Saturday, April 30, 2005

catching up

It seems that all of this week has been spent recovering from the previous one. One of the things about being better is having more energy to actually do things, as opposed to sitting around all day on the computer reading and writing and thinking about doing things. There are times when that's OK, but I have been really enjoying the fact that I can, in fact, actually do more than one thing a day lately.

Of course, this respite will be short-lived since I have to go off my finally-right thyroid meds in preparation for my upcoming 6-month follow-up scan, but hey -- I'm going to enjoy this while I can.

We're all pretty much caught up, now. DS1 had a pile of schoolwork for the days he missed last week, and we spent a lot of time finishing that up. DD has completed her jellyfish report posterboard. Now she only needs a few practice sessions with the presentation part of it, and she'll be good to go on Monday. DS2 came down with a virus last Friday and ran a nasty fever for a good 3 days, by Monday he was only a bit warm, and by Tuesday he seemed fine. Now his appetite is back and his mood seems somewhat improved, even if he still does cry over every little perceived slight. That phase is taking longer than I'd like for him to grow out of... and he is growing! He seems to have sprouted an inch lately.

DD has lost another front tooth, and has two more wigglers that will go in the next few days. She won't be toothless for long as the secondaries are already through the gums, pushing her baby teeth out. It's very weird to be able to see the bottom of a tooth, the part that's supposed to be attached to the gum! And of course she knows how the sight of her wigglers affects everyone, so she constantly manipulates them with her tongue. I can't wait until they come out! Although I am patient with her, too, as she is the one who is having considerable trouble eating (she can't bite into anything, even toast) and sometimes knocks a tooth the wrong way which causes a lot of pain and a little bleeding. She'll be happy when they are out, too.

The weather has been gorgeous, and we've been having our dinners outside when time allows. It's a simple thing, but it makes me happy. It's good to have such a life, for however long or short a time it lasts.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

burning down the house

Yesterday, I made blueberry cake. It was something of a trip, because I low-carbed my mom's old recipe. We had made a huge double batch of the real thing over the weekend when everyone was here, and it disappered in no time flat. Seriously, this huge cake didn't even last a day! It was so weird to see stuff I baked get eaten so fast. My kids are just not that into baked goods, whether high or low carb. I often end up tossing stuff in the trash, or wrapping it up and freezing it right away so that doesn't happen.

The 'standard' blueberry cake recipe is supposedly for a 8x8 inch pan, and that's the one I converted. Usually we double it and bake it in a 9x13 pan, and man is that cake huge. In fact, I don't think I've ever made a 'standard' 8x8 cake. This led to the somewhat humorous, certainly not fatal, but definitely annoying situation in which the cake rose in the oven and cooked over.

Great globs of blueberry cake batter all over the racks and the bottom of the stove. As soon as I smelled something burning -- fairly soon into the cooking process -- I ran to the oven and looked inside. I slid a cookie sheet on the rack under the cake to catch the rest of the drips, and just prayed it wouldn't get too bad.

It was bad -- the house was filled with a hazy smoke, and I cranked up the vent fan, the ceiling fans, and I opened the windows and doors at both ends to try and move the smoke out. Eventually it did clear, and eventually the cake was cooked, and it really does taste good, even if it looks really weird. Once the cake came out of the oven, I made a mental note to myself to go back and clean out the drips when it was cool enough.

Of course, I completely forgot. Dinner was cooked on the stovetop, so I didn't give another thought to all the batter that was burnt onto the bottom of the oven. That is, I didn't until I set the oven to preheat for tonight's roast chicken. I thought the smoke and haze were bad yesterday! Today, it was bad enough to set off the fire alarm, and of course ADT called to make sure the house wasn't burning down. Thanks for not embarrassing me about being a bad cook, ADT Guy!

Anyway, I scraped as much lava off the bottom of the oven as I could, and repeated the routine with the windows and fans, etc, and the smoke eventually cleared. I even think that the smell of the chicken roasting eventually displaced the smell of the smoke, but maybe that's just wishful thinking.

I'm not sorry one bit I made that cake. I just wish I'd known beforehand how huge it was going to end up!

Here's the standard recipe:
Blueberry Cake
for an 8x8 pan, double for a 9x13 pan

2/3 C shortening
1 1/2 C sugar
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 C milk
2 eggs

1 1/2 C blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your pan with foil and spray it with a nonstick spray.

Blend first 3 ingredients until the mixture resembles crumbs. Reserve 3/4 cup for crumb topping. Add remaining ingredients except blueberries, and stir until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over the batter, and then sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the top.

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. The 9x13 pan (double recipe) takes quite a bit longer, start testing at 50 minutes, but it may go to an hour. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

I'll post a link to the low carb version when it comes out.


I was at Sam's Club today buying a two-pack of the large size pourable Splenda granular stuff. While I was waiting in line at the register, the woman behind me, bold as brass, started in: "I don't know you, but why are you buying that Splenda?! It has chlorine in it!"

I calmly replied that salt has chlorine in it, too.

She insisted that it was very dangerous and that I shouldn't be buying it. "You should look it up on the internet!"

I told her I write a monthly column on low carb cooking, and that I was well aware of everything that was said on the internet about Splenda. It didn't matter what I said -- I could've said I personally conducted independent research on the effects of Splenda and this woman would've blown me off. She didn't care to learn any facts that might contradict hers, and so I didn't even bother to try.

