Thursday, March 30, 2006

Rejoining the Ranks of the Living

Glory, halleluiah! I can finally swallow without having to steel my nerve!! I can be upright for more than five minutes without having to hold on to something because I'm too dizzy to stand!! I can sleep at night!!

I haven't been that sick since I was a kid, and I hope it's a good long time before I have to be that sick again.

I'm still not 100%, but I can function where I am now. I'm tired and still a little achey, and I had trouble focusing for much of today, but I'm no longer wishing the earth would open up and swallow me whole.

Thank you all for checking up on me. Thank you for your kind words and good wishes. Thank you for indulging me as I griped and whined about how miserable I felt.

I believe I'm done now...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

At Least I Know I Can Still Smile...

Even though I'm sick - and good and damned cranky about it, too - I know for sure that I haven't lost my sense of humor. Go here. This shit is hysterical. (action figure photo from

A New Personal Record

Seriously. I've been sick - and I mean stay-in-my-pajamas-don't-get-out-of-bed sick - for SEVEN DAYS. SEVEN! I think the last time I was this sick was about 20 years ago when I had mono. Even THEN, I think I was up and functioning, albeit slowly, sooner than this. I pride myself in being able to deal with just about anything that doesn't involve puking. Thankfully, this doesn't, but it's seriously kicked my ass, and I'm pretty flipping tired of it, I've gotta tell you.

I still feel like crap. My headache is mostly gone, but I'm exhausted and useless and I feel as though I've got an evil, giant, slimy black and malignant slug attached to my left tonsil with a spiney sucker and unrolled halfway down my throat and up into my cheek and nose. I live with the cruel catch-22 of being hungry, but not wanting to swallow anything, and a call to the doctor's office the other day revealed that there's nothing that can be done for me - the advice was to "rest and drink plenty of fluids." Great. More swallowing.

When is this going to END?!?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


(Disclaimer: I'm still really sick - I'm writing this from my bed, in my pajamas, trying desperately not to swallow. If I don't write, though, my head will explode: there's only so long I can go without doing something with my brain. If I don't make any sense here, you'll understand why...)

I teach fitness classes at a local health club and one of my participants in the Sunday morning step class is a woman I'll call Stacey. She's a quietly friendly person, about my age, with a bright smile and a gentle manner and a determined, tenacious streak which I love - she was hell-bent on figuring out a particularly challenging step pattern last year and insisted that I teach it every week until she got it. We chitchat a little bit before each class starts and, though I don't really know her very well, I know enough to like her.

About four or so months ago, I noticed that Stacey had started to change. It was subtle at first - she was a little more quiet than usual, she'd lost some of her bounce and enthusiasm. When I asked after her, she'd reply that she hadn't been feeling well but that she was really okay and I shouldn't worry. I accepted her explanation, but kept an eye on her just the same.

It didn't take long before the subtle changes started getting overt; she seemed sad and despondent, and she'd started dropping weight at an alarming pace. A couple of other regulars in the class noticed, too, and asked her if she was all right - she told them she was, but I wasn't buying it anymore.

A couple of weeks ago, I cornered her in the lobby after class. I basically said "look, Stacey, I know something's up with you. You don't have to tell me what it is, but I know there's something. You're not the same person you were six months ago, you're melting away to nothing, you look tired and scared and I'm genuinely worried about you." I pressed a scrap of paper with all my contact information on it and told her that I'm here and available if she needed me for anything.

About a week later, I got an email from her telling me that she'd found herself in an abusive marriage and was considering getting out. The email was what I imagine is typical of abused women - she blamed herself for the behavior, she told me that he really does love her, she said that she doesn't want to leave because that will only make things worse. My responses were always the same - she had to assure her own safety - sooner rather than later - and that I was available to help in any way that I could, up to and including picking her up and bringing her to the shelter.

She hadn't shown up to class in a couple of weeks and I was beginning to worry. I heard from her on Sunday, though, when she told me that her parents were coming to physically remove her from the situation. She was distraught and shaking, but resolved. I assured her that this was the best thing that could possibly happen to her, that she needed someone to come to take her from this situation which she clearly wasn’t strong enough to overcome on her own, and that I was relieved to finally know that she’d be safe.

