Thursday, December 27, 2007


A week ago, I had a septoplasty and turbinate reduction surgery.

Today, I got the splints removed from my nose -- huzzah! It was an odd but not painful process. The splints are semi-rigid plastic, and about 3 inches long, so it felt weird when the doctor drew them out, but as I said, it didn't hurt.

Mine weren't blue, but they were at least 3 inches long and held in place by a stitch, just as these are. It doesn't seem as if all that should be able to fit into a nose, does it? (Image from Wikipedia)

Now I can breathe quite easily through my nose, although when I do, it feels as if the entire inside of my skull is filling up with air. It was cool out today, only about 55 degrees, and walking out of the building afterwards was painful, getting all that cold air up my snoot. I'm sure these extra-sensitive reactions will moderate with time.

While I was there, I asked my ENT about the painful upper jaw/front teeth I experienced, and he said that was common with septoplasty. It would have been nice if anyone had ever mentioned that, hmmm? I do like to know what to expect. It was not an issue with the intubation. I asked about the anesthesiologist's difficulties with intubating me, and the ENT said he didn't remark anything at the time, but would follow up with the other doctor. It's entirely possible that the anesthesiologist was just checking on me because he had such a tough time getting the IV in and wanted to make sure I wasn't in agony or anything, and I just misunderstood in my post-op drug haze.

I go back in two weeks for another follow-up, and to discuss what to do about the enlarged arytenoid cartilage that's making swallowing so problematic. For now I'll just continue with the saline nasal spray, and set up the cool mist humidifier (if I can figure it out, that's usually DH's job) so I don't become completely parched overnight.

It's so lovely not having those things in my face anymore.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

day 6/Christmas report

Tomorrow afternoon I get the splints out. I know it will be a brief, uncomfortable process, but I'm hoping I will be able to breathe through my nose without whistling when it's over.

The first day I really felt "normal" (as if) was Monday, because my mouth finally stopped killing me so. Even now I get the occasional twinge, but it's nothing compared to what it had been. Sunday, DH and I went out mid-day to finish up shopping and have a lunch date while Mom stayed with the kids. It was lovely, but it exhausted me.

Monday, last minute stuff (can't believe what I forgot), and then four hours in the kitchen prepping Christmas dinner. We went to the 4PM Mass, and then out for a nice (if noisy) dinner. After dinner, the kids watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas followed by Olive the Other Reindeer.

Awaiting discovery

Tuesday, Christmas day, was a lovely, easy day: opened presents, made a big breakfast (only nearly burnt the bacon), got the turkey in the oven on time, and dinner on the table as scheduled.

After this, I'm totally sold on brining. It tastes as good as it looks.

Our first family dinner in the dining room... ever.

DH harvested and juiced a mess of oranges from our tree, and we had fantastic mimosas. The kids are thrilled with their new Wii, and DS2 was in Lego Star Wars heaven. DS1 was a bit miffed that he didn't get any Legos, but since he hasn't shown the slightest interest in anything Lego in months, I'm pretty sure that's not justified. He made do playing with his brother's.

Got up early this morning to take DH to the airport; he'll be back East with his family and return on the first. His father is doing so much better, it's a huge relief. I wish DH could be in two places at once -- it's so important for him to see his dad, but it's a drag that he's missing so much of his vacation time with the kids (he has to take this week off). So, tired and somewhat grumpy, we stumbled through today: shopping early this morning (both boys bought more Star Wars Legos with their Christmas loot); a quick lunch out, and then National Treasure 2 this afternoon. NS2 represents perfectly the kind of movie that critics hate that make a ton of money: there's nothing terribly wrong with it. It's silly, but it has a goofy charm, and you know it's going to have a happy ending. You can't examine the motivations (or actions) of the bad guy very closely because they won't withstand any scrutiny at all, but so what? It was a pleasant diversion on an afternoon when none of us had any energy to do anything else, and if we had all stayed home, the kids probably would've been bickering.

