Monday, November 30, 2009


Today, in the mail, my mom sent me her spritz cookie press. She really does not bake much for Christmas anymore, and my Wilton plastic cookie press broke in the middle of baking Christmas cookies last year. Her press is all metal, so I have no worries about the trigger breaking on this one.

It makes me kind of sad, I love to bake cookies with my mom, I am now terribly homesick. Mom and I used to make a weekend of the cookie baking. We would do rosettes, spritz, snickerdoodles, "brown eyed susans", Mexican wedding cakes, and these wonderful cherry pecan shortbread cookies. The kitchen always smelled so good, and we had fun with the baking.

K will be helping me bake this year. Our list of cookies will not be so ambitious this year, I do not have a rosette iron, and I can't find the mint chocolate drops for the "brown eyed susans". We will probably do either chocolate chip cookies, or some of the double chocolate cookies (I have containers of that dough in the freezer).

I am feeling really homesick right now. I am hoping that someday, either we can make it to Minnesota for the holidays, or my family can come here so K, my mom, and I can bake Christmas cookies together.


I cannot think of anything to write today. I might be able to think of something later but for now, I am blank.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Second Thanksgiving

For the past few years, we have had what I like to call Second Thanksgiving. We go to either my sister in law, or my parents in law's house for actual Thanksgiving, and then a day or two later we have our own really small Thanksgiving feast for just the three of us. We love turkey leftovers, and really enjoy cooking our own turkey with dressing, potatoes, string beans, gravy, and pumpkin pie. We then get to make our own turkey stock, and have all the yummy leftovers. It is a win-win situation.

Yesterday was Second Thanksgiving 2009. M and I kind of fought over who was doing the cooking, but it all worked out. M chopped up the vegetables and giblets for the stuffing/dressing. I prepared the string beans for steaming, and sauteed the sliced almonds. M had to run to the store to get a few things, so I stuffed the bird and put it in the oven. Then I peeled the potatoes, put them in the pot to be cooked, etc. I pretty much did most of the cooking (grin) and although we kept the bird in about 1/2 hour too long, everything turned out nicely. We served dinner with sparkling apple cider (or as we like to call it - tickle juice) and served a Sara Lee pumpkin pie.

All in all it was a fairly relaxing day, there was no pressure to have dinner done at a certain time, we were able to take our time with it all. I like it when things are quiet and calm.

I know this is probably not my best writing, but I am posting it anyway.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sea World

We went to Sea World yesterday. We have annual passes, so we usually go 3 or 4 times a year. The vibe at Sea World is so different from Disney. Disney is so much over stimulation with everything, and Sea World is a lot more mellow.

First thing we did after purchasing the all you can eat passes ($22 with our passholder discount), was go to the Pet's Rule show. All the animals in the show are rescue animals and it really is a fun show to watch.

After that show, we ate lunch at one of the food booths. We had barbecue chicken, brisket, and spare ribs. Yummy. Then we headed to the "Believe" show (Shamu). I really miss the old Shamu shows which were more whale and more educational and less cheesy showmanship. "Hey, , what do you want to be when you grow up?" "I want to be a Shamu trainer!" Ay yi yi!

The dolphin show is closed. Apparently they are re-creating the show and refurbishing the "stadium". Somewhere in the early part of our day we also rode the Sky Tower. We love the Sky Tower. During our ride, I sat next to this guy who was on his phone for the entire ride, talking some sort of construction business. He was going on and on about "I called the polack about that and the crane should be there and ready to go". UM, polack is really not a nice thing to say about a someone of Polish descent. And gee, nice quality family time there. Not to mention the fact that I really do not wish to hear about your business when I am having a mini-vacation with MY family.

We went and saw the flamingos, and went to the bat ray tank. There was a bat ray that kept sticking its head out of the water and splashing everyone in the vicinity. It was really funny to watch.

One of our favorite shows is the sea lion show. The sea lion show does not take itself too seriously, unlike the Shamu show. They also had a "holiday" sea lion show, which we stayed in place for. I put quotes around holiday because the only holiday they were honoring was Christmas. Not even a mere tip of the hat to Hannukah, or any other winter holiday. I would think they would be a little more ecumenical than that, but oh well. The sea lion's Christmas show was really quite funny (in a physical humor sense) and we really enjoyed it.

We then went and ate dinner, hung out at the tide pool (with the sea stars), and got our "Shamu photo". The Shamu photo consists of getting up and straddling a large plastic orca and having a photo taken. Our photo turned out really cool.

We then went to the Shamu "holiday" night time show. In my humble estimation, the show was almost painful to watch. It was all Christmas with no mention of other winter holidays. It was as if the management at Sea World believes that everyone who attends Sea World is Christian. There was a choir that also doubled as an "interpretive dance troupe". The lead male singer was unable to keep pitch (he was singing about 1/4 step flat the entire time). There was much human performing with a little bit of orca performing thrown in, seemingly as an afterthought. I guess when I go to see the Shamu show, I want to see more of the orcas. And I would like to actually learn more about the animals. And the show was seriously cheesy, and not in a fun way. I found my brain giving the entire show the MST3K treatment. It was bad.

