Thursday, May 31, 2007

carpe diem

I had the ultrasound this morning, and it went as well as could be expected. I had prepared by finding a copy of one of my ultrasound reports from M.D.Anderson, and rehearsing in my head what I wanted to say to the technician.

He called me back with the usual pleasant chit-chat, and asked me to lie on the table. I took the reins then and said, "I'd like to talk to you first."

This kind of thing is always delicate, because you don't want to offend the person who is about to test you. So I did my best to just be calm and factual, and I told him about the thyroidectomy in 2004, and the neck dissections procedures in 2005, and then I told him I had had several post-op ultrasounds and gave him the report to look at.

I appreciated that he took the time to read the report very carefully, and then he asked if he could make a copy of it -- of course I said yes, the more information the radiologist has, the better. When he got back from copying, I told him about the recent lumpiness, and my theories -- could be nerve regeneration, could be scar tissue, could be... recurrence. And I told him with any enlarged nodes it was important to use the Doppler because increased vascularization is a good indicator of malignancy. He was amenable to all this and listened to me, which I appreciated.

Then it was time for the exam. The setup was good, with an extra monitor positioned in front of the exam table, up on the wall, in a perfect spot for me to see everything that was going on. I saw everything, and am satisfied that he did a thorough examination. One thing that was interesting to me was that he used two different wands. He explained that one can penetrate deeper but doesn't show as fine detail, while the other, smaller one shows finer details. I'd never seen that before.

What I saw -- who knows? I did see something that looked weird near the carotid artery (it's perfectly round and easy to spot). When he turned the Doppler on that one area, the carotid and the two lumpy masses near it all turned red -- not spots or streaks of red and blue, just straight red. I've never seen that before, either.

He didn't measure anything while I was on the table. I noted that to him, and he half-smiled and said, "I can't tell you anything," because he was just waiting for me to ask him -- how could I not? He knows I saw something in there. So I said, "Can I ask you a technique question? Do you have to measure live, or can you measure from the pictures?" He told me you could do it either way, so... I honestly think he didn't measure while I was on the table because he wanted to get it over for me as soon as possible.

Right now, I'm leaning towards scar tissue. But even if it is recurrence, I've decided, after a conversation with dear G, my mentor and co-facilitator, that there's no point in ruining my summer. The earliest they would probably be able to operate would be mid-July, so it can go till August, if need be.

Hence, seizing the day, and the really, really cheap airfare, I booked a ticket for a long weekend back here in AZ with DH -- the in-laws are psyched to have the kids, and DH and I can have what amounts to a vacation. It will just be Thursday night to Monday morning, but without the kids, and having been apart for two weeks? Perfect.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

the adventures of Flat Stanley in AZ

You know how, in a job interview, you'll sometimes be asked, "What's your biggest flaw?"

The standard advice is to take some positive characteristic and turn it around: "I care too much," or some such.

It's all pretty much garbage, right? Verbal filler to get you through that interminable length of time before you can shake the applicant's hand and usher him or her out, pleasantly, yes, but with profound relief. (I once did a college recruiting tour for my first employer -- I would rather be stuck with hot pokers than ever have to do that again.)

As a veteran interviewer, I routinely ignored those standard "too much of a good thing" replies. But today I realized maybe I was too hasty all those years ago, because today was proof that I really can be insanely meticulous about some things. Witness the 13-printed-page Flat Stanley letter I just wrote to send back to my godson.

DH thinks I went overboard, and I probably did. But it is a really awesome, quick overview of some of the cool history, and natural history, of Arizona. It is by no means complete but it does cover a lot of topics, and it's mostly photos, anyway. Of course putting this together necessitated a trip to the Mesa Southwest Museum, but that's not something anyone around here ever complains about.

What a day. Ultrasound tomorrow morning at 6:50; I'm pretty sure this borderline obsessive behavior was unconsciously done to keep my mind off it.

one weekend, summer

Friday morning I called my endo's office to tell them about the lumpiness in my throat. I spoke to the doctor's assistant, who brightly informed me that the doctor had two cancellations for that afternoon -- one at 3PM, and one at 4PM.

