Monday, January 30, 2012


Saw the endo today. My tumor marker is up, and I have small, but persistent, lymph nodes near my right submandibular salivary gland.

More tests coming, and we'll have to see what they find. In reviewing my labs, I see that even my suppressed Tg (that would be the tumor marker) has been slowly creeping up over the past 4 years or so, from undetectable to .1 something to .2 something to now .32, so there's definitely something going on, even if it's not very big.

I'm meeting with my ENT on Thursday and we'll consult on whether it should be a PET scan, a PET/CT, a CT with contrast, or an MRI that could best visualize whatever is going on. The endo's going with the radiologist (who read the ultrasound report),and recommending a PET scan. I don't think I've ever had one. First time for everything, I suppose.

I never ever ever want to go under the knife again, but it's probably somewhere in my future. Perhaps I can push it off a ways...

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Something loud shook the house at about quarter to 11. DD came down asking about it; it shook her loft bed, which is literally bolted to the walls. We went out to look around in the yard and didn't see anything, but it didn't take long for the sirens to start.

Something exploded, a few blocks south of us. We have a view of the smoke and flames from our upstairs window. We think it's one of the small houses in the residential neighborhood there, but we don't know for sure. Lots of speculation: meth lab? gas leak? What else could there be?

@11:15. Now DH is tuned in to the fire department's radio on our new Roku box, and we hear the address. It's a house not a half mile from here, directly south. From the size of the glow, it was not a small fire, and I can hear more sirens coming in now. People died there, surely. Neighbors most likely died, too, if we felt the explosion a half a mile away.

The older two kids are concerned -- what if it's a gas leak? I've already reassured them and sent them back to bed.

It's unsettling, to be sure. It's remarkable how safe you can feel in a place until suddenly, you don't.

Friday, January 20, 2012

follow up

I had my post-thyroid ultrasound on Monday morning, ridiculously early for a day off from work. Today, the message from Dr. O's office was waiting when I got home from school: Your ultrasound results are in. The doctor would like to see you.

This is the part where I spin my wheels trying to remember what I saw and to figure out what it means. I saw a highly vascularized blob of something, but that could have been my carotid or jugular for all I know. Dr. O could just want to see me to make sure the problems I was having in the late fall, mostly due to flaring gastroparesis, have resolved.

I like the sound of that much better than any other reason to be of interest to the doctor.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

wolf, hedgehog, raccoon

Linneaus' pet raccoon, Sjupp...

Oddly enough, this weekend feels like we're finally on vacation. Last week was project work week: SLE (lupus), hedgehogs, and Linneaus. We all know a lot more about each of them, now.

...and here are the hedgehogs - European on the left, Four-toed (African) on the right, in their natural habitats

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

constructive forces

Reddish, rusty cinder cone dislodged from the top of Sunset Crater sometime late in its last eruption.

It's all a matter of perspective. Sometimes tearing down and building up are happening at the same time.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


The time is gone when any of my children will spontaneously give me a hug or kiss, so I give them both to make up for it.

Sunday, January 01, 2012


Sunset at Little America, Flagstaff

Somehow all of December passed without a word written here, so again, I resort to an omnibus sort of post, trying to cram all sorts of things in just so they aren't forgotten altogether.

School-wise, second semester coasted to a close after the science fair. My students objected vehemently to getting back to "regular" work, but we managed to get back into some sort of rhythm. I'm working on integrating more video into my lessons as I find more ways to use my projector. Now I just have to remember to retrieve my speakers from the colleague who borrowed them for last days before winter break...

My students were particularly aggrieved that I made them take their second benchmark in the days just before break (which explains why I was willing to loan out those speakers). One reason for that timing: I had my Thyrogen trial in the week before Christmas, and I had to drive up to Phoenix four days out of five -- Monday and Tuesday for injections, Wednesday for dosing, and Friday for the scan. Happily, the scan was negative, but I won't find out my blood work results until the end of January.

After taking a year (or more) off, I've run the whole gauntlet of cancer tests again, getting the all-clear from my dermatologist and my GYN. One test result still pending, though: the BT Test, a new blood test from breast cancer.

In the run-up to Christmas, I remembered how medical issues used to dominate my life. I won't really relax until all the tests are in and I'm clear, but obviously I'm happy about the results so far.

Back at the beginning of December, I took off a day of work to travel with DS1's speech and debate team to the Winter Trophy tournament. It was an exhausting and intense experience, but such a joy to spend so much time with this group of amazing students and dedicated staff and parents. We drove out early Friday morning and returned very late Saturday (or early Sunday morning, depending on how you want to look at it.) Trips like this are like vacations from reality. None of my usual responsibilities weighed on me, because I was completely consumed with a new one: judging. I love the mental workouts these tournaments put me through.

After Winter Trophy, things shifted into high gear, as all the kids had their piano recital, the older two had Fine Arts night, and DS2 had a concert. I took DD and a couple of her school friends up to the Wildlife World Zoo to meet one of their hedgehogs. There was a lot of shopping, some baking, and we even managed to do a Christmas card this year.

DD tolerates this process...barely.

Christmas itself seemed uncharacteristically easy. It was lovely having so many days off to prepare before the holiday itself. I spent most of Christmas in the kitchen, simply because I didn't feel like doing all the cooking the day before, and we had no other plans. I brined the turkey the same way, and paid attention to Thanksgiving's lessons, and dinner was terrific. I admit, I still bailed on making my own rolls: Trader Joe's crescent rolls were much better than the store bought rolls from T-day. DD helped me make an apple pie (at DH's request) and our Christmas Tree cake (blueberry, this year).

After days of lounging around, we booked a room in Flagstaff so we could get some sledding in. We checked the forecast and knew it would be warm, but we didn't realize how warm it really would be, nor did we know how that would affect the snow cover. Wing Mountain trucked in tons of snow but simply gets too much sun to keep it on the slopes, and since we were too lazy to get up at a decent hour, all that was left by the time we got there was slush. Still, the kids and I had a a half-dozen runs or so apiece before we bailed: mud and slush and wandering toddlers combined to take the fun out of it.

Still, Flagstaff wasn't a total loss. After dinner we visited Lowell Observatory and looked back into the earliest days of the universe, as well as the moon, the Pleiades, and Jupiter and four of its moons. The next day we visited Sunset Crater and the Wupatki National Monument, and I was in heaven. It was a perfect geek get-away.

Sunset Crater

Lone tree clinging to the cinder-covered slope at Sunset Crater

at Wupatki National Monument (the fill-in flash on my camera was wholly inadequate to the requirements, here)

What did the kids like the best? My guess: playing in the snow at Sunset Crater.

Off-trail entertainment