But still -- the nerve of some people! Who does she think she is? I did ask her, "Do you eat margarine? You know, that's only one molecule away from plastic." I was being sarcastic, sort of, but she immediately said, "Oh, no, no! That's horrible stuff."

I really had hoped that the "so does salt" response would be enough to make nuts like that woman pause for a moment and rethink their positions, but apparently I need even stronger ammunition. All's I know is, Splenda is essentially inert, and I don't have a problem with it. I know some people who do have problems with it. I've read all the "Oh my God!" emails over on Mercola's site, but I also know that the plural of "anecdote" is not "data". Splenda has been in use for decades now, and it has garnered only a tiny fraction of the horror stories that aspartame has racked up. At least Splenda is stable, and doesn't break down into deadly toxins when subjected to moderately high heat, the way aspartame does -- kinda makes you want your diet sodas trucked to you in a refrigerated container, doesn't it?

Coincidentally, Dana Carpender was on the Defense of Splenda kick recently, too. I love her, she's so blunt and fiesty. Here's a choice quote:
For the record: I have read the FDA test papers for Splenda, and it is absolutely true that sucralose - the sweetener in Splenda - caused thymus shrinkage and kidney swelling in lab rats - in doses that in a 150-pound human being would be the equivalent of over ten thousand teaspoons of Splenda per day. In doses that were the equivalent of just a couple of thousand teaspoons a day, the problems didn't happen. Since it's a really big day when I get as much as 20 teaspoons of Splenda in a day, I'm not sweating it. Always remember, the first rule of toxicology is "Dose is everything."

I am not eating this stuff with a spoon. In the blueberry cake I made yesterday, there was 3/4ths of a cup of Splenda, and so far it's looking like it's going to work out to somewhere between 12 and 16 servings. I think we're all safe as far as that dose goes. I will again echo Dana and say, if you're asking me if Splenda is safe, that it's safer than sugar. In an ideal world I'd get all my sugar from fruits and vegetables, but I happen to like blueberry cake and muffins and such like from time to time. So shoot me.

But don't take away my Splenda.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

things I learned about Disney Land & the trips to & from

It's 400 miles away from my house, more or less.

It's a 7 hour drive, no matter what AAA, MapQuest, or GoogleMaps tells you. And that's going an average of about 85MPH.

There are a lot of trucks on I-10 between CA and AZ. A lot of trucks.

Having a DVD player in the car really helps, a lot.

Kids on their way to Disney Land will not sleep in the car, until you are only about 30 minutes away, when being excited for 7 straight hours has finally completely exhausted them.

The day manager at the Quartzite McDonald's is really nice.

Disney Land proper is great for younger kids. The California Adventure is more of a traditional amusement park, and is better for the over-four-feet-tall crowd.

Tuesday is probably the least crowded day at either park. Wednesday was surprisingly more crowded than Tuesday. Thursday, just walking around was impossible, it was so crowded. We waited 40 minutes in line getting lunch at McDonald's in CA Adventure! That ticked me off; I didn't mind waiting for rides so much, but waiting for food was annoying -- they should have added staff. The same thing happened with getting ice cream Thursday afternoon, in the arcade on Main Street. Very annoying.

In April, the weather is perfect but you need a sweatshirt in the evenings.

Make plans for dinner, early in the day, if you want to sit in a restaurant somewhere. We didn't on Wednesday and that led to some very over tired, hungry, and stressed-out kids.

Everyone says the food is expensive, but good. I say the food is expensive and certainly edible, but it's not all that. Choices are limited and lines are very long at the fast food-type places. Service was as efficient as it could be and very friendly, but they were IMO understaffed.

If you have little kids that are into the characters, a Character meal can be awesome. We were able to get reservations for a lunch at Ariel's Grotto in the California Adventure park, and the little ones loved it. My 8-year-old was blase about the whole thing, but he didn't mind it. The littler ones had a blast dancing with the characters, getting autographs, and having their pictures taken. Best of all the staff at the restaurant did not try to rush us or hustle us out, and the tables were widely spaced, too. So it was a nice, fun, relaxing meal, well worth the $11/kid, $16/adult fixed price.

Use FastPass whenever you can. The FastPass system allows you to use your ticket to get another ride- and time-specific ticket. It will say on it, "use between 2:30 and 3:30" or something like that. So you take it, go away, and come back at the specified time, and then you get to use the short line. You may still end up waiting 10 or 15 minutes, but that's way better than having to wait 90 minutes or more.

But here's the thing: if the ticket-takers at the gate don't run your ticket through the machine, you won't be able to use the ticket to get a fastpass. So make sure all your tickets get scanned! One day all our tickets got stamped but not all run through the machine, so we couldn't get fastpasses. Fortunately it turned out not to matter, as we crossed over to CA Adventure and the ticket-taker scanned all our tickets, and we fast-passed the California Soaring ride which was so worth it.

In Fantasy Land, everyone loved Peter Pan and Toad's Wild Ride. DS2 loved the Dumbo Flying Elephants.

In Tomorrow Land, Autopia and Star Tours were great... we didn't get to go on the Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters because of the fastpass mix-up, and Space Mountain was still closed. The rockets were very uncomfortable! The Star Wars shop made my boys very happy.

In New Orleans Square (or whatever they call it), both the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion were a lot of fun.