Anyway, the nose: the worst problem I'm having is stuffiness, which inhibits nose-breathing. Mouth-breathing is a huge problem for me, my gums are a mess because my mouth is so dry lately. When I breathe through my nose, it's noisy even when I'm getting enough air. I'm still blowing blood-tinged goo out from time to time, but nothing worrisome to me, and irrigation with the saline nasal spray is pretty good at getting that stuff out until I fill up with gunk again.

It's still too soon to tell whether or not this will have any benefit, but at least I'm feeling much more like my usual self.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

post-op day 2

The nose goo has just about stopped, and I have been able to breathe through my nose for most of the day. It's kind of a drag to be dabbing with a tissue off and on all day, but it's still way better than having to wear the drip pads under my nose.

I googled around to see what other's septoplasty recoveries have been like, and no one has mentioned having sore teeth. I think my mouth is killing me because of the difficulties they had intubating me. Whatever caused it, the mouth issues are worse than the nose issues by far. The nose doesn't hurt much at all, although the splints do make me sneeze from time to time.

I noticed today that my sense of smell seems more sensitive, even though I'm breathing through yuck. That's a relief.

I slept well until about 4:30AM when my pain meds wore off, as they have been, after about 5 hours. I don't think taking more an hour early for a few days is going to kill me (it's just extra strength Tylenol) and it helps a lot. The idea of taking Vicodin is abhorrent to me. Yes, it works on the pain, but it makes me incapable of coherent thought, and worse, it means I can't drive. No driving two days before Christmas? I don't think so.

It was really stupid to do this so close to the holiday. I was still able to enjoy the production of A Christmas Carol we saw at the Herberger Theater today, but it would've been a lot nicer if my nose wasn't slowly dripping and my mouth wasn't throbbing. [For the record: it was a delightful production, but I prefer the Hale Theater's production, which was more intimate, and featured beautiful caroling throughout.]

Friday, December 21, 2007

last weekend

Just a bit out of the ordinary.

beautiful sunrise, NJ

snow everywhere!

I flew into Boston on the red-eye Friday night; finally arrived after a 2 hour equipment delay in Newark.

Why? A very special occasion.

It was a surprise party; (nearly) everyone was there, and we all, true to form, did not care one bit how silly we looked on the dance floor. It was awesome.

I got all my sisters with me...

It was a very short, very fun weekend, spent with my family, a gift for both my sister and me.

Getting home Sunday could've been a disaster but wasn't. I arrived home two hours earlier than I had originally scheduled, in spite of a horrendous storm. It all worked out, somehow: I was where I needed to be and made it on the last plane to Houston, and made a connecting flight to Phoenix thirty minutes later.

Surreal, and fantastic.

post-op day 1

Not a great day.

I feel like I have a very bad cold, chiefly because 1) my nose has been dripping all day long and 2) for most of the day, I've been mouth-breathing.

My front teeth and surrounding tissue continue very sore, and I noticed that I have bruises on both my upper and lower lip on the left side. My throat is very sore and swallowing is difficult. I've been sipping hot tea through a straw all day; it helps.

Pain-wise: the nose is uncomfortable, but not excruciating; I'm still on just the extra-strength Tylenol. For much of the day, I would say there was no pain at all. The splints do feel weird, though, and have set me off sneezing several times. Sneezing is not a problem at all, although it does tend to set off more bleeding/discharge.

For most of the day, the discharge has been pinkish, more lymph than blood, and it is definitely slowing. I dislike the feeling of constant wet under my nose, and dislike that I tear up spontaneously (usually around sneezing fits) -- it feels as if my entire face is filling up, and tears leak out. It's weird because for the most part, I can breathe through my nose, I just forget to -- the drip pad placement is key. It has to catch the goop but not block the airflow.

Finally heard back from my ENT's office, and got the go-ahead to just use OTC saline nasal spray for my irrigation. It helps.

