Thursday, July 31, 2008

All discombobulated today

Today I am all discombobulated. My brother and his two older children are here overnight and leaving this morning. I am used to being by myself in the mornings I guess. Also, we had to move furniture around as he brought me our grandmother's dining room table. And I stayed up too late. Now I have to rush off for work but will go for a walk later. See my life is really boring these days.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More rocket scientists

Apparently there are more rocket scientists around than I thought or I am one of the lucky ones who gets to interact with them. I had the pleasure yesterday and Monday of dealing with some of these at RCN, the local TV, internet, and phone provider. Basically, I paid my bill (I really did mail it July 12th), they didn't get it so they sent me a late notice. I immediately tried to log on to my account to figure out what was going on. I went to their website and realized I have no idea of my password or user name. I tried the forgot password option and got a screen that says 'enter account number' so I did. Then I got the same screen again and typed in my account number again. Then I got a screen that says enter email but has the boxes for account number. Clearly this feature is broken.

Yesterday I went to the RCN office and paid my bill. The woman there tried to get me to sign up to pay my bill automatically on a credit card. I said 'but I can't access my online account because I don't know the password' and I took her through the process of 'forgot password'. Her response was 'you should call technical support on that'. Um, maybe the problem on your website is also something that should be looked at. She didn't care.

Then I went home and called technical support. I didn't know my user name or password or what my secret questions were. The tech said she couldn't help me but would have a supervisor called me back. I said I had to leave in 20 minutes. She told me I should stay home for an hour to get a call back. (I had an appointment, I wasn't sitting around waiting for someone to call back.) I said I couldn't. She told me to stay home. I told her 'your website is broken'. She said 'I will make a note of that in the file'.

Then I actually got a call back from a supervisor. She said 'this is your password and here are your secret answers - please write them down for the future'. I explained to her about the forgot password feature again. I tried to log in and it still wouldn't let me. Then she said 'I really don't think you have an account. You should make a new one.' Huh? Didn't you just give me the password and secret answers???? How did you get those if I didn't have an account? So finally, I set up a new account and it emails me a new gobbledygook password. I said 'how do I change this password to something I might use and remember?' She said 'you can't do that. You need to talk to billing.' I said 'you know this online account business just isn't worth the hassle with you. By the way your website is broken' and hung up.

Three people in a row who a) couldn't see the big picture, b) didn't care about anything, and c) didn't concern themselves with anything but their little tiny jobs. What the results are frustrated and unhappy customers who are not satisfied and look for other providers of the products and services. If you want to put your company out of business, hire more rocket scientists like these, don't allow them to help customers nicely or to care about the big pictures, and let them pass the buck to other departments. Well, that made sure my blood pressure was nice and high for the afternoon. But my bill is paid. Their website is still broken.

Yesterday I ended up driving in to Boston. I ran out of time (partly because of my rocket scientist dealings) and energy to take the subway. I still just get really tired by the end of the day. Then I succumbed to my Chinese food craving. i haven't had Chinese food in months because of my stupid gall bladder. There is a local restaurant that has a buffet. I went and was very selective about what I ate. My gall bladder was mostly happy - it did express some discomfort but nothing unreasonable. Today I will eat better.

Today I am awake really early - don't know why but possibly because the cat came and sat on my at 430 am. (When its dark out, don't wake up the humans.) Then I am going to work and possibly to meet a friend for lunch.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sports

This is my week for weird sports. Well, weird sports for me. My sports generally include things like hiking, snow shoeing, skiing, which are more outdoor activities.

Yesterday I went to an LPGA golf clinic. I got to sit at a table and give out literature and talk to people. Basically I sat for about 2:25 hours and talked for about 5 minutes. There was another volunteer there so we got to chat as well. It was at a very exclusive, invitation only, type country club. I decided golf clothes are pretty fancy. There are the fancy little golf skirts or the long shorts. They also looked VERY expensive. But I don't think I will buy them anytime soon as I cant play golf. I went to the Bahamas once and stayed at a Club Med which had free golf lessons every day. I tried for three days and gave up. Now I can say I tried. Also, perhaps my mini golf game improved as a result.

My next sport this week will be fly fishing. Yes, fly fishing. You read that right. I am going on a Komen Association & Orvis fishing company sponsored retreat for breast cancer survivors where they teach fly fishing. They have them all around the country all year long. This is also fly fishing in the ocean. I am not sure how that is going to work but I am willing to try. Its also catch and release so if someone else will take the hook out of my fish (if I catch any), that will be just fine with me. But it is an opportunity to stay at an ocean front retreat for a summer weekend. That part should be very nice regardless of what the activities are.

Now the big news is that my dahlias are starting to bloom. They should keep blooming from now until frost in October. Very exciting. Okay, so maybe I obsess at tad too much about my garden but that's fine with me.

Today I am off to work and then I have to go into Boston again for work. This time I have learned my lesson and will take the subway and not drive.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Shoes

The importance of wearing the right shoes and caring for them properly should not be underrated. After Saturday's misstep, I washed off the bottoms of my sneakers and left them outside to dry. Then it rained Sunday morning and they got wet. So I poured the water out of them and left them to dry in the sun. And then my chemo brain forgot they were there, and it poured out again. Now they are drying in the bathtub. They were dripping wet, with 1/2" of water in each.

Yesterday I wore my gaudy gold flip flops that have been my favorites this summer. Then I went to the local farm stand to get some vegetables. They do have pick your own for half price. I thought what a great idea and set off with a little map of the farm... Well, the rain yesterday and last week made giant mud puddles, everywhere. Needless to say, now my flip flops may never be the same...

Today, I think I will break into my sneaker stash. I cleaned out my closet this spring and found three pairs of unworn sneakers in boxes. (Chemo brain strikes again.) I will also make a point of not stepping in anything I shouldn't.

Otherwise, off for a walk and work. I may be volunteering at an LPGA tournament this afternoon (even though I know nothing about golf). I was asked to be a volunteer and agreed. I was told they would send me more information - like where to go and what to do - but I have not received it. I emailed on Friday and got no response. I will try calling this morning. If I get no reply, I don't think I'll be going.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dealing with the cat

Walter is out of town for three weeks - he is due home this coming Saturday. In the meantime, it is just me and the cat. First of all, Shere-Khan spends his time either waiting for his damn chipmunk to come back or waiting for Walter to walk in the door. He prefers it when we are both home together. He is upset that Walter isn't around and his schedule is not exactly the way he likes it. Walter comes home sits down, the cat sits on his lap, they both are happy. When I come home, I am supposed to feed him and then sit down next to Walter so he can have us both there. Without Walter here, he has to squish his giant body on to my smaller (and apparently substandard) lap.