I haven’t heard much from her since Sunday. She emailed to say that she was at her parents’ home in a nearby state and that she was physically safe but emotionally wrecked.

I say that’s better than the other way around.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Quote for the Day

Heard in my house tonight:

"If you're awake enough to pull the stepstool out from underneath your sister, you're awake enough to brush your own teeth."

Truer words were never spoken.

Adventures in Health Care

So, I woke up yesterday morning - if you can call what I did "waking up" since I really didn't SLEEP, but rather spent the night bouncing from one hallucination to another and alternately sweating and shaking like a Chihuahua in January, but you get the idea. The first thing I did was call the doctor’s office and begged - literally begged - to be seen right away. The receptionist (I hate her) coolly informed me that she was very sorry (yeah, right) but one o’clock was the soonest I could be seen. Unmoved by my desperate pleas, she logged me in for one and hung up.

I spent the morning on the couch, pretty much recreating the night before and wishing that the earth would stop rotating and thereby end my suffering. My head ached, my body ached, my ears and sinuses hurt and the very idea of swallowing brought with it contemplations of suicide. We’re talking blinding white-hot pain, People. I had to psyche myself up to swallow. It brought up memories of the anticipation of contractions; I was struck with the same “Oh, God, here it comes” feeling then as now. I even went so far as to call the office again around ten to plead for an earlier appointment only to have the receptionist (I hate her) shut me down. I had momentary thoughts of coughing on her when I arrived.

At 12:35, I got myself upright and headed for the car. My husband had thought he’d be able to take me in, but was called to a “lunch meeting” with no lunch and missed me by about 20 minutes. It didn’t matter, though; I probably wasn’t okay to drive, but I didn’t care. If driving meant my salvation, I would have driven to freaking Anchorage.

I checked in at five of one and hallucinated in the office for about fifteen minutes before I was called in - filed under my “you learn something new everyday” heading: fish tanks are fun to watch when you’ve got a 102 degree fever. The nurse finally called my name and I followed her to a room where she took my temperature, pulse and blood pressure, then did a “quick strep” test. This involves a seven inch Q-tip and a little plastic pregnancy test-like contraption. There is nothing fun about having a seven inch Q-tip shoved down a sore throat (as if “sore” were an adequate adjective for this kind of thing). Hell, it’s hard to even OPEN my mouth, never mind sit there, jaws apart, tongue out, saying “ah” while this nurse pokes at the one part of my body I’d gleefully have cut off at that moment. To make it even better, she had to do this THREE TIMES, because she “wasn’t sure” she got a good sample the first two tries. By now, I hated her, too.

The doctor, whom I’ve never met before, came in a few minutes later and started in with all the usual questions. Headache? Yes. Body aches? Yes. Fever? Chills? Yes, yes. Nausea, vomiting? Thank GOD, no, but my kidneys ache. And on and on. She does the usual ear-nose-throat exam, squeezing just a little too hard on my swollen neck, then takes a look at the strep test on the counter which, it seems, isn’t indicating positive. “Huh,” she says, “wait here, I’ll be back.” Sure, whatever.

A few minutes later, she comes back in and says that the quick test isn’t indicating a strong positive, which surprises her given that I’m presenting a classic case. Because of this, she wants to do a lab test. Yippee! Another seven inch Q-tip. Now I can go home happy. So I psyche myself up for another minor torture session and try to pry my jaws apart. Luckily, the doctor is better at this than the nurse and it’s over pretty quickly. I’m pretty sure she managed to dislodge one of the patches on my throat because she was pleased with the sample she got, even saying “Oh, THAT’S a good one.” So happy I could make your day, Lady.