The kids get out of school at 3:15, so technically, the 4PM appointment was feasible. However, it was the Friday before the long weekend, DS1 needed to work on his research report, and I had already made a long, long drive that morning up to N. Phoenix for a different appointment.

Plus, I wanted to be able to go to the resort and have fun and not think about the possibility of recurrence for a couple of days.

This, I was able to do -- it was a wonderful two days, and I enjoyed being able to hoist myself out of the pool without trouble, and being able to pick up DS2 and throw him into the water, and letting DD clamber up onto my shoulders to jump back into the pool. I'd never done that last, before, and it surprised me that the hardest part was not lifting her onto my shoulders, but helping her to keep steady so she could stand up without falling back in.

Turns out that I can't get in to see the endo, or anyone in that practice, until June 7, so I called my gp's office and have an appointment for tomorrow morning. They'll write up an order for an ultasound at one of those imaging labs, which could be useless but not if I get a technician I can talk to beforehand -- I know what they need to look for, after all.

So we'll see how it goes. A friend told me I was foolish not to take the appointment on Friday, because then I would know already -- but I just couldn't do it. As frivolous as it sounds, I didn't want to ruin the weekend. Faced with the possibility that last weekend may have been the best part of the summer, the only real "summer" I'd get, there was no way I was going to let anything taint it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

such times we live in

Over at The House Next Door, a link to a particularly sarcasm-laden review of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End led me to comment on the critic's behavior:
If you admit, up front, that you're bored and/or unimpressed with the spectacle, that you went in knowing it would suck, then I'm going to discount you and your review. Don't review PotC:AWE as if it's Bergman -- it's not pretending to be. It's supposed to be big, stupid fun, and I can't tell whether or not it succeeds at that because Lee's attitude is piss-poor from the minute he planted his seat in the theater. You can feel his resentment of this franchise, cluttering up his cineplexes, thwarting his desires that every screen be showing something more worthy.

Further down in the comment thread, we got into a discussion of critics and criticism in general. I've given a lot of thought to this, over several years, and here's how I think about it:
[O]rdinary people don't work as film critics [...] -- it's as simple as that. Your income is tied to your opinions, and your ability to express them, and therefore you're a member of an elite cadre, even if you're not willing to admit it. What percentage of the population do you think is made up of people who support themselves as critics? I'm sure its infinitesimal. Ordinary people go to work and make things (in this, factory workers are not so different from software engineers), or serve others, or a cause (waitresses, cabbies, CPAs, politicians).

But a critic exists only in symbiotic relationship with the industry he critiques, and whether or not he survives is entirely dependent on the goodwill of the audience, and to a certain extent, the industry itself. It's a perilous position, and to survive it you have to convince yourself that you are adding value, providing a service, doing something besides hitching a ride on the back of someone else's hard work. And that gives you an attitude[.]
I'm sure you've noticed how many critics -- not at all of them, but a lot -- can't help telling you how much smarter than everyone else they are? Not explicitly, usually, but they find ways to make sure you know it. That's the attitude I'm talking about. Even the ones that don't have a superior attitude have to believe, by definition, that their opinions are so valuable that a larger audience should read them.

Another commenter jumped all over me for calling critics parasites, and a whole host of other things -- I eventually gave it another try, because I don't think what I'm saying here is inaccurate in the least:
[I] see where criticism, as a whole, fits into society and the economy, what role it plays, and its relevance to the population at large.

In short: it's not all that important. Before you go getting all shirty with me again, think about it. In spite of how silly much of criticism is -- and you have to admit that there's a lot of useless cheer leading masquerading as criticism -- people can still make a living off it. It's awesome. It amazes me, really -- the same way I'm amazed when I get paid for a column. But even though one of my jobs is about the coolest thing I could ever hope to get paid for, I'm not about to start thinking that it has any significance in the grand scheme of things. We're living in an extremely prosperous time, and that allows many of us to get paid for stuff that no one would have dreamed of a couple of generations ago.

You can't seriously mean to argue that criticism exists independent of its target industries. I don't view critics as parasites (although some producers probably do); I used "symbiont" because constructive criticism is useful to target industries, as it shines light on the problems and praises what it gets right.