Overall the day was good. I enjoy going there, but I found the Shamu Christmas show disappointing.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tired tonight

Went to Sea World today. Good day. Too tired to write more for now, so I will write it up tomorrow. :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Dear Readers

Just a quick note (kind of late) to say Happy Thanksgiving.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at my sister in law's house. Today is also M's birthday. So we had birthday cake AND pumpkin pie for dessert today! Did I mention that my sister in law went to chef school? YUMMMMMMMMM.

Great turkey and fixins, and a nice and mellow afternoon was had by all. Too bad the football games were so one-sided.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Sound and the Fury

About a half hour ago, I got a phone call from my primary care physician's office. Apparently the imaging center told them that the had no record of my ultrasound and needle biopsy. NO RECORD??? WTF??????????

Furious does not even BEGIN to describe my emotions about that. Seriously, WTF!!!

I am not sure if the imaging center outsources stuff or not, but there need to be better checks and balances in place so they do not LOSE important patient records. Especially biopsies. Contrary to what anyone might say, I did not get this biopsy done out of an enjoyment of being poked with needles. I got it done because I have a SERIOUS HEALTH CONCERN.

OMG my phone is ringing, it is my PCP's office again. Be right back.

OK, I am back. It was my physician. It is good news. There are no malignancies in the samples they took. No Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, no Hodgkins Lymphoma. It is clean. The gland is still large, but if it does not grow any more, we are leaving it alone.

I am still angry about the radiology clinic misplacing my records. And now I am crying streaming tears of relief. Can I opt off this roller coaster now?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

News from Unexpected Places

Still have not received results from my biopsy. I do have a call in to my primary care physician about it.

I went to the orthopaedic surgeon today, to follow up on my bone scan. I really like this doctor. He is no Dr. Hartman (my orthopod in Minnesota), however he is more personable than the typical orthopod.

Regarding the bionic hip, the bone scan turns up nothing. In other words everything LOOKS good. But because I am in pain so much, he is sending me to a pain management specialist. He said he could do an exploratory operation to try and determine if there is anything going wrong in there, but because my "rebuilding" is so extensive, and I have lost so much bone, he is concerned that he would make things worse. Believe it or not, it was a relief to hear him say that. Last time I saw Dr. G. (the new orthopod) I was able to take a photo of my x-ray on the computer monitor. Here it is:

As you can see I have screws holding me together, because when I broke the first artificial hip, I also shattered that side of my pelvis. As far as I am concerned, the less surgery on the hip, the better. But I also need to start functioning better, and my current pain levels are not allowing me to function well.

Dr. G. had also ordered some bloodwork. Basically a CBC and a Sedimentation Rate. The sed. rate was good, not so much good with the CBC though. I have an elevated platelet count with a slightly elevated WBC count. Dr. G. gave me the names of three haematologists. Most haematologists also specialize in oncology, so if this is a malignant process, at least I will be seeing the right kind of specialist. All three of the doctors are also oncologists. I am currently pretending everything is OK. Pretending is the operative word here.

I have made a decision not to call the haematologists' offices until tomorrow. One, because it is now after 4:30, and also because I just do not have the mental energy to do it. One day is not going to make much of a difference. I will be calling tomorrow morning after I drop K off at school. I made the mistake of looking on WebMD a few minutes ago. I really need to put a nuclear block on WebMD for my own sanity.

I have not shaved my head yet. I won't until I know that I will for sure be going through chemotherapy. I plan on embracing the bald head. Annie Lennox rocked a bald head really well, maybe I can too.

Again, twenty two years is a hell of a run.

Another Day, Another Doctor Appointment

Today I am seeing the orthopaedic surgeon to follow up on my bone scan from last week. I am convinced the pain in my hip is making me walk funny and the walking funny is why I cannot seem to get ahead of these muscle spasms in my back. Setting up the "home theatre" system yesterday probably did not help my back a whole lot, since I was bending, stooping, crawling around and sitting funny almost all day long. I am glad to have it all set up though.

Still no news about my biopsy. I will be calling Dr. H. (my PCP) later today if he does not call me first. I am thinking that no news may indeed be good news on that front. I want to believe that if a malignancy were present, they would move heaven and earth to get me the diagnosis so I could start treatment right away. I am perhaps delusional about that, who knows?

I am really trying to be calm and peaceful. I think I have mostly made peace with the idea of the cancer having possibly returned. I have an idea of what I will do in that case. I could not stand my hair any more, so I trimmed it up myself. Looks fairly good for an amateur, do-it-yourself job! I am certain that the next time I actually go to the salon for a cut, I will get screamed at about it, but hey, no big deal - hair grows back.

The forecast high temperature for Thanksgiving is 80° F. I am still not used to that. Not sure if I will ever get used to that.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Adventures in Electronics

Our TV arrived safe and sound at about 5:30 yesterday afternoon (they deliver on Sundays!). The two delivery guys took our old heavy beast of a TV to their truck and did a simple set up of the new one, which consisted of taking the new TV out of the box, putting it together (we are not mounting it on the wall), putting the batteries in the remote control, hooking it up to our satellite box, and firing it up to assure that it was operational. We had to loan them one of our phillips head screwdrivers since they did not bring their own tools. I figure that is about a 6.3 on the WTF scale.

We decided to wait until daylight to set everything else up. Although M tried to hook up the DVD player, it worked, but was not displaying the color red for some strange reason.

Woke up this morning, M had misplaced his keys, I found them underneath some papers. Score one for the wife.

