Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Thursday, December 30, 2004

I almost forgot...resolutions!

Listening to: 'The Blues Come Over Me' by BB King; 'Solsbury Hill' by Peter Gabriel; 'You've Changed' by Ella Fitzgerald [I love LaunchCast]

  1. Laugh more.
  2. Love more.
  3. Live more.
  4. Brave more.
  5. Take care of my mind, body, and spirit.
  6. Be open to change.
  7. Take chances. Well, good chances anyway, like new opportunities, as oppose to playing in traffic.
  8. Practise being happy.
  9. Dance occasionally.
  10. Create.
  11. Live in the moment, but consider the future.
  12. Volunteer.

Gee, one for each month of the year.

Yes, they're deliberately vague. I'd only be setting myself up for failure if I do the standard 'lose X lbs' or 'go to the gym 3 times a week' or 'join the local Scrabble club'. This way I might do those things, but I won't beat myself up if I don't, but just keep plugging along and hopefully fulfill them overall. Wish me luck.

And whatever 2005 has in store, may you be well, too.

Via Bene Diction Blogs On

The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog lists various news and ways to help in the aftermath.

Plus, a group of people have decided it would be good to have a permanent place for bloggers to come together to help in times of crisis, producing The Emergency Action Blog

Rock on.


Listening to: '45' by Shinedown (but really, I'm not depressed, I just like it)
Feeling: Reflective

Other thoughts for today:

  1. I really shouldn't make stupid lists because of course they never work out. But I got other things accomplished that were more important and helpful to others, so that's okay. I didn't get to sleep late or eat lunch with anyone, but that's not so bad, just a little disappointing. I'm going to push some things tomorrow, too, especially since the post is apparently running after all and I'm pretty sure the gym is open. I also got a free soft drink in the course of the day.
  2. I was re-reading something that I accidentally came across that someone I used to know wrote. A couple of the pieces were promising, although marred by self-inflated attempts to be a writer, as opposed to writing as an unconscious means of expression. It was better than the syrupy stuff people write in love letters or in high school, I suppose, and at I certainly encouraged the person to put feelings upon paper. But now, with all that's happened between us, and reading it with a fresh eye, all I can think of is how glad I am that this person is no longer in my life. How sad it is that none of us who were considered the truest friends are in this person's life, because in the end what was wanted was not truth or love, but something to be controlled and railed against. After awhile even I, who hung on the longest, either out of concern or lack of spine--I'm still not sure--came to see that the person was not worth the effort at friendship and was liable to turn in the most vitriolic fashion upon us without warning. Sad. But thankfully, some other unsuspecting person's problem, no doubt, these days.
  3. I'm at the public library, and there is a man in the library rocking back and forth whilst standing, much like a Chasidic Jew reading the Kaddish. I suspect he learns best by rocking; some people do, especially with some forms of ADD. It was just slightly disconcerting. Ah, well.

Just in case you wanted a boobie update

Listening to: 'The Dolphin's Cry' by Live
Feeling: Relieved

I had the mammogramme this afternoon, and apparently I:

  1. Have breasts that present a textbook-clear mammogramme, primarily due to the high fat content (which, after all, is how they're supposed to be)
  2. Do not have mastitis after all; we think what the doctor saw as cords of infection were instead the normal fibrous bindings women with large breasts have to keep them relatively perky and attached. This is also borne out in that the pain has moved to the other breast, and mastitis doesn't do that.
  3. I probably have abnormal breast pain as a result of a quirk in my hormones this month. I also had a weird period and a lot of emotionality at an unsual time of my cycle. The doctor suggested that if this continues to consider something like birth control pills or other measure to even out my cycles, but generally for someone with polycystic issues I am regular...so unless it worsens, I'm probably going to go on as usual.
  4. Got a clean bill of breast health and they'll see me when I turn forty (in a little over 2 years).


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tomorrow, next week, next year

Having nearly caught up on many other things (like the end-of-the-year-work-purge-and-store, to be continued for the beginning-of-the-year-purge-and-store), here is what I plan to do with my day off tomorrow:
  1. Sleep about an hour later (yay, get up at 9:30)
  2. Go to the gym (the one downtown, with the sauna), do the treadmill and bike to get back into the swing of things, then soak in the hot tub and sauna)
  3. Eat lunch with friends
  4. Prepare the last of the year's job applications and send them
  5. Get my boobies smushed (mammogramme, and yes, I still have the ^#*@& mastitis, so this should NOT be fun
  6. Do some last minute things in case friends come over for New Year's Eve. I have the ingredients for flaming cheese and vegetarian chili, I have crackers (party favours you pull open that make a firecracker sound and have prizes and party hats inside) to add some noise and fun, and the game Clue (Cluedo to the Brits out there), a very pleasant way to spend an evening in my book.

This has been a rather slow week in all respects, thankfully. I watched a Van Helsing double feature on Monday with a friend, and it had some very useful moves I could use in the game, not to mention Kate Beckinsale in a very tight corset and well, Hugh Jackman was no slouch either. I want his gadgets, though, especially the grappling hook gun/wench. I really like the spinning blade but only in terms of the game characters...I'd slice a finger off myself.