Yesterday, apparently Shere-Khan was taking his morning nap. I was trying to leave to go meet a friend when I couldn't find him. I like to make sure he is inside (because he likes to pretend he is an outdoor cat sometimes) before I leave. I couldn't find him. I even tried shaking his kitty treats - which is usually best way to get him to appear - and he was no where to be found. I assumed he had escaped again. I walked up and down the street and noticed the neighbor's garage was open. They looked in their garage and also realized the door to their house was open. I was if he was inside they could just send him home. Then I went back home, called my friend to tell her I would be late, and continued to look for him outside. Then I noticed him yawning in the front window. Obviously I had disturbed his morning nap.

So yesterday in addition to being aggravated by the cat, I met a friend and we went to an iris sale. Now I have to plant them in the garden - today's project. We also went for a walk at what she calls the 'dog park'. It was very nice and we even ran into someone she knows there. But as she did point out, you need to watch out for doggy land mines... Well, apparently I did very well until just before we got back to the car. So I left my sneakers outside to dry after I washed them off with the hose. Well, now they are really clean as it just rained for about 2 hours. I will put them on the porch so they might actually dry.

Last night, I was very daring. I pretended I know what I am doing with the grill and cooked dinner outside. (In response to Walter's question on the phone this morning, the house is still standing.) We have a charcoal grill and I never use it. Its the one place Walter usually does all the cooking. I was inspired. It was a nice day. And I found an awesome new recipe from the Food Network for grilled vegetable ratatouille. It was quite yummy and used up all the vegetables I had in my fridge. Now I also have left overs for the next few days.

Well, off for my morning walk - in my dry sneakers!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

As a result of monsoon week, we now have mushrooms in the lawn. We also have lots of flowers blooming so I can bore you all with more pictures. There are zinnias in a big pot, yellow and orange begonias - both single and double orange begonias, impatiens, black eyed Susan vine, and some ripe tomatoes. You can also see the debris from my little lumberjack adventure this week. They can just sit there until Walter comes home - finally next weekend - and can cut them up.

Yesterday was just another busy day in my life. At least I am busy these days instead of being really boring. Well, I know my life is still boring but you are still reading about it (so that must say something about the excitement level in your life as well). Anyhow yesterday I went to work, worked from home, weeded the evil crab grass in the front lawn (but there is plenty left to weed again today and tomorrow), and went out to dinner with friends where I ate too much. But it was quite yummy and the point of going out to dinner is to have a nice meal you enjoy so I guess that was okay.

Today is another day in my oh-so-exciting life. I am going for a walk (now there's a surprise) and then I plan on going to the gym to work out as well but you know what happens with that kind of plan - procrastination takes over and the next thing you know three months have gone by since you actually made it to the gym.

Supposedly the Massachusetts Iris Society (I really think there is a society or association for everything on the planet) is having an iris sale at a local farm stand. I like finding unusual plants to put in the garden so I want to see if they have anything funky. (There is a house nearby that I walk past often which has these little orange iris - something like that would be neat.) I am meeting a friend there and then maybe go for another walk. Since my life is so exciting I also get to pay bills and do laundry today.

What is really exciting is I get to stay home and do nothing tonight. I feel like I have been going out too much. More excitement than I can handle I guess. This weekend is not the high point of my calendar this year but I should make the most of it as I will be away the next two weekends.

Actually I really need to focus on weeding. Last weekend I went around and sprayed the patio where the weeds are growing through the bricks with vinegar. The idea is to make the soil too acidic for anything to grow. Well, then the monsoons started and now the weeds are doing just fine thank you. I guess I need to spray again but you can't spray with vinegar too often or it smells like you are living in a pickle factory. But its organic and safe and all that. However something was nibbling on my cucumbers again so I have to put out more chili powder.

It would be nice if the tomatoes would start ripening. I have had one ripe one which I ate and now there are two more. But I am waiting (very patiently - can't you tell) for the rest of them.







Friday, July 25, 2008

Ow! Ouch! Yowza!

Yesterday was a very rainy day. Actually we just had monsoon week. They claim 7" of rain in the past four days. No wonder I feel like I am about to start getting moldy. (At least kitty doesn't try to escape on rainy days - he hates getting wet - so I haven't been fighting that little battle daily.)

What it does mean is that yesterday, I drove through four flooded roads in the four miles between here and work. Then to be uber lazy, I drove the 1/4 mile to the gym. (Don't you like my logic - drive 1/4 mile to walk on the treadmill for 2 miles?) It was supposed to start raining again - and it did. It poured. So its a good thing I drove. I get points for going to the gym. I actually even used the machines and did an upper body work out. Hence the Ow! Ouch! Yowza! this morning as some of my muscles would like to remind me I haven't been doing that often enough. I will go again this weekend. My problem is I find it very boring to use the cardio machines in the gym. I would much prefer going outside. I used to be really good and walk outside and then end up at the gym for an upper body work out. Maybe I should try that again. Duh!

I also did say that I was going to bike to work one day a week for the five weeks of work. So far I have biked one day on the second week. There have been actually very few days I could ride my bike. Either the weather was too hot (90+) or too rainy or I had appointments to keep that were out of biking radius. I am considering biking today but am not sure. I feel like I am finally recovered from over doing it last week so I am not sure I want to bike and wear myself out. See procrastination is a very worthwhile activity. Perhaps I will give up on the bike to work notion but start doing regular bike rides that are just for fun. Five miles from here is the end of the bike path where there is a really good ice cream stand.... But I don't think I can bike all the way there now. And I can't eat ice cream these days. Biking to the farm stand. That might work better. Its a mile away and non-fattening.

One good thing about all this rain, well two good things, my rain barrel is now completely refilled and overflowing and my garden is watered. I think when the sun comes out later today I will have lots of flowers. I will be sure to bore you with pictures.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A little light reading

A few days ago, I learned that Scientific American had issued a special edition on cancer. After I had to think where to actually go BUY a magazine, instead of reading it on line or subscribing to it (I guess I could have gotten it out of the library as well but I didn't think of that until just now), I bought a copy at Border's yesterday when I was on the way to meet a friend for coffee. Let's just say that Scientific American is not light reading and definitely more on the technical side. I am not sure I am up for it between chemo brain and the inability to even find it on the display (I had to ask for assistance - I couldn't find it as it wasn't with Popular Science and other science magazines. It was with some ultra geeky magazines in the display right behind me when I was looking.) I have it. I meant to start reading it but I was tired last night. I have looked at it briefly and (in addition to have a glossary of different types of cells which I am sure will be very useful), it has some interesting articles on breast cancer, stem cells, research, etc.

I often shy away from what is posted in the media on cancer. Too often a news reporter gets hold of a sound bite from a research study, takes it out of context, and completely blows it out of proportion which causes all kinds of stress for us cancer people. (I don't use the word patient because my active treatment is over, I don't use the word survivor because I am not just surviving, I am trying to live as well. But I am a person, so we are cancer people.) I am hopeful that this contains some real facts and not a lot of fluff. Scientific American is not a 'fluff' magazine. Anyhow, it is my light reading for this weekend.