After I dropped K off at school, I set about to get the TV and everything hooked up. Looked on the back of the TV and discovered that there is only one set of inputs. One set of inputs and three things that need to be hooked up. Not only that, but there is no S-Video input. Which I found kind of surprising.

Because we have satellite TV and our box does not have an HDMI output, we had no need to purchase an expensive HDMI cable. The satellite box initially was hooked up via coaxial cable. Which left only two things to hook up with one set of inputs. So I made a run to my favorite store that has a bullseye logo to buy an AV switch box. Thankfully they had one that had 3 sets of inputs. YAY!

Back at home, I decided that we might get a better picture using component cable from the satellite box to the TV than using the coax. So I hooked the sat. box up to one of the inputs. The second input was given to the DVD player. I also wanted to run both the sat box and the DVD player through the stereo, so I had to use two splitters on the DVD players outputs, so I could hook the audio to both the stereo and the TV (dang DVD player had only one set of outputs). The third set of inputs went to the Wii. I opted not to run the Wii audio through the stereo because I do not have two more splitters. Got everything connected to the TV, and fired it up.

Satellite worked wonderfully. Switched to the DVD. Houston, there is a problem. I had a side by side double screen on the DVD menu screen, and it was very dark. Ugh, had to go fishing through all the setup menus to get it all straightened out. Finally got it all figured out and plugged a movie in. Voila! Red (and all the other colors), YAY. Turned on the Wii, and somehow the screen was kind of dark for that too. Ran to get a Wiimote, and when the Wiimote hooked up to the Wii, suddenly it was a bright screen, so thankfully no surfing Wii setup menus!

I feel like I have conquered something, but now my lower back is all tight and the muscle spasms are back. Oh well, at least I have everything hooked up. Anyone up for Wii Tennis?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Got a New TV Today

My husband's parents bought us a new 40" LCD flat screen HD TV today for Christmas. It is very nice. The guys who delivered it, hauled out our old beast of a TV (36" tube TV - seriously a very heavy TV). They also did basic set up (put the TV together and hooked it up to our DirecTV box). Weird thing about that was they did not have a screwdriver with them so we had to go dig out one of our screwdrivers for them, What delivery and setup company sends their guys out without tools?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Still No News

Oh yay, I get to have another weekend of not knowing. I called my primary care physician yesterday to find out if he had received the results, and he returned my call. He had received the report that they had done the procedure, but nothing from pathology yet. I am to call him on Tuesday or Wednesday if he does not get back to me before then. So I wait some more.

I fail to understand one thing. Back in 1987, when I had the original biopsy done, we got the results from pathology in 48 hours. Now we have had two decades of technological advancement, and it has now been 7 times the amount of time and still no results. How is this possible?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Where is the Off Switch

It has been a week since I had the biopsy. It is likely that I will not hear the results today, and I am having a difficult time shutting my brain off. I really wish the mechanism that creates thoughts had an off switch. Really trying not to let my thoughts terrorize me.

At least it is Friday, so no homework for K (except for her book report this weekend). We really need to get on top of it since K presents next Wednesday.

I am still having back spasms. But the spasms do not seem as intense as they were earlier in the week. I am mostly able to straighten up when I stand now, instead of walking all crouched over.

No big plans for this weekend, maybe Disneyland if my back is up to it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Woke Up at 4 AM

Really tired of my insomnia and my pain level affecting my ability to sleep. That and the committee in my head that seems to want to carry on its business meetings the moment I want to go to sleep. Really freaking tired, and unsure when I will get decent sleep again. Hoping my back won't be as bad today as it was yesterday. When K and A were playing, I had to go to the car and recline the seat, because the spasms were so bad. I can't stand this much longer.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait

I am having a bone scan today for my hip. I think my bionic parts are loosening, they have felt "off" for about 9 months or so, and the pain in the joint is on the increase. Pain that wakes me up in the middle of the night. Pain that makes it difficult to walk straight, and thus wrecks my back in the process.

A bone scan consists of going to the imaging center at Hoag (took almost an hour today to get there), laying on the table, getting injected with some sort of nuclear isotope, having some images taken, then being sent away for 3 hours to eat, drink, and be merry; only to come back for about 15 minutes of more "picture taking". All in all, not really a terrible exam, just very time consuming.

I am typing this at Panera, land of the free wifi. I was told to drink at least 32 oz of something so they can get better images. I have a cup of coffee and two glasses of water in front of me. The coffee is taking precedence at the moment.

My back is still tweaked. So far today, it is not too bad, but the beginning of the day has been far better than the end of the day. Still no word on the biopsy, but I really did not expect to hear until Friday at the very earliest, possibly Monday or Tuesday of next week. The lymph node is still a hard and enlarged mass on my neck. And yes, I am obsessed with it.

I desperately need a haircut. My hair is shaggy and not in a good way. But I refuse to spend the money if it is destined to fall out anyway. I will get a haircut when I hear the gland is clean. If I hear otherwise, I am going to shave my head. It will save some discomfort later, when the hair falls out. When part of my hair fell out back in 1987 (the hair that was in the radiation field was toast), my head was super itchy and because my hair was long, it kind of prolonged the inevitable. I figure with super short hair, it should be less uncomfortable. We have the clippers at home, I am not afraid to be bald. Besides, I have a ton of scarves and bandanas, if I do feel at all self-conscious about it. I am thinking I probably won't feel too self-conscious. Who knows, maybe I will. I am mostly beyond caring what other people think.