In the California Adventure, DS1 loved the Tower of Terror and the River Rafters rides, and all but DS2 adored the mini-rollercoaster, the Mullholland Madness. (DS2 was too small.) My sister and I really enjoyed the ferris wheel -- it had non-swinging gondolas! We took one of those. It was really lovely up there. The California Soaring ride was awesome.

There were huge swathes of both parks that I didn't get to see. DS2 rode in the stroller and DS1 walked all the time, but for a good part of our time there I was piggy-backing DD. Next time we plan a trip, I'm going to start all the kids on a walking workout to get them in shape. We never walk anywhere -- except to and from the car. They are active kids but that's not the same as being in shape for walking all over the place all day and into the evening.

We stayed "off campus" at the Staybridge Suites resort and took the ART to the park. While that did add some travel time to our back-and-forths, it really wasn't significant, and it was great not having to worry about parking, and taking the shuttle to the parking lot. The hotel was packed, clean, and the room rate included a breakfast buffet which was very convenient. We were so busy we never did get to use the pool, but my sister had a chance to use their computers to check her email once or twice.

Bottom line? It was great, and I'm sure we'll go back. It will be even better next time because I'll have a much better idea of what's going on!


I'm better. I realized it today, even posted about it over on the Yahoo Thyca group.

It's odd that it took me a while to notice. You'd think that going non-stop for several days before my relatives arrived, and then traveling to CA for three more non-stop days at Disney Land would give me a clue.

But that wasn't it -- I didn't realize it until this morning when I was thinking of all the stuff that I needed to do today. I didn't mentally partition them into groups like "must do", "should do," "can wait till tomorrow." I just thought about them and figured out the best order to get 'em all done.

I knew without really knowing, you see?

Maybe yesterday afternoon's speed cupcakes (48 cupcakes mixed, baked & frosted in less than two hours -- from mixes, though!) was enough of a demonstration? Who knows. Today's To Do List tasks were all accomplished. Yay!

I'm seeing the endo next week, and my scan will be scheduled after that, and then who knows what all will happen. So for now I will enjoy being better.

Monday, April 25, 2005

home but not

We've been home since 1AM Friday morning, but not settled... the crew leaves at 1PM tomorrow, well, later today, actually. When they go there will be a gaping hole that will gradually be filled in with the usual routines.

DS2 is down with a high fever and nasty cough, that will be a trip to the doctor for sure. The rest of us are holding steady with minor colds and/or sunburns or throats worn out from talking.

We did way too much, but somehow not enough, at the same time. There's never enough time.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Saturday, April 16, 2005

"Would you hit it?"

I have something in common with Terri Schiavo.

Here's a photo I took of myself about a week after my surgery and cancer diagnosis:

That was a pretty rough time and I was doing my best to hang on and keep a positive attitude.

A member of The Vestibule was quite taken (in one way or another) with that photo, because he amused himself by asking, Would you hit it?, with a hammer? (I have changed the name of the file on the server, so it won't show up on the board anymore. Enough is enough!)

I suppose I should be relieved that is the question. For Terri, the question instead was, How hard would you hit it?

People are sick. I've known that for-seeming-ever. This is the first time that such mindless cruelty and depravity has ever been directed towards me. I've had run of the mill mean stuff happen to me, but nothing like this. Of course it's not personal, because these people don't know me (nor did they know Terri.) But this kind of casual disregard for the humanity of a stranger is quite disturbing. We could speculate these people would never really hit someone with a hammer, a chainsaw, or a bus -- but why is it amusing to them to talk about it? The normal reaction to a question like that should be revulsion.

On the Terri thread, there were some replies objecting to the topic. Apparently it's not OK to want to hit brain-damaged people, but it is OK to hit people who aren't pretty enough, or fail to meet some other criteria you dream up. You want to talk about slippery slopes? This kind of attitude, unchecked, leads to bullying and then to Columbines. Get enough sociopaths like this together and you've got an Islamo-fascist movement. Parents, do you know what your kids are saying in those forums and chat rooms?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

late late late

I hate being late. I think it shows poor planning at best, disrespect at worst.

Yet, I am late for everything these days. Late getting DS2 to school (DH brings the other two to school in the mornings, otherwise I'm sure they would be late, too.) Late picking them up. Late for the car repair appointment, late late late!

It's a lot of things -- getting absorbed in reading or writing something. Needing to take a shower! Sleeping too late, because I went to bed too late. I want to say that some of these things are beyond my control, like the repaving and construction work that is snarling up the traffic, or DS2's habit of dawdling interminably over every single meal. But these things are not surprises, and I should plan around them -- but I haven't been.

I need to get a grip. I feel as if I'm on a speeding train that is shortly going to collide with -- what? I don't exactly know.

I do know that many relatives are coming on Monday and the house is a disaster. We're driving to CA on Tuesday, and I haven't even thought about what to bring, much less begun packing. It's only for a few days, but I need to pack for four people! Then there's the whole DisneyLand thing -- I have no idea what we're getting into, there... but we will manage.

One last thing -- if I don't send a column tomorrow, that will be late, too! AAAAUUGGGGHHHHHH!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

writing v blogging

Bouncing around in the blogosphere as much as I have been doing lately gets all sorts of my wheels spinning.

One question that keeps pestering me is, Does blogging help my writing?

On the face of it, this is kind of a stupid question. (Yes, I do quite firmly believe that there are stupid questions.) Can blogging be separated from "writing"? Blogging is writing, right?

Yes, and no.