Otherwise, my life is boring. yesterday I went to work and then met a friend for a walk. A downpour started about 10 minutes before we were back at our cars - we were concerned we were walking slowly but once the rain started, that was no longer an issue. Then I ran some errands and met a friend. Then I was tired and went to bed early. Today I am working at work and from home, going for a walk, and watching a Netflix after some light reading. If it would stop raining, I would even do some weeding but that looks extremely doubtful according to the local weather radar.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The question you were all too polite to ask

No, I am not dying anytime soon. Not that question. The other question - how much does it cost for all this stuff? People are too polite to ask but they secretly wonder how much it would all cost. Everyone I think just has a general impression that it is really expensive to get cancer or any other life threatening illness. But until the bills start rolling in, you really have no clue.

A few weeks ago someone else who I know who is going through treatment for breast cancer told me she looked at all her bills and figured out how much her insurance had saved her in medical bills. Her number was high and I was pretty shocked. But then I started thinking 'how much would my treatment cost without medical insurance?' So yesterday afternoon, after I played lumberjack and cleaned up the big branches (including the one that was hanging on the backside of the fence and I had to go around and climb up on the stone wall to cut it down) and I needed to go inside and recover from my escapades (Walter is away so this is when I get into trouble), I sat down with an Excel spreadsheet and all my little insurance statements of coverage.

I learned that chemotherapy cost about $10,000 per infusion for one drug and $2600 per infusion for the other drug. That would have been about $70,000 alone. Radiation only cost about another $40,000. Surgery each time ranged from $6000-$15,000 for another $30,000. then I had another $80,000 worth of tests, procedures, and hospitalizations for a total of around $220,000. That's a lot of money. Of course my insurance didn't actually pay that amount, they paid their lower negotiated rates. That is what the hospital would have charged me if I didn't have insurance. So I guess my message is if you don't have insurance, could you afford to be sick? Probably not. If you don't have insurance, try to get it.

Some people think that national health insurance is the solution for this. I am not so sure. I only have seen the Canadian and English systems and not personally had treatment in either. However, I have seen the headlines in England where patients have their surgery postponed too many times until it is too late and they can't be saved. I have heard about long waits for treatment in both countries. I know I know people have private doctors and dentists outside the government system to ensure prompt and quality treatment. A US national system would have to provide prompt and high quality care otherwise it just wouldn't be worth it. Time to get off my political soap box and get ready for work.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Random thoughts

Maybe my brain isn't forming big coherent thoughts this morning so I am sticking with the little ones.

- When it rains at night, why do people turn on their sprinklers the next morning? This is a waste of water and energy. Also, I can understand the earthworms on the sidewalk after the rain but why all the giant yellow slugs too?

- Will all the green tomatoes that fell off my plants in the big capsizing on Sunday ripen on my window sill?

- To clarify, the doctor I saw on Friday put me on a three month call back. I am also on a four month call back with my primary care and have a six month call back with my radiation oncologist and have an appointment with a GI doctor in a couple of weeks. Now I am down to about 2 doctors a month. But still way too many.

- I am watching lots of movies with Walter gone and now am stuck between Netflix - none here to watch... Maybe one will show up today.

- My dahlias are about to bloom and my begonias are finally blooming. Pictures later this week.

- I really don't think I can leave this big tree branch sitting on the hedge for two more weeks until Walter returns. Later today I will play lumberjack and cut it up. Its kind of hard to see because I took it from the window upstairs...

- I am working more now than I have in a year - 20 hours/week. Possibly that is why I am so tired these days.

- Yesterday at work I spent 15 minutes looking for an 8 year old's lost tooth. He lost it during the day and had it in a little box, which he dropped and it opened up. Finally it reappeared. I think losing the tooth would have been more traumatic than losing it the first time.

- Who is wrong here? I was walking on the bike path this morning. There were two bike riders who did not stop at the stop sign on the bike path before crossing a road. There was a car that did not slow down for the bike path. There were lots of squealing brakes but no collision (and a few nasty words, and the bike rider did chase after the car...). Who is wrong? The bike riders for not stopping? The car for not allowing the bike riders to cross? I actually think they both were. And don't get me started on the stupidity of chasing the car either...

Well, that's my brain capacity this morning.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Yesterday started off in a very promising manner. I went to a friend's house and we were originally going to climb a small mountain with her four year old and pick blueberries on the top or go to a local state park and go swimming. There were a few pesky thunderstorms in the area, which were not conducive to either activity, so we had to come up with something else. We ended up going blueberry picking. I picked just a few. We also went out to lunch.

Then things went down hill. While driving home, I managed to drive into a thunderstorm where it was raining so hard that the wipers were on fast, everyone was going slow and a few had even pulled over to wait it out. This went one for probably 5-6 miles. When I got home, I looked at the weather radar and there was a long skinny storm lengthwise over the highway I had just driven on. Also, I was very tired by the time I got home. I have to stop all this having fun business and rest up.

Eventually I went into the back yard to check on my plants (call me weird but I check the at least once a day - maybe they need water, maybe there are flowers or veggies to pick, you don't know until you look.)

Then things got ugly. My giant flower pots of tomatoes and cucumbers as well as my huge rectangular self watering tomato box were blown off the stone wall they sit on and were upside down on the lawn. I almost ran for my camera to document this but decided my plants needed immediate emergency attention. I turned them back right side up and then had to lift them up on to the wall (but I need to be careful about lifting things and almost went and asked my neighbors to help - they were heavy and this involved a lot of dragging, and swearing), and then restaked them. they do look like they will be okay but I did lose about 20 little green tomatoes (and discovered I had one ripe one which I ate). (So my back is a little sore today and I think my arm is okay.)

I also went to check on my rain barrel. It had pretty much run dry as we hadn't had any rain in a while. Well, it is now overflowing and the overflow valve is clogged. That will be a challenge for later today.

Then things did improve a little as I actually got to talk to Walter and go to bed at a reasonable hour. And I feel like I got a reasonable night's sleep.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Whole Foods Adventure

I don't shop at Whole Foods. I really dislike them. They are over priced for the most part. You can generally get everything you can find there elsewhere for less except for some of their very obscure veggies. Which come with a giant carbon foot print. Those funky exotic purple carrots that come from far, far away need to have their prices linked to that of a barrel of oil.

I have been trying to eat healthier, eat more organic, less meat, and buy local. We all eat too much processed food and too much red meat so I am trying to do better. One of the things I have started eating is quinoa. It is a grain that you can use instead of rice or bulger that contains protein. I had been buying it from Trader Joe's. But they have been out of stock. I asked and it is a harvest problem and won't be available for a while - did I hear September muttered?

Yesterday, under great duress, I went to Whole Foods to see if I could replenish my supply. I had been told that they sold it in bulk there. I had other errands that took me near by so I figured it was time to break down and go into a WF.