I have had way too much time to think about it all though, which I hate. I know I will survive this, because that is what I do, but I just hate the idea of it. And it will be harder because the rest of my family is 1800 miles away. I know I have support here, online, and back home, but it is going to be so hard not to have face to face interaction with people back home. Oh well. It is what it is. God, now I am crying in a public place. I HATE that.

Sorry about the "stream of consciousness" nature of this post. My brain is really random and under stress becomes even more random.

I must say, though, that Panera has pretty good coffee and makes a mean chocolate croissant.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Play Dates

Am I the only person in the world who hates the term, 'play date'? GAAAAH, it drives me crazy.

Anyhow, after school for this entire week, K's friend A is coming with us, because A's mom is in the hospital for chemo. So K is essentially having a week of . It has been kind of cool so far. We sit down and have a snack at one of the picnic tables in the park, the girls do their homework, then they play for an hour. K has been getting her homework done in record time. I think the change of scenery with the homework has helped, along with the incentive of some unfettered play time. K got her math workbook page (both sides) done in 15 minutes today, when it usually takes her 20 minutes each side. Her spelling was done in 10 minutes. Not bad, 25 minutes, I know that she can do things quickly when she is focused. The struggle is getting her in the focus zone.

K's friend, A is such a sweet girl. K took a little longer with her homework yesterday and A waited patiently for K to get done. Today, K was done first, and I had to remind K to wait patiently for A. I am just glad that K is being compliant so far this week. Because K can get really stubborn, especially when it comes to homework.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Pain is Still There

I probably overdid things yesterday, setting me up for more pain today. Oh well, I did not want to miss the stuff of yesterday though.

At church, the candidate for associate pastor preached yesterday. Her name is Elizabeth Griswold and she is coming to IUCC mainly to minister to young families with children. Her message was thought provoking, and fulfilling. We as a congregation voted unanimously to call her to be our associate pastor. Welcome Rev. Griswold!

After the congregational meeting there was an all church potluck luncheon. I enjoyed the food and the fellowship. Toward the end, I felt my back seizing up so we went home and I got horizontal. I watched the Vikings game that I had TiVo'd because I knew I would miss it otherwise.

Around 4:00 we left to go to the Bud Kuhl Wood Bat Classic at Angel Stadium. The baseball was free, the parking was free, the food was $10 a plate, with $5 going to United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County. The teams playing were amateurs in an Over 35 league. It was fun to watch them play because they truly enjoy playing the game. No free agency, no high salaries, no arbitration, just the sheer love of baseball. We had to leave at the bottom of the 6th inning because it was getting close to 8:00 and K had to get up for school today. Both teams had a half inning in the field that looked like the Keystone Kops. And of course since these were men ranging in age from late 30s to mid 60s, they were at times, a bit slow moving out there. But it was still fun to watch them. K got a foul ball too, which she was really excited about. All in all, it was a good time.

Today, though, I pay. I have been through these back spasms before, and it feels like I may be coming to the end of this particular episode of it. At least I hope so!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Another Day, Another Pain Pill

In the midst of all of this drama with the biopsy, the bone scans of the hip and everything, my back has decided to make its disappointment known in a rather obnoxious and painful way. The only relief I really get is when I am lying flat on my back. I have been doing the ice on ice off, the stretches, limiting my activity, and the Tiger Balm and my back muscles still insist upon being a royal pain. It is now affecting my ability to walk. I apologize to my readers for my negativity right now, but my back fucking hurts. It is really hard to see the silver lining when one is surrounded by really dark storm clouds.

I realize that on the continuum of bad things that could happen to me, this stuff I am dealing with right now is certainly not at the worst end, however, I am finding it difficult to see beyond the pain. I am now at a constant 8 on a scale of 10 pain. And I am wondering what the hell I did to tweak it this time.

At the biopsy on Friday, even though there was lidocaine, the last part of it was still very painful, and in my head I kept saying, "find your happy place...find your happy place!" Well today, I can't find my happy place. Today I am wondering if I even HAVE a happy place. And I am angry.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


So tired, but have not been able to actually sleep well. My mind is not working well right now at all, so I can't really write well. I may write more later today.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Back from the Biopsy

I apologize in advance if this post does not track well. I am kind of angry.

The hospital that my medical group is affiliated with is Hoag Hospital (which is a very good hospital, just not very convenient). My ultrasound and biopsy was in one of the medical office buildings that is adjacent to the hospital. It takes me 45 minutes on a good day to get to this hospital, so I left early to get to the appointment on time. My appointment was at 10:00 AM so I left at 8:30 to get there by 9:15. Well today the traffic was extremely light so I ended up there at 9:00. No biggie.

Again, assembly line medicine. Check in at one place. Wait, then check in at another place. The redundancy kills me.

Finally get into the ultrasound room. The technician does the initial images, then she brings in the radiologist.

The radiologist felt the nodes, did another ultrasound, and then said, "It might be too small for me to do a biopsy." He proceeded to kind of hem and haw about it, then he asked me what I wanted to do, whether I wanted to wait a month and come back, or do it today. He stated that he did not think he could get any good cells for pathology.

