Archive for October, 2008
i spoke too soon…

H has had a rough 24 hours.  Teething, on top of vaccinations, on top of a recently acquired cold have left him a little cranky, tired, and fidgety.  Last night I decided to fold out the sofa bed in the living room and bring H with me so that his crying wouldn’t disturb Rob.  He had a fever of 100 degrees today, so I gave him some Tylenol.  He ended up sleeping most of the day.  During the few hours he was actually awake, I made sure to cut back on a lot of the activities with which we usually entertain ourselves.  I propped H up in the big red chair and entertained him by dancing around the living room, which served the dual purpose of making him smile and giving me a little exercise.  One of his naps was so long that I actually had time to take out the knitting that I have wanted to tackle for so long.  I bought a “Learn to Knit Kit” over 2 years ago, and hadn’t had the time until now to really delve into it.  I figured with my manuscript submitted and the possibility of the Boston job behind me, I should just spend my “free” time doing something fun for a change.  I haven’t gotten far, but I plan to work on the knitting more tonight.  

This morning I had really come to terms with the news I got yesterday about the Boston job.  I really felt in my heart that it happened for a reason and that better opportunities are around the corner.  I started to feel good about spending the winter here in VT and above all, having more time with H.  I began to think that maybe I should just bag the job search during November and December.  Aside from those months being chock full of major holidays, I realized that I’ve spent nearly all of my non-paid maternity leave working on stuff.  And I decided it was time to have a couple of months where H and I could just hang out and I wouldn’t have to worry about fitting in time to write, read journal articles, do lit searches, or prepare my CV.  Of course, I did a little searching again tonight for kicks, and uncovered another industry job, this time in Delaware.  I have to say, I’m not a fan of Delaware, but I’ve decided to apply for this job anyway.  The job ad was not written with nearly the same level of clarity or specificity as the job ad for the Boston job, but from what I can glean, it seems like it could be a good match.  And actually, from what I know about this Delaware company, the disease areas are a better fit with my previous experience.  

I speak too soon about a lot of things…

The Ample Gentleman

Our little (or not so little) Holden had his 4-month check-up this evening.  He weighed in at 19 lbs., 2 oz (99th percentile), 26 3/4 inches long (96th percentile).  Luckily, he doesn’t have an enormous head to match his enormous body (his head circumference was in the 51st percentile).  Developmentally he is doing great and is hitting his milestones ahead of schedule.  He got his second round of vaccinations and so far, seems to be handling them better than the first time around.

After we got back from the pediatrician appointment, we made dinner, got H changed into his PJs, read H his bedtime story, and tucked him into bed.  I then decided to check my e-mail.  I had a message from the hiring manager of the company I applied to in Boston.  She relayed that they had a surprising number of good applicants, and that they have decided to pursue an applicant with industry experience.  I am pretty bummed about this.  The only way I can really get my foot in the door and get industry experience it seems is to do a postdoc in industry.  I just really don’t want to do that though.  How long can we expect to be in a temporary living situation?  And with H, I just really want to settle somewhere for a while.  I feel like times are so tough that I can’t even afford to be picky.  There are 2 academic jobs I can apply for, but I don’t really want either of them.  I have decided I don’t want to teach.  But at the same time, if I stay out of the loop for too long, I won’t be able to get a job anywhere.  And the thought of letting all of my training go to waste makes my stomach turn.  There is still the very, very, very, small hope of my former postdoc advisor securing funding.  He has told me that the position is mine if I want it.  In many ways, that would be the very best situation for us, because the hours would be somewhat flexible and it would minimize the amount of time that H would have to be with a sitter.  So maybe that is what will happen.  Maybe it’s supposed to work out this way, and I’m destined to get the big, real job a few years down the road.  Maybe I’m supposed to learn some awesome electrophysiology….maybe I’m supposed to finish those lingering projects that didn’t quite get wrapped up before H was born….

Sunday morning

Ahh….I love Sunday mornings.  I feel oddly well-rested despite the fact that I set my alarm for every 2 hours all night long to re-apply eye ointment, woke up a handful of times due to eye pain, and had to nurse H at 3:30AM.  My task today is to see what I can do to elevate endogenous estrogen…I really think that’s the culprit.

On Friday we had another very enjoyable playdate with my new pal Susan and her little one Ella.  The babies are only a week apart, and are just now starting to be aware of each other when we get together.  They took a little nap together:

Looked lovingly (and skeptically) at one another:

Posed for the camera like good little babies:

And modeled their first-ever Halloween costumes:

Yesterday we ran assorted errands in the rain while today (because it’s nice and sunny out) we will focus on having fun.  I just baked some “Morning Glory Muffins” with shredded carrot (from the garden) and apple.  Yum.  We’ll probably take a stroll around town once H wakes up from his morning nap.  And if I’m lucky, I’ll work on my job talk and hop on the treadmill for 30 minutes.   A perfect Sunday.  

The other project I have for today is to do some grocery planning for the week.  I usually just wing my grocery purchases and never pay attention to how much I spend.  I have always figured that we have to eat, so why bother meditating too deeply on that part of the budget.  I cook pretty much everything from scratch and hardly ever buy prepared foods.  But I have now presented myself with a challenge.  I’m going to try to budget only $100 a week for groceries, including any lunches or coffees that Rob or I happen to get during the week.  Part of this is motivated by my desire to lose some weight.  My first step in getting a bit healthier (and saving some $$$) is to 1) limit desserts and alcohol to the weekends, and 2) eat more vegetarian meals.  Last night I made a casserole of baked butternut squash, VT breakfast sausage, tart green apple, and sage.  Tonight I’m doing a creamy tomato ravioli with carrots from the garden and homemade french bread.  I still have to plan out the rest of the week, but I see some homemade curry and hearty soups in our immediate future.  Mmmmm.  This plan should work well for us, as Rob’s compulsive need to establish and graph goals of various kinds is really rubbing off on me.