Now I used to work near a WF, where we used to joke how it was possible to get an $11 salad at their salad bar. I would go in occasionally (only when I had no other lunch choices) to get a salad or something. I was always underwhelmed by the salad bar - the fruit flies didn't help - but also the amount of mayonnaise based and high fat content items in the salad bar amazed me. If you took all the high fat, processed stuff out, its not much different than any other salad bar.

I am getting off track here. I went to WF and got a cart. First item, whole pineapple $2.99. Not a bad deal at all, marked down from $4.99. but not organic. Has a Dole label on it. No different from (and the same price as) the one I bought a local grocery store 2 weeks ago. But that one's long gone so I will get this one. Then tomatoes on the vine (from and I quote 'Gerogia') for $2.99/lb. I went with the plum tomatoes at $1.99/lb as I like them just fine. These prices were okay but none of this was organic. Then I went to look for quinoa in the poorly laid out store. I finally found it and filled up a bag (which ended up costing me $9.00 as it was just under $3/lb) because I just wanted to fill up my big container to have for a while so I don't need to go back.

Then the fun begins. I wanted to buy tahini sauce so I can make my own hummus. After asking twice and being misdirected to the wrong aisle, I find it next to the peanut butter. The regular tahini was either $5 something or $6 something a jar. Organic tahini (I am not sure you really need organic tahini) was $11 a jar. But after rereading the fat content, its not something I can eat these days. My hummus will be weird and not have tahini, just chickpeas, lemon, and garlic (gotta have garlic).

I checked out the seafood counter. Nice seafood. Slightly high priced. What I didn't understand was 21/25 shrimp, frozen, self serve, on sale for $9.99/lb with the same size shrimp, not frozen, behind the counter for $8.99/lb. I got some of those and will grill them tonight with some chili sauce to have with my quinoa tabbouleh.

I walked by the salad bar, lots of high fat things. I really liked the idea of deep fried tofu slices on a salad. I looked at the milk. The same milk I bought at TJ's earlier was $0.50 more for a half gallon at WF.

All in all, yes they had a nice range of groceries. but the store is laid out badly, poor nutrition evident in the salad bar, and prices too high for my tastes. I will only go back when my quinoa runs out.

Otherwise, it was a nice day but really, really hot. I was supposed to meet some friends but everyone else had conflicts so that didn't happen. I did run a bunch of errands, in addition to WF, and watched 'The Bucket List'. From the patient's point of view, I think they had a good grasp of what we go through. I also ended up going out for dinner with a friend.

Today I am off to another friend's and her 4 year old for a day of fun - unless it is too hot. I really over did it the other day as I am still tired. But maybe the being tired is partly due to Walter calling me when he gets back to his quarters - last night was 11:15 pm, the night before 10:15 pm, and the night before 10:40 pm. He has to wait until he is done to call me. Then it doesn't help either that when the sun starts to come up the cat comes up and walks all over me with his little delicate 15 lbs... Maybe I should just go to bed earlier....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The perpetrators must be dissauded

Yesterday in BROAD DAYLIGHT crimes were perpetrated in my back yard. Here is clear proof of vandalism and other destruction of property. This means war!

Yesterday morning I watered the plants and they were fine. Then at 4 pm I went back outside and look what I found - a cannibalized pepper and a chewed cucumber - and this is the second one this week! In an effort to repel the criminals, I have since covered the plants with cayenne pepper (and hope this doesn't impact the flavor of my vegetables). Grrr!!! I shall keep you posted on my progress. Cayenne pepper is a cheap and organic repellent for rodents. I buy the giant cheap jars at the grocery store especially for this purpose. I guess the other organic option - but definitely less humane - would be to turn the cat into an outdoor cat (as he seems to want to be) and have him patrol the back yard. He has proved he is capable of terminating the mice we used to have. I am sure he could run off a few criminal rodents outside - as long as it didn't interfere with his nap schedule.

On a lighter note, we now have some more proof that man was not meant to jump out of airplanes. First of all this man couldn't keep himself together while skydiving. (If you are trying to come up with something to do this summer, you could always help him go look for his leg.) And this man had problems landing correctly. (Note to the guys on the ground - its okay to look up while playing.) Personally if I am in an airplane the last thing I am going to do is jump out of it. Do you remember the hijacker back in the 70's who took the money and jumped out? No one found him or his money either.

Yesterday, I decided I definitely over did it between Wednesday and Thursday. So after work and my doctors appointment, I spent a very productive few hours (being part of the problem again) in front of the TV set. I found, to my dismay, I hadn't been very good at keeping my Netflix on hand and was forced to resort to cooking shows. However I was lazy for quite a while and got a decent nights sleep (except when Walter called an hour after I went to bed but I really did want to talk to him). Today I feel better and will continue to be relatively lazy but am going for a big walk this morning before it gets hot. Yesterday I only took a little walk so I need to make up for that.

So the oncologist yesterday said he thinks I am doing well but he wants to see me back in three months. I am really sick of this 'you need to come back'. I want the doctors to say 'come back in a year, you are fine' but I guess I am not quite at that stage. Grrr, again.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Off to see the wizard again

No, not really, off to see the oncologist again. I don't think he's a wizard. But he often runs late. My appointment is for 1030am... I may possibly be there until noon. I don't fault him for being late because he is the doctor that will patiently sit there and answer your questions until you are satisfied. He never makes me feel rushed.

So I have my list of questions to ask him... I believe it is safely in my purse, or maybe my bag of stuff... Well, I will relocate it, or possibly just reprint it, which may be easier in the long run.

Today I also need to recover from having too much fun. Silly me decided to go out with friends two days in a row. Why did I have the idea I would have the energy for this? By the time I got home last night, I was exhausted. Well I was exhausted before that. I got really tired walking on the beach so I sat down for a while. Then we went out to dinner. Then we came home. Then I sat like a bump on a log in front of the TV. But I didn't get a sunburn. (NEVER get a sunburn the day before a doctor appointment unless you want a lecture.)

I will say sheep's butt hair survives going to the beach with out looking any different after being in the sun, wind, some water, and under a hat. You just brush it a little and, voila, it looks the same as before the beach.

Today I am going for a walk this morning before it gets hot. It will be a little walk because I am tired.Later when it is hot, I will play with the sprinkler and water the garden.

Also today I am going to work, then to the doctor, possibly back to work, then a phone interview for more work, then do more work from home, and have a work phone call update. Then I may need a nap. I think I am overscheduling myself. Is that possible?