I decided that I wanted him to do the biopsy today. He was not very good at hiding his disappointment about having to do the biopsy. Guess what? It is not his body, and it is not his call. So everything was prepped, my neck was painted orange (the surgical disinfectant), and a pathology tech was brought into the room to assist.

Whole biopsy took about 10 minutes from start to finish, done with lidocaine as a local anesthetic. The doctor and the pathology tech left the room, and the ultrasound tech was left to apply pressure to my neck to stop any bleeding. Doctor came back in after about 5 minutes and said, "Pathology says it looks like we got A LOT of good cells to look at, we will send the report to your GP in about a week."

Funny how a mere 15 minutes previous, he was carping about how there was not enough tissue there to biopsy.

Now I wait.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Orthopaedic Surgeon's Office

Yesterday, I had my appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon regarding my hip and the increasing pain I am having lately. I appreciated how quickly they could get me in. This is the same orthopaedic practice that I took K to when she fractured her foot. I need to say that I hate this clinic's business model. It is assembly line medicine at its most annoying. It is kind of run like a hospital, in that you check in first in a central location, then you check in again in the department where you are going to be seen. There is so much needless redundancy (is that redundant?) just in how you check in. But this practice, which is near Fashion Island, seems to be the only game in town as far as our PPO goes.

So I go to the central check-in location, and am in the middle of being checked in when this obviously rich woman (with a king-sized sense of entitlement) walks up to the desk and interrupts the woman who was checking me in, and the woman stops what she is doing with me and starts to help her. I let this go for about 30 seconds, and then I spoke up. The woman "helping" me had the audacity to say that she could do two things at once. I insisted that she get back to helping me and let the other woman wait her turn. She got really snippy with me after that. She finished up printing out my paperwork, and sent me on my less than merry way to see the doctor. In the meantime, after I had spoken up, the other person working at the desk was free to help the entitled hag, and somehow she got checked in quicker than I did. And since she was there to see the same doctor that I was, she got in first. GRRRRRRR

The department I was see in yesterday is called "Adult Reconstruction". What am I, a building? Yes, I know, artificial hips are a reconstructive surgery, but I hate being referred to as an "Adult Reconstruction" patient. Seems so very impersonal.

I check in at the desk in the department, and then went to sit down in a completely full waiting room. Two seats away from me is this man, talking loudly on his cellphone about very personal family business, going on and on about how the burden has fallen on him, how his sister has mismanaged her money, and whether Medicare or Medicaid were going to pay for some skilled nursing facility, etc. etc. etc. It was quite annoying. There was a man sitting between the cellphone guy and I, and he was quite annoyed with it too. During the course of this conversation, the call got dropped three times. The third time the call got dropped, the cellphone guy said sarcastically, "Oh, I love AT&T."

I said, loud enough for him to hear, "Oh we do too!" Which elicited a chuckle from the annoyed guy sitting next to me. Cellphone guy redials the phone, and finally gets up and goes out into the hallway to have his conversation. After he is done, he comes back and gets into a conversation with his son, who was there being seen for something, going on and on about how President Obama is a socialist. I was so glad when they called my name to get out of there.

One of the things I really needed to get done while I was there yesterday was to fill out the application for a California handicapped parking placard. I have a handicapped parking placard from Minnesota, but it expires next month, so I need to replace it. When I got brought back to the exam room, the nurse saw that I had the form, so he filled it out and obtained the doctor's signature for me. Somehow I expected it to have to beg for the permit, and that it would be harder than it was.

I had x-rays done, and the doctor came in. He wanted more views so he sent me for more x-rays. Then he did some range of motion tests. He said my x-rays looked perfect but since I am in increasing pain, he wants me to get some more tests run. I really like this doctor, even though I hate the clinic he practices in.

As I was leaving, the woman who "helped" me check in initially was "helping" someone else, and this person was getting really annoyed with her, and she was really not being very helpful.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More Doctor Stuff Today

In addition to the swollen glands, I am also experiencing pain and loosening in my artificial hip, it feels like it has been loosening for about a year, but the pain is becoming more intense. So I am going to see an orthopaedic specialist today. I am sure I will be sent through the whole x-ray, MRI, Nuclear Medicine Scan thing before they will decide what is wrong with me.

Thankfully, yesterday I met some friends for a light lunch and coffee, after I had scheduled all the stuff that needed to be scheduled. They helped me take my mind off of it for a little while. They all know what is going on, but we were able to talk and laugh. It really helped my attitude a lot.

Because it is Veteran's Day, both M and K are off, so we may do something fun before I have to go to the orthopod.

I am prepared for the worst and hoping for the best today. All I know is it has been awhile since I have felt like myself.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Went to the Doctor

I am having an ultrasound and needle biopsy on Friday. I am also seeing an orthopod tomorrow about my stupid hip and the pain.

They ran a CBC on me today, but I won't know the results of that for a few days. Now we wait. Sometimes patiently even.

Yes, Yes, I Will Go to the Doctor

This post is really hard for me to write.

In December of 1986, I noticed that two of my lymph nodes on my neck were swollen and painful. I figured it was because I was getting over a bug of some sort. The swelling did not go down so I went to the doctor in January of 1987. I was put on one round of antibiotics, which did not work, then another different and stronger round of antibiotics. Neither medication worked, so my doctor referred me to an ENT for a biopsy. The moment my doctor uttered the word biopsy, I knew I had cancer.