Last night I went to the library, read, knitted, did laundry, and watched 'NCIS', which is sort of 'JAG' meets 'CSI'. It was the helicopter parked in a crop circle that did it for me. I rather like the show, although it didn't grab me as much as some. I didn't so much as touch the computer, which is a little odd for me. But overall I had some 'chill out' time that was nice. I'm feeling a little fuzzy in my thinking, though, and it's hard to concentrate on anything very long. I wish I could figure out what the deal is, because I feel like I could be doing so much more if I could just get through some of this. I'm going to talk to a doctor on the 6th about the mood fluctuations, lack of concentration, and a friend really wants me to talk to him about my memory. It's not just a lack of memory--it's a standard joke of ours that I have the memory of a goldfish. It's that 1) it's gotten worse over the years and 2) I don't just not remember...I insert and conflate things together so I can't really trust anything I supposedly remember, but it seems quite real. Take the movie...I filled in something being shot from a blowgun in one scene even though it didn't show it. I could describe it in detail--a black spray that came out like a cone towards the face of a character...and that didn't exist. This despite paying what I thought was close attention and remembering what I thought was correctly. I am also really beginning to see a trend in terms of my mood and some of the stupid things I do...I'll get to a point where really ludicrous things make sense, or I'll buy something I can't afford because it seems to make absolute sense, then come crashing down and feel like an idiot and my self-esteem just crumbles once I realise I've done it again. I've been told I've had major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, even borderline personality, and certainly therapy and drugs have helped somewhat, but I still don't think I have the whole picture yet. I'm really starting to wonder if it's a form of bipolar, and hopefully the doctor can verify...and treat it accordingly. A part of me tends to obsess on things, tends to collect 'issues', a part of me doesn't want to have one more label, one more hurdle, but another part of me just wants to know what is wrong so I can start again and go from there. Here's hoping I get some answers.

In the meantime, I hope to have a safe happy New Year's, and wish you the same. I'll try to blog again whilst I'm off, but just in case, here's to 2005!

Living in Central Kentucky?

Blood Center Issues Emergency Appeal For Blood; Less Than One Day's Supply Of Some Types Available

December 28, 2004, Lexington, Ky.- Central Kentucky Blood Center today issued a rare emergency appeal for blood donors, its first since May 2004. The emergency appeal was ordered because CKBC does not have a full day's supply of blood to ship to the dozens of hospitals and clinics it serves in central and eastern Kentucky.

"The holiday season has hit us hard, as has the recent bout of icy, cold weather," said Susan Berry-Buckley, Central Kentucky Blood Center CEO. "We simply need more donors. With the blood supply now at a critical low level, we want to avoid asking hospitals to cancel elective surgeries," said Berry-Buckley.

In ideal circumstances, the Blood Center keeps about 3,400 pints of blood in stock. However, by the start of the New Year's holiday weekend, the blood inventory is projected to be 600 pints below that level. Berry-Buckley described the situation as a "slow crisis", worsening hour by hour, with the real possibility of less than half a day's blood supply being available this coming weekend.

All blood types are needed to make sure that hospitals have what they need to cover trauma cases, surgeries or organ transplants in the region, said Berry-Buckley.

CKBC operates four donor centers located in Lexington, Somerset, Pikeville and Prestonsburg. The upcoming days of operation and hours are:
Lexington: 330 Waller Ave. Mon.-Thurs., 9 am-8 pm; Friday, New Year's Eve, 9 am-5 pm; Saturday, New Year's Day, 1 pm-5 pm.
Somerset: 120 S. Hwy 27, Suite 4, Mon., 10 am-5 pm; Tues., Wed., Thurs., 10 am-7 pm; Friday, New Year's Eve, 10 am-5 pm.; closed Saturday.
Pikeville: 685 Hambley Blvd., Suite 1A, Mon.-Thurs., 10 am-6 pm; Friday, New Year's Eve, 10 am-5 pm.; closed Saturday
Prestonsburg: 200 N. Lake Dr., Municipal Bldg., Mon.-Wed., 10 am- 6 pm.

Visit ckbc.org for times, dates and locations of the nearest mobile blood drive. Click "Donate Blood", then "Find a Mobile Blood Drive."

Founded in 1968, Central Kentucky Blood Center is a non-profit community blood center providing blood to 67 hospitals and clinics serving 59 eastern and central Kentucky counties.

I gave recently, at the end of November, so I can't give again yet (and I'm undergoing surgery in two weeks, so it's apparently out on that account, too). So, I'm doing the next best thing...passing it on to others who might be able to help.

As one co-worker put it...

something to think about but not to think too hard about.

Quake May Have Made Earth Wobble

I know it's more a footnote compared to the devastation in Asia

But I've spent a good bit of my limited TV watching glued to 'Law & Order' with a friend, and as far as I'm concerned Jerry Orbach and Sam Watterson make that show. So I was saddened to hear that the actor had died of prostate cancer. Hard to think to think of New York without Lennie Briscoe. :(

ABC News: 'Law & Order' Star Jerry Orbach Dies

Nice to know they're on top of this

MSNBC - Disease outbreaks likely within days, U.N. official says

Want an easy way to donate to relief efforts in the aftermath of the South Asia Earthquake/Tsunami?

Amazon has set up a 1-Click way to donate to the American Red Cross.
Donate here

I also read in The Wall Street Journal [you can only read the article with a subscription, so there's not much point to linking it specifically, but try your library if you're not a subscriber] this morning an article explaining some of the limitations that caused warnings to either not arrive in time or languish in bureaucracies. I'd forgotten that it being Sunday, so many government offices would be closed. (Hey, I'm Pagan, I don't think of it as any different than another day, except that it is a weekend.)

I can understand some of the mess. Bureaucracy, weekend hours, difficulty interpreting data (for example, the Pacific Tsunami authorities released a bulletin actually saying that based on historical information, a tsunami seemed unlikely...but that was when they thought the earthquake was much lower on the Richter, and it took awhile to realise the scope). But the one I find more troubling is 'well, we knew about it, but we didn't want to overstep diplomatic protocol' by telling other countries. Diplomatic protocol be damned when people are innocently going about their lives and the potential for a huge tidal wave is imminent.

Okay, obviously I'm of the 'why can't we all work together' camp. But we live in a global society with dangers that impact all of us, whether terrorism, natural disasters, disease, nuclear war, etc. The UN does have its problems, but it's what we have in terms of international cooperation, and it should be used to the greatest degree possible to make life better for everyone. There are so many suborganisations of the UN...is there one for coordinating international disasters? I don't know.

