Thursday, April 27, 2006

do over

I bought new everyday dishes and glasses today. I admit this with some embarrassment, since it wasn't that long ago that I made a huge project out of reviewing every possible dish pattern before settling on one. I didn't just look at colors and patterns, but at the size and shape of the bowls, mugs, and plates. No cups and saucers, thanks, and no silly too-shallow bowls that would be useless for kids eating ice cream or cereal. After I decided on the pattern, I made another huge project out of actually tracking it down so I could buy it.

Pfaltzgraff's "Arborwood Spruce"

As luck would have it, when I did find the dishes they had been put on clearance, so they weren't nearly as expensive as they could've been. But in another way, they were rather expensive after all since I quickly found out that stoneware is not a good choice for someone who uses the microwave as much as I do. The dishes themselves absorb too much heat, and the contents of the dish don't heat as evenly as they should. You end up burning your fingers on a plate that's still holding cold food.

The other thing that annoyed me was the gray marks that using silverware left on the white plates. I'm sure I could scour them off, but really, who has time for that? So I just live with it, figuring it's not that big a deal since in early November we switch over to the Christmas dishes, usually for DD's birthday.
Nikko's Winter Wonderland

This year, I didn't want to switch back to the stoneware, so we're still using our Christmas dishes. It's the end of April! I don't mind keeping them out until DS2's birthday in February, because while they do have a Christmas-y thing going, they're mostly wintery. But now we're well past Easter, and we're about to hit triple-digit temperatures here next week -- and we're still using the winter dishes. That's ridiculous, I thought. So I bought new dishes today.

Crate and Barrel Essential

We'll see how it goes. These are porcelain and have a nice heft, not too heavy, not too delicate. I will be mortified if it turns out that these have just as bad flaws as the stoneware, but I don't think they will.

I splurged and got new glasses, too. I had picked up an inexpensive set around the same time I bought the stoneware, but they quickly became cloudy from being scored in the dishwasher. I don't understand that, since we have a water softener, so that's not supposed to happen at all, and it happened within seeming weeks of us using the glasses. They're hideous now, so out they go, and we'll try again with these:
Crate and Barrel Rings

They were so cheap! But they feel so good in your hand, not too flimsy, not too heavy, and the top rims are not sharp at all. I do hope they survive in the dishwasher. Our Christmas glasses, cobalt blue with white reindeer and snowflakes on them, haven't shown a bit of scoring yet, after several half-years of daily use. Where did I get them, all those years ago? Crate and Barrel, of course.

biopsy day

The preliminary biopsy report: negative for malignancy. I still have to wait for the definitive tests and the full report to be sure, but that was good news.

It was a long day, even longer than yesterday, and I spent about 3 hours lying in the ultrasound room while doctors tried to get a sample from the enlarged nodes. There was some question as to which node should be biopsied, because there was more than one under the big lump on the side of my neck, which is probably why there is a big lump there. There was a chain of 3 or 4 nodes, none of which was very large, but only one was there in February.

I don't know what to think. I'm relieved that it was negative. I'm glad the test is over, and I expect the full report to be negative also. If it is, then our summer can proceed as planned, which will be wonderful.

I'm too tired to think straight, really, and kind of loopy from not eating properly (light breakfast, large decaf mocha for "lunch"). I still feel as if I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, and probably will until the full report comes in. I'm not at all comforted to know that there's now a little chain of 1+ cm nodes in my neck, and I have no assurances whatsoever about the deeper nodes that were seen in Houston in February, since the u/s tech couldn't see around my trachea with her equipment. So I have no answers about why my throat is feeling more lumpy now than it did before my first surgery, although scarring and adhesions are one likely explanation.

At least it's over, and the preliminary was negative, and now, hopefully, I can relax.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

infinite errands

I spent the morning dithering about whether or not the CD with my ultrasound images would get here in time from Houston, and waiting for the film library to call me with the tracking number. Fortunately my good friend T called and distracted me for a good long while and then Houston finally did call back and within a half-hour of that, the disc itself showed up.

Then DS2 and I set off on our marathon trek. Here's the list of all the stuff that got done today:

- dropped off new rx at the pharmacy; will have to pick up tomorrow as it was not in stock

- called Houston for tracking number

- called M to arrange for her to pick up DS2 at school Thursday

- got the disc!

- stopped at Hi Health for DS1's favorite shake mix

- returned new school clothes for DD (too big); bought new sandals for DS2

- stopped at P.O. and mailed back some clothes that I'd ordered that were too big

- Sam's Club

- Trader Joe's

- picked up kids at school

- came home, put groceries away, fed kids snack (15 minutes)

- drove to pediatrician. Got stuck in traffic on Cooper/Stapley and on the US60, where the Greenfield exit was closed, screwing us up tremendously

- both boys checked out just fine -- DS2, 50th percentile weight, but shot up from 50th percentile height last year to about 85th percentile height this year. DS1, 95th percentile both height and weight -- the kid is 57 inches tall! Occasionally, we call him "Moose." He's huge for a 9-year-old.

