Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Jane links to Lileks, who recently survived an Alaskan cruise, and ponders (as does Lileks) the behavior of most passengers: eat, eat, eat!

One of the reasons often cited for shipboard gluttony, as Jane mentions, is "But it's free!"

Here's the thing: it's not free, it's included in the price you paid when you bought your ticket for the cruise. You've already paid for it.

TANSTAAFL, even if you're on a cruise.

Monday, July 30, 2007

regarding salivary gland issues

From time to time (like today!) I get an email or a comment asking for good information about salivary gland damage from RAI, RadioActive Iodine treatment for thyroid cancer.

Unfortunately, post-RAI salivary issues are a lot more common than your doctor may let on. For the most part, the first flare up is (more) severe. Some people have one incidence, post-treatment, but many continue to experience periodic flare-ups, some triggered by eating certain foods (sour, spicy), or sometimes nothing at all.

If you're looking for some good introductory material about this condition, here is an article on ThyCa.org.

Here is the link to the article on MedScape about radiation damage to salivary glands. This is a much more technical article targeted at a medical professionals, but it also includes an illustration of a very beneficial massage technique (figure 7). (MedScape may require free registration.)

Last but not least, I recommend NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) as both a preventative immediately after dosing with RAI and for the next 2 days, and as a treatment whenever the salivaries swell up and become painful.

An aside: I had trouble recently distinguishing jaw pain (TMJ/TMD) from salivary gland issues. Some ways to distinguish between the two: salivary gland issues will not cause clicking or popping when you open and close your mouth, as far as I know, and repositioning your jaw or opening or closing your mouth will not change the type of pain/pressure you experience from salivary glands. If you're hearing pops or your jaw joints hurt when you open or close your mouth, you're most likely suffering from TMD. Unfortunately, it's entirely possible to have both issues at the same time!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

home again

We're home, after a long day of stuttering travel -- nothing after the initial takeoff went to plan, and instead of getting home at about 11:30AM we ended up here must closer to 2PM. It really wasn't much of delay -- when I see it written out like that -- but it was all rather excruciating. Radar down in Cincinnati, flight crews diverted, problems getting the luggage out, and nothing really decent to eat, either.

Still, we're all unpacked and put away, and I went and did errands with DD and finally got my copy of the latest, last Harry, and I suppose I'll get to read it eventually, now.

This week I've scads of appointments and after eating junk food all day must start on the low iodine diet (LID) immediately, because I have a scan a week from Monday. Whee! Labs tomorrow, then u/s, injections, all that yada-yada later in the week.

Wish my throat felt less lumpy, but I'm deeply, overwhelmingly contented, just to be home.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

blur, v 2.0

Since I last posted... too much to recount, and in all honesty I'll have to check the credit card statement to remember what we did, exactly. Here are the high points:

- DH arrived, yay!
- went to the beach lots more times
- went candlepin bowling one rainy afternoon
- got huge lobsters for dinner
- had fantastic, long visits with my two best friends in MA
- went to the Barnstable County Fair
- relocated to the in-laws in CT
- had a fabulous overnight in Mystic with DH at the same delightful b&b we stayed at a couple of years ago
- took the kids back to Mystic to visit Mystic Seaport, "the museum of America and the Sea"

I've done a lot of eating, a fair bit of walking around, and way too much indulging in everything. Can't believe we're heading back home on Sunday, back to reality. What happened to the summer?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

that's better

My brother and his family left just after 8 this morning, and about 10 minutes later, DD announced she was bored. Typical.

It was a working morning -- laundry and yard work -- and a relaxing/beach afternoon. Part of this morning's work was periodically reminding DS2 that he owed me an apology and not letting him do anything until I got it. I can be so stubborn sometimes.

He finally capitulated just after noon, most likely because his older brother reminded him that his Dad is coming in a few days, and Dad would most certainly not put up with this nonsense. In the space of about five seconds we were as right as rain, and the rest of the day was very pleasant. Let's hear it for peer pressure!

It's nice to be here with just us, and Mom. I had forgotten how peaceful it is. With five (or more) kids in the house, peace has been in short supply.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007


The last time my throat had a lump in it like this, it turned out to be cancer. Tonight, it's just me feeling miserable.

DS2 had a bad day, and threw the biggest fit ever at Border's. We went to the movies, then to Trader Joe's, a bit of home! and continued that with a trip to Border's for a snack. I ended up carrying him out of the building while he screamed and shouted at the top of his lungs, which he continued for at least a half-hour on the drive back from Hyannis.

Once he shut up, it was as if someone flipped a switch -- he was fine. Unfortunately it's not that easy for me, I'm still reeling from last night's debacle and trying to get over it.

I couldn't let that kind of horrid behavior pass unremarked, though, and so I asked for an apology, and got the most insincere "Sorry!" ever. We talked about ways to make someone feel better after you've hurt them, and came up with three things -- saying "sorry", a hug, and saying you know you did a bad thing and you won't do it again, that you've learned from your mistake.