For example, I have a column due in 2 days and I'm not writing it. I'm blogging instead. (I'm not blocked, I just have to work on the recipe, and I haven't had the kitchen time to do that yet -- kitchen time requires different [more] energy than blogging, so, here I am.)

When I started this blog, I wrote many, many horrifically long and tedious entries. You could easily subhead those archives "The Minutia of Joan's Life" and be done with it. As time and the blog progressed, and my reading circle widened, my goals for this blog changed. I took most to heart, I think, Ann's example: blog posts should be concise.

OK -- you can stop laughing now! I am serious, because even though I still write a lot and/or way too much, I do try to limit each post to a single topic, and not write dreadful omnibus posts that cover a dozen different ideas and yet have no organizing principal. I used to do that all the time, and when I look at my archives now, I think, Ick.

When my cancer was diagnosed, I quit policing myself. But now I'm nearly 6 months post-dx, and I'm not obsessing over the cancer quite so much, and I do find myself editing again. I was reading some new blogs last week and found so much writing that was, well, unbearably twee, loaded with adjectives and alliterations and Just. Too. Much...

... and I realized, I used to write like that. I have made a conscious decision to right in a leaner, tighter style, and yet I try to remain evocative. I am unsure of both my consistency and my success, but practice can't hurt.

Yet I recognize that I'm all about the practice, now. I have outlines for three or four books I could be working on, but I'm not. I have innumerable article ideas that have literally gone nowhere. Because that's work, even though it is work I would enjoy doing. Those are much bigger, scarier projects. It's so much easier to come in here and dash off a few paragraphs than it is to work.

So it really does come down to writing versus blogging, and to be completely honest, it's not just writing here but reading other blogs that keeps me kind-of-busy, busy enough that I just "don't get to" that work that is back-burnered. Now is not the time to start anything, though -- next week is booked solid, and then my next round of diagnostics is coming up.

After that scan, though, I'll be able to make some plans, whether or not I'm working around more surgery or RAI. That gives me another 4 weeks or so of kicking around. I hope to be more than ready to move on to something more productive by then.

taste: Anjou pear

I wanted a snack just now, so I ate a pear. It was slightly under-ripe, but that was OK, it made it safe to eat while sitting at the keyboard.

I took it from the fruit bowl -- room temperature fruit is just right for me -- I washed it and dried it, and took a bite...

Christmas morning

It was just like Christmas morning.

Following a Polish tradition, we did not get presents or "stocking stuffers" in our Christmas stockings, but beautiful fruit, a few nuts and a silver dollar in the toe. Since Christmas morning was consumed by the discovering and sharing of the presents that Santa Claus had brought, breakfast was not offered on its usual reliable schedule. So, we would eat a piece of fruit to stave off hunger pangs until Mom herded us all into the kitchen for eggs and toast, or perhaps a slice of fruitcake and a cup of tea.

When I was very little I would eat my Anjou on Christmas morning whether or not it was ready, and that sensation of biting into a too-hard pear is one that will never leave me. Later I figured out it was a good idea to let it ripen for a day or two, and then eat it, letting the juice drip down my chin. Self-restraint pays off! I don't remember exactly when I figured it out but sometimes still I don't want to wait for that peak moment -- like tonight, I want a pear, I thought, and so I had one.

I remember, we always got 2 apples, one red, one yellow, both Delicious, usually; two pears, one brown, one green; and an orange or tangerine. They were all beautiful, spotless, perfect. My father spent some serious time picking out that fruit, I know. He was expert at it. He used to pick over every green bean he bought, too. Now that I find myself doing the same things, I admire his patience even more. I'm only feeding a very young family with three children, whereas he was providing -- and shopping -- for a family of seven kids. The enormity of that task is overwhelming. This week I despaired of finding 3 decent Macintosh apples for DH, they were all nicked and bruised. But the Anjou pears were lovely, so when I finally decided on the best possible Macs, I bought the pears, too.

And now here I am, on Christmas morning...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


I have been caught up, recently, reading not one but two very long comment-discussions about Catholicism as Christianity. There is an astonishing amount of misinformation about Catholicism out there, and we are certainly not helped by the disgraceful ineptitude and weakness of our administrators in handling all of the sexual abuse scandals. But still, I am appalled at the casual nature of the insults that are flung our way -- and how the insult-slinger will simply shrug off any accusations of ignorance, in essence saying, "It doesn't matter what you think, you're Catholic, and therefore, damned."

The first I found via Ambra, over at La Shawn Barber's Corner. La Shawn had posted this comment on the Pope's death:
While I am not up to theological discussions about the matter just yet, I will say, preliminarily, that if the Pope believed Christ died for his sins, and that we are saved through faith alone in Christ alone by his grace alone, the Pope, like anyone else who believes these things, will be spared from God’s righteous and just punishment.

This comment sparked quite a few hard feelings among La Shawn's Catholic readers. I can understand why. She's essentially calling the Pope a hypocrite with that "If the Pope believed..." construction. And then she's also requiring a salvation-by-faith-alone belief, as well, completing ignoring the Grace we receive via the Sacraments. The clearest thing that comes through in this comment is that La Shawn doesn't have the faintest idea of the basis of Catholic teachings. The other thing that comes through here is the whiff of bigotry, which is ignorance that refuses to be educated. I read through the lengthy comment trail, frustrated at my own poor apologetic skills, and let it go.