Am I really so wrong about this? How so?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

one more thing

Two days ago, and again today, I felt a very weird lumpiness in my throat. It's on the right side (of course), but not down near the thyroid bed, it's about 2 or 3 inches below my jawline. It wasn't there yesterday, but back again this morning.

Could have something to do with the exercises, but I wanted to make a note of it in case it doesn't go away. I do have a sore throat, too, but it looks like my usual post-nasal drip rather than anything strep-related. I'm finally off the antibiotic for that last sinus infection, and back on my iron, and I don't feel quite so exhausted the past few days. (Tomorrow, all best are off, since I'm up late doing this. Idiot!)


There's nothing major going on, just a lot of minor, kind of irritating things that are keeping me not so much grounded as submerged.

It may sound like a good thing, but it's very, very bad to have skinny mirrors in your dressing area. I always forget that the mirrored doors in our bathroom are, indeed, skinny -- so it was quite a shock when I got a look at my backside's actual dimensions in the dressing room at Eddie Bauer last week. (No wonder those jeans didn't fit!) The tape measure at home confirmed it, my hips are now wider than they have ever been, other than when I was pregnant or recovering from delivery. Yikes!

Time to get serious and stop and eating so much carborific food (I'm looking at you, Trader Joe's Veggie and Flaxseed Chips) and get back into an exercise routine.

The first three days of doing lunges put me in a state where walking and sitting were about equally painful, but that's worn off now.

Interestingly, I found that exercising at night before bed does not interfere at all with my sleep; I think I fall asleep more easily since I've released any tensions. I also wake up more or less without pain, which is astonishing. This leads me to my latest rule for life: exercise is not optional. I'm sure I'll blow it off from time to time, and for longer stretches here and there, but for now I'm sold on the benefits.

Windows Vista has several annoying quirks. I'm still not used to all the software that came with this machine, and I miss the stuff we had on the XP machine that had simple, clear interfaces. The new Vista HP PhotoSmart is horribly non-intuitive -- why do I have to put a check mark under the photos I want to edit? Isn't that ridiculously clunky? Why can't I just click on the Edit tab and have it edit the photo that is currently highlighted? Who designed this hideously unfriendly interface? Can I slap them? Oh -- is there no unzip utility for Vista? Because Vista is entirely ignorant of files with the ".zip" extension, and that's inexcusable as far as I'm concerned.

There's just too much new. In addition to the new Vista computers, there's my new camera, which takes forever to store photos -- seriously, about 4 seconds, which is way too long. Is it the memory card, which is supposed to be high speed but is some brand I never heard of? I have no idea. I need to check the settings. But it's really annoying.

Then there's the new all-in-one printer/scanner/fax, which doesn't communicate properly with Vista even though they are all HP machines. I've had to re-install the software twice, and I've had to "add a printer" from the Network page about a dozen times. I'm sorry, but WTF? Jeez. At least the people on the online chat at HP Service are knowledgeable and have been able to get everything working again... so far.

Remember I had to port my website a few weeks ago? Well, now I have new website management software which reports everything in a completely different format than the old software. It's way better, of course, but it doesn't seem to have the one report that let me figure out what images of mine had been hijacked into discussion forums. I'll figure it out... eventually.

Even freakin' SiteMeter went and upgraded over this same time period!

School is rapidly drawing to a close. My in-laws are arriving the day after school lets out for another of their whirlwind visits, this time made even more crazy by the fact that DH and my FIL will be attending all three Diamondbacks-Red Sox games over the weekend. Whee! A few days after they leave, we leave for the summer.

I'm not ready for any of it, and a bigger part of me than usual is actually dreading going. DH will be back home here for nearly a month! That's too long for us to be apart. I'm worried about my mom and what the situation will be at her house, with us, plus my sister-in-law and her children, and the random nephew or two. I'm sure it will be fine when we get there, but there are too many things squeezing me right now for me to look forward to the trip with nothing but pleasurable anticipation.

