Thursday, July 17, 2014

Small steps towards California

I want to tell you a bit more about my intention of spending some time in California.
So when I went there  two years ago, I absolutely loved it. Not only I loved the food and the weather but I loved the variety of things that can be done and I know we just scratch the surface.
In my area of research, the top scientists and major biotech companies are in California. So back then I started playing with the idea that it would be so fantastic to spend some time in some lab over there, even a company would have been great, but I know that being an academic that would be highly unlikely. Then all plans (which were purely in my head at that point) were stalled with the FET and Martina's pregnancy. Once Martina was born I returned to work after mat leave and it really took me a while to get back into the swing of things, I have a research group on top of teaching and you know, it's not like scientific ideas grow on trees, if you are quite distracted with family life, something gotta give. And I knew if I wanted to feel inspired again I had to start going to conferences and scientific meetings so I did (in moderation of course as family is in any case my number one priority).
This last meeting in Rhode Island, like two years ago is the creme de la creme. The philosophy is that everyone is basically campus bound and conversations are easy to start and everyone there works in the same field. There are many companies and researcher and the very best scientists in the field (the kind that make you realise how small of a fish you are!) and I know I'm nowhere near that level but if I could at least breathe the same air it would do me a world of good on many different levels.
When I came back I tentatively mentioned it to Mike, perhaps expecting a sort of a cold response, but he didn't! He was immediately enthusiastic about the idea and we had to verify a few things. First we needed to make sure that he could apply for an unpaid leave of absence and get back to his job an salary (check!) and that I could on the other hand keep my salary or it would have been a serious problem (check!!). Mike was so on board that he even said "maybe I can also do some work in some lab.." wow!! I immediately emailed the colleague in Davis and I mean, who wouldn't want a very experience, hands on post doc for free? He got back within minutes saying his colleagues would be fighting over him, no question! Apparently Davis is extremely family oriented and if Mike works then we have to look into childcare, but should not be a major issue. I would hope that my parents will spend maybe even a month there and could help. Renting somewhere should also be very very easy, I'm assuming renting a car should be doable too. We will have to house Carlito (our cat) but again it should not be a major problem.
So there you have it, tomorrow I will initiate discussion on a potential project to develop and will try to apply for funding too (every little helps!)
All this excitement makes me feel over the moon and very relaxed too, long may it last!

Ps: Kd if you read, send me an email, I have no way of contacting you as I can't find an email in your profile!!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The business experience

I am back, I am so happy to say that my return journey was upgraded to business class! For me that I have always travelled in economy it was fab! Pity the journey was too short to enjoy a good sleep, but my God, what a difference, the food, the service, the lounge in the airport...

The conference was good, I networked a lot and it may be possible for me to spend a few months sabbatical next year in UC Davis in California. That would be another dream becoming true, I'll try and figure out this week what do I have to do at my university, but this gave me a very nice and important focus work-wise. The weather in Rhode Island was very good, warm but breezy so overall really pleasant. This is the last time at that location, this conference will be moving to Maine in two years time, looking forward to a bit more life and the ocean view! One highlight of the trip was meeting a cyberfriend and her daughter!! Really lovely afternoon with them and the time just flew by.

Health-wise I have had the usual abdominal pain, not good but not worse than normal, I have started joining a few boards on IBS and see how I can tame it a bit.

I don't know if you remember that two years ago I came back to Dublin and Oliver had been admitted to hospital after spiking a very high fever. Well, this year I came back to Martina with chickenpox! Not as dramatic thankfully and the worse was probably over, but the funny thing was that I was collected at the airport by the same taxi driver as two years ago!!

My parents flew back this morning, they had a lovely time and just as well they were here to help between the sickness and the Mike having to work, it was a great help.

Right, that's about it for now, I'll be back soon!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Almost Boston time

Heading off tomorrow and hopefully the hurricane will have lost strength and moved further north. I am very excited about this week away. I admit, I need some me time. I need to switch off the permanently on call button, I need to listen to my music and go back to a proper 20 minutes meditation, I need (desperately) to recharge my batteries as I am exhausted. I don't feel exhausted, I simply am. I may even be able to read a book. I realised it's been two years since I had a night to myself, when I went to the same conference after our amazing trip to California.

My parents arrived yesterday with great excitement on Oliver's part and a little perplexity on Martina's side who, I think, was wondering how it was possible that the people in the computer were now here in the kitchen. But one day in and she has already warmed up to the guests!
I have packed the suitcase (almost), found a few dollars from the last trip in a jar in the kitchen and charged my ipod, laptop and phone. I have packed a swimming suit as I want to go to the pool on campus during the week. However this may be a bit of an optimistic thought as my period has decided to be late again. So it'll probably start tomorrow or sunday, just as I am travelling.