- left pediatrician's to take DS2 to soccer practice. Got stuck in traffic on the 101 Southbound.

- Walked DS2 over to his practice field and delivered him to DH (who is the coach). DD wandered off somewhere during the 30 seconds I took my eyes off her. Spent 5 minutes trying to figure out where the heck she went, when she came back and announced that she was looking for me, which made no sense at all since I was standing there talking to DH the entire time.

- Left with DS1 and DD, went to yet-another-Target and found her some scooters she can wear to school, and they fit much better than the others did.

- Stopped to get takeout from Famous Dave's BBQ for dinner. No way was I up for cooking.

- Went home!

Time left house: 1PM
Time arrived home for evening: 7PM.

After dinner, DS1 managed to spill a cup of milk into the refrigerator, so after cleaning that up I did my last chore of the day, running through a load of dark laundry so that DD will have something to wear tomorrow. I had to babysit the dryer again, it's going through one of its temperamental phases and shuts off randomly, mid-cycle. But I even folded everything up, so it's ready to go. One load of laundry is so trivial these days!

I really didn't have to do all that stuff today, I just wanted to clear the decks so if the news is bad tomorrow, I can be comatose and it really won't make a difference. I feel oppresed right now, because I am expecting bad news. I can not anticipate how delightful it will feel if the news is good, because I am sure it will not be. How can it be? That kind of thing doesn't happen to me: I had a negative scan and an undetectable Tg but I still had a boatload of cancer. Is there really any reason for me to think this is anything other than cancer? I can't think of any.

It was good to stay busy today, it was great to get all that stuff done. Everyone liked dinner very much, and there are plenty of leftovers for tomorrow. So, tomorrow will be fine! I just have to try not to get too disturbed about the pending biopsy.


Every so often I get an email broadcast from my MIT living group. More than half the time I don't even recognize the sender, but that's OK. I still feel connected, however tenuously, to the house. A lot of important things happened there. That's where I met my ex-best friend, the one I had the late-breaking realization about a while ago.

Anyway: she had a baby! She and her husband look so happy in the pictures, and the baby is such a cutie.

Lots of different emotions rippled through me when I read the email and looked at the pictures. I am very happy for her, she and the baby both look beautiful, her husband looked remarkably not-tired just after the birth, which makes me hope that it was because she had a quick and easy labor...

Then I thought, Man, she's older than I am (not by much, but still), I can't imagine having a new born now! And more: Poor kid, I hope she doesn't screw him up!

Yes, a few uncharitable things crossed my mind before I got into the pity party: babies are awesome and I love my three so much, lately I've been feeling ripped off that we had to stop when we did, even though I can't imagine what a mess I'd be if I had four kids at the same time as having cancer. I'm struggling enough as it is, but still sometimes, I wish...

I replied to the message, even though a reply was neither required nor expected. I kept it simple, Congratulations!, beautiful photos, wishing you all the best of everything -- that's it. But at the same time I'm thinking, maybe now she'll understand what it was like for me, all those years ago, when I was happy to be married and happy to be having my first child, when she accused me of deluding myself because how could I possibly really be happy?

I hope she does understand. I hope she is as happy now as I was then, and I hope her family gives her as much joy as mine has given me.

Monday, April 24, 2006

here we go again

Saw my rheumatologist today, and she discontinued my current meds (doing nothing) in favor of a methotrexate-like drug, Arava. We discussed using Humira or another injectable, but since all of those drugs suppress the immune system, they're generally contraindicated for cancer patients.

I braced myself for a high pricetag, but I called my pharmacy and found out that there is a generic, so at least I won't be spending a fortune on it. Will it work? I dunno. I'm seriously considering going back on the Minocycline if this one does nothing. I need something, because I've been dealing with too much background pain lately. It's tiring and it makes me grumpy.

In other news, I went for a series of cervical spine x-rays to check out the pain/tingling/numbness in my left arm; the doc suspects a pinched nerve. I'm wondering if that lump will show up on any of the films. My pre-op x-ray in October of last year showed "degenerative disc disease at C4-5 manifested by disc space narrowing with the presence of spur formation," so it's not as if nothing's going on in there.

Still, I'd like to think that my current troubles are shoulder-related rather than neck-related. It hurts. I can easily imagine it getting worse, but I can also imagine it getting better and going away. That would be nice, as opposed to my recent health developments which have all been horrid things that come and never leave. (Well, the sinus infection is down to a minimal post nasal drip, these days, so I suppose I shouldn't complain.)

The rheumatologist didn't like the look of that lump, either. She did another exam and didn't feel any other lymph nodes, so I suppose that's a good thing, too. Now I get to hang around for a few days until I hear from the doc what I should do next. I've been in that state so often you'd think that I'd be used to it, but I'm not, and I don't know that I ever could be.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

last time

No floundering

I have to find something better to do when I'm anxious. This staying up all hours bouncing around the blogosphere can be enlightening, but it's bad for so many reasons. I'm officially swearing off this habit, now.

Friday, April 21, 2006

yep, still there.