I feel like whining but don't, what would be the point? I just have to get through this. The timing is horrible. I want to be enjoying Christmas-y things and can't. I find this all incredibly annoying, specifically because it's self-inflicted. I didn't want to do this and now I'm miserable, but it's not like I can undo it!

I'll feel better tomorrow, and eventually say "yes, it was worth it," when I don't have chronic sinus infections anymore. Right?

I just wish my damn teeth weren't hurting so much.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

11 hours ago

I got out of surgery. I whined about going, but I went anyway. While we were waiting for them to call me back, I told DH that if I had the car keys, I would've bolted, but I stayed put.

The pre-op was the most miserable I've ever had, as it took the anesthesiologist four tries to finally stick a vein that didn't collapse or blow out on him. The nurse took a look at my arms and wouldn't even attempt it. The doc hit a vein every time, but they kept failing -- even the one in my hand that is like Old Reliable. That was weird. Usually once the vein is stuck, it behaves itself. I've been off all my supplements for almost two weeks now -- perhaps my lack of EFAs has something to do with it. Anyway, each stick hurt very much, and the doc was apologetic, warning me with each stick: "A lot of pain here, sorry," as he shoved the thing into my arm. He finally got one in my right forearm -- if that one failed, he was going to try the veins in my feet. So far, I've managed to avoid that horror.

The surgery itself went well; I'm not packed, but I do have splints in my nose that will need to come out next week. I have been wearing "drip pads" since I came out; a small wad of gauze pads to catch the oozing (blood) from my nose. It's held on with strip that I suspect was cut from a surgical mask. The elastic isn't very tight but even so, I don't like having anything around my head and behind my ears for so many consecutive hours. The blood flow was pretty steady for the first few hours but tapered off this afternoon. I'm hoping it will stop altogether tomorrow.

I took a Vicodin when DH brought them home, but since then I've been just on extra-strength Tylenol. I don't like that spacy feeling that Vicodin gives me, and the pain is very manageable, so far.

As usual, some incidental insult is giving me more trouble than the surgery itself. The stroboscopy last week showed I have some enlargement of the cartilaginous structures at the top of my throat, which explains the lumpy feeling and my difficulty swallowing. (Apparently, this is the result of compensating for the nerve damage from my cancer surgeries.) They had a lot of trouble intubating me for the surgery, and my throat is killing me. In addition, my front teeth are sore and the tissue just behind them is very tender, like I ate pizza right out of the oven and the mozzarella stuck to the roof of my mouth. (I resent greatly feeling like I have pizza burn without the compensating pleasure of eating hot, fresh pizza.)

Mouth-breathing about two-thirds of the time isn't helping, either. I can breathe through my nose, it's just having the gauze there makes me think I shouldn't.

So far I don't have black eyes and external swelling is minimal if at all present, so that's cool. Of course I look weird because I have this bloody wad of gauze under my nose, but it could be a lot worse. The only real hassle is, I have instructions for nasal irrigation, with specific directions for how to clean the device, but I didn't get a device, and no one told me what device I need, or when to start the irrigation. I think it's a safe bet that I shouldn't irrigate until the bleeding stops, but still, it's annoying. DH made a bunch of calls today, including one to the doctor's office, but we still don't have any answers. How annoying! I have to call tomorrow to make my follow-up appointment to get the splints removed, so I hope to get answers to these questions then.

Mom took good care of me and fed me soup and tea, and made dinner for the family while I slept. She made brownies while I was in surgery, and the kids are enjoying them so much. Tomorrow they have just a half-day of school, and then it's winter break. They're as ready for a break as I am, and won't mind a few days of lounging around while I recover. I hope!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

9 minutes

I have until midnight to eat or drink, then it's "nothing by mouth" until after my procedures tomorrow. Which procedures might those be? Why, the long-awaited septoplasty and turbinate reduction.