Sorry for the extended lament -- it's all small potatoes, and I know that. We just have to get through the next couple of weeks, and then I can exhale.

Friday, May 18, 2007

last summer

Definitive news came yesterday that, starting with the 2008-2009 academic year, our school is moving to a modified year-round schedule. We'll be 9 weeks on, 2 weeks off, with school starting in July. That gives 2 week breaks in October, December/January, and March. Summer will be 4-5 weeks, mostly June.


I knew they'd come to an end someday, my deliciously long New England summers. We'll have to make the most of this one.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

top 10 things full-time teachers should tell their substitutes

I had another one of those days subbing today, and it completely took me by surprise. The teacher I worked for is one that had one of my own kids in recent years, so I thought I was familiar with her classroom style; I wasn't expecting any great difficulties.

What I failed to consider is that the teacher's style is only part of the equation, and that the make-up of the class is another, equally important part. The culture of the class won't just be determined by the teacher, because let's face it, no one has that much control. A lot of it depends on the kids, their capabilities, and their personalities. My biggest problem today was expecting this class to be like my kid's class, and it wasn't.

I ran into a multitude of small issues today, along with one issue -- actually, one child -- that was a constant source of disruption and (I'll admit it) irritation. So here's my list of the top 10 things that full-time teachers should tell their subs, to help avoid the problems I had today. (I didn't include lesson plans; this is the stuff besides lesson plans that subs need to know.)

10) The full names of the teachers and aides that the sub will be interacting with, along with the room numbers where you can expect to find them. Abbreviations don't cut it with subs that are not familiar with all the staff at the school. We have a pretty small school, relatively, but there are still some teachers' and aides' names I don't know. Today, since I don't know who the aide was, I couldn't ask about her whereabouts when she wasn't there to get the kids out to morning recess. So I had to take them out, which was OK but still left me wondering what was up with her.

9) A list of permissable activities for the kids to do when/if they've finished all their work. A recent in-class project involved curling ribbon, and I guess some kids hadn't finished, and so were working on it today. But at least a third of the class was cutting off lengths of curling ribbon at various times, completely independent of any activity. I put the curling ribbon away at least twice, and told the class at least twice "No more curling ribbon today," but apparently the lure of the curling ribbon was impossible to resist.

8) A list of activities the kids should not be doing when/if they've finished all their work. I let some kids use the computer workstations today, and many of them logged in to EdHeads to do virtual knee reconstruction surgery. About 10 minutes later I heard more than one (non-computer-using) kid declare, "We're not supposed to go on EdHeads!" (Of course that was after I'd tried to get them onto Frog Guts, and failed -- the computers are too slow and too old to handle all the Flash graphics.) I have no idea whether or not there was a ban on EdHeads, but I couldn't see the harm in it.

7) Details on whether or not work is to be turned in, and if so, where. Over the course of the day, we completed a number of assignments. For some, I had directions: turn in. For others, nothing at all, so I assumed the kids should hang onto them. Also include with the lesson plan instructions for whether or not to correct any work before handing it in -- some classes have the kids swap their worksheets with a partner, and then correct them; this saves the teacher a great deal of time down the line, I understand -- but I do need to know if that's something you want me to do.

6) Details on whether a lesson needs to be taught to the whole class, can be tackled by small groups on their own, or whether some subset of the class should be broken out to cover a topic that a lot of kids get on their own. In my experience, given a math assignment, the class, if given a choice, will never choose instruction, preferring to guess on every single answer rather than sitting through instructions. If you ask the class, "Have you studied probabilities before?" Some significant fraction of the class will say "yes" while the rest insist "no," and as a sub, it's nearly impossible to tell one way or another. So "Math journal, pages x and y," is a good start but needs more information, like "They can work on this in small groups," or "They need instruction on these topics before tackling the worksheets."

5) Class rules for seat-changing or special locations. Most classrooms have special places, usually comfy places for reading, that students get to use certain times. Several classrooms I've worked in let one or two, possibly three groups work out in the hall. Rarely, if ever, do teachers let me know what the rules are regarding these special places, which results in ugly competition among the kids to score a good spot for whatever it is they're doing. So, if the rule is "you get to work in the hall once a day," I need to know that. And I also need to know when to open the in-class comfy places, if at all; just tell me the rules so I can enforce them uniformly and keep the kids on-task. Today I had to chase my problem kid out of the rocking chair three times. I had no argument from authority because I didn't know what the rule was.