Meanwhile, the help is pouring in, thankfully, and not just money, goods, and people. One of the biggest problems is how to figure out just where the need is greatest, for example. Taiwan's space agency, which usually charges several thousand dollars per satellite picture, has offered to provide free photos of the area affected to better determine the changes wrought by the tsunami and which places were hardest hit. Because only 26 countries formally recognise Taiwan as separate from China, the decision was made to post the pictures to a website so they could be used regardless of what diplomatic ties affected countries had with the island nation. Go, Taiwan!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

2004 Indian Ocean earthquake

Wikipedia has a good article already about the earthquake/tsunami, how it relates to similar disasters, and the country-by-country impact:
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The article also mentions that the first readings indicated a much weaker earthquake, less than 7.0. Apparently different methods are used to calculate very large earthquakes, so it took awhile to get the revised reading. So that explains some of the issues regarding warning, along with the lack of infrastructure.

What I don't understand

I realise there is no 'early warning system' in the Indian Ocean that could have detected the tsunami, but what about all those seismographs, etc., that the US and other countries have that can detect the slightest tremour throughout the world? Wouldn't someone have said, oh, gee, a 9.0 earthquake at sea may mean some really bad waves for everyone radiating out? Also, none of India's satellites were over the subcontinent at the time, but what about other countries'? Would it even show up on satellite? Just wondering.

Granted, it was 1 in the morning in Britain and 8 at night on the East Coast (5 pm in California), so that's an off-shift and there's probably no set protocol in place, but in 2 hours, don't you think something could have been tried? I realise they have to analyse the raw data, but again 9.0=very, very bad, even I know that.

And if there was notification, India and many of the other South Asian countries have quite a bit of technology on their side, after all...it's not like you'd have to send yaks out to tell the populace. They have TV, radio, Internet, all the same stuff we do. Thailand is the only country that apparently tried to warn those at the shore but it came too late...I think they got hit fairly early. But what about the ones who were hit hours after the quake?

India had an Air Force Base that was washed away. You'd think they at least might have had warning. But for whatever reason, the correct infrastructure doesn't appear to be in place. Did anyone see the quake detected at one of our centres and try to pass the word? I hope so, for do we not have a responsibility to use our technology to help our fellows? I'd like to see this spur a lot more cooperation to prevent such disasters. We may not be able to control earth and sea, but we can control our reactions to such phenomena.

I actually can understand why there isn't a system in place. Apparently 95% of all the world's tsunami's happen in the Pacific, which is covered nicely between the Japanese and Americans. The Indian Ocean is rare, and a tsunami hasn't hit land there since the great Krakatoa explosion over a hundred years ago. Perhaps the expense was not deemed worthwhile. Still, it's an area of several plates butting into each other, and the danger is one that is known to exist. Anyone who thinks it's too expensive to increase the early warning sysystems has only to look at the bill this one disaster is going to rack up, probably the worst in history. That isn't counting the loss of life, many hundreds of times that of the WTC destruction, and spanning over many countries. Whole towns have been wiped off the map. The death toll has already reached about 1/6th of the city I live in. Imagine how those numbers would affect where you live.

Sadly, the toll will only rise as we get more information, but also as disease sets in...and scientists who fear a pandemic akin to avian flu or such now have more to worry as people from all over the world fly in to help and are exposed to who-know-what, diseases that generally lie dormant until stirred or worsened by such a disaster, and then return to their homelands. Gah. It's mind-boggling.

ABC News: Tidal Waves Death Toll Rises to 44,000

Blogs from the area that discuss the tsunami and its aftermath 'from the ground':
Sumankumar's Blog
Jinath's Blog

Animation of the inudation:
Tsunami Animation - Natl. Inst. of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology in Japan

Compare to the Pacific:
International Coordination Group for the Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific
NOAA Tsunami Research

How you can help:
USAid.gov [with tips on how to evaluate relief agencies]
International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies
The American Red Cross (because the IFRC site seems overwhelmed and wasn't loading when I tried)
Direct Relief
Doctors Without Borders
Save the Children

There's hosts more, of course, but that will point you to where you can do some direct good. Prayers probably couldn't hurt, either, to whichever God you think might have dominion over this sort of situation.

[Update: I had been collecting blogs that discuss what people have seen or experienced either during the earthquake/tsunami or with the aftermath, but now there's a wiki on ground zero experiences that I'm contributing to instead.]

Monday, December 27, 2004

Forgive any perceived blasphemy

I didn't make it up...but I wish I had.

What if Genesis had been a corporate project?

flooble :: fun(?) stuff :: Genesis Project Notes

Oh, what destruction

Massive Tsunami kills thousands in South Asia

Nature is a beautiful yet dangerous thing. I didn't catch much news this weekend, so I didn't hear about this. A 9.0 on the Richter scale earthquake brought a wall of water up to 30 feet high crashing into a huge area along the shoreline, and tens of thousands are dead or missing. Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India...even Somalia in Africa...were affected. Saddest of all is that an early warning system akin to that of the Pacific rim based in Hawaii might have save tens of thousands, as the tidal wave took 2 1/2 hours to reach the shore. But the only warning that came was the characteristic sudden receding of water along the shoreline, a phenomenon that many did not understand until it was too late. Tsunamis on this scale are rare and many people have not been educated to their dangers.

Great Poseidon, what fury! My prayers and thoughts are with the victims and their families.

Post-holiday happiness

Listening to: Tóg é Go Bog é by Kíla
Feeling: Happy and relaxed

I had a good holiday overall. Christmas Eve something happened that I won't go into but involved frazzled nerves, a deadline imposed by stores closing, and a general crankiness that comes of feeling unwell. The stresses of the day finally boiled over with each of us contributing to the fray, so in the end I spent Christmas Eve alone rather than having friends over, with little Christmas spirit left. But it got better after I watched some holiday television and had a nice quiet evening with the tree sparkling. But the weekend has given us a chance to work through things to some degree, and we hope to try again on New Year's Eve.