Then, today, I came across a similar thread on RedState, in which redstatesoccermom asks, Catholics v Baptist, help me out. She talked about having seen this lovely little ditty on a Baptist church's sign:No Truth, No Hope, Following a Hell-Bound Pope. Great, huh?

So I descended once again into the comments, which were fun in the same way that you just love it when you stop banging your head against that brick wall. No, seriously -- it's a snake pit, that discussion. There are so many people who do not understand even the smallest things, like our veneration of Mary, or the Communion of Saints. They brands us as idolators, and say we do not worship Christ. What do they think is the point of the Mass, and the Eucharist?

They don't have a clue.

It's only going to get worse, and it makes me squirm. I need to brush up on my apologetics, especially Scott Hahn's excellent defense against sola scriptura. Patrick Madrid had this great series, Pope Fiction that was just perfect for the kind of discussions we're going to be seeing a lot of, these days.

I need to prepare. I need to learn the material, and I also need to find a way to convey the information in some non-inflammatory way. I always end up pissing people off, when that is very rarely (I won't say never) my intention. It doesn't do any good to insult someone you're trying to educate. Of course, the very attempt at education is an insult to someone who is already sure they know everything, so right from the get-go you've got a bad situation in a lot of these internet debates. Yet, the attempt must be made. So far I've been content to let others fight these battles, but if one lands on my own doorstep, I won't back away from it.

jr journalist

I wrote earlier about the suitability-for-LID dispute, and how terrible I felt about it -- the Thycans said, "It's not safe, it's a diary product," and I realized that I hadn't asked the appropriate questions.

Well, now I am feeling much better, since I followed up and talked with two different people at the company, one in customer relations, and one in R&D. The bottom line is that the whey is processed through multiple filters that almost assuredly scrub out the iodine. They cannot legally say that it is iodine free because it is derived from dairy, but in their tests it is virtually undetectable, a few parts per million.

That's good enough for me.

Best part is, I asked about posting this info over on the ThyCa Yahoo! group, and they said it was OK to do that. Clearly this will be a "use at your own risk, your mileage may vary," but they do not believe there should be an issue. Huzzah!

I love researching a concrete issue like this, and contacting the appropriate people and interviewing them. I like getting answers, even if I don't always like the answers I get. I think I could be really happy if I ever got healthy enough to pursue a real writing career.

Now I just have to work up the energy, and the nerve to post. I will, I will -- I'm just clearing the decks here, so to speak.

maintenance & inventory

Haven't done one of these in a while...

Amazingly, miraculously, my RA and fibromyalgia both are not bothering me lately. I sleep and wake up and do not feel as if I have been hit by a truck. It is a blessing to wake up that way.

My piriformis still tweaks me and it feels sore, but I have been more regular about doing my strengthening exercises and keeping my hips aligned, and that is going well. I saw a new physical therapist today, D, and she was great. She checked my alignment and said it was perfect, yay! And she examined my sore tailbone and discovered that the tiny muscles down there were spasming on the right side and pulling it out of alignment. About 15 minutes of work and I felt cured, although she warned me that it would bother me this evening, which of course it did, but I put ice on it and it helped. I'm scheduled for Friday morning again, and hopefully we'll make more progress. It is such a relief to get help with this problem! The drive to Disney next week is looking much more do-able. Whew!

I got another call yesterday from my endo's assistant, who apparently didn't know I had already got my labs last week. That's OK, I appreciated the chance to tell her that I'm still feeling wiped out, and having palpitations and chest pains, and could we please lower the Cytomel a bit? My endo actually called back and left me a message and said I could go down to 12.5, to try that for a week and let her know how I'm feeling. Since I'm almost out of Cytomel I've actually only been taking 10 for the past 2 days, but I'll go up to 12.5 when my prescription comes (should come tomorrow). Hopefully that will help.

The wired-and-tired feeling is better but still there. There is a difference between hyper fatigue and hypo fatigue. With hypo fatigue, it's impossible to move, at least for me. With hyper fatigue, I feel as if I just ran a marathon, but I'm still able to get past it and get things done. So that's good. I have this pathetic sense of accomplishment every day when I get dinner on the table. That's the big task of the day: feed everyone something for dinner! The timing is horrible for dinner because by early evening I just want to curl up and pass out, having run around all day on various errands etc. But it has been more than a week (maybe even 2!) since I announced to DH, "We're doing take-out tonight," because I couldn't manage dinner. I realize it's pathetic but I am still happy about it.

My biopsy sites range from forgotten to really annoying. (Reminder: three at one time is too many. Don't do that again!) The one on my leg is the one I forget about, which is bad because when it itches I scratch it, and that hurts. The one on my aeriole is a consistent minor stabbing pain, just a little ow ow ow that I have to block out all the time. The one on my axial fold (the front margin of my armpit) is the worst; it gets pulled and twisted all the time, and the smaller bandages don't stay on well as a result. The larger bandage stayed on but gave me my adhesive-rash, and now that's bothering me, too. Lovely. Can't wait until Monday to get these stitches out!

You will be able to knock me over with a feather if any of these comes back as anything other than a compound nevus. I understand the need for caution in my case, but so far there really have not been any really scary things to biopsy in a very long time.

Last by not least, the thing that is bothering me the most is the return of the rapid-transit digestion. I'm sure this is related to my very low TSH. It doesn't matter what I eat, it all just goes through me rather quickly and unpleasantly, although if I eat junk that does make it worse. I'm not losing weight though, so I guess I shouldn't worry -- and I'll see if it abates when I step the Cytomel down.