My biopsy was scheduled for February 3, 1987, an outpatient, same-day surgery deal. Two days later I received a phone call asking me to come into the ENT's office for my diagnosis. Hodgkins Disease. So much went through my mind in those early days of my diagnosis. 1987 was a year of lab tests, surgeries, more lab tests, and daily radiation therapy sessions. I came out of it and have been cancer free since.

At least I think I have been cancer free. Fast forward to now. For about the past two months, I have noticed that two of my lymph glands on my neck have been swollen. Again, I had a cold or a bug and thought that they would eventually go down. They are getting bigger and starting to hurt. I am calling my doctor's office today to make an appointment. I fear the worst, I really do. If it is a recurrence, I know I can get through the chemotherapy (they will not do radiation again), but I am still scared.

At any rate, 22 years cancer free was one hell of a run. I really wish I could think positively about this. I can't right now.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Practicing Gratitude

One of the things I think is important in life is to practice gratitude. And right now I am feeling like I have lost touch with my attitude of gratitude. It is really easy to get all caught up in what is happening in life to forget to take a few moments to just BE grateful for the things I have in my life.

Today I am grateful for my wonderful family, the love and support of good friends, the fact that our most basic of needs are met, and the comforts of home. I am also grateful for the fog this morning. It was really quite pretty to see, when I was driving K to school.

I had been, for a long time, making a list of 5 things I am grateful for, every day. I feel like I really need to get back into that habit again because it really helps my attitude, and I face difficulties much better when I am grateful than when I am not. Today I will start the Gratitude Lists again.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day of the Dead Festival

Last night we went to the Noche de Altares festival in Santa Ana. It is the largest Dia de los Muertes festival in Orange County and it was very moving and beautiful. People had altars set up to honor their loved ones who passed, some honoring many many generations of loved ones. Some of the altars were very simple, while others were quite elaborate and all were exquisite. I did not bring my camera, but wish I had. One of the vendors was selling these painted skulls that were absolutely beautiful.

I found myself alternating between crying and laughing throughout the night. There were two altars set up honoring people who had died of HIV/AIDS. I cried about my cousin Gary all over again. There were at least three altars honoring Frida Kahlo, I giggled about that a little bit. I love Frida Kahlo's art, and having three altars there honoring her was fun. One of the altars, honoring a man, had both a can of Spam and a pack of Lucky Strikes on it. I can only imagine how he died.

There were food vendors selling sugar skulls, tacos, churros, and other Mexican favorites, and other vendors selling any manner of Mexican handicrafts. We got their a little too late for the candle lighting and processional. I was bummed about that. I kept thinking about my friend Rosemary who passed away suddenly in April. One, she would have loved the festival, and two, I miss her terribly. I was unable to attend her memorial service in Minnesota, and I still feel like I need to do something tangible to get some closure. Not sure what I am going to do about that.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saturday Morning

There is nothing quite like the sheer luxury of being able to shut the alarm clock off and go back to sleep. Ahhhh, it is a most delicious indulgence. As with most weekends, when K does not have a sport to participate in, we kind of fly by the seats of our pants, and try to be as unplanned as possible. The only thing we have going on today is the Home Depot Kid's Workshop. I wonder what the project is today?

I would go make a cup of coffee (I am the only one who drinks it) but I am out of Splenda and I don't want to add all the calories of regular sugar. May need an Albertson's run at some point today, or perhaps Ralphs since Ralphs is in the same 'town center' as Home Despot. This is Irvine. Strip malls are called 'town centers'. And the 'town centers' have urban sprawl. There are aspects of 'master planned' Irvine that do not seem to be planned out very well. And all of that can be for another post. Because I could write for days about it.

More about the Plumeria thing, One of my friends has the very same Plumeria in her yard, and when it goes dormant she is going to give me a cutting so I can have my very own. I am very excited! Now we just need to borrow a chain saw, I want to plant my Plumeria in the permanent planter out front that has two overgrown generic looking shrubs.

M drove to work yesterday, instead of taking the train, so we were able to eat a quick dinner and go to Disneyland last night. It was weird. Parts of Disneyland were completely dead and other parts were overcrowded. We were going to try to go on Pirates of the Caribbean and there were way too many people in line. But yet we were able to get right on the Matterhorn, and only had a little wait for the Haunted Mansion. We ended the night on the Jungle Cruise and the boat captain was hilarious. On the tram ride back to the parking area, the guy with the PA was really silly as well. Best tram ride ever!

I was talking with one of my friends yesterday, after all the gunman drama and school lockdown excitement here on Thursday, and I told her that I really wanted a cigarette when all this crap was going down. I quit smoking over 19 years ago, and it was kind of scary just how quickly those crazy thoughts come back up. After speaking to a friend of mine who lives in the apartment complex that they found the dead gunman in, she indicated that he had been served eviction papers by the OC Sheriff's Department, and told them he would be right out, shut his door and shot himself. So really, there was no need for the IPD, S.W.A.T. and the OC Sheriff's Department to go to all this drama. They did not even try to enter the apartment for like 5 hours after the shots were fired. Can anyone say Overkill?

I apologize for the rather randomness of this post, my brain is bouncing around like a Mexican Jumping Bean today. I am beginning to think that I need to be on Ritalin because my focus is so out of whack.