At home, it was a somewhat subdued Christmas, as there were no little kids home for the holidays and no one was financially able to go overboard in presents. But we decided that it was nice that we were all sitting around the dinner table, together, and alive. This year my stepfather had a heart attack, my stepbrother nearly died in a wreck, my grandmother is doing well but is diabetic and in her eighties, and well, you never know about the rest of us. My stepbrother is home, walking with a cane, and has to have surgery this week. Apparently he has a bone spur in his neck that--when he went through the windshield--caused the break in his neck. They say that the bone spur is situated close to his spinal cord and that just sneezing really hard to cause paralysis, so obviously, they heed to stabilise it. I just hope everything will go alright. The drive down was beautiful, as the trees still had ice on them glittering like diamonds (but the roads were clear). We were lucky...about 50-100 miles away they had feet of snow where we had a dusting and a tiny bit of ice that paled in comparison to the ice storms of recent years.

Every year it seems like we have this huge orgasmic experience--no matter how we try not to get sucked into it--called the holidays that leaves us all tired and sometimes sated. I got some rest over my four-day weekend, too, so I'm feeling pretty good. But I'm glad it's over, and I'm looking forward to the new year.

Hope you had a good holiday as well. Happy new-year-to-come.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A great Christmas story in my e-mail bag

Thanks, C.

This is an article submitted to a 1999 Louisville Sentinel contest to find out who had the wildest Christmas dinners. This won first prize.

Christmas With Louise

As a joke, my brother used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them. What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jay's kids' stockings were overflowed, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty.

One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don't sell those things at Walmart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown.

If you've never been in an X-rated store, don't go. You'll only confuse yourself. I was there an hour saying things like, "What does this do? You're kidding me! Who would buy that?" Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section.

I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane during rush hour.

Finding what I wanted was difficult. Love Dolls come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry. I settled for Lovable Louise. She was at the bottom of the price scale. To call Louise a doll took a huge leap of imagination.

On Christmas Eve, and with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life.

My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours. Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose with Louise's pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.

The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more.

We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.

My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door.

"What the hell is that?" she asked.

My brother quickly explained, "It's a doll."

"Who would play with something like that?" Granny snapped.

I had several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut.

"Where are her clothes?" Granny continued.

"Boy, that turkey sure smells nice Gram" Jay said, to steer her into the dining room.

But Granny was relentless. "Why doesn't she have any teeth?"

Again, I could have answered, but why would I? It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, "Hang on Granny, hang on!"

My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said, "Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?"

I told him she was Jay's friend.

A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Louise.

Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the panty hose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa.

The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants.

Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car.

It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember.

Later in my brother's garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Louise's collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh.

Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health!

I luck out this time of year because, as a pagan, my holiday is Yule (Solstice), my family is Christian so I celebrate Christmas with them (it's mostly pagan trappings anyway), and I also get to celebrate Chanukah with a Jewish friend. I don't know anyone well who celebrates Diwali or Kwanzaa, but, whatever you celebrate (even if it's just a day or two off from work), have a happy holiday. I'll be away scurrying for last minute presents (I got paid today) tomorrow and Friday, and of course I'll be incommunicado over the weekend. But I wish you and yours well.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Via Mari

What Color is Your Brain?

brought to you by Quizilla

I love my doctor

Listening to: 'Heaven' by Live
Feeling: Relieved

He looks at my breast for 5 seconds and says, 'You have mastitis. There are two cords right here. Did your cat scratch you? It looks like you have a cat scratch. That may have started it.' So, either my big lunk of a stupid cat who regularly climbs on my head and chest at night is the reason, or it was the smaller, more feral one that has recently learnt the joy of companionship and tries to sit on what he considers a comfy pillow whenever I'm at the computer. I thought mastitis was something you only got whilst breast feeding. Hey, you learn something every day. That, along with my sinus infection, earned me some samples of an antibiotic that should take care of it. Apparently all that Keflex I had post-surgery mostly targets skin infections, and doesn't touch the stuff inside. Here's to feeling better. We are going to do a mammogramme anyway, just to be on the safe side/have a baseline for later. I understand that they don't squish your breasts quite as if they were play dough these days, at least to the degree they used to. They're also referring me to someone who can help with all the up and down emotional stuff, since my original psychiatrist practises in another town now. And I'll need to get a hold of Dr W, my sleep doctor, to see about getting a replacement CPAP masque, something I need to get more rest and incidentally really tends to yank the rug out from under sinus infections.

What else from today? Oh, I discovered when I went to try purling stitches that they looked just like what I had been producing...a co-worker who used to be a knitting fiend (I gather it is addictive, and that Liz [whose blog has become pretty much a testimony to the Church of Knitting] is not alone in her frothingness. U misses it, I think, but seems to have known when to walk away. :) ) showed me the difference and much enlightenment ensued. I told you, I'm not great at diagrammes. Trust me to learn to knit backwards...so it's the knit stich I get to learn now. I will endeavour not to become subsumed by the cult myself. I just find it relaxing and I'm doing a little bit every day, usually before bed (it helps me sleep) or if I'm waiting for an appointment.

We found at that we get paid at the hospital (a day early) tomorrow. Then on Thursday I get paid for my other job(s). The last state payday of the year would normally be the 30th, but they cut the cheques right before Christmas, which is a happy thing as I might get some shopping in before going home on Saturday.