Since he has been lying lately, I told him I need all three of these things to believe him. It would take him about 10 seconds to accomplish that; do you think he has? I was about an inch away from him, and all he had to do was pick up his arms but he wouldn't do it. He says it won't work, I told him the best thing about giving a hug is that he'll get one back, and that it would certainly work... nope.

He's six years old, and he's stubborn, and of course self-control takes practice. We've made some progress in that he finally admitted that his behavior was his own fault, and not mine or anyone else's -- Hallelujah! I'm sure he has convinced himself that I'll forget about this eventually, because he is adept at doing just that, having "forgotten" all about it twice already in the space of a couple of hours. Perhaps I will -- perhaps I will have to, because even when I asked him if he wanted to go to sleep without apologizing to me, he was still fine with that: "Won't work," he said yet again, calling me a liar, yet again.

It's stupid, but it hurts.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

should've seen this coming

And everything was going so well!

We exhausted ourselves yesterday, but woke in good spirits and headed out to the Sandwich Glass Museum at about 10AM. That in itself was something of a miracle, since I'm not exactly fast-moving in the mornings these days. Near constant dosing with Aleve is helping, but the days when I don't seriously contemplate hip replacement are few and far between. Nevertheless, I'm managing.

After the museum -- and the obligatory shopping -- we had a nice lunch in Sandwich at the Taverna, and then came home. We're having July weather now, which means sticky and hazy and hot, which is good beach weather. I wanted to go to the beach straight off, but the neighbors across the street had up their inflatable water slide, so all the kids went over to play on that, having previously received an open invitation.

We finally did make it to the beach shortly after 3, but didn't get to stay too long. The kids have been in herd mode all summer, and seemingly getting dumber and dumber about it each passing day. All kids laugh at potty humor and can be obsessed with bodily functions, but they all know that's not something they should be doing in public. One of them had made up a song they liked to sing which of course involved various naughty words, which they were chanting at the beach. I had to remind them a few times that while we'll tolerate that at home (and where the grown-ups don't have to hear it), it's not appropriate out in public. After repeated warnings to knock it off I finally told them that if I heard it again then we'd be going... and not 10 minutes later DS1 starts singing, followed by one of the cousins.

That's it, everyone out of the water, we're out of here! I let them drip for a few minutes, had them all wrap up in their towels, and bundled them back into the car. I was disappointed because I didn't want to leave the beach, but at the same time I was relieved because I was tired of screeching at them like a harpy for being such rude children! It was embarrassing.

In spite of that, we agreed they could do one last sleep-over, but in retrospect we should've nixed it after the beach incident. On a dare, DS2... well, let's say he did something that he's known not to do since he was about 2 years old, the kind of thing puppies used to get swatted with rolled-up newspapers for doing. The girls came upstairs to tell the grown-ups about it, and that was that: end of the sleepover, much yelling, crying and carrying on from various chidren, not to mention complete disavowal of responsibility. We asked the older ones, Why didn't you stop him? They didn't notice what he was doing. We asked DS2, why would you do such a thing? His cousin dared (or possibly told) him to... to which we replied, so what!

Anyway, my brother is completely disgusted and taking his family home tomorrow instead of Thursday -- or so he says now, we'll see how he feels in the light of day. I'm at a loss as to what meaningful consequence I can impose on my kids at this point. The immediate consequences -- loss of sleep-over, major chastisement -- hardly seem sufficient. DH recommended a complete ban on the potty talk, with severe consequences for infractions, and I'm on board with that, but I just don't know what else to do.

It's really too bad the vacation should have to unravel like this. I just feel disappointed that the kids would behave so inappropriately, and afraid that this is going to taint the rest of the summer. Honestly I wish I could pack up my kids and take them home, too -- it would be so much easier to deal with this there! But that's not an option at all, and DH won't be here until Sunday.

Monday, July 09, 2007

what? who?

We hit the road early this morning and drove first to Waltham, to pick up the girls -- DD and her cousin, M, at my older sister's house. Then we parked at Alewife T station and rode the train to Harvard Square, and went to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. It's a great little museum for the kids, you can see a lot and not be overwhelmed.

Then we traipsed through the steamy weather back to the other side of Harvard Square for lunch at Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage, which was excellent except for the decor, which being geared towards college students has a number of less-than-appropriate posters and bumper stickers all over the walls. Nothing raunchy, of course, just the kind of stupid sex and drinking college humor that I don't want to explain to my 8-year-old. But lunch was delicious, and fortified us for our return to the subway and the trip to Fenway Park, where we 1) shopped and 2) did the tour.

It was fun, and somehow the kids remained engaged throughout, even though it was hot when we were sitting in the right field roof seats. The Green Monster Seats are completely fabulous, but I doubt I would be willing to cough up $140 for one. I'm just not that fanatic. ("And you call yourself a fan?" Well, no, I don't -- but I do like baseball.) Doesn't matter,Red Sox Nation will thrive without me.