I want to get back blogging a bit more often even if it's just for myself and my soul. It is good for me to be talking about life and feelings even if the original purpose of this blog has morphed significantly. It did me a world of good when I was going through infertility, I think it will help with the anxiety too, I have to write it down. I know it is less interesting for the wider blogging community, specially for those still chasing what may seem a chimera baby (and I wish you from the bottom of my heart that it will be a reality very soon) but it may still be nice for my long time cyberfriends to see how I get on and what we are up too (thank you Valery!). I know I miss a lot my old cyber friends, those that have stopped blogging altogether and those that are now posting very seldom. Maybe there is someone left out there thinking the same about me! Don't worry if you don't have time to comment, I know this is my life and not yours and you may have nothing to say, just let me know occasionally you are stopping by, I'll love it!

I'm considering changing the title of the blog, but I am so attached to it. What do you think?

Friday, June 27, 2014

One more check (and I'll relax!)

So the pain in my upper abdomen to the left of the belly button is still there, intermittently,  and it had started in March. Add changes in bathroom trips. Add "tamed" anxiety. An explosive mix. Literally.

So after a bit of internal debate, I decided to go back to the GP. Could I have developed some food intolerance after the rounds of antibiotics this year? I knew the ultrasound was clear but I still did not feel well at all. Before going to the GP I researched a few gastroenterologists and actually made a couple of calls to find out waiting times for the visit and possible scoping. This one stood out and thank God for health insurance I could get in pretty quickly. The GP was great, suspected maybe IBS (which I never had and of course it could start any time but every guidelines said if this is suspected after the age of 40 for the first time, other, more omnous causes, must be excluded) and had no problem writing me a referral for the top GI doc. I went to GP on a friday and I had the appointment with the specialist on Monday. That's amazing fast. She was fab, Canadian, trained between Ireland and the States, a cv you could make a blanked and have some left over. She was very reassuring but said let's have a look, just to be sure to be sure it's only stress. So I had a colonoscopy the day after. Never had one before and I was sedated for the procedure so that was a breeze. What is not so much a breeze is the clean prep you do beforehand! A must-watch hylarious gig from Billy Connolly on the matter here, and he seemed to have used pills, I had to drink 2 liters of solution in the evening and 2 more litres at 5 am on the morning of the procedure!!
Anyway, as always I'm not phased at all by medical procedures so I wasn't anxious and then afterwards slept for hours at home.. I think that was totally what I needed actually!! I went back today (after an immediate reassurance that all looked quite normal bar some small diverticula) for a chat and review of the results. She tested me for celiac disease (negative) and checked my thyroid function too (all good). She also took some random biopsies (all normal) and observed this diverticula in the upper part of the colon. Nothing to worry about, they are shallow and open, but unusual at my age, normally you find them in 55 year old males. Ah well. On top of this I have a thickening of the mussels on the left side and certainly a touch of IBS. So I'm so glad I was not imagining things, yes, keeping calm and meditating and sports will help minimising the anxiety and IBS, but the pain I feel is real, thankfully a benign situation, and above all not in my head. You know the way you can really believe you are loosing your mind when every other week you have some odd physical symptom in random parts of our body? That was me.

One week to Boston!!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Life is good

This weekend we are de-clattering. It gives me an immense pleasure to do so. Sorting out children clothing which will go to a charity, tidying up the balcony (soon to accomodate a storage unit for the bicycles and scooters and what not), tidying up the storage space under the stairs etc. Because you know, we are about to start a new project I don't think I mentioned it yet. We are going to replace our en-suite door with a pocket one! As the bathroom walls are tiled, Mike is going to do the job by accessing (and breaking) the wall just on the bedroom side. It is possible, we watched a youtube video, but it's definitely going to be a messy job. Mike never did it before of course but I have no doubt it will be perfect (he is handy that way). So far we sourced the housing structure and the tools. The door itself it's just going to be a plain one. I suspect we'll have to relocate to the attic while Mike is doing the work so it will probably happen when I'm back from Boston in July. Very exciting.
Children are good, Martina is a climber, goes up on everything and of course is not that balanced yet so weekends are definitely more tiring that the working days looking after the two of them! She eats everything (it's a while now we cook the same things for everyone) and she still has 6 teeth but currently drooling and red bum, so who knows, maybe a couple more are on the way. She is a great sleeper, I know Oliver had a major regression at 18 months, so hopefully she will be different (given the she never slept through the night till 10 month old!). She is still in her room but sometime in the future will be moving the children in together. Oliver is very good, with the occasional melt down, but he has started waking at around 6.30 and after going to the bathroom (the en-suite, he is almost always dry at night, we keep him in a cloth nappy just to catch the occasional accident) comes into the bed and that's the end of the sleeping for me. He seems to be functioning perfectly on very little sleep these days and he has black out curtains so it's not the light that wakes him at all, he just does and he's ready to start the day and keeps going till 8.30-9 pm...