4) A brief run-down on classroom incentives and disciplinary measures. Some incentives I've seen are "table points" and extra recess minutes, but disciplinary measures have a lot more variety and are often very difficult for a sub to apply. The teacher I subbed for today has a good system when kids go astray; she makes them clean up the schoolyard during recess. But I forgot about that while dealing with my one problem kid, and so ended up imposing my default consequence -- sitting out recess -- instead. But this teacher also has an incentive plan which she mentioned to me, very briefly -- so briefly I didn't know how to use it! How many points would I give to a table, and how often? Maybe the class would've responded to the positive incentive of table points, rather than to the negative incentive of losing recess? It's hard for me to believe at this point that they would've responded to any incentive for very long.

3) Seating charts are a godsend.

2) If any children leave the classroom for special instruction, please tell me who they are, when and for how long they are gone, and where they are going. Do I need to escort them wherever, or just send them? Do I need to pick them up?

1) Absolutely, the most important: if there are any children with learning disabilities or behavioral issues in the classroom, please let me know so I don't have to waste time trying to figure them out. When a child is acting out in class, I need to assess immediately what's happening so I can deal with it. If the acting out is temperamental rather than manipulative, that's going to make a big difference in how I handle it. Also, give a moment's thought to the class dynamic. If you know about any testy relationships that are likely to heat up without policing, please let me know.

My biggest mistake today was getting entangled in the problem kid's arguments against everything. (Seriously, everything -- when DS1 said, at the end of the day, "I've played kickball with you," this kid immediately said, "Nuh-uh, I've never played tetherball with you," which is of course not what DS1 said -- but this kid goes into argument mode automatically.) I like to think that, if I'd had a head's up, I would've known better than to get drawn in the way I was.

On top of that issue, there were a few others, like kids using crude humor or just being obnoxious to each other. These were for the most part harmless if disruptive, but once or twice they threatened to mushroom into something more serious. As a sub it's hard to know when a tiff is going to explode into something much larger, so any advice on danger signs is very, very useful.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Just reserved a little car for me & the kids for our vacation this summer. It's going to be so nice to have my own set of wheels, with working a/c, to tool around in!

Monday, May 14, 2007

all clear

Turns out my sinuses (sinii?) are fine; the problem is with my turbinates. If you know how to read the films, you can see that they're all swollen and that's what's causing my problems.

My ENT recommends turbinate reduction surgery -- which DS1 had last June, with great results -- but I don't have time to get it done before we leave for our vacation. It will have to wait until the fall, or possibly forever. It's an outpatient procedure and one that should contribute to my quality of life, but it's not strictly required, either.

For now I'm hanging in there on a course of Cipro, trying to get rid of the latest round of gunk. I'm hoping I'm not too miserable over the summer, but I'll manage somehow, regardless.

dialog du jour

Can you name the speakers?

First Speaker: Is it really so bad?

Second Speaker: No, I'm just a whiner.

Speaker the First is DD, who begged me, after dinner but before I'd finished my glass of wine, to spot her at handstand practice. Obviously, I'm the second speaker.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

...and we're back!

I discovered a few days ago that my site metrics tools had gone wonky, yet again -- my ISP was moving accounts from an antiquated server to a new one, and mine was among them. This issue brought to the fore once again the fact that my 'net resources were less than ideal, just because I was too lazy to deal with it.

I don't know why -- maybe it's all the new computer equipment surrounding me these days -- but I decided enough was enough with the make-do situation and asked if they could move my account to the new system. They were happy to do it, on the spot and free of charge. They even advised me on a dependable, free FTP gadget: FireFox's FireFTP, which I used to download everything off the old site, and then upload everything onto the new site.

It took a day or so for the DNS names to propagate through the ISP's system so that everything hooked back up properly, and there may have been a file or two that failed to upload, but I'm fairly confident that it's 99% there -- and now I have a backup to recover from if it's not.