I am feeling like such an idiot, scheduling these things so close to Christmas. It's not as if I'm idle these days.

So, drinking the last of my tea, and gearing up to wrap and label the quick breads I've baked for the kids' teachers (this year, banana bread, cranberry blueberry bread, and lemon yogurt bread.) Then I have to see if I can find DS2's mittens, because he has a field trip to Polar Ice tomorrow, and the word is that they will have snow to play in.

I will be so happy when the surgery is over, no matter how miserable I am. The anticipation of it has been killing me.

one thing

Lots going on, lots to write about, but no time to do it in. So here's one thing just to keep my hand in, here.

This game:

is fantastic. It was recommended by a clerk at my local Border's, and I bought it to play at my religious ed class's Christmas party. It's such a small class that we can do things like that -- and we all had a great time. Last night, the entire family played it and it was a blast.

The game moves quickly, power rotates by turns, and there are many, many opportunities for laughter. There are so many cards and combinations that the odds of running into the same pairs more than once are vanishingly small. The rules are so simple you can explain them in 30 seconds, and the mechanics of play couldn't be easier, either.

Apples to Apples, a great game for everyone. There are different versions; I got the "junior" version for ages 9 and up, but it worked fine for us adults. Families with older kids might want to go for the adult edition, and those with really little ones might want to go with the kids one. For elementary school children (readers), the junior edition is perfect.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Not 100%, but after the minor angst-fest last night, it was very nice to be able to eat breakfast this morning and not end up doubled over in pain.

Today: Christmas shopping insanity; there's less than 2 weeks left and I have to get my act together. You wouldn't think it would be so hard to find a coffee maker with a glass carafe that uses a cone filter, that isn't so flimsy I expect it to break on its third use, but that's turning out not to be the case. I think I'm a little obsessive about these details, sometimes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Christmas is 2 weeks away and I am not even remotely ready. We don't have our tree up yet, we're waiting for DH to come home -- tomorrow! Yay. It has been a long almost-week without him.

The weather has been nasty: cold, rainy, ick. If I wanted to live like this, I'd move to Seattle. It's unusual for us to have this so many days in a row. I shouldn't complain because we need the rain (and northern AZ is just loving all this snow, they'll actually have a decent ski season this year), but I feel cold all the time and everything hurts.

That could, of course, be because I caught the boys' stomach virus (DS2, last Tues/Wed, DS1,Thurs/Fri), but if this is just a stomach bug it's a particularly nasty one, since it landed on me Saturday night with a vengeance and only showed slight improvement today. I called my g/e doc to find out whether or not my meds could be making it worse; it turns out that yes, taking 4x the usual dose of Prilosec can have nasty side effects. Things have been better since I stopped taking it, but I'm nowhere close to all better.

My father-in-law is in critical but stable condition, he is in a long process of recovering from the infection and surgeries he's had. At this point it's a question of diligence, making sure he doesn't develop any other opportunistic infections, etc. It's difficult because all we can do is wait, and pray.

Everything feels stretched out and oddly rushed at the same time. I wish I felt better. I wish I could believe I will feel better, soon, but I don't. Maybe this is all just stress and when DH comes home I'll be fine. I remember feeling exactly like this in my early 20s, everything I ate gave me a stomach ache, not one part of my digestive system worked right. It lasted for months on end. I don't even remember how I got over it, I just know I did. I don't want to go back to that particular circle of hell now, or ever.

It was stress, then, and it's probably stress now, even though I don't consciously feel stress, I know it doesn't work that way. It's one thing to have an adversarial relationship with food when you're basically cooking for yourself and your husband, it's another when you're supposed to be feeding the entire family. So much of family life centers around food, and today I could finally tolerate it.

I weighed 136 pounds this morning, which puts me down about 8 pounds since I started noticing my weight decreasing. I'm trying to keep up the fluids today and I'm finally not losing more than I'm putting in, so hopefully things will stabilize.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


This... is kinda ugly.