Yes those are purple peppers in the first picture. I like to grow them because they are different. I should have yellow pear shaped tomatoes soon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More sightings

In my big adventure yesterday, I had to return to the Lahey parking garage. It is a giant place with over 1000 spaces. And it is full of OMWAHs (Old Man With A Hat, but I am not sexist or ageist, anyone can be an OMWAH if they can't drive). You know these people well. They brake constantly, for no reason. They use their turn signal when they aren't turning but don't use it when they are. If they see someone walking near them in the garage, they slow down and follow them. Then they will block traffic waiting for the person to get in their car and start it. Since I am so perfect, I would never do any of those.

Yesterday I entered the garage and drove down the first row, where you can NEVER get a space. Someone was walking to their car. I stopped. They got in their car. I had to back up a teensy bit (but there was no one behind me yet). They took their time and then they pulled out. Then I got the primo parking place and only made about 3 cars wait about 30 seconds. (Oh, was I an OMWAH? Okay, maybe. See we've all done it.) But then when I left a man in a giant old Cadillac decided to wait for me to get in my car and pull out and he backed up (with about 10 cars behind him). So I was clearly not the worst offender yesterday.

So the doctor said... 'Yes, you have all the classic gall bladder symptoms. There is a 90% chance that is what we will find. There are no more tests you can do to confirm that it is just a gall stone so we go in and take it out. There is a chance its something else or more than just the gallstone but we can't tell until we get in there. Its like a really expensive test.' He then gave me a little anatomy lesson to explain why they start to do all of the laproscopically these days but there is a 10% chance that for whatever reason, they will get in there and realize its not going to work with out the big old fashioned incision. Great. Sounds like fun. However, I can wait until the end of September for this but if I have a gall bladder attack that lasts more than 3 or 4 hours before then, I need to go to the emergency room. So after a trip to the blood lab, I just need to wait for the scheduler to call me in a few weeks to set this up. In the meantime, I will continue my fat (ice cream, fried clams, french fry, and cheese) free ways.

Also yesterday an old friend from college who I hadn't seen in 20 years came over with her daughter. We decided we looked exactly the same as in college but could possibly have gained a few pounds and that's it. It was great to see her. Always try to reconnect with old friends. It makes life much more fun.

This morning I am off for a walk and then work and then nails done, and then I am going to the beach with another friend. I can't wait. Its going to be upper 80's and sunny. Low tide late in the afternoon. This will be great. But I cannot get a sunburn as I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow. They really frown on that. Just never get sun burned the day before you go to the doctor unless you want the skin cancer lecture.

Now I am off to put cayenne pepper around my cucumbers growing in the garden as something has developed a taste for them!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An amazing concept

If you are missing things, try cleaning up and voila, they will reappear. Today I have rediscovered: my sister's birthday present that I bought and put in a safe place (basket on the stairs go upstairs), the book I meant to bring on vacation to show my friend (on the floor under a box), a picture frame that I had forgotten I had (so I just bought one identical to it last week for a picture), and enough yarn for ten projects (most of which I had forgotten I had). (I have also found a few million dust bunnies and enough cat hair for another couple of cats but those don't really count.)

I admit in the past year my house cleaning has taken a downturn - it hasn't been that much of a priority - and my office has turned into a giant black hole that can be kind of scary. But this afternoon an old friend is coming over so I have to pretend the house is clean and make an attempt. Also, I might have a touch of stress about my doctor appointment this morning. (House cleaning is a good stress buster.)

I also have my bag packed to go to the doctor. I have all my lists, the puzzles from today's paper, and a book. I know I have a 9 am and a 1030 am appointment so chances are I will have to spend some quality time sitting around at some point. I think there is also a good potential to get sucked into the Lahey black hole where they say 'we want you to go to here, and here, and here, and here, and come back to go there' for more tests and all sorts of other fun stuff. Could there be needles in my day today? Well, possibly. Actually I wouldn't be surprised. But if I have blood tests today, then maybe I can skip them on Friday as well. That would be nice.

Otherwise, this morning I am going for a walk since I am up early. It is very nice this morning - around 60, low humidity, and a nice blue sky. I also have all sorts of flowers blooming now. The picture is of my begonia. I will take some more pictures to bore you all later today.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I met a rocket scientist

And now I feel very smart. Over the weekend I was in a line to pay at a store. The two guys in front of me bought stuff that totaled $6.19. One gave the cashier a ten and she put the amount in the register so it told her how much change to give. Then the other gave her a quarter. She couldn't figure out how much change to give them. She used a calculator and then gave them three ones and a bunch of change. Then she said that isn't right. She couldn't figure it out. I said you need to give them back $4.06. She didn't get it. I went to another line. (I wonder if her cash register drawer ever balances at the end of her shift?) Now I feel very smart. My brain capacity was clearly greater than hers. Chemo brain was superior to some else!

Recently I went to gmaps pedometer and mapped my walking routes and found out my walks are shorter than I thought. Then I went to the USDA Food Pyramid where you enter what you eat and the activities you do in an effort to eat healthy. (Its actually pretty cool and shows you where you need improvement - either in food or activities. But a pain in the neck to keep updated daily.) There I found out my daily walks don't burn as many calories as I thought on the flat so I need to do longer walks and the hills more often. So yesterday I took a longer walk than I have been taking. Funny - but I was a little tired after that. Gee, I wonder why???

Today, I will also take a big walk but more importantly I have to prepare for my doctor appointment tomorrow. I am meeting the surgeon about my gall bladder so I have to break him in. I have my list of questions for him, my list of medications, my list of medical allergies, and my medical history list. This is when he asks about what is wrong with me, I can say 'do you want me to tell you or do you want a list?' Its kind of complicated - the list that is. Actually, it was a very short list until 2005. In fact my entire medical history before 2005 is shorter than the list from the last 3 years. Also today I am going to work, working from home, and having a phone interview about some more freelance work. Working from home is great (as I sit here drinking coffee in my pajamas). The commute is a breeze!

My real problem is that with Walter gone, I told him I would help keep up with the crab grass so I have to do that and the regular garden weeding. In addition, I am about to inundated with green peppers and cucumbers - more than I can possibly eat. Then I will have a million tomatoes as well. It would be nice if the tomatoes and peppers would be ripe at the same time and I could make sauce and freeze it. How to speed up ripening tomatoes? Well, that's a problem for another day.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A very cool event

Yesterday we went to a clambake fund raiser for some women who are riding in the Pan Mass Challenge. If you are feeling like you are in incredibly good shape and could ride somewhere between 68 and 192 miles for charity, it is a very worthy cause. It is the largest athletic fund raising event in the country and I think their goal is $34,000,000 this year. The funds raised go to cancer research. It was a very good time. Lots of good food, music, games, and a raffle (which some say was rigged... but that's another story).

