner, and he texts back, 10-4.

You have a smoke detector in every room, including the bathroom, and two in the kitchen.

You don't dare eat out when your husband is working, because you have severe allergic reactions to seafood, and really don't want your husband being the paramedic showing up to treat you.

You can wash, dry, and iron a uniform in twenty minutes.

Your husband greets the waiter with, "Nice veins. I bet I could get a 16 in there."