Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tossing the Apple

You cannot make up stuff like my day today.

First some background. Mom watches the girls as I go to my doc's every other Friday for IV treatments. This week Winnie the receptionist and Doc Conway's all-around handy woman calls me Monday and asks if I can come in Thursday instead because he has to go to a funeral. I say yes and check with Mom to watch the girls.

There may be a snow/ice storm tomorrow. So this morning, Winnie calls again and offers to let me come in today instead, in case of the storm. I really need the treatment. They can fit me in at noon. It's 10:30 am, Doc Conway's is one hour away, I've got twin girls still in their jammies (don't ask). I'm still in my jammies.

The girl's didn't know what hit them. A whirlwind of clothes, shoes, spray bottle of water, combing, hoods yanked up. The same whirlwind hits me. We're out the door. I then remember that we drove a friend somewhere last week and had to remove one of the car seats. I've never had to install a car seat since our van has integrated car seats. So I tell the girls to stand back and I heave the seat out of the trunk. The girls look concerned. I tried to get it back in the middle slot, where it was before. I yanked and pulled and cut my thumb. The girls took a step back. I started over in the next to the window and finally got it in. First time in their lives they haven't sat right next to each other in a vehicle. I was sad; they didn't seem to notice.

Twice on the hour trip North I start having abdominal cramping. Oh no. I imagine myself having to find a gas station or store, unstrap the twinlets (which takes minutes), herding them in, finding an employee, waiting for the bathroom to clear up, all while bend over and moaning. I drove faster. I did get on an off ramp the second time it happened, but I prayed hard and it cleared up and so I got back on the freeway. I made it to the clinic in time. Used the facilities, felt much better.

Today was the first day the girls witnessed an IV started on their mama. Doc Conway wheeled my IV pole to the back room where everyone else sits with their IV poles. My Dad was there with his. No really, this is not a dream. My Dad, who also has Lyme disease (and other big bad things) was actually there, with Mom. The girls thought it was great fun and passed the time on various laps. Another patient there found out I am an RN and started asking me how to get rid of her husband's hiccups. Sydney ate a banana and Summerlyn ate an apple.

On the way home I decided to stop at the mall because JCPenney's is having a big sale and it's before the crowds. You know how I feel about crowds. I am super tired and so I get one of those rent-a-strollers and the girls take turns. Summerlyn, my very active, inquisitive little girl is acting like a limp noodle. She says she doesn't feel good and wants to keep her coat on even though it's very warm in the mall. Oh no.

I finish shopping and thinking that the girls didn't have much for lunch, maybe they will perk up if I feed them. So we go up to the food court and sit down with a plate of chow mein noodles and vegetable spring rolls, which the girls love. Sydney ate a small portion and said she was full. Summerlyn, on the other hand, refused to even have a sip of juice to drink and laid her head on my lap. Oh no.

We finished and I put her back in the stroller. The next thing I did was a gift from God, a pure moment of inspiration. I gave her an empty styrofoam cup.

On the way out of the mall I stopped and returned the stroller. Still standing by the stroller kiosk, Summerlyn gets THAT look on her face. I say "IN THE CUP! IN THE CUP!" Up comes the apple remains in amazing quantities. Such a wonderful little girl, she spills not a single drop. All in the cup.

She immediately felt better and we went home. The girls fell asleep in the car. The nutty day is still not quite over. Not quite. As I'm driving my right eye starts burning for some unknown reason. I close it, driving with my good left eye and my nose starts itching so I scratch it. I then think of all the disgusting surfaces I've just touched in the mall and so I reach into my purse in the dark and find my little bottle of hand sanitizer. I squeeze and nothing comes out. I shake it and squeeze again and get a huge glob in my hand. I rub in on both hands, and the steering wheel and my jeans. That stuff is like pure alcohol and now my good eye is burning, tears streaming out of both eyes.

I am home now. Girl's sweetly unconscious in their beds, safe. I'm going to bed now before anything else happens.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Teeth


I came home late and the girls were already in the tub. I came in just as David said, "Summerlyn, smile real big." She did and her father and I nearly had dual cardiac events. Her teeth were dark grey. We made Sydney smile. The same thing.