I'm pretty functional, all in all. This is good timing because next week will be the big push, visitors and CA and DS1's First Communion. Then I have a week to recover before starting prep for my first follow-up scan. I do have that impending-doom feeling -- I'm just starting to get my act together, hopefully I won't need more surgery or anything, and I can continue this upward trend. I can't do anything about it so I'm trying not to think about it -- but I do have a very lumpy-feeling throat, and there are some firm and fixed nodes under my jaw, again... sigh.


DD's latest thing is bananas. For a long time she didn't like them, in spite of loving them as a baby. Just recently she decided to taste them again, and now she loves them. Then I bought ice cream the other day, and she immediately proposed banana splits for dessert, but that day, she had to be content with "We'll see."

Since then, the idea of banana splits had been percolating in the back of my mind. So tonight's dinner was simple: roast chicken and broccoli and bread and butter, because I decided that we'd do the extravagant dessert thing -- for no reason other than it was possible.

The ice cream was in the freezer already. I chopped some bittersweet chocolate, melted it in the microwave, and stirred in heavy cream -- ganache is the easiest, tastiest chocolate sauce I know. Some frozen raspberries went into a dish with some sweetener, and into the microwave they went -- instant raspberry sauce. Dicing a banana took 30 seconds, and whipping some cream with vanilla syrup took only 2 or 3 minutes more.

The assembled desserts didn't look like much, but oh! they were heavenly, all the better for being put together from such freshly prepared components.

Everyone was pleased, especially me, since it was so easy to please everyone else.

The children have no idea that this kind of thing is atypical. They would most likely be just as happy with a few squirts of Hershey's syrup and a dollop of Redi-Whip on their ice cream, but I don't buy those things. If I'm going to indulge, I'll do it with the good stuff -- and if I'm educating three little palates along the way, so be it. Lots of good food takes only a little time, and a little money. We are lucky in having both to spend, and so I do.

Monday, April 11, 2005

open arms

It was quite alarming to me to note that I haven't written anything in so long. I've been flitting about the blogosphere, commenting here & there, and reading a lot. Also doing a lot with the kids and trying not to stay up too late. And there you have it -- only so many hours in a day, etc.

Not that I don't have anything to say -- just not enough time to say it in. I expect things to free up in the next day or two.

Today once again Nina warmed my heart and finally got me writing again, with her sweetly nostalgic post about her grandmother's ample hugs. I remember being hugged that way as a small child, too. I remember it the same way I remember sitting on my father's lap so he could dry my hair. Those times were the closest I ever got to my father, who was reserved in that typical Scots-Irish way. He liked to be hugged but would always be gruff about it, "Aarrgghh! OK, OK, that's enough!" he'd say, but always with a smile. Those evenings when he'd drape a towel over my head and rub my hair dry were so special. The feeling of his big hands moving over my head, shush-shush-shush, gently but thoroughly knotting up all my hair in an effort to get the wet out of it. How funny that I have such good memories of the drying, but none at all (good or bad) of what must have been horrific combing-out sessions, afterwards! Selective amnesia, it's a blessing.

With my own three little ones, we have a lot of affectionate contact every day. Early on in my tenure as a mom, I discovered the very best way to call my children to me. It's completely silent -- I kneel down and open my arms to them, and they come to me. I gather them up in my arms as completely as I can, and just hold them tight for a half a minute, or a minute if I can get away with it.

I was surprised that this still works with DS1, who is a very big boy of 8 years old now. He's more than likely to say, "Uh, you can let go now, Mom," after a little while, but he will still come to my arms when I open them to him. But DS2, who is going through a rough patch of growing up too fast and too slowly all at the same time, can scarcely bear to leave, and will curl up in my lap for as long as he's allowed, after the active part of the hug is over.

But if someone is upset or sad or just tired, my open arms are the simplest way to offer them whatever comfort I can give. I imagine my heart will break the day I open my arms and one of them turns away. I hope that day never comes.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

ninety-five years

When I'm agitated and looking for things to keep my brain occupied, I'll take the time to do pretty much any silly internet quiz. By strange coincidence, not one but two life-expectancy quizzes told me that my life expectancy is 95 years!

This one is very detailed: Living to 100 Healthspan Calculator

This one is a lot simpler: Longevity Test

I think it's weird that neither one asks if you yourself have been diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, or the like. A lot of time on family history, etc, but you? Nah, your own condition won't tell us a thing about how long you'll live!

last three (for now)

I had my last three punch biopsies done this morning at the dermatologist. They're just little 3- or 5-mm disks of flesh, tiny things, really.

So why is it that I'm completely wrung out now? I was trembling for a good 15 minutes after I left the doctor's office.

In the past I've had major anxiety while waiting for biopsy results, but at this point, I'm fairly nonchalant. If there's anything there, we will have caught it early, so I'm not worried. Dealing with this stuff pales in comparison to the thyroid cancer business.

Best news: stitches come out in 12 days, so I can swim at the hotel in Anaheim!

Worst news: I'm a month overdue for my whole-body check. Since the last whole-body check yielded a crop of 10 suspicious moles, I'm not exactly thrilled about having another one... but it must be done. Maybe this time he won't find any that need to come off? I can always hope.

news fatigue

Stealth Fish is busting on Captain Ed about the relentless coverage of the big Canadian scandal.