Too many feelings right now -- spit 'em all out, hope they stay there.

First of all, it sucks when your kids get older and you develop a routine to keep things running, because you've got the time, you see, they're all in school -- and then one gets sick. Boy the Younger got sick at school early on Tuesday and was also out Wednesday, back to school on Thursday. Thursday, therefore, was going to be my run-errands day, since we were running out of milk and all.

But Thursday I was waiting for the laundry to finish so I could cycle it through when the phone rang, and Boy the Older was throwing up in the nurse's office. He was home Friday, too, obviously, and seemed fine, even ate breakfast and lunch. Didn't want to go out for our weekly Border's jaunt, but that was fine. Went to the 6PM Mass for the Immaculate Conception but didn't make it past the first reading, Boy was feeling nauseated again. He didn't actually throw up but he was clearly distressed and there was no point in trying to tough it out. Came home, felt frustrated. I've been trapped in this house for four consecutive days with no prospect of relief until Monday morning when, God willing, they will all be well enough for school. Who knows how long this stupid thing is going to cling to DS1. Oh, and we're completely out of milk.

Second: it's raining again. The windshield wipers on the van are toast, so we had to take DH's car to Mass. OK, not that big a deal, except his windshield wipers are terrible, too.

Third, and very stupid: Boy the Older put on sandals for church this evening. It's night time, he has a cold and is getting over a stomach virus, it's freaking raining, and he puts on sandals. If DH were here, he'd say it's just the Asperger's, but I don't know how I'm supposed to chalk that up to Asperger's when I specifically told the kid "put your shoes and socks on," and he just ignored me. Cold, wet feet in a kid that's not feeling too good to start out with? Oh, that's a great idea. [/sarcasm]

Fourth, back to that rain. It will rain all night, the tennis courts will be puddle central, but there will still be lessons because it will have stopped raining 15 minutes prior to lessons starting. We're supposed to be on our third week and I've yet to have a lesson. I'm rethinking the wisdom of early morning lessons in the cold and damp when my RA has decided to kick up. I'm not exactly in a flare, but I'm not loving this weather. My hands hurt enough for me to notice that they're hurting, which is about a 4 on the pain scale. It comes and goes, but it's odd for them to be hurting at night like this. Don't like it.

Fifth: Tennis lessons -- I'm supposed to have mine at 9AM, as is Boy the Younger. Girl and Boy the Older have their lessons at 10AM, and the tennis center folks said it would be OK if they waited in the center during my lesson, until their lesson starts, since DH is away. But if Boy the Older is still feeling pukey, what am I supposed to do? I honestly don't know how to handle it. I'm sincerely hoping it keeps raining so I don't have to do anything, they'll just add another week at the end.

Sixth: Similarly, karate: all the kids missed last week, so they're supposed to do two classes tomorrow to make up. That would be a nice little window, 1:15-2:45, I could get some stuff done -- but again, I don't know what's going on with Sick Boy. And it's really, really annoying that Sick Boy is well enough to play all sorts of video games and sit at the computer watching videos and what not, but is not well enough to sit in church. I am not blaming the kid, I do not think he's faking, and I know how you can be fine as long as you're not asked to move too much, but once you move you feel really gross. I'm sure that's what he's going through, and I feel bad for him. But it's still really annoying. If either he or his brother were sick enough to, you know, stay in bed and sleep, I wouldn't have this skin-crawling feeling that I've spent too much time around people and need to be alone for more than 5 minutes I spend in the bathroom.