Left photo 3/21; right photo 4/20.

I've been trying all week to get an appointment sooner than Thursday for the ultrasound and biopsy, but no luck with that. Followed up with MDA on getting the films from my post-op baseline u/s, and it's a good thing; I had faxed the request to the wrong number (the main MDA medical records request number, as opposed to the film library), and (of course) no one called me to tell me, and no one forwarded it to the correct office, either.

I don't even know what else to say about this. I've literally started typing six different paragraphs that I've then erased. I don't want to deal with this, but I do; I want to know what it is and just get it over with. Thursday seems like a long time from now, a very long time from when I finally had to admit that there was something going on. Obviously, wishing it would just go away is not having any effect. More's the pity, eh?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

T & A

(Not what you might be thinking.)

Both boys are scheduled to have their tonsils and adenoids removed in mid-June. I think that will be a rough week, but after that their lives will be greatly improved. DS1 hasn't been able to breathe through his nose for more than a minute or two since he was a toddler; he'll be getting his turbinates reduced, too.

DD is off the hook, so far, but we'll be watching her for signs of difficulty. DH has big tonsils, and I can't speak to mine, since they've been gone since I was 3. But all the kids have these honkin' huge things in their throats, and while they haven't exactly suffered because of them, the tonsils haven't made their lives easier.

DS2 took the news well; I think he's glad that his brother will be going with him on the same day. Me, I've just added another item to my list of things that must be endured.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

deciphering the unconscious

This morning, I had the kind of dream that distracts you for the rest of the day.

Lately I haven't been remembering many dreams at all. When I do dream, they tend to be the usual bizarre/surreal reflections of reality. I usually dream about real people from my past, and over the years I've figured out what each person represents to me. So it was beyond weird this morning when a television character showed up.

I can speculate all sorts of reasons why House (not Hugh Laurie, but House), showed up in my dream this morning. I have no idea where we were -- it wasn't any house I've ever lived in or even visited, at least that I can remember, but it was definitely a house and not an office or a hospital. I'd say I was in my late teens or early twenties in the dream, which is another bizarre thing. I don't know what I was doing there, or what he was doing there. There seemed to be some kind of relationship between the two of us, but what exactly it was I can't say. It seemed vaguely romantic, which always makes me feel weird because I'm married with kids, even though in the dream I was barely 20 and obviously single, and the offspring didn't exist.

I don't like it when my dreams rewind my life like that. I don't like this apparent attempt to rewrite what really happened, because even though some of it sucked then, I really like where I am, now. Except, of course, for the whole thyroid cancer thing, and the pending biopsy. Which brings me around to the most likely explanation for TV's best doctor showing up in a dream as somehow indefinably mine: wouldn't it be awesome to find a doctor who could fix everything about me that's broken, once and for all?

Impossible dream.


Amidst all the running around last week, I picked up a new booster seat for DS2. He's almost 42 inches tall, and he weighs 40 pounds, so he qualifies for this backless booster seat. DD has one just like it.

So, what's so special about this booster seat? Because it's backless, the children have no problem reaching around and fastening their own seatbelts. For the first time in 9+ years, the only seatbelt I have to fasten in the car is my own. I'm still not used to it, and every time we get in the car to go somewhere, I'm surprised and delighted again because I don't have to reach over and do the buckle.

It's a very small thing, I know. But DS2 is happy that he is a big boy now, and after struggling the first few times, he has the whole seatbelt-fastening routine down pat. Part of me wants him to stay little, but most of me is enjoying his increasing competence and indepedence. It all goes by too fast, anyway. It still feels like just last week that he was an infant -- I'll blink and they'll all be driving themselves. Best to note these moments when they occur, then.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Every moment fraught with peril."

Two dozen Easter eggs, dyed with only one minor disaster: I knocked over the green dye cup, spilling about two-thirds of it. None of it dripped anywhere, so it wasn't a big deal. Of course it had to be me that tipped the cup; the kids were being very good about not reaching across the table.

DS1 laughed when I said that line above, but how else would you describe nine open cups of most-likely-permanent dye sitting out on the kitchen table, in close proximity to three excited children?

play day, work day, Easter

Yesterday we actually did everything we planned to do: we went to the Desert Botanical Garden and saw the butterflies, then we went for a pizza lunch. We stopped and did a few errands on the way home (some clothes I had bought for DS1 was too big, so we returned them and bought him some shirts that fit), then in the afternoon we went to the Y. I did three pathetic laps and was ready to collapse in a heap, but the kids had a lot of fun splashing around. Then we dashed home and got cleaned up and picked up DH at the service center where he left his car, then home for a quick dinner and I was out again to do some more last minute Easter shopping, since we decided on lasagna for dinner.

Usually I do housework on Fridays, but the only thing that got done yesterday was changing the bed linens. I also usually do laundry on Sundays. This week, events have conspired against me. I'm squished between laundry, house cleaning, and lasagna assembly. (The only reason I'm writing this now is because I'm waiting for the water to boil so I can cook the lasagna noodles.)