Now comes the part that amused me, even though I was about as far from my sense of humor as I may have ever been. She tells me that she’s going to write me a prescription for the antibiotics right now. “Take this and fill it, but don’t take any today. The office will call you, hopefully tomorrow sometime (she actually said this - hopefully tomorrow sometime. Way to inspire my confidence), to let you know the results of your test. If it’s positive, you can go ahead and start taking the meds. If it’s negative, that means you’ve got something viral and the antibiotics won’t help anyway. Okay?” Of course, I nod here, but all the while I’m thinking, “gee, for a doctor, you’re pretty dumb. Do you think, even for a SECOND, that I’m not going to start the medication the moment I get it in my hot (literally, remember, I’ve got a 102 fever) little hands? How about we do it MY way and I start the medication at the pharmacy counter and I’ll stop when you call to tell me, maybe tomorrow sometime, that it won’t work anyway. How’s that for a plan? Because if I DO have strep - and you think I do despite the behavior of the pregnancy/strep test thingy - then I’ll have suffered for a full day, maybe longer, when I could have been getting better.” Honestly.

So, that’s what I did. I left the office, drove across the mall to the pharmacy, dropped off the prescription and went to the grocery store next door to buy juice and a snack while I waited for the druggist to count out my pills. I took the first dose in my car in the parking lot, chasing it painfully down with some grape juice and a cereal bar because I’d taken in no nourishment all day. When I recovered my sight (remember, blinding, white-hot pain?), I drove home, crashed back on the couch, and remained there until the girls woke me up when they got home.

I’m feeling marginally better today. I managed a little actual sleep last night. I can form coherent sentences, I believe my fever is down, and I am not quite as dizzy as I was yesterday. My throat still really hurts, but I do believe that it hurts a little less than it did last night. I’m going to continue the three-pills-a-day routine until, hopefully today sometime, the office calls to either confirm or deny the diagnosis of strep. Either way, though, I’m winning. If it IS strep, then I’m already almost 24 hours into treatment. If it turns out to be viral, then I must be over the crest of it because I really am feeling a little better. Still not well enough to live a normal life, but no longer wishing for death, either.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Off to See the Doctor...

...with the suspicion that I'm growing these...

I continued to feel crappy all day yesterday. It got to the point where Advil wasn't helping at all - the headache and sore throat were getting worse and spreading to affect my ears and sinuses. Before I went to bed last night, and with a sinking feeling of suspicion, I grabbed a flashlight and said "ahhh" in front of a mirror.

I've got patches.

Strep. Dammit!

I plan to just arrive at the doctor's office when they open the doors and beg to be squeezed in right now - I can't be bothered to deal with the answering service. It's pretty obvious that I'm sick - I look like hell and I'm pretty sure they'll take pity on me. Here's hoping that I'll be on antibiotics in a little less than three hours...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Walter On His Way...

Our spider is gone. Whether he's inched his way out of the bathtub and into the wall or he's shuffled off this mortal coil none of us really knows. On Sunday morning, he was still in his spot on the tub wall; by Sunday evening around tubby time, though, he was gone.

So long, Walter. Whatever happened, it was fun watching you!

Spring Fever...

...but not how you think.

I feel like crap today. I'm trying hard not to blame PTrinity, who emailed me yesterday to inform me that she's suffering from fever, chills, body aches and a headache. I haven't seen her since last Wednesday, so I'm pretty sure she's not responsible for my having the same symptoms, unless she can transmit her diseases via the internet (though I'm pretty sure my virus protection....oh, never mind. It was a bad joke, anyway). It's more than the power of suggestion, though - my body is trying to fend off something.

The low-grade headache and tender throat started last night. I began today by having three Advil for breakfast, and that seemed to help. Right around noon, though, I started feeling icky again, so I downed three more with lunch in the hopes that I'd be able to beat back at least the symptoms of whatever this is. Sadly, though? Not so much. The chills started around quarter to two.

I'm home for the rest of the day (and, quite possibly, the entirety of tomorrow). I came home, dumped my stuff in the hall and trudged upstairs to change out of work clothes and into comfy-cozies. I'm half considering asking Husband to stop and pick up something for dinner, because the idea of cooking just doesn't appeal - not because I feel sick to my tummy (thank the Universe!!) but because I'm so weary that I'm not sure I could stand up long enough to put a whole meal together.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Smart and Compassionate

This is kind of a work post, but it's more of a Mommy post, so I'm putting it here.