Ed lives in Minnesota, he's allowed to be more interested in Canada and Canadian politics than I can fathom. He's also really good at covering this kind of thing, and I find his analyses to be generally thoughtful and thorough...

... when I read them. I'm sorry, I just can't get worked up over -- no, I can't even seem to get interested in -- this Canadian hoo-ha. I skim the headlines and move on. I know it's big, and I understand that the Canadian government could fall, but I'm still just not interested.

Same with, I'm embarassed to admit, the UN Oil-for-Food scandal. I know, it's the biggest scam in the history of mankind, but I'm still "meh" about it. Sandy Berger got a slap on the wrist? Wrong, but again -- meh.

I'm just exhausted. Exhausted by my day-to-day life and my periodic cancer crises, my children, my own ambitions or lack thereof. Exhausted by the Terri Schiavo situation and the death of the Pope, along with the momentous events in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. Maybe at some point I'll have some energy left over to be interested in the rest of the world's events again, but for the forseeable future, I'll be sitting these scandals, and any new ones, out.

I need a vacation from reality. When is that new Harry Potter book coming out? (not till July! *sigh*)


I read a lot of blogs. That BlogRoll on the right represents a lot of them, but not all. I read a lot of news and opinion sites, too. As Pilot once said, "I don't get out much, so I read."

And of all the sites I read, only one -- James Lileks's The Bleat -- consistently uses the 'target="_blank" ' tag for links outside of the site.

What is it? It's a piece of HTML, a tag. You put it inside the angle brackets with along with the "href=[url]" tag.

What does it do? It opens the link in a new window.

Why would you want to do that?
Think about it this way: don't you want people to read everything you've written, and not navigate away the first time they hit a link? Sure, it's easy to hit the Back button, but it's also just as easy to close that window, forgetting that you were in the middle of reading someone's blog.

Ok -- maybe that's just me, but I do get annoyed with myself when I realize I didn't mean to close that window!

Now I try to shift-click on links when I know I want to continue with the source, but of course I forget sometimes.

There are folks who are anti-new-window-spawning; they may be using machines with more limited resources, and my heart goes out to them. Computers are so cheap these days and the amount of processing power out there is really astonishing, so I tend to forget that not everyone has a screaming machine. But even when I'm using my nearly-5-year-old laptop I still want to open new windows when I click on a link... yeah, I'm done reading the text before the graphics all load, but that's OK.

I must conclude that I'm in the minority in caring about this, since nearly no one else does it. Is it that no one else wants to bother with the extra tag in their HTML? Or do only total web-addicts like me even give this stuff a thought? Or is just that folks figure that the people who want the extra window will ask for it by pressing the shift key? Does the general web-reading population know you can open a new window by shift-clicking on a link?

Clearly I have too much time on my hands. Not really, but this is a pretty good distraction from stuff I'm trying to ignore.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

another vanity post

I am not wearing the same hairstyle I've had (whenever my hair's length made it possible) since high school.

No, not at all!

I'm wearing a mortal (as opposed to Elvish) version of Arwen's hair:

I realized this yesterday, getting ready for the zoo: Hey, I've got Arwen hair!

Just a few years ago, I had Chiana hair, except dark, of course -- and I got the cut before the character arrived on the show, so no snarky comments!

I think Arwen suits me better, these days, even if I am as pale as a Nebari.

Monday, April 04, 2005

loss upon loss

Saturday, the Holy Father died. I commented over at Amy Wellborn's Open Book that I felt an echo of the way I felt when my own father died, more than seven years ago. It's hard to imagine him not being there, even though he wasn't involved in my day-to-day life. Somehow, we'll survive.

Saturday evening we went to the vigil Mass, the whole family together, for the first time. Our pastor, Fr. Clemens, said a lovely homily about the Pope's life and the effect that he had on the world. It was a fitting service, and I especially enjoyed Father's homily since he was away for most of Lent on a forced sabbatical.

I was still feeling sad but at least peaceful until I opened the church bulletin, wherein the very first item announced that our pastor, effective July 1, will be the rector of the SS Simon and Jude Cathedral.

It didn't take long for Bishop Olmstead to recognize the ability and talent of our pastor, and it doesn't surprise me at all to see him being moved to this much more visible position. He's moving up, and I'm sure he will continue to do so.

I explained to the kids, "We can't expect to keep Fr Clemens all to ourselves here at St. Mary's, that would be selfish of us." But of course I want to be selfish and I'm nervous about who our new pastor will be. Mom and I attended a Mass at St. Andrew's a few years ago that was only barely recognizable as a Mass, and I would be horrified if the "new guy" came in and started "modernizing" things.

We'll survive, I'm sure. Life is change, after all.


Girlie posts below.

I am a girl, you know, and sometimes I want to blog about girlie things, so I don't want to hear anything about it, OK?

the brow

Nina wrote charmingly the other day about her stylist, who recommended waxing for her brows. She agreed, "a pair of waxed brow makes more of a statement."

I ignored my eyebrows for the first 39-some years of my life, but my advancing hypothyroidism made them do weird things, and I finally realized I needed to do something to tame the large furry caterpillars that were perched over my eyes. My eyes are very deep-set anyway, and having heavy brows hanging over them made them look even worse.