My mind raced back in time. We had brushed their teeth ever since the first two appeared. I remember their darling little smiles with two tiny teeth on top and two on bottom. I remember getting bit during breastfeeding. They had strong little teeth. I know.

They've gone to the dentist for a cleaning every six months; they are due for one now. They don't eat candy. I have dozens of photos with them smiling, beautiful pearly whites gleaming.

But I also remember forgetting to brush their teeth. They've gone to bed after drinking juice at suppertime. And suddenly, in the space of a day, they have rampant tooth decay. I thought of the dentist, shaking his head sadly, looking at me angrily. How could you do this, you terrible mother. Why I oughtta.... Now they will have to be fitted with teeny dentures. We'll have to look for Polident coupons in the Sunday paper. They'll have little cups beside their beds for their little choppers.

Then David asks, "what did you eat today?"

With two words, the agony and dispair are whisked away. "Blueberry smoothies."

It was then we noticed their tongues were also blue-grey. The decay magically disappeared with a brushing just before bed. Tomorrow I'm going to make that appointment with the dentist anyway.

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Tonight the four of us -- David, the girls, and I -- were sitting on the floor of their bedroom just before bedtime. It was time for prayer and we were discussing prayer requests. David said, I'm feeling pretty sick." Sydney looked up at him with a gentle smile on her face and her arms around his neck and said, "But you can still be happy."

David smiled, all his complaints suddenly drained away, and said, "Yes. I can still be happy."

Monday, November 28, 2005

Why Don't YOU exercise?

My husband is sick again. He usually doesn't get sick this much or have it last this long but it's been a bad season, and it's only just begun. I think he's unhealthy because he never exercises. Trust me, I'm not comparing his level of potato-hood to mine, because we are co-spuds. But tonight I suggested he should exercise more to get healthier. He says, as usual, that he would like to walk. But it's raining. Note that this is Oregon. It does that here. Is that not a brilliant excuse if you ever heard one? He could be in Antartica and say he'll start exercising as soon as the snow melts.

I suggested that he could use the clothes hanger in our bedroom. It used to be a recumbent bike, but it's had a more efficient use for several years now. He answers, "I can't. It makes my legs sore."

After I was done laughing I agreed to that I wouldn't post that comment on the blog. He changed his mind and so here I am. Still laughing, but awed. I couldn't come up with such genius excuses not to exercise if I tried. And I have.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Holiday Shopping

Anyone else recovering from the holidays? Oh wait, it isn't over yet. I went to the mall tonight after work to look for Christmas gifts and was reminded why, every year, I wished I'd done this sooner. I am not a crowd person. Like my husband on Black Friday I hoped to get in and get out. But instead I felt like a Nascar in a parking lot. You can have the best intentions of getting from points A to B and get the checkered flag, but there are too many obstacles. There's grandma and grandpa moving in their own time zone. Then you come across a group of adolescents, low-rise jeans and i-pods five kids wide in a no passing zone. Oh, and the double stroller -- but the kids are walking next to it and mom's carrying a bag of something huge, a jacuzzi I think, on the other side.

The key is to not make eye contact. Walk like you're the only one in the mall. Which only works when you are walking opposite the flow of traffic. I'm small, so no one sees me coming up behind them. I take a split second to zip around them on the shoulder and nearly get nailed by a huge guy who sees a cell phone kiosk out of the corner of his eye and makes an unscheduled right turn. I was stuck in his shoe for hours before he scraped me off on the curb. Ok, that part isn't true, but it could have happened.

I ended up getting one measly gift after darting in and out 234 stores. I couldn't take it anymore and left, knowing full well that it will only get worse. Next time the halls will be filled with barking sea lions masquerading as Christmas shoppers and I hear they've scheduled cattle drives for the remainder of the season.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Part II

My husband left me. To go shopping, that is. Yes, it is 11:00 pm. I myself have never gone shopping, purposely, on Black Friday, but this year David was hit by the killer-deals bug. He should have ducked. Unlike many shoppers, however, he has a plan. He only wants to buy a printer. Get in, get out. Riiiiggghhtt. I know him. He has such good intentions: bee-line to printer, bee-line to printer....ooooooh, squishy mousepad......