I'm hoping for a relaxing day tomorrow, but who knows what will happen. We're going to try for one of the earlier Masses, but they will all be crowded -- we're going to leave very early and hope for the best.

I also realized I have a column due theoretically today, but I hope to come up with something by Monday.

Later today, we'll dye the 2 dozen eggs I've already hard-boiled, and I'll dig out the Easter baskets and plastic eggs for the Easter Bunny. I'll have some ironing to do, too, so everyone will look sharp for church tomorrow.

I hope after tomorrow that things calm down. I feel like I've had barely 2 seconds to breathe lately! It hasn't helped that during DS2's normal school days I've so many things scheduled. It's only a few hours a week, but I really miss that "alone time" when I don't get it.

Friday, April 14, 2006


At the Desert Botanical Gardens, in the butterfly pavilion. What creature, other than a butterfly, would choose to rest on a cactus?

Thursday, April 13, 2006


This morning I was pressed into emergency tailoring service, since DD has lost two (two!) of her school skorts and needed shorts to wear today. We had a pair of her leggings that she had put the knees out of, that I had fully intended to cut down and hem into shorts for her... someday. Not today! But today it had to be, since it was very hot and she had PE and cheer practice, and a jumper just would not do. It made for a stressful morning for me, but now at least she has another pair of shorts to wear to school.

I've been doing a lot of needle work lately. Teddy is in for refurbishing:
Teddy, before

DD has had him since she was about 18 months old (6 years now!), and she has an unfortunate unconscious habit of pulling at his fur. Eventually, the fur comes off, and poor Teddy has become balder and balder. Not to mention, flat as a pancake. So, out came his stuffing, and into the washer he went. Now I'm working over the bald spots with a sort-of needlepoint approach.
Teddy, in progress

I know, he looks like he has the mange. But we all love him very much, and he'll be practically bullet-proof by the time I'm done. The work is tedious and made more difficult by my arthritis-ridden hands, but it's getting done somehow, bit by bit -- just not today, because I used up my daily needlework capacity this morning, hemming those shorts.


I've been horrid since my ENT appointment. But, since it just doesn't do to sit around and mope, I'll list some good things:

I tried my camera again and it worked! But I have the feeling that some switch has become tempermental, so who knows how long that will last? But at least it's working now.

I got DS2 to school on time and then went and did the almost-last Easter-related shopping. (I still have to figure out what we are having for dinner on Sunday.)

I visited with 2 friends whom I haven't seen in ages. I nibbled delicious cookies and talked about nothing serious out by the pool and it was lovely.

I remembered to pay for the various kid lessons, and paid through May so I won't have to think about it again until the fall (I think).

I was able to reschedule my biopsy for the 27th from the 28th, and even though it's only one day difference, it helps, because for at least part of the time, DS2 will be in school.

The kids have off tomorrow and we've made ambitious plans to have fun.

* * *

I just do not feel good. The post nasal drip is still killing me, and my neck hurts where the lump is, and I am swallowing past lumps in my throat. The bad thing about these neck/throat feelings is that I have no way to know whether it's just from scar tissue and/or nerves regenerating, or if something bad is happening in there. I'll just have to wait to find out, and I am very bad at that kind of thing.

I manage to not bite the kids' heads off for most of the day, and feel horrible when I slip and let my problems magnify whatever small annoyances they are perpetrating. I wish I could forget about this for a while. That's the goal for tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


My digital camera is dead. I replaced the batteries this morning after recharging them, and now the LED never lights up. Photos taken through the viewfinder are completely black. I called the camera repair shop and the man there confirmed my fears: it's either the LED assembly or the shutter assembly, and neither repair would be inexpensive.

I'll probably be getting another Canon, but this time I'll probably go for the extended warranty! I guess I know what I'm getting for Mother's Day...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

on the block, again

Just got back from my visit with the wonderful Dr. O, my ENT. Happily, he concurs completely with how my PA has been handling the Sinus Infection from Hell, and tells me to give it a good 10 days more, when I should finally be feeling better.

Sadly, he agrees that the lump in my neck is suspicious, and has ordered an ultrasound with FNA biopsy for me here in Phoenix. He's sending me to yet-another-doctor who is also a cytologist, so this doc can do the evaluation himself without having to send it out to a lab. That's good. It's also good that this node is very easily accessible, so he should be able to take good samples.

I sent a "head's up" message to both of my doctors at M. D. Anderson. I wonder what they'll say? And now I'm counting weeks before our planned summer vacation, because I'm pretty sure I'm going to need surgery and will we able to do it all in time? I don't know.

I talked with DH and he thinks the thing to do if it's positive is move up the nuclear scan before any surgery, so we can see what we're dealing with here. That should be an option -- we'll see what the MDA docs think.

I do feel like crying, but there's no point. Maybe the news won't be bad! In all honesty, though, I'm sure it will be, so what's the point in pretending it won't be? I used to be able to hope for the best, but expect the worst (that way I'm prepared for all contingencies, right?) but that's a pretense I can't maintain just now. This sucks.