Onward & upward...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Worked today, subbing in third grade -- not a bad class at all, but not a good day for me, simply because I felt so crummy. It's hard to teach with sinuses full of gunk and a voice that's threatening to give out at any moment.

I survived. Took a nap before dinner, and that helped -- going to the ENT tomorrow with hopes he can get me fixed up soon.

Meanwhile, I notice that Blogger is misbehaving (or perhaps is just on my new, Vista-running computer)... let's see how this post goes.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

adventures in radiology

Hey, I've got a camera! As promised, some pictures of the pictures of inside my head.

Here's slice 22. Don't you think the swirly pattern is pretty? At this level, my maxillary sinuses look nice and clear, I think (again, what do I know? I'm not a doctor...):

Image 22

But a mere 10 slices away, there's a big difference between the left and right:

Image 32

Maybe that's normal; it looks almost like a difference in the bony structure of my face. That doesn't surprise me, because as people go, I'm more asymmetrical than most. (Not that anyone notices.) Of course, that could also be the result of the time my head broke a windshield and my jaw dented a dashboard. I know my jaw was cracked in that accident, and it wouldn't be surprising to learn that my cheekbones were damaged as well. I don't remember my face hurting so much as my jaw, which had a lump on it the size of a small plum, but that doesn't mean it didn't hurt. I just can't remember it -- it was more than 30 years ago, after all, and if we're not allowed to forget car accidents, what can we forget?

Here's a good introductory page on sinuses and sinusitis.

I called the ENT yesterday to see what was up, and I was on hold for the shortest time ever before the receptionist got back on the line to say, "You need to come in." (I'm pretty sure they called me last week, but the new printer/fax machine had been set, inadvertently, to answer the phone, so anyone who tried to leave a message last week got an earful of fax-screeching.)

I'm going Thursday, and it's not soon enough. My sinuses filled up with gunk again at the end of last week, and I'm feeling distinctly unwell. It's too soon for antibiotics now (it has been less than a week), but it may not be, by Thursday. I am strangely calm about this, mostly because I'm not expecting anything relating to my cancer to have shown up in this scan. I realize I could be wrong about that, but I'm just going to continue along my merry way and pretend we're just looking at the sinuses here, and that whatever it is that's happening, it's not something that requires surgical intervention.

Friday, May 04, 2007

new & improved

Cat Proofing 101

1. Buy 1/2-inch plastic tubing at Home Depot
2. Measure against length of all cables cats like to chew on, which is basically all cables, and cut
3. Using a sharp scissor, cut the tubing along one side, the entire length of the tube
4. Slide/work the cable into the slit, then attach to computer/peripheral as usual
5. Rest easy knowing your cat will not electrocute itself, nor will it wreak havoc on your net connection, by chewing through crucial wiring

All the new hardware arrived yesterday (well, Wednesday). Setup began yesterday after the kids got home from school and finally finished today -- mostly.

We ended up needing to get a new router. (I bought this one on the recommendation of the very nice tech support lady, who sadly informed me that my old (ancient!) 802.11b router would simply not work under Windows Vista. Considering the contortions I went through to get it to work with Windows XP, I was not surprised.

Lucky for me, by that time, all the stores were closed, so I had to wait until today to pick up the new router and get everything configured, and to finish setting up the new printer as well. (It really was lucky, too, because otherwise I would've been up till 3AM tinkering -- as it was, I had to give up and go to bed, just like I should now.)

I just a few moments ago finished restoring my iTunes libarary from my iPod; I used this nifty utility called CopyTrans (along with its companion utility, CopyPhoto), to get everything off the iPod back onto the PC. Considering I had close to 5,000 songs and nearly a hundred photos on that thing, it was well worth it to shell out the cash for the program to do the copying for me -- having to load in those hundreds of CDs again just would've crushed me.

So far Windows Vista is OK: very slow at startup, but otherwise fine. We're slowly but surely getting everything installed and back to "normal". I ran into the MS Office 2003 persistent EULA problem, but that was an easy fix (at least for me, since I don't mind editing a registry entry if I must.)