I can only hope and pray that he gets back home in time for Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow afternoon. That's right, the day after T-day is going to be our big day. If you recall I worked today and my family was kind enough to arrange their schedules around mine.

The patients I talked to today did make me thankful. There's a lot of unexpected things that can happen on T-day, as today's cases in point show. The dog bite, the squirrel bite, the kid who accidentally stabbed his hand with an EpiPen (bad, just take my word for it), the symptoms after a cancer biopsy, the suicidal alcoholic reaching out. Besides getting together with family and enjoying a meal, a lot of other things happen to people out there on Thanksgiving Day.

Mostly it was nice because many people were grateful for help and said thank-you and "hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving." The other nurses were in a good mood and brought lots of food to share. Then there was one really crabby patient who made me wonder why she called since everything I said made her mad. "Can I help you?" She says, "What do you MEAN can you help me? What kind of stupid question is that?" Deep breath. I'll let that one go and keep the nice thoughts instead. I hope you do to.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bicycles

We've been looking for bikes for the girls, now that they have outgrown their tricycles. How is it that teeny little bicycles are so expensive? It's a scam, I swear. We're not getting them bikes for Christmas, since we've already purchased a doll house for them and few other, smaller toys. I don't like piling up the toys and making it a me-me-me event. But we keep an eye out for the bikes.

Today, David was on a pre-Thanksgiving shopping mission and drove by a Salvation Army where a row of bikes stood before the store. On a whim he decided to stop and thank the Lord he did. He bought two, very nice condition, perfect-sized bicycles for $14. Total. Whoohoo!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Giving Thanks for Service

I work Thanksgiving Day. This is normal for many people, especially us medical professionals. I have been a teletriage nurse -- you might call me an advice nurse -- for over nine years. Usually on Thanksgiving our work day starts quietly. Many people don't call because they don't think we are working. As the day progresses we get more calls including lonely people who have no plans for the holiday and all they have to think of is their physical problems. Loneliness makes all illnesses worse. Some call for their real symptoms and some just call to confirm there are still kind voices in their otherwise silent universe.

Then we get the post-dinner calls. These are the I-can't-believe-I-ate-all-that, the heartburn vs heart attack, the gravy-burned hand, the cranberry stuck up the nose, the what-are-the-signs-of-food-poisoning, the goose egg on the forehead from a football improperly passed.

Later they tuck their children in their beds and retire themselves, thinking about leftovers and post-Thankgiving bargains of socks. In the wee hours of the night and morning most people sleep soundly in warm beds. A few call the nurses for children with fevers, spouses with stomachaches, a new cough. The nurses sit awake, waiting for these calls, to calm fears, to soothe anxious parents, to provide advice and gentle words in the night.

This Thanksgiving, if you are one who enjoys a day off with your family and friends, remember to thank the nurses and others like them who wait, listen and care, steadfastly.

Monday, November 21, 2005

WAAAAYYYY COOL!

This is the stuff scientists should be working on. Now THAT's quality of life.

Staffing Solution


My work is having some staffing problems. Always trying to help, I found the following solution. Good news: unlike some employees, these can be trained!

Don't tell my boss I'm so easily replaceable.

Ignore the seal in my bedroom, Ma

The girls have been doing this for years. Well, at least two years, since they are only four. Using their Mama-is-Distracted radar, they retreat to their bedroom and close the door. Closing the door doesn't always spell disaster, but it's often a big hint. Mostly this occurs when I'm on the phone or working on the computer. This occured again today, like this:

I'm on the phone. Mother-in-law asking for Christmas ideas. Girls' radar goes off -- (the radar was built-in and cannot be removed) -- and they retreat. Door closes.

In this cold war, so to speak, I have my own defense. Mama Radar with special What Do You Think You Are Doing doppler capabilities. Once the radar get a blip, jet propulsion is immediately initiated, taking Mama across the house (or yard) in 0.6 seconds.