Update: the biopsy is scheduled for 4/28, but I can call in between times to see if there have been any cancellations. Great! I just love having stuff like this hang over my head for weeks on end! [/sarcasm]

Monday, April 10, 2006

exercise in frustration (supper edition)

I made Swedish meatballs today for the first time in about 15 years, and they came out awesome. The frustrating part? None of the kids would eat them!

Yes, yes, I should know that by now, how neophobic my kids are about food. But they are so mildly spiced and so delicious, how could anyone not like them? I'm OK with DS1 not eating them, as they did taste of onion -- cooked onion -- and that is one thing he literally can't stomach. I thought that since they were practically carmelized before going into the mix that DS1 would be OK with them, but he wasn't. DD barely tasted them, and DS2 ate maybe one meatball -- better than the others, but nothing spectacular.

All the labor-intensive and time-consuming activity was worth it, though, because DH enjoyed them as much as I did. Leftovers for us!

Swedish Meatballs
(serves 6-8)

3 slices whole wheat bread
1/2 C half-n-half
1/2 C water

1 onion, diced fine
2 T unsalted butter

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground veal

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste

to cook:
1 T oil

1 C chicken stock
1/2 C heavy cream

Break up the bread into large chunks and then whir in your food processor to fine crumbs. Put the bread crumbs, half-n-half, and water in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Let the bread crumbs soak while you saute the onions.

Melt the butter in a large skillet, and add the onions. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until softened and just starting to brown. Scrape the contents of the pan into the bread mixture and stir.

Add the ground meats to the bread and onion mixture; sprinkle seasonings over the meats. Mix very well; it's often best to use your hands to do this. Shape the mixture into 1-inch meat balls; this recipe makes several dozen.

Put the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Gently place the meatballs around the pan, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between them. If you crowd too many in the pan, they'll steam, and not brown. Cook for about 4 minutes, then turn over to brown on the other side for another 4 minutes. Then turn them so the side brown as well, for about 12-15 minutes total cooking time. Lift them out of the pan gently onto a plate or covered dish, and immediately brown the next batch. Continue browning until all the meatballs are cooked.

For the sauce: pour off the excess grease in the pan, then return it to the heat. Add the chicken stock and use a spatula to scrape up all the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Let the stock reduce for a few minutes, then lower the heat and stir in the cream. Stir thoroughly and heat just until warmed; taste, and adjust the seasonings (more pepper may be necessary here.)

These are great served with wide egg noodles, but we made do with plain old elbows as we had no other pasta! I think they'd also be great with frizzled cabbage or even just plain cauliflower for those who are trying to avoid carbs. Assemble your bedding ingredient, top with meatballs, and pour the sauce over all.


maybe they don't get out much

After I dropped DS2 at preschool this morning, I took the van over to the Honda place for an oil change and a gazillion-point safety inspection. My brakes have been squeaky, so it seemed like a good idea. I brought Teddy along for more repair work while I waited, and settled down in the waiting area facing away from the huge TV. (Listening to Regis and Kelly is not as bad as having to see them every time I looked up from my work.)

I hadn't been there long when a family paraded in: Dad, I'd say in his mid-to-late 30s, pregnant wife, and 4 kids: son, about 12 I'd guess, and 3 girls ranging in age from about 4 to 9. I thought: homeschooled, why else would they all be there?

They were a really nice family, and the kids were all very well-behaved, but I was still trying to figure out why they were all there. Maybe they were on their way somewhere after their car was finished. But still, if I had a choice between taking all four of my kids with me, or leaving them home with DH, you know what I would've chosen. The prospect of an hour on my own, to leaf through a magazine or simply do nothing, without having to deal with the kids? Pure heaven, especially at later stages of pregnancy.

They all seemed perfectly content with each other, with the older kids helping the younger ones with lego blocks or what-have-you. So maybe there wasn't a reason that they all came along, maybe that's what they always do. Obviously it wasn't a problem for the kids, who played quietly or did schoolwork while they waited. My kids would do the same, if they had been there, but I'd rather spare them when I can. The fact is, I don't like having to wait around, why should I make them do it when they don't have to? I know: it's a life lesson.

I know I tend to spoil my kids; is this another symptom of that? They get subjected to so much stress because of my illness and unavoidable things-we-have-to-do, I think it's OK not to drag them along on every little errand.

I do wonder, though, if I'm setting them up for suprise or resentment later on in life when they realize how much work it takes to keep house and car running smoothly.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

rare solitude

DH has taken the kiddos to the Y for a swim (yes, it is that warm here), so I have the house to myself for a bit. And what am I doing? Laundry, websurfing, and teddy bear repair. I'm considering a nap, because the Sinus Infection from Hell is still making me miserable, although I'm hoping that the Levaquin($65!) I started on Friday will kick in soon. I woke up this morning feeling horrid and it hasn't let up. I'm kicking myself for not getting some Coricidin when I picked up the prescription, but in my wild optimism I didn't think I'd need it. And now I feel too miserable to go out and get some. Maybe in a bit.