Yesterday, the girls had the day off from school and my boss (CT) told me to stay home with them rather than try to find an all-day sitter. It turned out, though, that my boss needed a ride home from work - and I needed to drop important documents off at the big boss's office - so the girls and I headed over right around quittin' time.

We arrived a little early to avoid the mad dash that is a high school at quittin' time, and got to sit in on the last twenty mintues or so of my last class of the day; a literacy lab populated by six freshmen who did so poorly on their standardized tests that they been remanded to remedial English instruction.

CT had them sitting around one of the big tables in the room, reading an excerpt from Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood about the author's experience as a ten year old during the Iranian Revolution. CT handed the girls a copy (they're both in LOVE with Calvin and Hobbes and, as a result, are no strangers to the comic book medium) and, though Beanie went off on her own to finish reading her new Ranger Rick magazine, Punkin' Pie pulled up a seat to read along with the class.

Now, these students are in this class in the first place because their literacy skills are less than adequate. Punkin' Pie sat there and listened to the students read the parts they'd chosen before we arrived and, at one point, I whispered to her asking if she'd like to join in and read a part. She told me no, and I respected that, thinking that she was shy. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed at the time, though. Both my daughters are excellent readers and I thought that Punkin' Pie would have gained a lot of self-confidence by showing that she could keep up with the big kids.

CT and I asked her, after the class was over, why she chose not to read. It turns out that she wasn't shy at all, but was concerned about how it would seem to the other kids.

"I think I read better than those kids," she told us, "and I didn't want them to feel bad."

She didn't say this in a way that made us think that she was being arrogant. She was genuinely concerned about how these kids, who are six years older than she, would feel about having a third grader come in and do effortlessly what some of them were struggling to get through.

It was, for me, another moment similar to that I described in the racquetball court. For all the time I scold Punkin' Pie lately for not being aware of others around her, it turns out that she really IS. And that she's thoughtful and sensitive enough to recognize when she can do something about it.

I am so proud of her.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Game for the Weekend!!

Ok, I'll admit it. I'm hoping to lure out lurkers. I'll stoop to just about anything.

The object of the game is to guess what this is:

While I won't tell you what it is (thereby defeating the purpose of the game), I WILL tell you that it came into my possession this afternoon, and that it caused me MUCH grief and consternation. It's about three inches long and sharp as all hell (which was the source of the grief it caused). When all is said and done, it will have been worth close to a hundred bucks.

I have NO idea what your prize would be if you guess correctly. It would have to be something pretty inexpensive, though, 'cause I'm out a c-note already.

Reality Check

Kizz posted this morning. Go here and read, then come back to this post. Go ahead - I'll wait.

Kizz lives in New York City - Brooklyn to be exact. I sometimes wonder about whether Kizz witnesses such things and just chooses not to tell those of us who love her or if the worst she ever sees really is just the occasional crazy homeless person.

I have to admit (not that it's any surprise to Kizz) that I used to worry about her safety. I've been to visit her numerous times (and we're due for another very soon) and I remember feeling overwhelmed by the sheer mass of humanity and concrete and diversity that I found there. The reality of her day to day life is SO different from mine - or so I thought until I smartened up and really looked around.

Last week in my neighborhood - or, at least, in close enough proximity that I was immediately aware of it - two young men were killed in an horrific traffic accident.

They were turning left on a green arrow when a pickup truck raced through its red light and broadsided them. No one knows how fast the truck was going because there were NO SKID MARKS - he never even tried to stop.

Both men - one was 37 and the other was 17 - were pronounced dead on the scene. The driver of the truck suffered minor injuries. He was high on prescription drugs of some sort and was, it's been reported, in such a big fat hurry because he was on his way to score some heroin.

There is a big hoo-ha going on about the resignation of nearly the entire administrative staff at a local high school. No one is quite clear on the details, but I've heard that drugs, alcohol and possibly weapons are involved. And don't think that I don't know that I'm essentially taking my life into my own hands when I head to our local Wal-Mart. It's really only a matter of time before someone goes postal in that place.