My lovely little gall stone precluded me from having chowder, or butter on my lobster, clams or bread, or corn. Or eating half the appetizers. Or going out for ice cream afterwards. But I still had lots of fun. There were several other cancer survivors there. Unfortunately, there are far too many of us. It would be nice if there was no need to be a survivor if cancer was curable. Which is the whole purpose for the PMC in the first place. So if you are feeling generous, go make a donation for those who do ride.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

You would think I would know better

You would think I would know better than to over do it these days. Yesterday morning we got up, went for a walk, came home, Walter finsihed packing, went out to breakfast, took him to the airport, went to a yard sale (and bought a very useful file holder for $0.50 and thought I dropped my clip on sunglasses there), did some weeding, started laundry, got gas, stopped by my parents house, met a friend for lunch, went shopping for 2 hours, and at 315, I was exhausted. Maybe I did too much. In some ways I am happy I made it to 315 before running out of steam. But I came home and sat around and did nothing for a couple hours to recover. (But I did find my clip on sunglasses - I had dropped them in the living room before leaving.)

Today I have to plan my resources better. I have to finish laundry this morning, go for a walk, stop by another yard sale which is right on one of my walk routes, get a key copied, and then go to a clam bake. Some friends, who apparently are in much better shape than me, are riding in the Pan Mass Challenge in a few weeks. They are having a lobster bake fund raiser on the coast of Maine, about 1 1/4 from here. I am driving up with a friend. It should be a very fun afternoon. A year later I am finally able to start having fun again.

Last week I had some good intentions (isn't the road to hell supposedly paved with good intentions?). I said I will start going to the gym again and using the machines at least twice a week instead of just walking outside. I made it on Monday and not since. I think I will go again tomorrow. Its supposed to rain. I also said I would eat oatmeal for breakfast every day and have a glass of milk with it. I did do that every day except yesterday where I had egg beaters and one slice of toast. I had also said I would ride my bike to work one day a week for the five weeks of summer. I did that one day last week (and my butt hurts a bit less today) and only could consider it for one day this week due to rain in the forecast and other commitments - like stupid doctor appointments. Two trips to Lahey this week and both will take about 3 hours... Grr... But today I will have fun first.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Today I am whining!

No I am not suffering in silence today. I have lots to whine about.

1. Sheep's butt hair. Enough said. I hate it.
2. My butt still hurts from my bike ride.
3. What is the worst possible thing to have? An itch you cannot scratch. My latest biopsy is healing internally and itching. I can't scratch it. It is driving me insane.
4. This morning I am taking Walter to the airport so he can go to his annual two weeks (which somehow has turned into three weeks) training in Wisconsin. He will be back in early August. We (kitty and I) will be very lonely without him. And I might have to do things like mow the lawn, carry laundry, make coffee, and wash dishes.

WAAAAHHHHH!!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger

Well that is the theory anyway. Yesterday I decided to be green, cheap, and healthy and decided I would bike to work. Its a mere four miles and barely up hill. I made there and made it back but I definitely am not ready for more biking just yet. Maybe again next week, or even over the weekend, but certainly not today. Besides, my butt hurts!

Also, bike helmets are no match for sheep's butt hair. Yesterday morning, I showered, put gel in my hair, and then left for work before it was dry and wore my bike helmet. No one could tell the difference with my hair that it had dried with a bike helmet on! It looked the same.

Yesterday, I also harvested my first cucumbers from my garden. I kept one and gave the other away. Quite yummy! Peppers should be ready soon - maybe another week but the tomatoes will take a while still.

Also, most exciting I had three good things yesterday: I finally met a local woman who is also dealing with breast cancer. We met on line months ago and have been emailing and talking but never met in person until yesterday. That was nice. Then I got an email from an old friend who just had his third child (well his wife had it). Last, I heard from a friend I haven't seen in 20 years who will be in town next week! Lots of good news for a change. On the other hand, my damn (you can see the progression here, now it has the adjective 'damn' applied to it) gall bladder is still making its presence known.

Off to work today by car and then work from home too. And some weeding. And a walk.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Learning from experience

We should do this. I don't think the cat does. Back when I first met my husband and his cat (who is now our cat or even my cat, except when he is bad and is Walter's cat), I was at his condo making dinner one night and dropped a piece of lettuce on the floor. When I went to pick it up it was gone but the cat was right there. I thought he won't eat lettuce but tried another piece and he ate it. Apparently he needs his veggies. Then I started growing him grass but every time after that I would make salad he would attempt to steal lettuce - and he is big enough so he can reach his paws up to the counter. It was rather annoying and he would beg for everything. One day he was begging and I was cutting up scallions so I gave him a piece. He took one bit and never begged again.

Yesterday I went to the farmer's market and got a big bunch of scallions which were not trimmed so they are very long. Well, guess who was begging again. I think he thought they were really big grass. So I gave him a piece again. He chewed on it a little and spit it out. (How thoughtful!) Shouldn't he have learned the first time? Obviously not.

I am not one to talk. Yesterday, I had one of the back windows open in my car and said to myself, go shut the window before it rains. Well, I didn't. It started to pour and I got to run out in the storm to shut the window. You think I would learn this too. Oh, well.

At the farmer's market yesterday I didn't get too many weird vegetables but I did get (and I am sure you really need to know): broccoli, lettuce, bok choy, carrots, green beans, garlic scapes, and fresh basil as well as a new basil plant to replace the one I killed recently. They had lots of interesting greens but I will wait until next week for some of them.

Now I am not sure if this is good or bad but I also received an appointment notice for the surgeon for next Wednesday. This is when we will talk about my gall bladder in more detail. Is it good that I got in to see him in about 2 weeks, instead of the 3 or 4 weeks my primary care said it would be? Or is it a bad thing because she thinks it needs to go sooner? All I know is I am not ready to have more surgery. I want to wait until the end of the summer - like late September. Grr.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Open mouth, insert foot

I think we are all guilty of that from time to time. We say something and immediately realize we were rude, insensitive, or just plain stupid. No one is immune to this problem. Particularly when faced with a newly diagnosed friend or loved one.

There was an article on CNN Health the other day about how to talk to cancer patients. Before my latest diagnosis, I was probably just as bad as everyone else. I think we mean to say the right thing but really don't know what to say. This article sums it up nicely. I think the only thing I want to add is that treat sick people (no matter what is wrong with them) the same way as you treat anyone else.

Sick people want to know what is going on in the world, the stupid thing your child/spouse did, and what you did on your vacation. We don't want to know how your second cousin's neighbor's hair dresser's uncle's prostate cancer was treated because it doesn't have any bearing on our treatment. We don't necessarily want to talk about what is going on with our treatment because we have already said it 100 times to everyone else and frankly we are already thinking about it all the time and we really might welcome the distraction. Also, don't tell us how great we look because if we are in treatment we look like crap (and no you can't tell us we don't) and any weight loss or hair changes were not as a result of a desire for change but simply a side effect of treatment. Okay, rant over.

So yesterday I took my weird squash and sauteed it with onion, a ton of garlic (all vegetables are improved by garlic), olives, capers, and tomato sauce. Quite yummy. Leftovers tonight but its farmers market day so I will see what new weird veggies I can get. Also, I think I have three ripe cucumbers out in the garden. Unfortunately if I go to the farmer's market, I have to park right near my favorite consignment store. I told myself I couldn't go back until July. Well, its July. I am going back.