I'm not getting much of anything done these days, and I don't like it. I'm still stuck and I'm not too sure what it will take to get un-stuck. I'm frustrated that I'm not working when our taxes and medical bills are so high, even though it's ridiculous for me to think about working when I have the kids to take care of. I can think about working in August when they go back to school! So why do I keep thinking about it now? I pop into craigslist and other job boards at least once a week if not more often -- but why? It's not like I could take a job even if one was offered to me. I'm not about to put DS2 in daycare and make the older two trade after-school activities for aftercare.

I'm annoyed with myself for not doing the not-paying work I should do that could help land me some paying gigs. My websites haven't been updated in so long that stale doesn't come close to describing them. It's stupid, too, because I have so much content already written that I could move up if I just, you know, did it. I even have a web editor that I bought months and months ago for the express purpose of doing that, and I haven't even installed it! Oh, it's pathetic.

I make excuses for myself: the sinus infection, and that lump in my neck. (Still there, feels bigger, and hurts.) I'm seeing my ENT Tuesday morning, and will ask for his opinion. I admitted to DH last night that I'm scared and I don't want more surgery. That's what is really holding me back. Why should I start something if I'm going to have go for surgery in the middle and not finish it? (It's not just more surgery I'm afraid of.)

Not to sound like I'm completely in despair. It's only human to dread bad news, and as someone who rags on others for being in denial, I realize that's where I am, even though there's a non-zero chance that there's nothing serious going on. It's that same bad feeling I've had over the course of this illness, and every time I think I'm OK, and allow myself to relax, I just get sucked back into the vortex of diagnosis/treatment/recovery again. I'm tired of this and I want it to be over. Part of my denial is wishful thinking, if I don't know that I need surgery again, maybe that's because I don't, and won't, right?

It is hard to have a positive outlook when you don't feel well, so it's certain that the sinus thing is contributing to this horrid malaise. I accepted long ago that there is very little in life that we can control, but there's enough control freak still left in me to be annoyed by all this. I can't wish myself well, but I still feel like I should be able to!

None of this makes any sense, and in that, it reflects my current state.

Friday, April 07, 2006

hey, you got your politics in my snack!

I have a new favorite snack: Kind Fruit+Nut Almond & Apricot bars, from PeaceWorks.

I found them at the cafe at Borders, where I go with the kiddos almost every Friday after school, for our end-of-the-week decompression. I can't get over how delicious these things are, how not-too-sweet, and how they are satisfying without sending me into a sugar stupor later in the afternoon.

Uh-oh, I just noticed this: 5% of the profits go to OneVoice, a PeaceWorks foundation, that fosters co-existence in the Middle East.

Hmmmm. OK, I looked it up. It should come as no surprise that I'm skeptical about the OneVoice organization, even though the "OneVoice pledge" sounds pretty reasonable:
I pledge to be active in the national debate and hold my elected representatives accountable for swift and courageous action to prevent terrorism and financial crisis. I will encourage others to do the same.
After poking around the website a little more, it doesn't seem as pie-in-the-sky as it could be. But is it a group I really want to support? Do I have to think about this? If I don't want to support this group (although, really, it all sounds very reasonable), should I keep on buying the snacks? Do I even have to make this decision?

Ultimately, it's ridiculous to dither like this. I'm not buying the snack to support the cause. I'm buying the snack because it is, really truly, delicious and nutritious. At least, it's a lot more nutritious than, say, a scone or a chocolate chip cookie. And it tastes better, too. If OneVoice was rabidly anti-Semitic or promoting terrorism or doing anything else truly abhorrent, then I would stop buying these little tasty bars. I'm relieved they are not, though, because it would be a shame to have to give up such a nice thing so soon after having discovered it.

This is the perfect example of how blogging about something makes you think more about it than you really wanted to. I just wanted to talk about this tasty snack, and instead I go wading into Middle East politics! Yikes.

I'm ready

The two older kids just completed their third quarter of school, and I had parent-teacher conferences for both of them yesterday afternoon. They both did very well (straight A's for both), and their teachers love them. The biggest criticism of DS1: he does the bare minimum he needs to do to complete an assignment. Of course, it's not that much of a complaint when, just doing the bare minimum, he still easily pulls off straight A's. He's just like me in that he isn't going to spend a lot of time doing something he doesn't absolutely have to do, unless it's something he really loves. Of course, DD is exactly the same way, it just hasn't manifested yet, because DD really loves to draw and make up stories and things like that, whereas DS1 will just put down a few scribbles and be done with it.

We're all spoiled and squander our talents considerably. I'm going to have to suck it up myself and start doing something productive. (Or, something more productive than producing a single monthly column.)

I'm ready for summer vacation. I'm tired of driving them to and from school. I'm tired of the spelling drills and the editing and the big projects and the reading calendars. I just want school to be over so we can relax! Isn't that horrible?

They have two months left, to the day. It will go by so quickly. They only have a few more weeks of RE, and that will free up the calendar a little; that will help. I'm just weary of being so scheduled, and I'm frustrated because we didn't get a break from that at all over spring break, and I've had children home with me or I've had to go on field trips for many of the days I'm usually free, the past two weeks. I've had quite enough!