Pacing through the house with the phone, I met the girls between their bedroom (door closed) and the bathroom. They smiled. I got a major blip.

"Mama," they said, "don't go into the bedroom."

I smiled sweetly back and asked, "Why?"

They cocked their heads to the side like sweet puppies and said, "Because of the water."

I told my mother-in-law that I had to go, thanks, talk to you later.

This time it was only baby dolls in a swimming pool (Rubbermaid container) with only moderate slosh-age. Next time it will be algae research or perhaps a cooling pool for plutonium rods.

Parents, keep an eye on your babies. They're wily.

I Told You Smoking Was Bad

Proof that smoking damages your brain cells.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Snakes and Gospel Music - it's not what you're thinking

Our church sent Jamie, one of the members, to Texas last weekend. He's going to move there next month to pastor a bilingual church. Today at church, Jamie narrated his slide show about his trip. One slide was rather startling: he introduced it as "here's a cottonmouth we found." It had been accidentally run over. Ten times. Quite gooey. Now that's something you don't usually see outside of dissection lab, not to mention church service. It was funny, in a sort of I-can't-believe-I'm-laughing-at-a-dead-snake way.

Later, we discussed tools we can use to keep us from temptation. Temptation being anything from the obvious "do not steal" to avoiding that cookie when you're on a diet. One tool that came up was singing gospel music when faced with temptation. I like that one, but I think that humming might be better in social situations where you don't want to be escorted by security. In my case, there are times when I should do some really vigorous humming. Exposure to chocolate, for instance.

Speaking of temptation, it's the Commercial, wooops, Christmas season. Stuff, stuff and more stuff to buy. Fortunately, I'm pretty low maintenance, so the majority of the hot sale items don't appeal to me. Plus I hate crowds. I should shop online, but I've procrastinated, so I'll have to go to the mall. Perhaps I'll see you there. I'll be the one walking by the Godiva shop desperately humming Rescue the Perishing...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Herxing

Herxheimer Reaction: an increase in the symptoms of a spirochetal disease (as Lyme disease, or relapsing fever) occurring in some persons when treatment with spirocheticidal drugs or other therapies are started.

Two days ago I decided to drink and entire bottle of mangosteen juice over the course of the day. I've never done that before although I've wanted to. At $25/bottle, frequent guzzling is out of the question. I expected to gain energy like I usually do when I drink and ounce or two. That's not what happened. The next day I started Herxing. This means, for me, some or all of the following symptoms: severe R-sided headache and neck pain and slight facial drooping, swollen lymph nodes, speech difficulties, fever, exhaustion.

Although it was my day off, I had to go into the office for two important meetings. I first noticed the speech issues about 15 minutes into the first meeting. I could talk, but had to fight to come up with the right words and not slur or stutter. So I kept pretty quiet. By the time I drove home, the Lyme-grain (my version of migraine) started in. I get these about 1-2x/wk but they are usually mild-moderate. Not this one. This was a bring-me-to-tears, want to crawl under the couch and die, kind of headache.

The good news about herxing is that it means the evil bugs (B. burdorferi) are dying. Dying I say!! DIE, BUG, DIE!!!

Sorry about that. I get a little insane when it comes to Lyme disease. I like to imagine the little monsters shriveling like salt on slugs and maybe even screaming a bit. That makes me happy.

So today I'm drinking another bottle of mangosteen juice. Yes, I have issues. I considered not doing that again, but hey, I might as well really go for it. Besides, I only had two bottles left so I might as well give it my all. So if you see me with the right side of my face drooping, tears running down my cheeks, but peering at you with my left eye with a wicked grin on my face don't call the authorities. The monsters are dying and I am thrilled.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Salmon Soda Anyone?

Another reason where saying "No thanks, I'm a vegetarian" comes in handy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Regular or Unleaded?

Ever noticed how ordering gas is like ordering coffee? It's been a long time since I drank coffee, but I couldn't help but think about it when I rattled off to the attendant "regularfillcash" and he replied "regularfillcash?" like "carameltriplelatte?" No foam please.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Not Improving

Well, other than sounding like seals that smoke, the girls are fine. Wouldn't it be nice to that resilient?