I am doing well, I can feel I made a significant change in my anxiety, I don't torment myself anymore with awful thoughts, in fact I somehow came to the conclusion that even if I die, things will be ok for the children as Mike is a great dad. So this thought gives me great comfort and less anxiety and by default I son't think so much anymore about getting sick and die. As my stomach was still bothering me, I went to the gp last week (no anxiety, just to check) and she had me do an ultrasound to make sure there was nothing strange going on as she could not feel anything abnormal. Ultrasound showed a small gallstone which is not what's bothering me at all it seems, but everything else is absolutely normal, so this leaves the pain likely to be muscular (it's not food related). Let's hope it'll pass. I have gone back swimming now so that should help. I want to record here that for the first time in 15 years I think, I got a 3 days delay on my period (which was always early, about 25-26 days). Of course I didn't even bother testing because with no tubes it would be some miracle being pregnant and even if the thought did cross my mind (you know...there is always that one case on the web etc etc) it made me realise that I am really happy with a family of four and so we are thinking what to do with the embryos we have in storage (4 blasts from the same crop as Martina). We are both very much in favour of embryo adoption, but it would have to be an open adoption which here is unheard of. I would never feel comfortable not knowing where those embryos have ended up, not that I consider them my children, I truly believe children belong to who loves them and grows them up, but Ireland is such a small place I would worry they may end up marrying my children without knowing they are related!! I know they can be shipped abroad etc, I would hate to have them wasted, they can be so precious for couples who would like a family but for whatever reason cannot have a biological child. So we'll see. I'm putting this thought out into the Universe for it to be heard and now I'll wait and see what happens.

Less than a month to Boston!! Wohooo! Any takers for a coffee?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Meeting Maddy!

Today I met Maddy (Lateforaveryimportantpregnancy)!! I was so happy and even though it was just for a short time it was brilliant. She was in Dublin for a short visit and so happened that she was staying in a hotel on my side of town and so even if very last minute I could pop over to say hello!

Anyway, like when I met Valery, Rain and BestWhenUsedBy it felt like meeting old friends. She is lovely as I was expecting, and so beautiful too! I hope she will be back blogging as I miss her.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Another trip to Italy, Martina and CBT update

We are just back from Italy, Oliver and I. Again wonderful time and two school reunions! Some of us have aged better than others but the fun and the ease of chatting with old friends was special.

We came back early this morning, and we found Martina comfortably walking! Baby girl is growing fast, no doubt. She is definitely also teething (again) and she is quite uncomfortable (and I have yet not bought the amber necklace). Mike was saying she wakes at night at least once, but we'll see how it goes now that I'm back.

You might remember a couple of posts ago, I mentioned a physical symptom which I was managing well with no panic. That lasted about 10 days. The no panic state I mean. Then, I started going emotionally downhill. Thankfully I had an appointment booked with Louise (the psychotherapist) and I was crying and making awful movies in my head. The usual ones you know, I don't even want to write them here. She was great, mostly made me talk through the movies, asked why I had not gone to the doctor instead of torturing myself (I don't know, I think I am fighting the urge of going to the doctor when I kind of know I'm blowing things out of proportion), she said that is silly, to just go. I was feeling also very defeated, I thought I was doing so well and then I wasn't at all. She told me this process is like a game of snakes and ladders, you can fall back, but never to the original place. It was a perfect comparison actually, I knew I had the tools to work with this, she said I have to learn to make good movies (if I can't help but making movies). So I went for an executive health check the following week. I was very proud of myself because I managed not to be in a panic mode at all, in fact I was quite relaxed and managed to tell myself that in fact all would have been well. It was all good, thankfully. At my last therapy session last week, I realised I was truly learning to make "good movies" like she said. She also said that her job is to make herself eventually redundant and we are getting there. I am optimistic I am learning to STOPP, to see what triggers the anxiety, and to redirect my mind, like you would do with a child. I am glad I started this process.

Term is over in college and I don't have any other trip till Boston in July (cyberfriends, I have one night in Boston before the conference begins, on the 5th of July, would love to meet anyone who is in the neighbourhood) so will work on catching my breath really and get back to things that were not so urgent but still need to be done now.

I'll leave you with a couple of pics of Bologna for you to enjoy!