Friday, November 6, 2009


After all the drama yesterday, with Fort Hood and the guy in Irvine who, after being served with eviction papers, decided to hole himself up in his apartment with guns, and caused a city and county law enforcement frenzy, I spent the rest of the day "herding". I tried to reach out via phone and online, to make sure everyone I know is OK. Never thought I would end up being the human equivalent of a sheepdog, but there it is.

I also "herded" after the 35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed. I spent two days trying to call people I knew to make sure everyone was OK. Amazingly only 13 people died in the bridge collapse, and I am grateful I did not know any of them. Sad for the people who did lose someone in that preventable tragedy.

In other news, K has had to do a nightly moon observation. We are on week three of four, and we have been walking to the neighborhood park every night to get a better view of the night sky. On our way, every night, we pass a flowering shrub, which is beautiful, and smells like lilacs. I miss lilacs, they do not grow well here because of the lack of a dormant season. I have been trying to figure out what kind of shrub this was because I would like to plant one or two in our yard. One of my friends on Facebook, after seeing the photos I posted of the shrub, identified it for me! It is a variety of Plumeria, likely a dwarf, since apparently, Plumerias are usually trees. Yay, Lynne, you rock!

Here are photos of the Plumeria.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Did Not Need the Drama Today

Today, seven schools in our vicinity were put on lockdown because apparently there was a gunman on the loose this afternoon. Of course K's school was one of the schools locked down. I did not hear about it all until right before I left to pick K up. My friend C called me to tell me she would be late getting A from school because she was at Irvine High, picking up her other kids, and could I watch A until she got there. "Sure," I said, "What is going on?" Then she told me that all the schools in Northwood were on lockdown.

This was after I first heard about the Fort Hood shootings today. To say that I am emotional about this all is quite an understatement. I have already given K about 10 extra hugs today, and have been less stern with her, regarding her homework. I also allowed her a short playdate with P and L this afternoon. Life is too short to bash her to death with homework.

Not much better today

Now in addition to the stabbing pain, I am getting the flu-like body aches. I hope this is not the H1N1 flu, since the injectable vaccine is still not available here in Orange County.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I feel really old today. And my pain level is an 8 out of 10. I wish the stabbing pain in my left hip would stop. It has been 8 days and it still won't stop. I may write more later, but my brain is completely empty except for the pain right now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Anyone who knows me well, knows that I carp a lot about the amount of homework K is assigned from school. It is really kind of insane, the volume of work these kids have to do at home, and I am not really sure what the answer is.

Having had children in both a Minnesota and a California school district, I can honestly say that Minnesota does it better. The Bloomington, MN school district has longer school days (about 5:15 hours more per week than here in Irvine), and far less homework, at least at the elementary school level. Basically all S had to do for homework was read for 30 minutes a day and an occasional worksheet to finish at home. He had the occasional larger project that needed to be mostly completed at home, but other than that, no real homework. In contrast, K has at least 45 minutes to 1 hour of homework (my estimation of how long an average child with no attention deficit should take) every day. She has had that level of homework since Kindergarten. And this is not including the 20-30 minutes of reading she is supposed to do every day. S even commented to me that K has more homework in elementary school than S had in high school (Bloomington school district).

K is an August child, so she is one of the youngest kids in her class. I think she lags less, developmentally now, than she did in Kindergarten. And her abililty (or lack of it) to focus has been an issue from jumpstreet. When we moved to Irvine, three weeks before school started, I had to scramble to get K and S enrolled in school, and although K had been evaluated for Kindergarten readiness in Minnesota, they had to re-evaluate her in California. So I took her to the evaluation and apparently she did well enough to be put in the "Later Gators". At K's school the "Early Birds" are the kids that are not as advanced academically speaking. The "Later Gators" are already starting to read on their own, where the "Early Birds" in some cases, are still learning their letters. So cool, K was a "Later Gator". Periodically throughout the school year, her teacher, Mrs. N. would approach me and tell me that K was not focusing well, but that it was not unusual, since some of the children were almost a year older than her. April conference time came, and I got a note from Mrs. N. that she did not need to have a conference with me, unless I wanted one. So, cool, K was doing well enough that there were not any apparent overwhelming concerns on the part of her teacher. How wrong I was.

About one week after conferences were over, Mrs. N. approached me after school and said, "I am going to move K down to 'Early Birds' because she is not focusing well in class." Mind you, this was 6 weeks before the end of the school year.

I responded as calmly as I could (I was really upset), "No, you are not moving her to 'Early Birds'. Our family has a routine, and you are not going to upset that routine." Again, wishing my brain had been along for the ride that day, it would have been nice for me to mention to her that she was the one that did not seem to need a conference with me, and that if things had been that terrible, she should have requested a conference. I heard later on, from another parent, that she had a list of kids that she had wanted to move down, she went down the list and asked each set of parents to move their kids and none of them budged. I upped my volunteer hours in the classroom, and had Mrs. N. send home the work that K did not finish in school. But I did not allow her to be moved down.

First grade was amazing for K. She had a young, energetic teacher and K absolutely thrived in there. I had an ongoing dialog with Mrs. B. regarding the focus and attention issues, and she assured me that K was doing well academically. After Mrs. N., Mrs. B. was really a breath of fresh air.