My point is that there are really very few differences between our environments. Sure, Kizz has better public transportation and I have more trees, but we both live in places that are affected by poverty, mental illness, drug abuse and a host of other social ailments. And guns. There are lots of guns around here and, though most of our guns are carried around by guys in wildly ugly orange vests, I'm certain the hunters aren't the only ones packin'. My hope, though, is that none of my high school students are.

Walter On the Move

After about a half hour of fussing around the bedroom this morning - gathering laundry, picking up toys the girls left around, changing the sheets - I peeked in to check on Walter.

I was, I have to tell you, very disappointed to not find him in the spot he's occupied for nearly a week.

I was worried - genuinely worried; how pathetic is THAT? - that he'd died over night, fallen off the wall, and was washed down the drain during Husband's shower. I even went so far as to scan the bottom of the tub to see if he'd fallen but not died and was in need of rescue.

The little bugger (like the pun? And it's not even 8:30 in the morning, People! THAT's what two English degrees gets ya!) HAS moved from his spot, but he's neither dead nor, it seems, in any particular need of rescue. He's gone about four feet from the back wall of the tub to the bottom front. If you were to sit in my bathtub, he'd be right about where your knee would be, about six inches up from the floor.

I'll keep watching him until he goes on his way and I lose the trail. I've got to remember to be careful with the shower curtain, though, lest I knock him off the wall and become responsible for the fate I so feared he'd suffered this morning.

Taking Pleasure in Another's Misfortune

The NCAA tournament began - and, in my house, ended - last night.

Syracuse lost. To hear my husband tell it, they lost in spectacularly disappointing fashion.

Am I hanging my head this morning? Am I extending sympathy for those young atheletes who gave their hearts and souls and sweat for the team?

Nope. Not even a little.

What I'm feeling is more akin to gratitude because, really, SU's loss is my gain. What this means to me is that I get my husband back. My basketball-imposed widowhood was a single night.

I'm completely okay with that.

So, better luck next year, Orangemen. Thanks for giving me my husband back.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Happy Birthday, Beanie!!!

Today is my baby's birthday. She is seven. I can't believe it.

She brings indescribable joy to our lives every single day. Her soul radiates kindness and humor, energy and empathy, curiosity and determination.

I am so blessed to be her mommy.

A Grandmother Named Walter

Yeah, I'm updating about my spider. I still don't have a picture - I'm sorry.

He's still there, though he'd migrated a little closer to the floor (he's about chin level to me now) and was facing downward when I took my shower this morning. I bid him good day as I dried off.

It turns out that I'm not the only one keeping watch on the little arachnid. When I mentioned to my family that I didn't want anyone to disturb him, they all admitted to looking in on him every day.

No one else had named him, though.

Fun With Technology!!

Wanna play a game??

Go get your iPod (or whatever digital music device you use) and turn on the shuffle feature. Spin the thumbwheel and let it go. List the first ten songs you hear.

Here are mine:

~Blue on Black - Kenny Wayne Shephard

~New World Man - Rush

~Blood From a Stone - Jonatha Brooke

~Mahna-Mahna - The Muppets

~Darwin's Children - Edwin McCain

~Lonesome for a Place I Know - Everything But the Girl

~Synchronicity - The Police

~Shock the Monkey - Peter Gabriel

~White Trash Beautiful - Everlast

~Love Throws a Line - Patty Griffin

Your turn!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Adventures of Walter

There's a tiny spider on the wall of my tub. He's been there since Saturday and, as far as I can tell, hasn't moved much all week. I dubbed him "Walter" this morning and I tried to get a picture of him after today's shower, but wasn't satisfied with the results I got. You're just going to have to use your imagination.

He's hanging out, at just about eye-level, under the conditioner and to the right of the back-scrubby-loofah-thingy that's hanging from the shelf on the back wall of the tub. He started out, on Saturday, a bit higher up and I almost washed him down the drain thinking that he was a bit of dust or sock fuzz that had stuck to the condensation on the wall. Since Saturday, he's migrated downward about five inches and every once in a while his aspect changes from facing toward the ceiling to facing the floor. Today he's sort of in the middle.