I like waxing in that it gets all the little tiny hairs, but I can't wax anymore because every time I do, the waxed area stays red for 3 or 4 days and it itches and I just look horrible. Besides, it's a pain to have to run to the salon to get it done. So I resort to tweezers, which allow for more precision work but also require more time.

Some days, I don't have the muscle coordination in my hands to do my own brows, and then I get very annoyed at my limitations. Lately I have been doing minimal maintenance work, but over the weekend I got a chance to really shape them and my hands for once cooperated. Now I have nice brows again. I actually look awake! How long will it last this time?

It would be just grand if I could get them symmetrical...

summer shoes

These are my new summer shoes, although I love them so much I wonder if they will survive the spring. Can you see the butterflies on the wedge?

They are amazingly comfortable as well as adorable. I wish I could find more but I'm not having any luck. My little white sandals from last year are trashed, so I have to make do with these ones, my little black cheapie sandals from PayLess and my lime green kitten-heels from VS:

I am coming to hate shopping because I have an idea of what I want, and never find it. I'm sure I would do better shopping with no preconceived notions, and if I had time to just shop idly, I probably would. For now, though, I'll keep looking for something I like that both fits and feels good. There's no danger of having to go barefoot, after all.


As TFran noted below, 9-2 isn't just having having a fit, it's getting pummeled.

As miserable as the game was last night, it was nice to watch sports again with DH. During Lent, he gave up TV during the work week, so we weren't watching much TV at all, recently. But even before then, the NHL-season-that-wasn't had an impact on our typical winter evening interactions.

I've liked sports since I was a little girl. I have often explained that when you have four older brothers and a Dad who rules the TV, you learn to like sports or just go do your own thing. I did my own thing a lot, but I loved hanging out with the boys, who were all very indulgent of their "baby" sister, and explained things to me. I still get a kick out of making a comment a second or two before the announcer does, about why a particular play failed or succeeded, or what penalty would be called. ("Hey! He was offsides!")

Anyway -- I've missed it, without even knowing I missed it. DH is annoyed with the Sox's inability to hit Randy Johnson and field a decent pitcher themselves, and he has a right to be frustrated, certainly. "They're already one game out of first place," he said last night.

"And how many games behind were they at the end of last season?" I reminded him -- because the Yankees did beat the Sox in their division, but we went on to win it all anyway.

There's a long season ahead of us. Games played in April are more or less meaningless extensions of Spring Training. No matter. In time, Schilling will be back and the rest of the crew will find their bats again, and by Memorial Day I expect things to be looking quite different.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

best zoo day ever

We went to the zoo today, and had a blast.

However, I will have to fill in details some other time, because it's Opening Day and Randy Johnson is giving the Red Sox fits at Yankee Stadium.

Friday, April 01, 2005

wired & tired

Definitely feeling over-medicated these days -- at least I'm hoping that's it, as it provides a handy, not-from-my-brain reason for why I'm feeling so raw these days.

Everything hits harder than it should. It's like all the buffer zones have evaporated. The kids' shouting, no louder than usual, immediately gives me a headache. A call from an old friend leaves me near tears for no good reason. An invitation to a kid's birthday party throws me into a near panic.

You would think from that short list that it wasn't a good day, but it was. There weren't any major dust-ups; perhaps the biggest crisis I had to deal with was one of the Lady Banks rose bushes blowing over and snapping the crossbar of its trellis; I had to tie it back up with that stretchy green plant-tying tape, and it looks fine. My arms and hands are covered with tiny annoying scratches. Those roses appear thornless, but they're not. They're covered in little stealth thorns that rip a corner of skin off your hand in a second if they catch it just right (I have 3 or 4 of those now.)

DS1 had his ENT appointment which went really well; we're trying a course of Flonase and some nose-breathing practice to see if we can get him to quit mouth breathing. He does have a deviated septum but it is only a partial obstruction, and not something that should be addressed now.

I think the biggest hit I took today was from an email exchange regarding the suitability of a particular item for the low iodine diet. I had corresponded with the company, and they gave me the all-clear, and I had passed on this info to other thyca patients. Today's email told me flat out that was wrong, or that it was too risky, and it surprisingly set off a flurry of emotions.

First, I was mortified. What a terrible thing to give out incorrect advice to others! What if I've screwed up someone's scan or treatment? Yikes!

Second, I was resentful -- no one likes to be told they're wrong. I have a very firm long-standing policy of admitting my mistakes and making things right afterwards. It's hard to admit when you're wrong but since none of us is perfect, we may as well get in all the practice admitting that, right? But still, I felt as if I was getting smacked down a bit. I'm a thyca newbie after all, what do I know?

Third, I was curious, and I still am. I don't understand any mechanism by which iodine could be in this stuff, since the company asserts they don't use iodized salt. Where's it going to bind, or is it somehow free-floating in suspension? It doesn't make any sense to me. So last, I'm feeling stubborn about this, and don't want to just say, "OK, you're right, I was wrong," and then go have to post mea culpas all over the place. I wrote to a biochemist friend and perhaps she can shed some light on this for me.

Of course, if it turns out I'm wrong, I'm more than willing to do all that retracting and apologizing. It's only the right thing to do.

I wish I could turn all this off, like I did over the weekend.
Today was day 4 with no chocolate or sugar, although I did have tortilla chips and a most awesome mahi-mahi burrito from Rubio's for dinner, with a little carnitas street taco for appetizer. It was awesome -- food tasted great, I didn't have to cook it, and it didn't cost us an arm and a leg. Life's good.