Seventh: I've lost about 5 pounds without even trying. I've lost 5 pounds eating anything I want to eat, whenever I want to eat it. I ate about 30 TJ's crispy chocolate chip cookies (not an exaggeration) right before bed a few nights ago, and my weight still went down. My appetite is off and on, though, so I'm probably not eating as much overall as I normally do. That said, I had been trying to lose 5-10 pounds since we got home from our summer vacation, and that weight would not budge. So, what changed? I don't know, but it's weird that I can lose weight and still be eating carbs the way I have been these past few weeks. Anyway, I have no word from the g/e doc on the egd biopsies, so I guess I can assume it's nothing serious although I hate to assume anything. I won't see him until next year. I want to know what's wrong with me, and I want it to be something fixable. (Ha!)

Eighth: My throat is killing me -- I'd say at least a 5, I'm conscious of it all the time, but it doesn't look like strep (no redness, no spots, no white patches), and I don't even have a post-nasal drip. Or maybe I do and I'm just not noticing it, I don't know. But I do have blocked ears again, and I've had three instances of dizzyness over the past few days. Definitely blocked ears. Surgery which I hope will fix all that is on Dec 20. Is the throat related to the head stuff or the stomach stuff? I don't know, but it's a pretty good bet it's related to the stomach stuff, even though the egd showed a normal esophagus. It is very wearing to have a constant pain like that. It hurts to talk, and it hurts more to project my voice. Which means when I barked at the sick boy for wearing sandals to church at night in December in the rain, I just made my throat hurt more. Between the pain and all these frustrations, I just wanted to cry.

Ninth: Sleep is difficult when you're listening for 1) a puking kid and 2) the phone to ring with bad news. I'm sure I could feel better and more resilient to handling all this stuff if I could just sleep, maybe tonight will be better. I'm not expecting any more puking, and the last word on my father-in-law was quite positive (relatively speaking), so maybe I can relax a bit.

Tenth: I miss my husband. I can handle being alone, but this is a particularly difficult time. I wish I was with him. I know he's OK but it's not vanity on my part to think that he would be better with me; we support each other. God willing he will be home soon enough.

Friday, December 07, 2007

one mystery solved

Here in the greater Phoenix (AZ) area, all sorts of chaos results on the roads whenever it rains. You'd think that no one had ever driven in rain before. If everyone had been born here, that might be true, but since a huge percentage of the Phoenix population is transplanted from places where it rains a lot, that can't be the explanation.

Nor can it be explained by everyone who has moved here from rainier locales suddenly forgetting everything they ever learned about driving in the rain. Nope.

However, I think I have found at least one explanation: decrepit windshield wipers. Seeing is integral to driving, after all.

Last week, on the way home from Border's with the kids, the driver's side wiper blade on the van came partially detached and was flapping around uselessly the last few miles home. Fortunately it wasn't raining very hard. This evening, I was driving DH's car and the wipers are positively horrible. They drag and squeak and generally leave the windshield worse off than it was.

The thing is, you can easily go four, even six, months here without ever using those wipers. And all that time, they're out there, baking in the sun, the rubber taking on the properties of a hockey puck. The wiper blades become either useless or a road hazard, if not both. And you never notice, because it's 100 degrees and sunny for 65 days in a row, and for the next 42 days it's somewhere between 106 and 115, and even if it were to rain on those days, the water would evaporate into the air before it hit your car, so you wouldn't need the wipers anyway. Then you have about another 12-15 weeks with the temperature flirting with 100, and then, maybe you'll get some rain. The last time you needed windshield wipers was April, and here it is November or December.

People who live in places with regular precipitation don't need to be reminded, but I sure do: check your wiper blades, once a month or so. You'll be happy the next time it rains and you can see. Now if only I could somehow remember to actually do it.

waiting for the call

DH is en route to the East Coast, his father is critically ill. The litany of physical failures the poor man has suffered over the past two weeks has little to do with his current condition. The stroke was very slight, the heart attack was so minor it left no damage at all on the heart muscle itself. The coronary arteries were not as blocked as they thought, and so a double-bypass operation only was needed, versus the quadruple the doctors had thought.