Today I have to take more garden pictures to bore you all. Lots of things are starting to bloom nicely. I also need to go to work, for a walk, run errands, work at home. I think I'm kind of busy today.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I am SO confused

The doctor says 'you have osteopenia, you should take 1500 thingies (I can't remember if they are milligrams, International Units (whatever those are) or something else) of Calcium and 1000 thingies of Vitamin D every day. So I up my vitamin intake and start looking at food content. I could have sworn a law went through recently that said companies needed to clarify their nutritional information on food packaging. Evidently my brain is so tiny and compromised by chemo that I can't process the information provided. I decided I should probably start drinking milk, eating yogurt more regularly and seeing about eating some cheese provided it doesn't have a high fat content meaning I get to eat reduced fat cheese which usually tastes like an eraser.

I read the milk content and it says you get 40% of your RDA of calcium in a cup. But 40% of what? It doesn't tell me how many thingies I am getting. I check the yogurt container - same deal. Now what? I have to go google the RDA chart and then do math. Why is this so complicated. Why can't they just say how many thingies it contains and not give me a percentage? I admit the math isn't complicated but a nice round number of thingies would be much more user friendly.

Just so you know you are supposed to get 1000 milligrams of calcium and 400 International Units of Vitamin D each day. This leads the next question - what is an International Unit? I have no idea. I'll just call it a thingy.

Speaking of confusion, tonight for dinner I need to cook these funky squash. I started going to a local farm stand that is organic and grows some weird vegetables. The green ones are a kind of zucchini, I can't remember, but the yellow ones had a weird name and are in the zucchini/summer squash family. I will treat them as zucchini and probably saute them with some onion and garlic. I do this a lot - buy weird new vegetables and then figure out how to cook them. That way we get to try different things. However, every so often, I just get too weird and it turns out yucky.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rating your doctor

There was a story in today's paper about how the latest thing to do is to rate your doctor. This intrigues me as some doctors I am more comfortable with others. I don't think it is possible for a patient to rate the doctor's actual abilities and training as most of us are not trained professionals and it is really something that is only apparent over time. However I am all in favor of rating things like the doctor's bedside manner, amount of time they make you wait once you are there (more on this later), ease of getting an appointment, if you feel 'listened to' by the doctor, and other subjective areas.

Since I see so many doctor's I figured that at least some of them would be listed. I checked the two websites listed - Angie's List and RateMD.com. Of all the doctors I have, only one is listed, and she has only one rating which is all positive. Well it actually just says positive and didn't leave any comments. So how helpful is this? Should I now feel that my doctors are all so obscure and have so few patients that no one has rated them yet? Or is this just something that is reflective of Web 2.0 that hasn't really spread yet? Will it even take off? (Web 2.0 is the interactive side of the internet that has come up in recent years - blogs, Digg, Twitter, LinkedIn, Face Book, etc.) Who knows?

Will I rate my doctors? I am not sure I am qualified. I mean I like them and feel comfortable that I am getting good care but just because I am happy doesn't mean that someone else would be. Choosing a doctor is like dating (I hate that analogy but its true). You have to keep trying different ones until you find one you can communicate with and makes you feel better. If you don't like how a doctor treats you, I definitely think you should find another.

Now on doctor's making you wait. I think as patients we need to admit we are part of the problem. I have been to see doctors just a 'few' times in the past year. The appointment reminders ask you to be there 10-15 minutes early. This is so that the doctor can actually see you at the time you are scheduled. Most of the time, when people check in, they are there relatively on time.

But then there are the people that show up half an hour after their appointment and expect to be seen right away. Or the ones who didn't know when their appointment was supposed to be. Or the ones who don't listen to the instructions - don't eat before this procedure or we can't do it. Hello? Did the world start revolving around you recently? You couldn't get your butt out the door to be there on time? Pay attention! You are making the doctor run late.

I know there is also the case where you are having a problem and the doctor actually spends some extra time with you. You feel better but then this may make them run late. I think we are too quick to say that doctors are at fault for running late. Maybe they are over scheduled and trying to pay attention to their patient's needs and slowed down by late patients? I try to be on time and very rarely have to wait long so I think its pretty equitable. If I was late all the time and then had to wait for the doctor to be able to fit me back in, I don't think I would be in a position where I could complain.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Confusion

Why do they do this? Yesterday, after our all important mini golf tournament (Walter 2, me 0), we went to Barnes & Noble. After wandering around the first floor, I went to the escalator to go upstairs. Well, silly me, I was at the bottom of the down escalator trying to go up - because they switched them! They aren't even right next to each other but a good 30' apart. Why do they do these things? They have always been the other way. I was so confused. The store felt all backwards to me.

Otherwise, yesterday was a work day. We got lots of things done. the fence is now mostly put up. The weeding is slightly more under control. Walter mowed the lawn and we actually attempted some house cleaning and laundry! I guess we lead boring lives these days. Today we will interact with our friends and pretend we have a social life.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

At least one of us is patient

It has been a year since the chipmunk incident. The cat is still waiting for the chipmunk to come back. You would think he would have given up by now. But actually he spends hours each day waiting by the front door to catch another one. I mentioned this to Walter last night and he was surprised that I remembered. Well I remembered the date because it has been one year since my second surgery in this lovely adventure. Well my scar has healed from that one but I am still waiting for this to end. Sigh. Some day it will. I hope. (I guess I am not any better at being a patient patient than I am at suffering in silence.)

In the meantime, I am focusing on my vegetable garden this year. Please pretend there are no weeds in these pictures but you can see little tiny tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. I am very pleased. We have been getting tons of rain so don't ask my why I watered them all on Friday night. What was I thinking? But the cucumbers should be ready in a day or two.

Also, my flowers are coming along nicely. It is my goal to have something, or several things, blooming in my garden all summer long. So far, so good. But I do need a few more plants. (Its another one of my little addictions - buying plants for the garden.

I do need to report about what is probably the lamest product substitution in the world. A couple of months ago, I believe it was Walgreens but I could be wrong on that (I know it was a national chain and my chemo brain can't remember), had a promotion to send in a form for a free reusable shopping bag. I have a few bags but wouldn't mind a few more. I didn't get a shopping bag. I got a really lame, unusable (and fairly ugly) rectangular Tupperware container. I can understand them running out of bags. Why didn't they just send a coupon to go to a store and pick up a reusable bag when they were back in stock or something? I don't need this container and probably will just give it away or recycle it. Also, wasn't the whole point of the promotion to reduce plastic use and they sent a plastic container?