Possibly the coolest thing was booting up the laptop and having it be able to access the network through the new router with no intervention on my part -- now I just have to figure out how to get the Vista PCs to be able to grab files off the laptop, which is still running Windows 98, and I'll be cooking with gas. There are dozens of photos on there, not to mention the last 10 days worth of email that I'd like to move to the new computer without resorting to ftp -- it may yet come to that, believe me.

This evening I set up the mail accounts in Outlook again, along with the sorting rules, and we'll just see how that goes. There are all these little odd things that go on that make doing things like that take way longer than they should. But it's working now!

I can't believe how much time this has sucked out of my life, all this ordering and unpacking and setting up (and setting up, and setting up, and setting up again) of new computers and other equipment. The house is trashed, old hardware is piled on various surfaces, while new manuals and discs and extra cables are all over the place as well. There's a huge stack of boxes the cats have been enjoying tremendously, too. This weekend will be a cleaning weekend for sure.

Meanwhile, my new/replacement camera is due tomorrow: yay! Setting it up will require nothing more than putting in the batteries and the memory card, and setting the date and time -- my hands need a break from working with that vinyl tubing.

For now, we're done.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I lost a diamond stud earring yesterday, and it has really thrown me for a loop. I was so upset about it last night I did that almost-crying thing for a good 30 seconds, and then I spent the rest of the night feeling horribly grumpy and fighting with myself not to yell at the kids.

Is this just an inevitable reaction to the break-in last week, with the lost earring being the trigger? Or was yesterday just an exceptionally stressful day, with losing the earring the final touch that set me off?

The morning started very early as I hauled myself out of bed at 5:45 to take DS1 to his final physical therapy session. DH would normally take him, but as this was his final session, I wanted to get instructions from the therapist on the exercises he should continue to do at home. His appointment was at 7AM, so I had to get him up, breakfasted, and out the door by 6:45, which we managed OK.

I got him to school on time, and stopped in to talk briefly with the teacher I subbed for all last week, and that was OK -- I had spent a couple of hours writing up my notes (4 pages, single spaced!) on Saturday night, and sent them to her via email. We were chatting about things when DH called me: he needed his car! Oops -- I forgot that I had it, and in retrospect, I'm not sure at all why I took his car and not my own. Just one odd decision among many on this day.

Got home, got my breakfast, and waited for Mom to call. She wanted me to take a look at her lab results, mailed to her without comment by her new kidney doctor. She read me all the stats over the phone, and from what I had already read, it seemed to me that 1) her kidneys are failing but 2) she doesn't need dialysis yet, just based on her Creatinine level. I was surprised that there was no mention of GFR, which is typically the key number used to determine the stage of kidney failure. Mom said she would call the kidney doctor to ask about her results, because she knows they're not good and it's just odd that the doctor sent them back to her without scheduling any kind of a follow-up appointment.

After we rang off, I did some web-crawling and was surprised (I don't know why I was surprised, I just was) to find several GFR calculators online. I used three different calculators, and every one of them said Mom's at stage 3, where there is moderate damage and the treatment goals are to control the conditions that cause further damage to the kidneys, as well as therapies to ameliorate anemia (which Mom also has) and bone loss, which are common at this stage. Then I agonized over whether or not to call my Mom back and say this to her, but I decided not to. When we talked I had already impressed upon her that her labs were out of whack enough that she shouldn't just let it go until the doctor called her. (Later in the day, I talked to one of my sisters and gave her the update; she'll check in with Mom this week and find out if she called the doctor and what is to be done.)

After that, I went over to TMC to have my head scanned to see what's going on with my sinuses. I spent more time in the waiting room than I did under the scanner; the whole thing took about 10 minutes. The worst was when I had to lie on my stomach and rest my chin on a little platform, tilting my head back to look up as far as I could. Thank goodness that was only for a few minutes, because it was a position designed to aggravate my TMD. The last thing you want to do when you have problems with your jaw muscles clenching too much is have to lean on your chin like that.