Is it summer yet?

the return of the gunk

Feeling crummy again today. Yesterday -- the day after I took one lousy little pseudo-Sudafed, my sinuses (and everything else) were so dry that it hurt to breathe. Today, the stuff has finally worn off, and the gunk has returned with a vengence. I think it's worse than it was before.

I have a call in to the doctor; hopefully he will just call in a new prescription for me.

As usual, I have things to get done so I will drag myself through them. But I won't be happy about it. I have this persistent feeling that I'm supposed to be doing something that's not getting done. I can't figure out what it is, and I wish the feeling would go away. I thought I would be relieved when DD finished her big project, but I still can't relax. I can't think of anything that should get me feeling so agitated. Maybe that's just lingering effects of the pseudoephedrine, too.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

pseudoephedrine vs thyca patient

I have to give this round to the pseudoephedrine (generic Sudafed).

About a week and a half ago I came down sick with a nasty sinus infection. I did a 5-day course of Zithromax and felt better, but the post nasal drip never went away. I've been using Mucinex to keep things from gunking up too badly, but the drip-drip-drip was constant and irritating.

Today I broke down and bought some CVS brand Sudafed. I do not have a good history with this drug. In the past when I've taken it, I've always felt simultaneously strung out and exhausted -- "wired and tired." Oh, it's so much fun! But it does dry up anything and everything, and after about 3 weeks of The Drip, I needed for it to stop.

Now, I tried to find a non-Sudafed decongestent, namely Coricidin. I've always liked it, it works for me, and it doesn't whack me out. But the only Coricidin I could find was for "flu" and was bundled with acetominophin. I don't want to take Tylenol, I don't have a fever or any thing that needs Tylenoling. I was annoyed that I couldn't buy just straight-up Coricidin the way I used to -- this may tell you something about how long it has been since I have had a serious cold or sinus infection. I don't usually get this kind of crap!

Thinking my second and third thoughts on the Sudafed: I'm not supposed to take that, because I have thyroid disease. Specifically, the danger is for those who have hypERthyroidism, because the pseudophedrine can act as a stimulant, like getting a shot of epinephrine. I learned a new vocabulary word to describe this: sympathomimetic. Cool, huh? It means "producing effects similar to those seen with stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system."

As I understand it, the sympathomimetic effect means your blood pressure can spike, or other similar bad things can happen to you.

Here I am, walking around every day clinically hyperthyroid in a (probably vain) attempt to keep my cancer suppressed, with a history of sensitivity to this drug. Is it worth the risk? I have a plan: a half-dose should do it, without over-doing it. I hope.

I took that half-dose at about 11AM this morning, more than 12 hours ago. I'm still fried. But at least my sinuses dried up. No palpitations, nothing weird, except that old "wired and tired" feeling. I've had insomnia from this drug before. Let's hope it has worn off enough for me to get some sleep.

I don't even want to think about how fried I would be if I took the recommended adult dose.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

by yon bonnie banks...

DD has a "cultural project" due tomorrow. Each student had to choose a country, and then put together some kind of paper thing (poster, book) and a presentation about that country. DD chose Scotland, I'm sure because she had just seen a Mystery Hunters show on Discovery Kids about the Loch Ness Monster. (This Nova site was our Loch Ness resource -- it's very good.) So a good part of the day was spent helping her put it all together, and now I've got the last batch of Scotch shortbread cookies in the oven for her to bring and share.

She made a book with six pages, covering the map, facts about the people, the main jobs people do there, sports, and of course, the Loch Ness Monster.

She worked hard, but it irks me that she only finished it the day before it was due. As with DS1's big projects, there was a lot for me to do, too, including sitting on her to do what needed to be done, and resisting the temptation to do any of it myself. There's a fine line between helping and taking over.

Now I know more about Scotland than I ever have, and no doubt I'll never forget any of it, either, since I had to go over it, and over it, and over it with DD for her presentation. Sadly I noted that Scotland's population is declining, although recent waves of immigration have mitigated that somewhat. I like the idea of Scotland, with the wild highlands and the fertile lowlands, with fish and game in abundance. It seems a lot of that flavor has been preserved, at least from what we read. It really does sound like a nice place to visit. And as a half Scots-Irish girl, I'm not surprised to find that learning more about it really does make me want to go, someday.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

was it really about the doughnuts?

My daughter lies to me.

My older son, he doesn't lie. When he doesn't want to talk about something, he clams up. He hedges. He avoids the question. But when I pin him down on something, he tells me the truth. For him, honesty is something non-negotiable.

The little one, he doesn't lie, either. He hasn't quite grasped that lying is possible, being a relatively new 5-year-old. I try very hard not to ask my kids stupid questions like "Did you hit your brother?" when the marks of the fingers are still bright on the face, but sometimes the stupid questions pop out anyway. DS2 doesn't lie. He switches immediately to shift-the-blame mode, most often with "He started it!" Of course his brother never hits him, but in the Calculus of the Youngest, a teasing remark is exactly equivalent to a smack across the face. (We're working on that.)