Yesterday to celebrate the fourth of July, we had a gourmet dinner. We had lobster and steak and green beans and salad. It was quite good. And messy. And the raccoon that came along and pulled all the lobster shells out of the trash in the driveway enjoyed it as well. We don't usually eat like that.

Today we are recovering from eating like that and will have lots of vegetables. After we go out for a walk and then mini golf. The top of our list this weekend is mini golf. We will fit in at least one game. Priorities!

Actually our biggest priority this weekend is to finish the damn fence. It is almost done.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Changing the frequency

In an effort to be greener (and cheap) this year, we opted not to install and use our window air conditioners. We are sticking with fans which works rather well for us as we have ceiling fans in 3 rooms and window fans. We upgraded the fan in our bedroom to be a window fan with a remote control. Also in our bedroom, we have a TV, VCR, and DVD player. We have found that our TV and the new window fan are partially on the same frequency. When you hit the Previous Channel button on the remote that came with the TV or the universal remote we use for the VCR, the fan cycles through its power settings of off, low, medium, and high. Now what do we do? I really don't think there is any way to change the frequency here. Very odd and a little disconcerting.

To celebrate the 4th of July this year in a more exciting manner than last year, we are actually going to make a yummy dinner of lobster. I know its kind of mean to kill a lobster but I will leave the kitchen so as not to witness the massacre. The real question Walter has is it really mean to put the lobsters on the floor for the cat to play with before dinner... (I admit to doing this as a child.)

Last year's 4th of July was spent waiting to go for surgery for a second time. We did have a small barbecue but this year were not even organized enough for that. We will attempt to stay up for the fireworks but they don't start until 1030pm so that may not work. Actually, face it, it probably is totally out of the question for us. But that is why they invented VCRs. We could go watch the fireworks some place but there has been so much rain recently everything will be all wet and it might rain again tonight.

Last night we went out for sushi. You would think sushi is nicely low fat. Well apparently my gall bladder disagreed and was not happy about something I ate. Today I will stick with bland food and not even put butter on my lobster.

On a more exciting note, my container vegetable garden is coming along nicely. I have many little green tomatoes and cucumbers. I think one of them will be big enough to eat in just a few days. There are also a few little, itty, bitty peppers but they clearly need some more time. If it would stop raining and be sunny for a few days, they might even ripen!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Apparently I dont do it very well

I have been informed that I really am not very good at suffering in silence. I guess my tendency to whine and complain and subtly hint precludes suffering in silence. I do try (or perhaps I am trying). Oh well, I could go back to being crabby. Maybe that would be better. I might need to resort to gum drops to feel better. Last night I ate a few dark chocolate M&Ms. They made me feel better but also made my gall bladder unhappy. Gum drops are fat free so technically I should be able to eat them.

Nothing exciting today or yesterday. Yesterday I did work for 7 hours straight - one of my longest days in a year. I did survive. I did go to bed on the early side last night as well. I also convinced Walter that since a friend was coming over for a walk after work that he could cook dinner. He made a very nice dinner of chicken and vegetables with quinoa. If you haven't tried quinoa, I recommend it. Its a grain like rice but actually has protein in it too so its got more 'staying power' and it cooks up much faster. Today's lunch will be left overs.

Also, today I will go to work, work at home, and go for a walk. Is that exciting or is that exciting?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The criminal in our midst

Well, maybe not a criminal but a little escape artist. Every day this week, the cat has escaped, at least once. He has learned how to push open the front screen door that doesn't latch and get out. Now he is so proud of this skill, he tries it all the time. Yesterday I thought he got out and went out side to look for him. He followed me out. Smarty pants kitty. We will have to get a little GPS for him or something. He's an indoor cat. He just doesn't remember that all the time.

Yesterday afternoon I decided I really am not happy with my latest medical diagnosis. Unfortunately I can't change them so I have to learn to live with them. Then I got really stupid and looked up on line what exactly they do when you have gall bladder surgery. That was really dumb.

Basically like any other surgery, you get preop tests to make sure you are healthy enough for the surgery and they know exactly what they are operating on. During surgery, which is laproscopic usually, you are sedated (that's awfully nice of them), you get four little incisions and shouldn't feel a thing. Here's the potentially yucky part, you may get a nasal gastric tube to remove stomach acids for a few days AND you may get a drain. I certainly hope I don't get either of these. I will definitely bring this up with the doctor before hand. Why did I read this? I am not sure. But I definitely did not watch the little video they had of the procedure. That would be really yucky. And I really can't wait to have another drain. That was probably the worst medical thing done to me ever.

Well now I am suitably grossed out and have something new to stress about. I am sure Walter will be suitably appreciative of my abilities to suffer in silence on this one. However I am not going to have it done until probably late September. We are going away for Walter's birthday and I would prefer not to be recovering from surgery at that time.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Not proceeding as expected

Well, I made it through my doctors appointment yesterday. I was right, there was a TV in the waiting room, turned up too loud on Fox News to make sure that the two other people waiting could hear it. But I wasn't there long. It was a very quick visit. However, the doctor wasn't all so positive.

First of all, I learned a new word: osteopenia. It is the precursor to osteoporosis. And I have it. I need to up my calcium and Vitamin D intake and take another test in two years. Basically, it means my bones are starting to thin. I did a little research when I got home that says women over 60 need to be tested to see if they have it. Well, I am not over 60. So I got it early. Great, yippee, yahoo, NOT. This means that unless the bone thining slows down due to increased vitamin D and calcium intake, I will probably end up with osteoporosis - like my aunts, mother, and grandmother. I can also exercise regularly (which I do), start weight lifting more regularly (which I keep meaning to), quit smoking (already did that), quit or reduce drinking (this takes all the fun out of life). WAH! I guess that's my only comment.

Then the doctor said with your gall stone there are two choices live on a low fat diet to control it or if it becomes an issue, see a surgeon. Well, apparently mine is an issue as I can feel it all the time, even when lying in bed on that side. So I get to go see a surgeon. I know its not big surgery and I am really sick of the fat free diet but I really don't want more surgery. Grr, grr, grr.

Then the doctor said that the two issues I am having with problems with my leg related to bursitis and with general fatigue/crappiness feeling are hard for her to diagnose. I should see if I can write down when I have them and what I was doing so she can figure out what the causes are. She said, and this makes a lot of sense, if I tell her about a specific symptom, it is very hard to diagnosis and just run test after test. But if I tell her the story with the symptom of when and where I get it, it is much easier for her to go in the right direction. This is how she was able to send me to the gall bladder surgeon based on what I could tell her about the pains I had from that.

Even though I am going to see the surgeon soon about my gall bladder, I still should see the GI doctor for my other issues. And, I need to go back to see my primary care doctor in October. Just when I thought I could break free of Lahey, I get sucked back in!

Further proof on the sheep's butt hair. Last night I was hot and sticky and took a quick shower to cool off before I went to bed. Even though I fell asleep with wet hair, the sheep's butt still looks exactly the same...