Friday, March 22, 2013

Am I Blue?

Not the first case of blue hands in our family.
 Am I Blue?

     Am I blue???
     Am I blue? Am I blue?
     Ain't these tears
     in my eyes tellin'g you?
     Am I blue? You'd be too...

When Rick and I were expecting our first baby - Emily - I was so excited to purchase my first maternity jumper.  (sure do miss those, figure forgiving and excellent pockets)  I proudly wore it out of town to visit my in-laws for the week-end.  In fact, I was so proud that I had the tags removed at the store and wore it right away on my way out of town.

Later, on our first evening away, I noticed that my fingers had a slight blue tinge.  No one else noticed and I let it slide.  By the next evening I was sure my fingers were turning blue and I was freaking out a bit.  Other people were noticing the distinct cyanosis.  I called my doctor at home and asked him what "blue fingers during pregnancy" meant.  He didn't know.  I suppose a doctor these days would advise a trip to the ER one way or another, just to cover his derriere, but my OB said that I should see him when I returned if the fingers didn't pink up and run to the local ER if any more ominous symptoms occured.

It wasn't until Sunday evening when I took off my new favorite garment and saw the blue "rub-off" on the white turtleneck that I had been wearing underneath.  The blue was coming from the jumper!  All the times I had put my hands in my pockets had slowly and subtly left a blue tinge on my hands that did not wash off.  Overall, my doctor and family found it funny, it took bleach to get the blue off of my white turtleneck and, of course, I washed the jumper alone or with just jeans about 8 times before I could trust it to not get blue all over me.  Of all the pregnancy related problems over the years, some serious, some trivial, the blue fingers remain my favorite story.  

This week we had a similar episode. Makes me think of the "Show of Hands" episode on the Dick Van Dyke show  -  you of a certain age will remember the time Rob and Laura Petrie helped little Richie dye a costume for a school play and wound up dyeing their hands indelibly black on the day they were to make an appearance at the awards banquet for the CIU: the Committee for Interracial Understanding.

Bridget has been suffering terribly with  problems that have so far been foreshadowed by ER docs and a GP as looking to be scleroderma or lupus.  There are not a lot of funny things to be said about this.  She finally saw the rheumatologist on Tuesday.  The preliminary diagnosis does not look good. The redness across her face, that in my denial I attributed to wind and sunburn from her being out for hours of dog walking seven days a week, caught the rheumatologist's eye right away.  I heard the report second-hand from Rick, who transcribed her tearful phone call.  As much as I wanted to stay for the Lenten book club discussion of "Death Comes for the Archbishop" - which should have been fun since I already moderated a discussion of that book for Fr. Barron's Blog -  followed by our Tuesday evening Mass, I left work as soon as I could get away.

By the time I got home Bridget had calmed down considerably.  With her typical Irish humor, she walked into the room and, while announcing that her death was imminent*, asked how impressed the specialist must have been to see a patient who presented with painful, clawed, and BLUE hands.  She had spent her insomniac hours the night before dyeing a vintage pillowcase that needed a little je ne sais quoi. These late night craft projects help soothe her mind and her fingers.  She didn't take into account the dye that would still be there for the doctor's visit.  At least this case didn't involve asking the doctor why her fingers were blue.

*Her death is not imminent; Irish blood and years of drama classes make for dramatic pronouncements.  More blood work has been done. We're a little blue. She sees the rheumatologist next week.  On Good Friday.  No matter the diagnosis I know I will have a mater dolorosa praying with me.

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