I’m off to eat some homemade muffins!

Putting the “recurrent” in “recurrent corneal erosion”

My eye is unwell again.  Two nights ago I woke up feeling like something was in my eye, usually a first indication of impending pain.  I got up, put ointment in it, and went back to sleep.  Last night I was jolted awake with pain and my eye was watering.  I put some ointment in it, and lucky for me, the pain was not horrible and it was short-lived.  Today I feel very upset and depressed about what appears to be a relapse of a condition that is seemingly resistant to treatment and is significantly interfering with my sleep.

When I first saw the ophthamalogist, I suggested to him the possibility that the changing hormones of pregnancy and postpartum were partially responsible for the eye trouble that cropped up 12 years after the initial injury.  He did some hand-waving and basically said “who knows, there are only a few things we can do, and they may or may not work…” (some digging today revealed a 50-80% success rate with the interventions I’ve already had).  I decided to hop on MedLine and check out some articles.  I couldn’t find too many things about the interplay between hormones and recurrent corneal erosions, but did find some information about menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause-induced changes in corneal thickness and curvature.  Estrogen levels fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, and also rise during pregnancy followed by a rapid drop postpartum (particularly in the breastfeeding mother).  I thought that perhaps this could account for what I’m experiencing, at least in part.  I did searches on luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and progesterone, and couldn’t find too much information.  Finally, I found an article detailing the growth factors and proteins responsible for maintaining the integrity between the corneal epithelium, the basement membrane, and the acellular Bowman’s membrane.  One of these matrix molecules, collagen, seems to be responsible for anchoring the basement membrane to the stroma, and changes in collagen expression seem to be at the heart of traumatic recurrent corneal erosions.  Guess what low estrogen levels do to collagen expression?  Yup, if you guessed that low estrogen leads to low collagen, you win.  And guess where my estrogen levels are right now?  Lower than the Dow.  

So where do I go from here?  I don’t want to stop breastfeeding.  I considered for a brief second the strategy of taking oral contraceptives to boost my estrogen, but that is also problematic as estrogen can interfere with milk supply and has poorly understood effects on the breastfeeding infant.  Most healthcare providers recommend low-estrogen or progestin only pills for breastfeeding mothers, which of course, won’t really tackle the problem I’m having.  So I’ve decided to wait this one out.  I’m in for a few months of continued sleep deprivation and excruciating pain.  I may be able to see the eye doctor to get periodic contact lens bandages for temporary relief when I go on my job talk, for example (assuming that a job talk is even still in the cards at this point).  Once I’m done breastfeeding, if I’m still having problems, I’ll go back to the eye doctor and have the debridement procedure repeated.  It won’t do me any good to have it done again right now, as the success of the procedure depends on the body’s own ability to heal.  And my healing seems to be impeded at this point by those pesky hormones.  

If I thought it would do any good, I would sue the shit out of Wal-Mart (who is responsible for my injury in the first place), and then use the money to fund research on the relationship between estrogens and eye disease/pathology.  (I just learned that macular degeneration is more common in women and coincides with the menopausal period).  I couldn’t believe how much digging I had to do to get even a hint of an answer to all of this.  Of course, all of this underscores the larger issue of a lack of basic research into women’s health issues.  I’m not even talking reproductive health here….I’m talking health in general, which just happens to be heavily influenced by female reproductive hormones.

ring ring, it’s the foot phone, it’s a long distance call from down dog

I finished my manuscript finally today.  We submitted it to the journal.  A co-author had a change of heart about the journal to which it was submitted.  We withdrew the manuscript.  We are re-submitting it elsewhere.  I hope I don’t have to do much formatting to get it to where it needs to be.  I really want to check it off my list and move on.  

After I submitted the manuscript this morning, we attended a Baby Yoga class.  H absolutely loved it!  One of the neighborhood gals had signed up for the class but had to miss it because of a conflicting trip out of town, so she generously offered her spot in the class to us.  H giggled and loved being around the other moms and babies.  It was much better than the postnatal yoga class I took him to when he was 8 weeks old.  At 8 weeks, he was still in that stage where he needed to be held all the time, so it was tough to actually do any yoga.  But now that he is older, more independent, and more interactive, he is in a great place to actually participate in a yoga class geared for his enjoyment.

After yoga, I picked up Uncle Steve to come babysit while I drove to central VT for a dentist appointment.  H was a good baby while I was gone, and as payment, we are taking Uncle Steve out for sushi tomorrow night!  Yum!  Here’s a question—please chime in if you know the answer:  Is it safe to eat sushi while breastfeeding?  I know that I obviously have to avoid the high-mercury fish, but I wasn’t sure whether food-borne bacteria in raw fish like salmon is still a concern.  I might call the pediatrician to find out the answer, and I’ll post here if no one else knows the answer to this.

As an aside, there were two instances today where Holden said “mamamamamamama.”  I know that he is just babbling and doesn’t know what he is saying, but it’s exciting nonetheless.  I suspect that he will be not unlike a certain cousin of his, whose mother once remarked that “sometimes I just want to pay him $20 to be quiet for half an hour.”  That cracks me up every time I think about it.

OK, I’m off to do some house chores and eat veggie lasagna with my awesome hubby.  Hmmm….maybe a date to watch an X-Files episode is in order….