My wheeze has gotten worse and I emailed a friend of mine who is also a nurse and asked for advice. Understand that I am an advice nurse of 9+ years myself, but I was perhaps hoping for something like "you're fine. Buck up and be a woman." But nooooooo. She gives me truth and tell me what I would tell my own patients: Go see your doc. Some truth is overrated.

I didn't really want to see my doctor because I don't like him, but he wasn't in so I saw someone else who was much better. Told me I have bronchitis and rx'd me an inhaler (which I will use) and antibiotics (which I don't plan on using), and a chest x-ray for sometime this week. The fun never ends.

Improving

Everyone's better now. The girls still have these teeny raspy voices. Syd had a rash last night, but I think it was just a viral exanthem. I made them cough syrup with honey and lemon juice and they started fake coughing just to take it.

I'm doing better buexcept for my headache today. I have Lyme Disease, the chronic or late version. I've been upping my treatments, which is good to kick the bug, but makes me feel worse. So I get these migraines I call my Lymegraines because they come with not only a right-sided head and neck pain but also swollen lymph nodes on the same side. Neato.

Anyway, I working again today and have a big list of patients to speak to. It helps take my mind off my problems to be able to help people with much worse problems then mine. I'm more grateful for all the blessings in my life. Sounds like a Hallmark card, but it's true, helping others does make you feel good.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sick Puppies

So Summerlyn woke up this morning earache free. She really wanted to go to church and cried when I told her she was staying home. I took Sydney to church and by the time we got back Summerlyn was chipper and had more energy than a chihuahua. Sydney was unusually quiet, but she usually gets that way on the rare occasions she's separated from her twin.

However, it was more than that. Syd developed an almost 103 degree fever and a sore throat. I gave her all the usual protocol (elderberry, vitamin C, zinc, etc) plus a bit of acetaminophen for her throat pain. Poor baby is now fast asleep.

I'm exhausted, but have to go to work early tomorrow. I still have an inspirational wheeze. That is, a wheeze when I breathe in, not a wheeze that moves me emotionally. Actually, I feel moved emotionally. To bed.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Privacy. Right.

Back when we were childless, I remember hearing parents say how they wish they had privacy in the bathroom. I couldn't figure that out. Just close the door, for crying out loud!

Now I understand. For those parentless or with new babies, here's the deal. Privacy is a concept foreign to the world of little kidlets. You can tell them that mommy or daddy would like some time alone, but they don't get the point of that. After all, these are the same tiny humans that run naked through the house, little pink streakers of joy.

My daughters are now nearly 4 1/2 and I'm delighted to say that we've finally reached the point where they occasionally stay out of the bathroom when I ask them to. Today I told the princesses that I was going to the bathroom. Alone. Thank you. They complied and I entered the throne room, looking forward to a moment of peace, closing the door behind me.

No sooner had I sat down when at the door came knocking. It was Sera, the white cat. Knocking, of course, means scratching and meowing. Knowing that I wouldn't get any peace, I hobbled to the door and let her in. She's a pretty mellow cat, usually, and I expected her to rub my ankles and curl up on the rug. I sat back down.

Suddenly she sprung to alertness, with that look on her face and ears twitching. You cat owners know what I'm talking about. It's like they've just received orders from the mother ship. She ran to the door and demanded to get out. Now. I stared at her resentfully, but she just scratched at the door and meowed like a mad-cat. I give up, hobble to the door and open it. She moves through the opening but stops midway. What's this? New orders perhaps. I push her through with my foot, grumbling "what do you think I am? Your servant?"

Oh.

Stupid Cold

Poor Summerlyn's cold finally dragged her down tonight. She complained of ear pain for the first time in her 4 years. I gave her the garlic drops (appropriate only if there is no drainage) and warm compress. She's sleeping quietly now. Sydney had to take a bath all by herself tonight, first time in a couple years. Much less happy sounds coming from the tub than usual.