Speaking of holidays, HAPPY SOLSTICE [whether you celebrate it as Yule, Saturnalia, or any of the dozens of other festivals of light). Today was the shortest day/longest night of the year, but from now on the sun will be visible a little more each day and appear higher in the sky, hence the legends of the Sun God's birth which were later incorporated into Christian mythology. (Remember Emperor Constantine, who made Christianity 'official' in Rome? He was an adherent of Sol Invictus, the All-Conquering Sun [sometimes conflated with Mithras, a popular deity amongst Roman soldiers], whose feast/natal day was December 25th. He also meddled in early Church councils and generally seems to have confused Jesus and the Sun God, hence many of the early correlations that exist to this day, then officially converted to Christianity on his deathbed.) Constantine's nephew, Emperor Julian (often called the Apostate because he rejected Christianity and tried to restore the cults that had, many believed, brought most of the known world under Roman rule)was probably the closest thing to a pagan 'saint'--along with Hypatia, the female Neo-Platonic philosopher and astronomer killed by a mob of fanatical Christian monks in 415 CE). For the solstice celebration, you may want to read his Oration to the Sovereign Sun. He died in 363 CE during a battle with the Persians, but many people still admire his philosophy and dedication to ethical paganism, including an organisation of which I'm a member, the Julian Society.

Well, that's all for now. Hope you have a holiday full of warmth, light, family, hope, love, joy, and a prosperous and safe new year. 'Night.

Monday, December 20, 2004

This was so disturbing

Listening to: 'Dreamline' by Rush
Feeling: Sickened

Kansas City Star | 12/18/2004 | Abducted baby found; woman charged with kidnapping

What that headline neglects to indicate, of course, is that the woman charged with kidnapping also apparently arranged a meeting with the mother, a dog breeder, about supposedly buying a puppy and then strangled her and cut her unborn child from the womb, leaving her in a puddle of blood to be found less than an hour later by her own mother. She then went back to her home across state lines and tried to pass the child off as her own.

I've heard of similar cases, of course, thankfully rare. But one thing about the last year or two, people are finally learning just how much pregnant women are in danger of being murdered, although it's usually domestic violence where the husband or boyfriend kills the woman in an escalation brought out by the stresses of pregnancy.

I used to know a woman who was just unhinged enough and obsessed with having a child who I could see doing this; it would not surprise me anyway to hear it; but on the other hand, it's one of those things you 'theoretically' talk about when something like this happens.

I had to do some digging to find a picture of the murdered woman, since I wasn't getting the news when it first broke before they found the baby and her kidnapper. Why is it we tend to focus on the criminal and not the victim in the media? Laci Petersen, with her huge smile and child-like face, somehow captivated people enough that she was always the focus of that case, but ten years from now, we'll be talking about Scott Petersen's crime. I mean, really, can you name Jack the Ripper's victims? Jeffrey Dahmer's? Ted Bundy's? It's sort of sad, isn't it? I've thought about doing a database of famous 'true crime' stories with the victims highlighted.

PS One bit of crime history made with this case...it was the first time an AMBER alert was issued for a foetus whose mother had been killed and whose own status was unknown. I'm just glad they found the little girl and that she's with her family, but, gee, what a thing to grow up in your family history. Think of the guilt kids feel when mothers die in childbirth. And the grandmother, who found her own daughter less than an hour after she'd had her child cut from her belly. It really makes you think of the 'what-ifs' of life. What if she'd come to check on her awhile before she did? That's got to haunt, you know?

Well, you might as well make the most of excellent health insurance

The last week and a half I've had somewhat disturbing pain in one area of my left breast. It could be a host of things--breast pain is usually caused by natural changes and it often goes away on its own. I'm used to cyclical breast pain. This is different...stabbing, burning pain that feels very localised on the lower area near some of the lymph nodes and muscle attachments, and it gets worse when I try to sleep on that side or if it's jarred. I can't feel a lump or major changes in the tissue, although I'm at an age (37) where the breast tissue starts ageing and becomes a little less 'full' and that has been happening. It's probably all normal, but I have to admit, I have a real fear of breast cancer, and although I don't have a strong genetic predisposition, I fit several of the 'risk factors'. I've already had one of my high school classmates who has fought it, so I can't pull the 'I'm too young' ploy.

I could obsess on it and drive everyone crazy with my morbid interest in my own health. I won't do that to you, or to my friends either. Instead, I called my doctor's office this morning and spoke with the nurse. She agreed that it was something to check out rather than wait, so I have an appointment tomorrow and we'll more than likely set up a mammogramme.

So, it may seem like I'm physically falling apart but really I think I'm just hitting that wall of reality you get in your thirties when you realise that yes, death awaits us all, but we'd like to live as fully as we can in the meantime.

Of more concern of late is this sense of falling apart inside. My emotions keep hitting up against each other and I feel like I can't put two words together without messing up or frustrating the people I'm trying to communicate with. I just don't think I'm wired right somehow in how I communicate--at least orally. Typing this, I can organise my thoughts, get the words down, or if I have problems, just backspace and start again. In the real world, speaking with other people, I stutter, say the wrong words, go into these bizarrely literal-minded interpretations, etc. It's a major stumbling block with one of my friends, because he gets frustrated trying to have a conversation with someone who's supposed to be smart but who sounds like a moron, and unlike most people, he won't just politely pretend otherwise. I value his honesty, but I hate to say it, my self-esteem is tied to external factors (and I know, he's right, it shouldn't be...I need to learn self-respect and gain a sense of accomplishment from the person I am deep inside, not due to some sort of outside validation). But right now my sense of self-esteem is so fragile that the least thing seems to bring me crashing down into a virtually suicidal despair where I feel so worthless it seems pointless to go on. Yet I do stubbornly keep trying, and I suppose in the end, that's all I can do.

