Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy News

Yesterday I saw my rheumatologist for a sono on my hands. There were no new erosions!! This was the first time I'd had that good news. Even so, I decided to start Enbrel to combat my fatigue and general pain.  I'm starting in two weeks after an upcoming trip. Thank you for the comments, they made the decision seem much less scary.

On another happy note, I just got a manuscript accepted to a journal with a high impact factor. Weeee.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Temper Tantrum Over Group Meeting

I threw a temper tantrum over group meeting, embarrassing myself in front of my students. I went to our group meeting location at the scheduled time, only to find the lights off, no computer set up, and not a single group member present. I called up to the student office saying, "Does anyone remember that we have group meeting today?" They all collectively scurried down to the room, but once they were there, I was so steaming mad that words started uncontrollably pouring out of my mouth.

"I'm really really sick today, and I dragged my ass in to come to this group meeting. None of you could bother to even show up on time. This is a waste of my time. If this were industry, you'd all be fired. No get out - I don't want to see any of you."

I was really really pissed because I was having horrible side effects from the methotrexate that day, and the last thing I wanted to deal with was a bunch of students being disrespectful. Two of the six sent me apologies. But I haven't spoken to any group members since. Oh sigh.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Better Living Through Chemistry... a Dupont slogan that my friends and I throw around when we're talking about the miracles of modern medicine. Twenty years ago there were few effective treatments for RA that were likely to yield a good quality of life. Since the use of methotrexate and biologics, someone who has RA can have a full life and career if the right cocktail of meds are found. I'm still searching for that right combination, but I believe I'm almost there.

I'm now on the max dose of methotrexate. It works, but not well enough. I still have daily pain. I can't hold my 4 month old baby without aggravating muscle groups for days. I've resorted to pushing the baby around in the stroller inside my own house. Several days ago, I spent 15 min trying to remove a key from my key chain before slicing a finger open. Yesterday, I was unable to install a carseat for the baby because I couldn't press the little plastic button, and had to get someone else to help me. These things are little, but they are extremely aggravating because they are constant reminders that I still need help.

My doctor has suggested that I try Enbrel or Humira since methotrexate isn't totally doing the job. They seem really scary to me, and I've never met anyone on them. It'd be nice to talk to someone who can give perspective. I could do that much more around the house or at work without relying on other people with these meds. Suppose you could take a pill or have an injection that makes your life even just a fraction easier - who wouldn't turn that away?

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Last Name

My husband and I have different last names. I did not change my last name when he and I were married because I had already published and didn't want to generate confusion. As time has passed, I've been happy with the decision for other reasons. For one, most students, staff, and other people at this university don't realize that he and I are married unless I tell them.

At family functions I don't mind that we are collectively referred to as "the Husband's Last Names" because we are a family and one last name makes sense. But at work I don't want that to happen.

At a departmental event, my department head called for me as "Dr. Husband's Last Name," when he knows that I'm actually "Dr. JP." I was so amazed at this step out of bounds that I answered and didn't correct him. Would he ever call my husband by my last name? I'm thinking, no.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

2 biological kids, and 6 non-biological: How we sort of manage

Running a group of 6 people is really challenging when you've got a lot of stuff going on at home. It's nearly impossible to keep all of your 6 grown up "kids", your husband, and your two biological kids happy.

Mr. JP and I drop and pick up one child each, so they get individual attention in the morning and afternoon. At work, I stop by the lab and talk to each member for as long as they like (this is usually takes anywhere from 0 min to 1 hr). Mr. JP and I try to go out on brief dates for dinner or lunch. With the baby, I feel rushed because I don't want to be gone from him too long.

I wouldn't say that everything is balanced. I feel like my lab is running itself without my control, and that I am rate-limiting-step in getting publications out the door. At home, it's all I can do the keep up with chores and child-care. The only time I have for myself is when I take a 15 min bath. In the evening I'm so exhausted, that I can hardly do more work. It's a busy time, and it's a happy time. I realize that the imbalance is temporary because the kids will get older and more self-sufficient.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rejections… And a Silver Lining

Dang - did anyone else get rejected today? :)

I am so frustrated, because I have this fantastic project and no one wants to fund it. Of course, I need some publications out there to back up the preliminary data, but I want funding now! OK, there was my temper tantrum.

On a happier note, I recently gave a talk at my Super Famous alma mater. It was fantastic, and it made me so thrilled. All the faculty remembered me, and talked to me like a peer. They told me that they were proud of me, and that my work was good. (Isn't that what we all want to hear once in a while?). I nailed my talk, and got lots of great questions from faculty and students. The whole experience was like a great trip off into an alternate, happy reality. One faculty even said that the stuff I presented, would change my (tiny, little) field. Aw, contented sigh.

A funny thing happened during that trip. I went to the university shop to buy t-shirts for my family, when I saw a familiar face: it was my ex-fiance??? WTF? I quickly ducked behind a clothing rack and peered out between t-shirts to spy on him. He was there with another woman - who looked just like me. Then he saw me crouched behind the clothes rack. I panicked and ran to the back of the store and called my friend. What do I do what do I do? She said to me, "Go downstairs and hide in the text book section!" I did so and waited 15 min. By then, he had left. The most embarrassing part: I was wearing a coat that his mother had bought me 10 years ago, and I know he saw it.