So after all that, took the T back to Alewife and took the Fresh Pond Parkway-Soldier's Field Road-Storrow Drive route over to 93S (since 128S would be a parking lot by that time) and was just amazed at the lack of traffic -- really, it took us less than 15 minutes to get across town. Back when I lived in Boston, that would've been considered miraculous at any time of day, and obviously impossible at rush hour. Let's hear it for the Big Dig, which did some good after all!

Finally get home after 7PM, argue some dinner into the kids, get them into their pj's, etc. 8:45PM, bedtime is imminent, so what do they ask?

Can we watch an episode of Doctor Who?

(We polished off Season 1 last week, and and are about 4 episodes into Season 2... clearly, my work here is done. In all honesty, I knew I was nearly there when at the NE Aquarium, DS2 bought a small keychain that glows blue when you push a button so it will project a shark image, declaring it a perfect sonic screwdriver...)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Transformers, etc

A mild, rainy day, the sort of weather I really adore and never, ever see in Arizona.

Of course, this isn't beach weather at all, so we went with the usual Plan B, a movie.

The bad news? Everyone except me has already seen the latest Pixar gem, Ratatouille, so that left us with few alternatives. We'd all seen Pirates 3, too, long ago, of course. We probably would've seen Shrek 3 if it were anywhere to be found in a theater around here, but they are all so tiny that it's long gone.

So, Transformers it was. General assessment: not a movie for little kids, with enough teen frustration-themed conversation to cause eye-rolling induced headaches. The transformer effect was very cool, and the vehicles that the robots transformed into were excellent. I liked the two teen leads just fine, and the Army guys were cool, and even the blah-blah backstory and tagline (something about no victory without sacrifice) were all OK, even more than OK some times. But it missed being a great movie by a wide margin, mostly because it was 1) way too long and 2) too confusing in the battle sequences to tell who was winning. It was generally hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys, even though the good guys had blue eyes and bad guys had red eyes -- when they were mid-battle, you couldn't see their eyes. Optimus Prime, Bumble Bee, and Megatron were all readily identifiable, but the other transformers were more or less fungible. For example, I know at least one of the good guys dies, but I still can't tell you which one, and it didn't really matter one way or another.

Another major problem was the resolution of the climactic battle -- I didn't think I was that distracted, but I still was left wondering, "Hey, how did that happen? Why did that happen?" Some minimal fan-wanking -- "oh, that must be what Optimus Prime was talking about..." -- makes it work, but really, it should've been more dramatic.

It was pretty much a mess, really, and overlong, but it could've been worse.

PotC3 was a much better movie, although probably less well-received (if I could call it that) by the critics.

Somehow or other I'll wrangle my way into Ratatouille, but I suspect the next movie I get to will be Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, for which I almost cannot wait.

Outside of the movie, it was mostly a long, hard day. My hip has been really bothering me these last few days, even with taking regular walks. I can blame the weather, but that doesn't help much. It is exhausting to be at this level of pain all day, and I had forgotten that. Overall my energy level has been fine, as have been my reserves of patience, but not today. I took five kids with me to the movies, and then to the toy store, and then to the book store, and then for a long walk when we got home, and I think my head's about to explode. It's not any one thing but dozens of little things -- well, that's not right, it is one thing, isn't it? That pain.

If I felt like this all the time I would have to go back on some kind of meds for it. As it is, I'll manage for now with Aleve, and hope to feel better tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

thoroughly confused

Great, very busy weekend in Phoenix, then up at the crack of dawn yesterday, two uneventful flights landing me back in Hartford.

Got up this morning, packed up all our stuff and headed back to the Cape, and now here at Mom's once again.

I'm coming down with something (excruciating ear aches during that final descent, yesterday), my throat is sore and I'm just out of it. Where am I again? What time zone am I in? I keep adding and subtracting three hours to figure out what time my body thinks it is, but then I give up. I was on East Coast time when I left last Thursday and never really went off it -- how could I, over just three days? But now that I'm on the East Coast again I'm thinking things like, "Well, it's only 8:30 so no wonder I don't feel like going to bed."

I just hope this doesn't last too long, I'll keel over.

Plus: continuing a disturbing trend, I seem to have lost my entire (small) jewelry pouch, which held all my favorite earrings: the blue glass beads from the Virgin Islands, the Russian enamels, the fresh water pearl drops, and my new peridot studs. I don't think I packed it to take with me last weekend, but I can't find it anywhere, here. It wasn't in any of the bags (either the ones we took with us, or the ones we left here), and I asked DH if I had left it at home, and he couldn't find it there, either. Possibilities: it's here somewhere; it's at home somewhere, because I did take it home and left it there; it was stolen out of my suitcase en route. Things don't just disappear, right? Am I daft enough to have packed it? Yes, because I thought no one would be low enough to take it -- it's so small, and the monetary value of the contents is nil -- they were just pretty things I happened to like, the most expensive pair cost less than $50.

They are only things, and unimportant things by anyone's reckoning, but their loss is upsetting to me -- mostly because I can't remember what the heck I did with them, and I'm not willing to concede that they might have been stolen. I do hope they'll turn up. (Why does it always have to be earrings?)