All of that should have led to a good prognosis, except after the angiogram, he developed a C. difficile infection. He was treated and was deemed well enough for the coronary bypass surgery, but pretty much immediately afterwards, the C. difficile roared back; he was in surgery again this morning for a colectomy, it was that serious.

The latest news from about 4 hours ago was that he was no better but no worse; on 100% oxygen but his blood oxygen was still too low; blood pressure practically non-existent, and fluids leaking somewhere internally, with the possibility of opening him up again to relieve pressure and fix the leaks. He has been intubated since Tuesday afternoon, having already endured a colonoscopy, with an abdominal CT scan still to come -- they had to restrain his hands so he wouldn't pull the tube out. (I remember my own father trying to do the same; remembering, it feels like someone squeezing my heart.) But since the surgery this morning he has been sedated, and they will keep him under until he's turned one corner or the other.

It doesn't feel real at all.

I have that fussy, fidgety feeling that I should be doing something to help, but there is literally nothing I can do except pray, and I'm already doing that.

Praying, and waiting, and holding down the fort until DH comes home again, or we get called out there.

7AM Update: Some improvement over night; they've taken him off some of the very strong, last-ditch-effort drugs. More praying, more waiting.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

should women marry?

Here's the meat of a lengthy comment I left at Dr. Helen's, in response to the question, Should women marry?

I think most people, men and women, are happier in good marriages, so yes, women should get married.

My advice for those considering marriage seriously is to make sure that you and your partner are in sync on the 3 big Fs: faith, family, and finances.

Faith: it doesn't matter what religion you belong to, if any, or how observant you are, if at all -- what matters is that you are compatible in your attitudes towards belief and practice. If you are not morally compatible, the marriage will be on rocky grounds.

Family: this is a two-parter. First, your own family (as soon as you get married, you are a new family). Are you going to have children? When? How many? Obviously the plan may not survive reality -- once children enter the picture, you may decide to have more, or fewer, than you originally intended, or other situations may come up that cause you to change your plans. But you need to talk about these things before hand. You can't get married expecting to have 2 kids and suddenly find out your husband doesn't want any, or doesn't want any for 10 years.

The second part of "family" has to do with the extended families, yours and his. Watch how your potential spouse interacts with his or her family, and you'll get a good idea of how things will settle in at your own household. Particularly watch the relationship between mothers and sons, that can be an indicator of a how a man will treat his wife. It's also important to negotiate how often you'll see relatives, and where you'll go for the holidays. You'd be surprised how many people have huge problems in their marriages over the pressures that their extended families put on them.

The last F is finances: don't just assume everything is OK, get married, and find out that he (or she) has thousands of dollars of credit card debt and student loans in arrears. You need to disclose all your debts. You need to understand your mate's job stability situation, and their potential for growth in income. If it's just you, you can do what you want and no one else cares, but if someone else is relying on you for a share of the household expenses, you can't just quit your job in a huff. Speaking of shared household expenses -- figure that out, too. I know a lot of couples have separate checking accounts and credit cards and divvy everything up, but I have never understood that, particularly if one member is only working part-time or is at home taking care of children. I think keeping finances separate creates an artificial division in the family and an opportunity for conflict -- it is very easy for someone to think that their spouse is being sneaky about how he or she is spending his or her money. If it's all in one account, there is complete transparency. Of course that makes it harder to surprise someone with gifts, but is that really such a big deal?

Before my husband and I got married 13 years ago, we had pre-nuptial counseling through my church. One of the exercises we did together had us rate a list of about 100 things as either necessary, useful, desirable, or a luxury. The list covered all sorts of things, like owning a house, buying new clothes every season, going out for dinner frequently, etc -- pretty much anything you could spend money on. It was an excellent springboard for discussion. My husband at the time said a computer at home was necessary, whereas I thought it was a luxury; he was ahead of his time and was already keeping all of his finances in the computer. The point was to highlight the differences and get us to talk about them. Plus, seeing on paper the things that were most important (necessary) helps you to figure out how and where you're going to be spending your money together.