As much as I'm realising how crippled I had become in terms the issues with my hands, my emotional and psychological matrix has left me far more crippled, with painful scars going back to early childhood, and I really don't know if I can ever really hope to have a nice, normal love relationship built on trust, because I can count the people I trust on one hand, and none of them are potential partners. Yes, I've come remarkably far, but it's still an uphill battle every day to get out of bed, to interact with other people, to live in a reality that is sometimes pleasant, sometimes painful, often unforgiving, but in which I never feel entirely whole.

But another year is coming to an end, and with it, there's hope of more in the coming year. I plan to go back into therapy, which may help with some of the emotional ups and downs I've been having of late. I can't blame it on hormones or lack of meds; I'm doing what I'm supposed to in that arena, but there are times where I'm just not feeling totally real--not dissociated to the extent that I used to be, but just off-kilter. I can't tell at this point whether I have my own little brand of craziness, or if we're just living in a stressful, crazy world without a safety net. I vote for both. Our whole society seems to be on some sort of pill that supposed to help us cope with life around us. We live in a toxic environment, and at times I think it would be better to simplify things as much as possible and drop out of the frenetic ant-farm we have become. But even that wouldn't solve my problems, because that won't change the inside but merely, perhaps, give it better nourishment to heal and grow.

How do you all cope on a daily basis?

Friday, December 17, 2004

Today was better

My toes are taped, I was four minutes early for work, and I managed to get quite a lot done. I also found a card on my desk where some kind soul not only wished me a happy holiday but put in a $20 bill. That was totally unexpected and very much appreciated. I don't know who it was, but if you happen to read this blog, thank you.

After work I paid my electric bill (a novelty...before even getting a disconnect notice!), checked into going on the budget plan (wouldn't really help me, apparently; there's not a huge variation, and I'm not liable to have large bills. I was a little concerned when my normal $15-$20 bill went up to $40 as it grew colder, but apparently it averages about $50 for a couple of months in the winter, so that's not so bad.

Then it was over to the station to do some work there on the webpages, once I dealt with some tech issues. I really want to get a better grasp of networks, since I seem to spend a lot of time dealing with problems related to them. I'm pretty good with software, have programmed computers to do my bidding (okay, Ataris rather than giant supercomputers, but still) and can replace most hardware, but networks are a bit of a mystery, and definitely something you come across in libraries. Which bring me to my current quandry.

Ideally, I should find a full-time job in the area that would provide the stability I need for my stress levels to go down. The only real stresses I have at the moment are lack of money for basic things (I don't know what the grand total will be with the unemployment earlier last year and the extra gig at the station, but I'm looking at about $15K gross, or about $11K net, for the year at my main job. That's above poverty so I can't get any help but makes it hard to live in the Lexington metro area. It is somewhat heartening in that if it were fulltime, I could be doing pretty well in terms of my expenses, savings (which are nil at the moment), etc.) Granted, I've cut back a lot, but I just want to know I'll continue to have a roof over my head, electricity, can pay my health bills and that of my pets, maybe have a phone and get back online, and save up enough money for emergencies and start paying off some old debts. Plus, I'm feeling professionally unsatisfied, because I'm rather limited in projects, etc. by working 4 hours a day.

The obvious answer would be...get another job. I've been trying for over a year. Library positions are legendarily difficult to get here, since we have an LIS school, and yes, I might do better by moving away, but I have ties I'd rather not sever and a lot of those 'better' jobs are in places with a much higher cost of living, so I'm not sure how worth it that would be.

I could increase my marketability. I have essentially four routes I'm looking at for now that I could pursue:

  1. Finish my history PhD and gain status but not be appreciably more hireable or make more money, plus I'd have to deal with the same problems that have kept me from finishing it in the past, mostly to do with the oral defence and my anxiety issues, plus several professors who have known me in my crazier moments.
  2. Start the sociology programme, which has greater application, is more tangible, and would be easier to finish, and possibly more money involved in terms of research, but the medical sociology aspect of UK's programme may no longer be attainable due to retirements, although I may be able to still focus on health and society.
  3. Pursue studies in computer science, say at Sullivan University (a technical college), building on my own talents and library training, increase my marketablility even here in central Kentucky, and make a whole lot more money than I could as an academician, although having less status/sense of accomplishment.
  4. Pursue studies in massage therapy. The cheapest option (about $6000 total for a few months and you're finished), they're paid well and as a growing part of healthcare there's an obvious need, although much relies on entrepreneureal ability unless you're working as part of a health provider, spa, or someone else's practice. It is one type of work that actually relaxes me, and I'm particularly interested in the use of massage therapy to help those who have been sexually abused or suffered some sort of postraumatic stress or chronic invasive medical procedures. There comes a point where you literally cannot abide to be touched, and that's a very sad state to be in (I know this from experience), and yet I think in a clinical situation, I could detach my own feelings (and I'd have a lot more control, being the toucher in terms of my anxiety) yet I'd have the empathy for a person who has survived such problems and be able to patiently work through things according to their needs and goals. The main thing keeping me from doing that in the past has been my hands--you need a lot of sensitivity in your fingers and hands--and hopefully that will not be an issue. I'm apparently fairly good for someone untrained. Hmmm...

Option #3 is probably the most flexible/workable/practical one. I'm thinking of eventually doing #4, too, as a way to earn extra money...a massage therapist makes about $35-$50 an hour, and the amount of overhead varies a great deal.

Am I just dreaming? What do you all think?