Again, anyone who knows me well, knows that last year was a particularly rough one for both K and I regarding the workload. This was second grade, mind you. Last year, K had a teacher that in my humble estimation, should have retired 10 years ago. This particular teacher is also the Gifted Education coordinator for the school. And she also had parent volunteers in her classroom every single day, and worse, parent volunteers were taking home stacks of the entire class' work to correct (against data privacy laws), leading me to wonder what the hell Mrs. F. does in there. But yet, she was still unable to keep certain kids in her class focused enough to finish work in class (K being one of those "certain kids"), and she had the kids take home "catchup work" quite regularly. K would get a "catchup work" bag at least once every two weeks, and this catchup work would take between 5 to 15 hours to complete. This was in addition to the homework which was taking K 10 hours a week to complete. Early in the school year I asked Mrs. F. if I should have K evaluated for ADHD, because the volume of work was overwhelming. She told me not to. She insisted that K did not need any help. (No, maybe not, but her mom does, because if this volume of work was going to keep up all year, which it did, K's mom was likely to commit Hara Kiri). I finally went "over her head" and contacted the school psychologist and arranged for her to observe K.

K had a particularly bad day in school on the day of the psychologist's evaluation. Mrs. F. approached me after school and lamented that K had a rough day, and that she was disappointed about that. I told her I was glad that K had a bad time during the observation, because then the psychologist could get an idea of what things were like at home, and that I may be able to get some help, or at least some strategies. About a week later, my husband and I met with the school psychologist, Mrs. F. and the principal about what was going to happen next. Since this meeting occurred one week before school let out for the summer, it was left with making plans for further evaluation in the fall.

That day after school, Mrs. F. (who must be Catholic - I recognize the whole guilt and shame deal from my own Catholic upbringing) approached me and said, "You better be grateful for what Ms. K (school psychologist) is doing for you. You need to bend over backwards and be grateful because the school district does not do this for just any parent."

I wish I'd had the presence of mind to say that the school district is mandated by law to at the very least do a preliminary evaluation for any parent that has concerns regarding ADHD and other learning problems. I also wish that I had said, "And I have not bent over backwards having K do 10 hours of homework a week and up to 15 hours of catchup work on top of it? Did you really mean to tell me that out loud, after we have sacrificed any chance for K to have any unfettered play time this entire school year?"

Cut to this year, K has Mrs. H. for third grade. I really like Mrs. H., she is another young and energetic teacher. But the homework is still taking longer than I think it should. And we are working on somehow getting it more manageable. About a week ago, we had a SST (Student Study Team - pretty much the Irvine analog to IEP) meeting. K does not have a full IEP, because academically speaking, she is gifted. Present at the meeting were Dr. P. (principal), Ms. K (school psychologist). Mrs. A (special ed. teacher), Ms. M. (speech/language pathologist), Mrs. H. (K's teacher) and I. We talked about K's educational experiences thus far, and I finally got to rant a bit about Mrs. N. I was told at that meeting that I did the exact right thing for K, regarding Mrs. N. wanting to move K down. I was given some strategies for homework, and told that if I needed more pointers to just ask. It was a really good meeting. I was also told that I should have K tested for the Gifted program, because according to her STAR testing (the California standardized tests) she qualifies as gifted. Not sure what the Gifted program entails, but if it is an "in addition" program rather than a standalone program, I think we will pass on it. No point in killing the poor child by burying her in paperwork.

Yep, See I already forgot to post

I totally missed yesterday so I will be making two posts today.

Mondays completely stink and I think they should all be taken out of the calendar. It was not a complete trainwreck of a day but I totally got my wires crossed with my cousin as to where we would meet at Disneyland and we completely missed each other. Compounded by the fact that I left my cellphone at home. I don't call it an electronic leash for nothing.

Then, the strategies that seemed to work for motivating K to do her homework last week did not work yesterday, so it took K two hours to do one math worksheet. *facepalm* Hopefully, today's homework will go much better.

The good news is that the Phillies won last night, forcing a game six!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


It is November 1, so it is National Blog Writing Month (coincides with NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month). I am not confident with my ability to write fiction, so I will just be blogging every day in November. This exercise will test my ability to focus on a project and stick to it, because I have the attention span of a Tse Tse Fly. We shall see.

Today, so far, has been a really good day. We took the Brownie troop and the Tiger Cub den to the Pacific Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Center in Laguna Beach. The Brownies all earned a special "Marine Life" try-it today. Try-its are the Brownie version of merit badges, they have to actually complete four different related tasks to earn them.

We learned about the difference between sea lions and seals, learned about what they do at the center to help sea lions, seals, dolphins, and small whales. The volunteer, Kathy, showed us some of the hazardous things these sea mammals encounter, and how these hazards harm them. We also got to watch the staff feed the sea lions and seals. The kids even got to see a sea lion's eye (it was in a jar, preserved, so people can see how large their eyes are. Some of the girls were pretty skeeved out by the eye in a jar, but K was very interested. K has mentioned that she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up, so it is a good thing that the eye did not creep her out.

It was a very nice outing, and we had a gorgeous day, as far as the weather goes, to go there.

On edit, I forgot to add that the H1N1 flu has hit K's school. We ran into one of the parents at Target yesterday and one of their kids got diagnosed with it on Friday. They also found out that out of 25 children in that child's class, 13 were absent on Friday. Still no injectable H1N1 vaccine here in Orange County. To say that I am nervous about this is a severe understatement.