My daughter, she's tricksier than either of her brothers, or both of them put together. She sneaks around trying to hide things from me -- sometimes good things, like a picture she made for me she wants me to find later, but more often things she just doesn't want me to know about (no need to go into details.) If I ask her why she's sneaking around, she'll deny that she is. If I happen to notice whatever it is she is trying to hide from me, she'll deny trying to hide it.

We've had a few recurrent situations, little developmental problems that she was embarrassed by, that she would lie about all the time. I set up rules for her, things she could do to handle the problem without having to lie or sneak around. That helped a lot, but still we run into problems from time to time.

Today, DD was back in school after a day off sick yesterday. She has had a cold but spiked a fever on Sunday, and yesterday morning she had a slightly elevated temp so I kept her home. She was fine all day (on ibuprofen) and the fever did not return, so it was back to school today.

After school, I was going through her folder and reading the "Monday memo" from her teacher. All the first grades won a doughnut breakfast for reading the most minutes in the last reading competition. The breakfast was yesterday, so DD didn't get any doughnuts. As I was reading the memo, DD was sitting at the table eating her snack. We were chatting back and forth about stuff that was going on, what homework she had, stuff like that. I wasn't paying too much attention to her, as I was reading through her papers.

When I looked up, I saw that she had tears rolling down her cheeks and her eyes were quite red and puffy. Oh! I was shocked. What's the matter, honey? What happened? Are you sick?

Nothing, I'm fine. Nothing's wrong, she insisted, the tears dripping off her long eyelashes.

Now, if she were an adult, I'd respect that and back off. But she's not, she's 7 years old, and she's just getting over being sick, and she's sitting there just fine and then all of a sudden, crying? No, I was not going to let that go.

I squatted beside her so we would be face to face, and using my softest voice I asked her again, What's the matter? After a few more rounds of Nothing, I'm fine, countered by my remarking that if she were fine, she wouldn't be crying, she finally came up with:

I was the only one who didn't get to have doughnuts yesterday.

Hmmm. She enjoyed her free day yesterday, but clearly now she was regretting having stayed home. But it's not like she had a choice! Even if I had known about the doughnuts, I would not have let her go to school with a fever.

DD is very much invested in collecting all of the rewards that she has earned, especially when it's a treat like doughnuts. She was so upset that I didn't want to push her and say what seemed obvious to me at the time, That can't be it!, because I really don't know. Maybe it was about the doughnuts, but maybe it wasn't. When the kid lies to you about things that she thinks are embarrassing, who knows what could have happened that would make her cry out of nowhere?

In the end, I accepted the doughnut explanation, even though I didn't really believe it. There were no other explanations forthcoming. If it's something really dreadful I'll see further signs of it, and we can pursue it then. If it really was about the doughnuts, then she'll have forgotten about it by the morning.

I want to be able to trust what my children tell me, but with this one, it's not easy.

back again, finally

The techno wizards at iPowerWeb have fixed things up, which I appreciate, but I never would've known if I hadn't called them to find out how things were going.

There have been many bloggable moments over the past four days, and I could've written them up and saved them as drafts, but I just was not inspired. Now there are too many things jumbled up in my brain for me to tease out any particular topic to write about!

Later, I'm sure things will emerge from the morass of topics. For now, I'm just glad this is working again.

Monday, April 03, 2006


I found out on Friday that my webspace is messed up. I can't connect to it via FTP. That means I can't publish blog posts, even though Blogger will kindly store them in draft mode for me. Wednesday was DH's birthday, and I was too busy to even want to blog. On Thursday, I tried to post something but couldn't, and just figured it was a Blogger glitch. By Friday, I decided to look into it, and the news was worse than I had expected.

I had an online chat with the support tech from iPowerWeb (my hosting service), but he 1) couldn't fix it and 2) couldn't escalate it to the Level 2 techs himself, and so suggested I send an email. To heck with that! I called the 24-hour free support line, and got the problem escalated to Level 2 within 15 minutes.

Later Friday, I received an email with some questions; I answered immediately. Nothing on Saturday. Nothing on Sunday. I called this morning to say, "Hey, what's up?"

What's up: they never received my reply. The tech asked me to resend it, and I did. That one didn't go through, either. I think it's because the "TO" address is my permanent email forwarding address, and the "FROM" address is my addy from my actual ISP. I understand needing to have sophisticated filtering, etc, to weed out spam, but you'd think that a web hosting service would understand the concept of forwarding addresses. I know I'm not the only person in the universe that uses one.

Anyway, I gave the guy the info over the phone, and hopefully they're working on it as I type this.

Ironically, no one will read this until the problem is fixed, and who knows how long that will take? It has already been out for nearly five days! I'm going through withdrawal here. It's one thing to decide to step away for a bit and not write so much, it's quite another to be prevented from posting because I can't get to my own paid-for web space.

Here's hoping it's resolved soon.