He's still alive, lest you think I'm fascinated by a dead spider stuck to my tub wall - I nudge him every day and he stirs. I'm certain he's getting plenty of fluids - the spot where he's settled himself is far enough away from the force of the shower that he's not in any danger of being killed by a rogue droplet, but near enough that a lovely sheen of condensation forms around him when we're done in the morning. I haven't the faintest idea what he's doing for protein and, honestly, I'm not sure I'd really want to know.

I'm going to instruct the family to not disturb him in any way, not that they have thus far. I'm not certain that the girls can see him from where they are height-wise, and am pretty sure that my husband couldn't care less. Regardless, I'd like to see how long Walter stays where he is.

See how exciting MY life is?!

Saturday, March 11, 2006


BitchPhD has a post up tonight that asks readers to describe motherhood in a single sentence. I did, though I think my sentence is inadequate. The post got me thinking about the moments that stand out for me as the mother of these two beautiful girls, and this was one of the stories that came to mind:

I was getting ready to teach a yoga class at our health club and the girls were in kid-care. The kid-care ladies had moved the "big kids" (those who could walk without wobbling) into a racquetball court to play - it was pouring rain so they couldn't take them to the playground outside and the big kids were knocking over all the wobbly-walkers in the kid-care room. The racquetball court is next door to the yoga studio.

Anyway, I peeked in before my class and was just in time to see the baby, who was barely four at the time, get body-checked into a wall by a kid who was just a little too eager to get to a beach ball. She bounced off the wall, landed on her butt and started to cry. Her sister, who was playing with a bunch of girls at the front of the room, stopped, looked around, and realized that it was HER SISTER who was crying. She immediately stopped what she was doing and went to cuddle her sister. She plopped herself on the floor, pulled the baby into her lap and rocked with her until she stopped crying.

I stood there in the hallway, tears welling in my eyes, radiating love for these children.

It's the stuff that the kids do when they think I'm not looking that really gets to me - they hold hands on their way up the driveway after getting off the bus; they peek into each other's classrooms when they're walking by; their playdate's moms tell me how sweet and polite and lovely they are when they visit.

Do they drive me crazy? All the time. Do they piss me off? Occasionally - and I suspect that trend will continue as we approach adolescence. Do I love them to a degree that cannot be adequately described?

You bet.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Here's Hoping!

Check it out: this is our forecast for today:

AM Showers / Wind

High 58°

LOOK at that high temperature forecast! I will be a VERY happy woman if THAT turns out to be true!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Guess What WE Did Today!!

We only had to drive for about an hour and we had a fantastic time. The girls held up quite nicely, though we were mostly frozen by the time we decided we were done.

The girls have decided they want to try skiing next time. I'm not sure how that'll go, but I can be easily convinced to go tubing again; it was fun.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Damn You, Vanx!!

Vanxhas me thinking in haiku now. I have to get these out of my head before I go to bed or I'll NEVER fall asleep....

The girls smell of sleep
red hair spills over faces
I drink it all in

A snow day announced
we all stay in pajamas
long after lunch time

College basketball
Orangemen on the t.v.
I'm going to bed

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Loving My Kids

I'm trying to store these bits in my head so, when my babies are older, I won't have lost this time:

Beanie still says "remember" as "renember". I love that about her.

PunkinPie calls the stuff you use on your lips in the winter "lip-chap". Not "lip balm," not "Chapstick." "Lip-chap."

You may not get why this stuff makes me grin and lament the hasty passage of time, but maybe you do....


I found these beautiful little dresses while I was SUPPOSED to be out looking for a new lotion pump for the bathroom (and I really didn't need to be doing that, either - I just needed a break from thinking about work...).

My husband's cousin is getting married in July, and she's asked PunkinPie and Beanie to be her flower girls. I'm really hoping she likes these - I think they'd be perfect flower girl dresses.

And if she doesn't like them? They're perfect for Easter dinner with the grandparents! Either way, the girls win!