And this is where I lost the earring. I forgot I had them on (more muddled thinking on my part), I had meant to leave them at home since I knew I would have to take them off for the scan and I didn't want to lose them. I've already lost one pair of diamond stud earrings, and that made me feel bad enough.

But still, there I was with the earrings and needing to be scanned, so I took them off and put them in my pants pocket. The front pocket. The one I tuck everything -- keys, cell-phone, receipts -- into, when I don't feel like dealing with my purse. And after the scan, I completely forgot about them, so there they stayed, all day, until I realized at about 4:30 that I had forgotten to put them back on. When I reached into my pocket to fish them out, I could only find one. Aaaauuuggghhhh!

Where could I have lost it?

Let's see, after the scan I met DH at Dilly's Deli for lunch, and had my cellphone in that pocket, then out of that pocket. I tucked my receipt for lunch into that pocket, too.

After lunch, I went home for a while. I have a copy of my CT films and decided to play at doctor: radiologist, and looked at them all. Going strictly on the idea that things inside the front of your head are supposed to be symmetrical, I can definitely say there's stuff going on there in my sinuses that is not typical. Whether or not there is anything technically wrong I can't tell, of course, but even I can see the huge differences between left and right sides. (When I get my camera, I'll post some of the cooler looking images.) I don't feel particularly stressed about the sinus stuff -- nor about Mom's situation -- but I think that's just me not letting myself flip out, because I know there's no point. But these are still big stresses.

Then I went up to the Catholic Book and Gift Store in Tempe to find going away things for my RE class, as last night was our last class. I had my car key in that pocket.

Then I went to Trader Joe's, and I had my keys in and out of the pocket, and when my keys weren't in there, the cell phone was.

Then I got the kids from school, came home, put the groceries away, went out again to the supermarket to get snacks for tonight's class parties (four parties, one grocery cart embarrassingly full of junk food). Came home, puttered around for a while, got ready to go to RE, and realized I'd lost my earring.

No time to look for it, either -- out the door, drive about a mile, realize I'd forgotten the going-away gifts, came home, went back, had class, came home, made dinner, and got the kids in bed.

Then I looked for the earring in my purse -- it might have moved in there with a receipt -- in the car, on the floor in the garage. No luck. The kitchen counter and the desk were a mess, the result of about 4 days accretion of stuff. No one could find anything; DD spent 5 minutes looking for the key to turn her expander, it had become so buried.

To top it all off, when I checked my email after getting the kids in bed, I had a message from the teacher I subbed for last week, asking me about an incident that I had decided not to report. I spent about an hour writing and re-writing an account of the incident and why I handled it the way I did and why I did not do what I didn't do. In the end, I felt very muddled about the whole situation -- stay tuned for more blogging.

I ended up staying up too late 1) feeling very upset 2) deciding to get over it 3) doing my PT exercises (they help, at least physically) 4) cleaning off the desk and countertop and 5) falling asleep in front of the TV.

Now I'm just miserable, but there's a lot going on and I'm tired of having a computer that is too slow to run video on (seriously), and I'm very sad about losing about 10 years worth of email correspondence (seriously), and the new stuff isn't getting here fast enough to take the edge of that sadness.

Mostly I'm upset that I've managed to lose another diamond stud earring. The first pair disappeared in the aftermath of my neck dissection surgery in Houston; my ear was numb and I couldn't wear the earrings, so I put them... somewhere to take home -- at least I think I did -- but they never made it home. It may be that I left them in the safe in the hotel room, but by the time I realized I didn't know where they were, weeks later, it was way too late to do anything about it. DH got me new ones for Christmas, and I wore them nearly every day.

It's just a thing, a kind of expensive thing, and not that big a deal, I know. I'm pretty sure DH can't figure out why I'm so upset about this. I think I wouldn't care as much if I hadn't already lost a pair. I'm starting to feel like I have an earring jinx. In the past month I lost one of my favorite opal studs, too -- but that one mystifies me. One of them is in the small dish where I keep my earrings, the other has just... disappeared. I have no idea what happened to it.

Now I'm considering wearing the opal in one ear and the diamond in the other. Eclectic, or weird? Just making do with what I've got left.