Anyway, I'm glad the week is over, I'm looking forward to the weekend, and I hope you all are doing well and not succumbing to holiday stress. It occurred to me today that I was acting very much like the grouchy people we've been calling of late. I'm thinking that rest is overdue. :)

Today was a not-so-good day, but I ended it on a positive note

  1. I either broke a toe or at least hurt it to the point where its causing a heck of a lot of pain (chronic pain I can deal with, acute, I'm a wuss) and I've got it taped up. This caused me to be late to work--an especially touchy thing these days--and to generally blubber through the early part of our company holiday meal whilst waiting for the ibuprofen to kick in.
  2. There was a serious misunderstanding regarding my time today. I won't go into lots of details. Suffice to say I had a major case of confusion regarding our 7-minute payroll window, which apparently doesn't have anything to do with tardiness--although I'd say many employees are also under that impression, so I panicked when I was told I'd been tardy at the other day by clocking in two minutes after the hour (making, with today, two tardies, and for me, tardies=occurrences (as if I never bothered to show up) and eight of those get me fired, although one will go off every 90 days so long as no others accrue. Practices vary around the hospital, usually varying by director or departmental needs in terms of the flexibility of the schedule, but I'd worked nearly eight years thinking that so long as you got in by the 7-minute window you were on time...which may explain partly how the whole issue came up in the first part. Believe it or not, this is the only job I've had in 18 years where timeliness was an issue (I think I was late enough once at a toy story to warrant a talk, beyond that no trouble). Of course, I wasn't dealing with depression and anxiety issues back then, either. :) Plus, the system wasn't showing me clocked in when in fact I was, so my boss thought I didn't have my badge and hadn't bothered to tell her at the time I came in. It finally showed up after I clocked out and back in for lunch. Needless to say, it was frustrating on both our parts, but we talked it out and I think I'm clearer on expectations and I did share some concerns, and so I think things will be fine from now on. But taken as a whole, and with the painful reminder of my lack of grace from the morning, I really just felt like a f&%*up.
  3. Then it was home to make spanikopita and baklava for the party tonight.That worked well although I wound up actually baking the baklava over at N's and I probably should have kept a better eye on it, because her oven cooks faster than mine. Still, both were well received. We exchanged presents. My Secret Santa and I managed to draw each other's names, and she's drawn my holiday presents two years running and my birthday. :) I gave her some nifty socks in a stocking and she gave me some onyx earrings (I've lost virtually one of every pair of earrings I own along the way) and a nifty toy/puzzle/bulid-your own dragon. The hardest part was 'hatching' it from the egg, since I'm still gimpy with my hand, but it was fun to play with and is poseable.
  4. After we'd all exchanged presents and stuffed ourselves silly the party eventually broke up a little earlier than I'd expected (lots of busy people trying to get together for a bit), so I went home and worked on the whole knitting thing. I'm not a visual learner--I learn by doing, and diagrammes give me fits, although I do try to read all the manuals, unlike most technonerds. It took me the better part of an hour practicing the whole casting onto the needle thing until I could get the loops fairly evenly spaced, and I finally did it by modifying their directions somewhat because my hands are either not big enough or not nimble enough to hold precisely in the right way. Once I did that, things went pretty quickly. Then I started the knitting process. That was easier, although sometimes I relied on my hands rather than the needles to get the yarn through the loops...like most beginners, I'd started out a little too tight and not relaxed enough. After a little while I had three rows finished and decided that although it had become increasingly relaxing to do I should overdo it...my skin around the scar has separated and is starting to peel off as the new skin heals and the old sloughs away, but too much manipulating of things can still make it hurt a little, although not as much as the other is now.
  5. I picked a friend up from work a little later than normal (after 12:30) and we went to the store and Taco Bell and he got me something as a thank you. I'm not sure I can continue doing such late nights, as it's become progressively later (it started at 11, then went to midnight), but we'll see. But I have to admit, I'm awfully tired (still not getting much sleep with the sinus issues) and I'm emotionally on edge at what should be a hormonally good time, etc. I'm thinking about taking off the Monday-Thursday between Christmas and New Year's, for a total of eleven days with the weekends. It's a slow time, of course, and with the house in good shape and a little time before the next surgery, I think it may do some good to get some rest and maybe even go to a museum or the gym...something fun and different. I can't lift weights until at least February between the two hands but there's a new Gold's Gym opening up on Saturday that has a pool and of course I can always bike or walk. It certainly would help my mood, don't you think?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

What a wonderfully busy day

This morning I got the cast off! It was like a great unveiling (well, from my perspective anyway...I'm sure it was really quite routine for their office, and I must say, the nurse did a great job of taking the stitches and was so quick about it, the doctor was surprised we were already finished. My biggest surprise was that the incision isn't actually on my wrist...It's from the beginning of the palm up about a third of the way up just to the right of the fate line (the one that goes up and down in the middle of most palms). Other than some dead skin and general grubbiness, it looked rather well, although I'm so used to doing everything left-handed, it's taking awhile to remember to, say, use my right hand to drive. We're going to do the whole thing over with the left hand on January 13th. (I could have done it December 30th, but I'd really like to be 'with it' over new year's).

I ran some errands, including picking up my pay from the station. I went ahead and got a humidifier (the house has been terribly dry and I'm not sleeping well, plus I have a sinus infection, which is really amazing, I suppose, given all that Keflex after surgery). It was exactly the amount my grandmother gave me for the holidays, so I'm going to consider that her gift. (Hey, what can I say, for someone who spent most of her early years in internal fantasy, I'm also rather practical.