Quick Thinking

Summerlyn has a cold today, first one of the season. Not that this stops her from doing her normal 4-year-old activities of daily living. Currently both girls are in my bedroom making a rather elaborate tent system between the bed and chairs with blankets. They are wearing selections from my small collection of vintage full slips. I love to stop and watch them and listen to their conversations. But it's time to get out the elderberry syrup and echinacea/goldenseal. There's going to be loads of garlic in our broccoli for lunch today.

I'm intrigued by how they think. Summerlyn has a bad habit of chewing on paper. I asked her what was in her mouth when I saw her chewing on something. I like to give her the benefit of the doubt, in case it's just a raisin from under the kitchen table. She takes it out and says "nothing, anymore." I hope she doesn't grow up to be a politician.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Tinfoil Anyone?

Last night my husband and I were watching TV while I cross-stitched. Understand that we live in the country and have no cable or satellite set up. So we have somewhere between 1 to 2 1/2 channels, all of them in various levels of fuzz and static. We don't watch much TV but when we do it can be a near aerobic activity. Standing in front of the TV, the channel comes in well enough that you can actual understand what is being said. Do a slow shuffle back to the couch -- ok, still ok, still ok -- and then...sit. Crackles of static and showers of snow. So David goes and jiggles the cable cord in its socket. We don't know why that works, since we have no cable, but it seems to be effective as an antenna of sorts.

Last night the entertainment was, well, entertaining. I sat cross-stitching with a capricious smile on my face while he fiddled with the cable cord. He really wanted to see what was on and found that if he stood in the middle of the family room it came in superbly. Understandably, he didn't want to stand for an hour so spent the next half hour moving from couch to chair and back to cable jiggling to find just the right spot. Finally he left and returned with a plastic lawn chair and parked it about 3 feet in front of the TV. Static was moderate but in order to hear quiet tones he still had to stand. One could tell what parts interested him the most by watching him suddenly leap to his feet and then sit down again. Finally I suggested that he get one of the girls' ladybug umbrellas and sit with it open over his head as he sat in the plastic lawn chair. For a split second I think he actually considered it, but then his eyes narrowed and he said suspiciously, "I am NOT fodder for your blog." The man is smart.

Who says watching television isn't exercise?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Toast

I'm toast. Worked yesterday at the office so tired I think I have QWERTY permanently imprinted on my forehead (look at your keyboard for those who don't know what I mean). But I had our lifestyle class last night so I drove from Beaverton (home of Nike!) all the way across to SE Portland where the class is located in the basement of the church we rent.

David (spousal unit) had driven home from work to pick the four pumpkin cheesecakes I made the night before and our dual progeny. Traffic being what it was, he took forever to get to the class and I was stressing over getting the cakes cut in time for the meal, but he got there just in time.

The kids dressed up like pilgrims and served the food. Other than missing one table completely, they did great. Until they thought there wasn't going to be enough cheesecake for them. Fortunately, there was and we avoided any unfortunate pilgrim incidents.

We had a huge turnout, about 75 people showed up. The food was great (as always) and my cheesecake demo went well. I then gave the lecture, which overall went very well. Lots people had lots of questions and I had lots of answers. At one point I lifted my arms to illustrate a point. Later, David says, "sweaty pits, eh?" Great. He probably didn't tell me about the booger or the spinach in my teeth out of mercy.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Blog Start

I'm working from home today and taking a break. Yesterday David (the spousal unit), twin-lettes and I came back from Yakima where Dad-in-law had his 60th birthday party. Yakima, WA, calls itself the Palm Springs of Washington, by the way. That would be true if PS were hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter. Otherwise the view is about the same. Brown.

Tomorrow night is our holiday cooking class. I'd provide a link to it, but the webmaster of the site was negligent in his duties (see "spousal unit" above). I'm having the lecture "Winter Health Immunity" and demonstrating the vegan pumpkin cheesecake (yes, even non-veggies love it). So sometime before bedtime today I have to make five cheesecakes. Did I mention that I'm working (nurse, calling patients recently home from the hospital) from home today? Won't get anything done until this evening. Should be interesting. Can't wait.