Caveat Emptor

I apologize in advance if I offend those of you to whom I am related or close friends. Writing this is my catharsis and has been keeping me (moderately) sane of late.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Dude, Where's My Job?

How do I have time to sit on the computer all day, especially when my house is in dyer need of cleaning? Don't I have a job? Funny you should ask. At the present time, I do not have a job. It's not that I don't want a job; I do, unless I become independently wealthy, that is. Then my job will be to donate exorbitant sums of money to worthy causes, and live a life of leisure (pronounced Leh-shur) and shopping.

I had a job, I was a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools for ten years, then I was a counselor/case manager in the same school district for two years. Well, what happened? I'll tell ya.

On January 30, 2006 I was at my job as a counselor/case manager, working hard to serve the students on my case load and fix all of the ills facing the school in which I worked. I wore many hats in that job, most of which were meant to be worn by my boss, the school's principal, but I was better at wearing said hats than he was. Too bad his salary was double that of mine, which left a bitter taste in my mouth; similar to that of cyanide escaping from a poisoned corpse, but I digress. Anyway, I was in the middle of a pretty stressful day, when I started having cramps on the right side of my lower abdomen. This did not bother me too much because as I have gotten older, the cramps associated with my period have gotten progressively worse. The thing was, I did not have my period. I still didn't worry, because as I said, it was a stressful day and I attributed my cramps to to either an indication of an impending early period, stress, or a combination of the two.

I stood up from my desk to go to the bathroom, and I had a shockingly sharp cramp. The kind of cramp that brings you down to the floor, regardless of where you are at the time. I was, thank goodness, alone in my office. I recovered from said cramp and was about to resume my trek to the bathroom when I had a sudden wave of severe nausea and abdominal cramping. I ran to the bathroom so as to avoid puking on my office floor. I didn't throw up (I hate to throw up, will do anything within my power to avoid it), but then I began to worry.

The cramping continued and so did the nausea. I went to my trusty Google search engine to see if these may be symptoms of something serious. All symptoms said appendicitis. I called Iceman at work and told him how I was feeling. He left work toot sweet (he is a middle school teacher who was in the middle of standing and delivering), flew over to my job, picked me up, and off to the ER we went. I should mention that Iceman doesn't miss work for ANYTHING, ever. I believe he took a sick day once, only because I made him, demanded that he stay home; he was extremely sick. Even then he only stayed home for one day, when any reasonable person would have probably been out all week. He was worried too.

We get to the ER and they ask a bunch of questions, one being "Could you be pregnant?" "Well, yes, I could be." I stated confidently. We had begun to try to get pregnant, so maybe it was an ectopic? Nope. (we didn't yet know that a natural pregnancy was unlikely at best) Was it an appendicitis? Nope. After numerous tests I was told to see a urologist ASAP because there was "major amounts of blood in my urine and mild hydronephrosis on my right kidney." This didn't surprise me because I had been having a major amount of blood in my urine for about ten years, but I wanted to finally find out what was causing it. The hydronephrosis was just a nice bonus.

The first urologist we saw showed us my scan and one of my ureters was "missing." It also appeared that I had a swollen mass in my bladder, a 9mm lesion on my left kidney, and a bump on my liver in addition to the blood in my urine. Because of those things, I was scheduled for a cystourethroscopy (cystoscopy, for short). This procedure was to be done on an outpatient basis at the hospital, under a general anesthetic. I took a medical leave of absence because the surgery couldn't be done until February 13, 2006, I was still in considerable pain, and after 10 days of absence in the Chicago Public Schools, one must apply for and receive a medical leave of absence. I did this right away, just in case; assuming that I would be back in the saddle lickety split. Well, that was not to be.

The lining of my bladder was red, raw, irritated, bled when touched, and was covered with glomerulations (hemorrages) of blood vessels, but the ureter was not "missing" and it was not blocked. This was a possible indication of Interstitial Cystitis (IC). The mass was benign, so that was good, but when stretched to capacity with saline, my bladder bled and was the size of a normal person's bladder, non-stretched. Another possible sign of Interstitial Cystitis. The doctor reported his findings to my family while I was in recovery; I was glad that I had a diagnosis after years of gross hematuria. Then, when I spoke with the urologist (#1) at my post operative consult, he said that it wasn't Interstitial Cystitis because the biopsy came back normal. Now, I freely admit that I am no urologist, but a biopsy does not indicate or contraindicate the disease, it merely rules out cancer. This urologist specialized in male urological disorders, so on to my second urologist.

My second urologist (a urogynecologist) was a mensch, a wonderful man who made me feel that I had come to the right place. He felt that it was Interstitial Cystitis, but that there was no reliable treatment except in the form of pelvic floor exercises with a specially trained physical therapist, and pills that may help control bladder spasms (they didn't). He did this bladder test, which involved filling my bladder with saline to test it's capacity. Well, this procedure had just begun when said saline literally shot out from my vagina straight at him and his nurse. I was mortified and they were in shock. Through my shouts of embarrassed apology, they confirmed that I have severe bladder spasms (duh) and that I obviously had IC and OAB (Overactive Bladder). I was sent to an OB for a trans vaginal ultrasound (my first of many) because often times IC and endometriosis are found concurrently.