If there are tremendous differences in your two lists, you'll have a lot of conflict; do you have what it takes to negotiate through them all? Does it make sense for you to be together, if your priorities are so different?

I think using the 3Fs and the necessary/useful list are good ways to determine fundamental compatibility.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Torchwood 1.13: End of Days

Following the new Doctor Who's tradition of ending each season with a cataclysmic event, "End of Days" brings Torchwood's premier run to a mostly satisfying conclusion. I could fault writer Chris Chibnall for eliding far too many important details, but there's no need for such a tedious reckoning. What he has given us is an enjoyable combination of characters, alien technology, and an unknowable so far outside our understanding that we want to label it supernatural. Desperate love wreaks havoc, but simple faith can (apparently) repair all.

Read the rest at The House Next Door.

how to buy a Wii at retail price

Elusive quarry, finally bagged

Today I achieved what had seemed impossible: I bought a Nintendo Wii, and I paid $249.83 plus tax for it. With a little luck, flexibility, and determination, you might be able to score one, too.

Despite what some people are reporting ("The stores are sold out until January or February!"), stores are getting deliveries of Wiis. They are just not getting enough to keep them in stock, or even on the shelf, for very long. The typical shipment appears to be about 25-30 units, and reports I have from different retailers is that they usually last about 30-60 minutes once they hit the shelf. Timing is very important if you want to snag a unit.

Deliveries can come in any day of the week. Wiis are delivered by private carrier, not in the usual store inventory trucks; some stores get this type of delivery twice a day.

First, make a list of all of the retailers in your area that carry Wiis. For each store, note the phone number and the time when they open. Here
are the store locator pages for some of the most popular big-box retailers:

Best Buy

Circuit City

Costco (membership required)

Fry's Electronics

Sam's Club (membership required)



Limit the list to stores you can physically get to within 10 or 15 minutes. It's not going to help you to know that a Target 50 miles away just got some in; by the time you get there, they'll be gone. You may have one list to call from home and another to call from work. Just keep travel time minimized and you won't waste your time calling stores you're not likely to reach quickly enough.

Once you've got your list, call each store as soon as they open, first thing in the morning - every day. Since some stores open at 8:00AM (Targets hereabouts) and others open at 10:00AM (Best Buy), you'll have to call at different times of the day. Enlisting other family members can speed up the calling process.

There is no need to ask for the electronics or video department, the store operators all know whether or not they have Wiis in stock. Each phone call takes about 30 seconds: Do you have any Nintendo Wiis in stock today? Be polite when they say "no," say "thank you," hang up, and dial the next number.

Keep calling until someone says "yes," then jump in your car, go to the store, and snatch one up before they're gone.

Call every store, every day.

Additional notes: it's worth it to check in with the guys in the video game department (whatever it's called) to see if shipments come in more than once a day, and to ask them if there is a good time to call. My local Wal-Mart told me the best times to call are 10AM and 3PM. The guys at Best Buy said they might not have them at store opening time, but around 11AM or so they would be delivered. It varies from store to store.

Warehouse clubs like Sam's and Costco open early for business members. My husband and I have a small business membership, so I was able to take advantage of the earlier hours. It's a good thing, too, because by the time I got there, only 6 of their shipment of 25 were left. I saw one business buyer with about 10 in her cart, but this particular Sam's Club at least was not limiting purchases.

Deliveries seem random -- last week, Best Buy had them on Thursday, and my husband missed them by about an hour. If you're in a store, wander over to the video game desk and chat the guys up: do you know when they're coming in? What's the best time to call? Incorporate their advice into your call schedule.

Be persistent, and be willing to get to the store immediately as soon as you hear a "yes". Good luck!

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Opened in order (we had an extra cookie):

1. There may be a crisis looming. Be ready for it.

2. The path is getting easier from here on out. Luck is helping.

Do I get to choose?