The OB (actually, I only saw an ultrasound tech) found what appeared to be an adnexal cyst or endometrioma, which may be an indication of endometriosis; I was referred to an RE for further testing (it is April by this time). This RE (1st) was a pompous prick and I detested him immediately. He condescendingly told me that it may or may not be an endometrioma. One cannot tell via ultrasound, only through a laparoscopy. Now, he is the professional and he obviously knows more than I, but don't act like an ass; I'm not stoopid. Just tell me what we are going to do next. Lucky for me I was on day 3 of my cycle, so I had my second trans. vag. u/s and day 3 blood work. We were going to do the clomid challenge starting on cycle day 5, following the results of my blood work. On day 5 I get a call from his majesty's office asking where to call in my Rx, when the nurse or tech or whatever she was shouts, "Wow, your estradiol level is very high. I must talk to the doctor to see if he still wants you to start the clomid challenge test." Nice, very professional lady. Why didn't you look at my results before you called me? She speaks with G-d and I get the go-ahead to begin the test. At this point I have no idea what a day 3 estradiol level of 102 means.

Three days into the test, I have what I presume to be a profound nervous breakdown. All I am thinking about is the death of everyone that I love, including my pets. I rock back and forth on my couch wide eyed, seized with panic, confusion, and non-stop crying. I call my mom's cell phone; no answer. I call my husband's cell phone; no answer. Fuck, I am losing it and I cannot get in touch with anyone. I call G-d's office and report my psychosis. The lady on the other end of the line was a sweetheart (I sent her a heartfelt thank you card). She explained that this happens to some people on clomid and that if I wanted to stop the test, I could. I did!

As it turned out, G-d was not able to do the laparoscopy because my insurance wouldn't cover it; I had to have an OB/GYN do the procedure. I did not have an OB/GYN at the time as my GP had been doing my yearly paps forever. My GP and urologist both recommended the same OB/GYN and off to the next doctor I went.

He was a great guy, and a fabulous diagnostician, I was to later find out. We scheduled the laparoscopy in conjunction with my urologist so that he could do a cyctsocopy at the same time. Two-for-one, good deal; I'll take it. My urolosist did not feel that the cystoscopy was necessary as he was pretty sure what I had, but being the mensch that he is, he obliged me.

Good news and bad news. After the surgery, my OB/GYN reported to my family that I did not have endometriosis (good news), I did have a paraovarian cyst (no biggie, unless it gets to be a biggier cyst and twists my ovary), and that my ovaries were losing function (bad news). In our post surgery consult, he suggested that Iceman and I try for a couple of months to get pregnant naturally because following a laparoscopy, a woman is quite fertile for approx. 3-4 months. We obliged for six months, to no avail. Referral to second RE.

This last surgery was in June of 2006. I got my return to work letter and went to re-enlist in the trenches of the Chicago Public Schools, confident that my job was safely awaiting my return. WRONG! I had been bumped out of my position, but I could become a substitute teacher. WHAT!?! I don't think so. What the fuck happened to my job? Where is my protection under the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act)? It seems that there is a loophole, of which I was unaware. You see, because I was in a cerified position (need a type 73 certificate) with a temporary certification (type 78 certificate), I had no protection under the FMLA.

I was still in graduate school at the time working on my Master's in School Counseling and I had become a Student Development Teacher (SDT, not to be confused with STD) in order to work as a counselor/case manager. By becoming a SDT and obtaining a temporary certificate (type 78) I was able to do the job of a counselor/case manager until I earned my degree and certification. This program was developed because there was a monumental shortage of certified counselors in CPS and the positions needed to be filled. It doesn't matter; I was fucked. I had no recourse, and I had no job.

To be honest, I hated that job. For many reasons, the main one being that my boss, a new principal with NO experience, was a total douche bag (Iceman's favorite derogatory term). It wasn't so much that he had no idea how to run a school, which he didn't; it was that he did not care to learn. He put all of his work on me and his assistant principal while he was on his computer all day doing nothing. The prick was scared of the kids for Christ's sake! Total fuckhead! If he didn't know how to do something (which was almost every aspect of running a school), he wouldn't; we would have to do it. Now, I am a hard worker and I have a passion for figuring things out, so extra work does not bother me, but...when important documents from the Board of Education are addressed by name to the principal of a school, specifically requesting that S/HE do something, it is obnoxious to literally cross out your name and write WENDY over it and put it in my mailbox. I mean what kind of shit is that?

Anyway, that is the how and why of me losing my job. You can see that in some ways it was a blessing in disguise. I have since heard that the place has fallen apart (YEAH!), which is too bad for the kids, but the teachers are terrific, so it won't really affect them anyway. Plus, hopefully the sad state of the place will solidify that the incompetent, pissant will not have his contract renewed next year. Ahhh, dare to dream. Another blessing was that I was able to go to school full-time and finish my master's degree. The downside is that Iceman and I are fuckin' dead broke. I still haven't found a job, and if the lottery doesn't pan out....

It will, I WILL WIN! No worries, somebody's gonna lotto, might as well be me!!!

1 comment:

The Town Criers said...

It's true--someone has to win. And it could be you. What a story--sending out a huge hug after reading it. I came with your non-alcoholic peach bellini as well as birthday greetings for Iceman. Hope you receive good news (the lottery AND the BFP) soon.