Today was the last day of the phone bank. Didn't get much in the way of donations (one $15 pledge...I think people are so crunched before the holiday...and rather grumpy), but we toasted with sparkling cider, celebrated with chocolate cake, and then got to spend our play money on some of the premium gifts. I got a Kentucky Afield cooler chair (it has a strap to go over the shoulder, looks like a legged tote bag, but opens up and you can sit on it, but keep food or beverages in a small cooler underneath). I thought it would be good for outdoor performances, etc. For now, my cat has decided it's a hammock just for him. I also got a large (not golf-sized, but enough to cover my bulk) umbrella that also has a shoulder strap. Yes, practicality, thy name is Eilir. But I also got an eight-book boxed set of all the Anne of Green Gables books, so there was something fun, too. Not bad. Plus, we're getting paid for Thursday even though we won't be there, since some of our commissions are still coming in and we've still a month of pay periods to go, and in order to add the miscellaneous commissions we have to apparently be paid for one day. Yay. Today's cheque had a decent amount in that miscellaneous category--about 1/3 of the total amount. I'm not great at getting the credit card donations--which get us more money, or consistently great like N (she's raised about 3 times what I have), but I'm middle-of-the-road and I've been doing better and I think by the time this rolls around in spring, I'll have developed a good technique that I can use from day one. Plus, we had an interesting mix of people, so overall, it was pretty fun. I am looking forward to getting my evenings back, though, and between the full-time hours at three different jobs, the surgery, and the sinus issues, I'm really, really tired.

After KET I went shopping at Meijer for my Secret Santa gift, a potted pine tree, and ingredients for the baklava and spanakopita I'm making for tomorrow's get together of the gals from work. I also decided to pick up a skein of yarn, a couple of knitting needles and a crochet hook, and a couple of little 'first steps to' craft books. I used to know how to crochet, although it's been so long the last time I tried I pretty much could do just one long chain and couldn't remember how to turn to the next row. I've always wanted to learn to knit (my mom's friend Marie was always doing elaborate sweaters either by hand or with a machine), but with two numb hands, it didn't seem worth trying. Later, I knew someone learning, but she was so much a control freak and kind of obsessed with it, so I didn't feel comfortable asking her. So, I thought I'd try it on my own, and maybe it would be good hand therapy since it doesn't involve lifting but does stretch the hand muscles. We'll see. If all fails, then at least I'm only out about $10. And I found a nifty multi-coloured acrylic yarn in peacock shades.

From there it was go home, decorate the tree (probably shouldn't have lifted it, but I tried to make it quick and put most of the weight in my left hand). That took awhile, but i now have a little three-foot live tree with multi-coloured lights, a capiz shell star on top, and silver and pearlescent garlands and decorations. The other day I strung up multi-coloured lights around the living room with white icicles in the window, so it's quite cheery. Plus, I cut some of the lower branches off the tree and wove them into my Bride's cross that I have on the door that Tracita made me. So yay, I'm ready for the holidays and less gimpy. And tired. What a day.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

An oddly nice day

Feeling: Expectant
Listening to: 'She' by Live; 'The Trip to Sligo' by The Chieftains; 'Subdivisions' by Rush; 'I Feel Love' by Depeche Mode;

I started out my day with a positive experience. I went out back with Cerys and discovered a large (as in, probably male, four foot) blue heron standing in the woods. It blended in well, of course, but it happened to be in a small clearing with a bit of snow behind it, and its elliptical body suspended on nearly invisible legs caught my eye. I got the little mini-binoculars I'd found for just such an occasion and spent a few minutes bird watching.

When I went to leave for work, I discovered that my tyre was nearly flat. Now, I have one that pretty much waxes and wanes with the external air pressure; I'm used to that. This, however, is one of the front ones. I stopped to get some air but it didn't seem to be filling, so I took a chance and drove the short bit to work because, of course, I absolutely cannot be late for work. I was actually a bit early, but figured I might have to change the tyre (somewhat hard to do with one hand, but if it had come to that, I'm sure some of the maintenance guys would have helped, although I still owe them brownies for the last time....) Turns out, it did finally blow back up using my portable pump this afternoon, yay.

At lunch I went from having just a peanut butter sandwich to some free leftovers from the environmental services dinner, including some deviled eggs and some absolutely wonderful sweet potato casserole. Nummy.

I got my picture back from the company party, where we'd hidden my arm behind a wicker chair. It is one of the best ones I've ever taken...apparently being drugged up the day after surgery is good for relaxing portraits. I'll post it when I can...I don't have any webspace to host pictures right now and I've never gotten the whole Hello/Blogbot thing to work for me.

But best of all...absolutely just the best...D came in from her appointment. Not only did all the blood tests come back fine for baby, we now know it's a boy...with fairly big feet, so a potential basketball player like his dad. I'm sure E is thrilled. I still think she may have a girl in the future, though...enough of us seem to see her with a girl at some point. In the meantime, it's wonderful news. She went ahead and let me put a photocopy of the ultrasound on our baby bulletin board that I have in the library.

Yesterday I decided to brave the holiday decorating in the library, since I'd strung lights around the apartment already. I did need some help getting the tree out of the box, and I think I got the mylar strips I use for a tree skirt all over the place and occasionally bit of them that piggy-backed on me to other parts of the hospital.

Last night I dreamt that I was at the Unitarian-Universalist Church with my grandmother and VS from work (who knows why, except that we were talking about churches yesterday at lunch and that's the last one I attended) and my cast was miraculously off and the incision went up my arm a bit in this sort of meander. I suppose that was a bit of anxiety because...

Tomorrow I'm off from the day job because I get the cast off and the stitches out and I have some errands to do because it's payday at KET. Then, tomorrow is our last night at the phone bank. And then I'm going to make spanikopita and baklava for Thursday night's holiday get together with the girls from work.

Tonight is the second night of 'Legend of Earthsea' on Sci-fi. It's based off of a favourite set of books from my childhood. It has the guy who played Bobby/Iceman in X-Men as Ged, and the the girl who plays Lana on Smallville as Tenar. It's well done although they've mucked with the story a bit. Like letting girls study to be wizards. Okay, that's a big one. But I'm enjoying it, and it just makes me want to re-read the books (or in the case of Tehanu, the fourth-book, read it).

Well, I suppose that's all for now. It was a little wordy but I haven't been able to update much lately--when I have wanted to blog, Blogger has been tempermental. So there you have it, all at once. Take care.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Good grief

Saw this on a Google ad and thought, gee do folks really buy these pieces of paper? Then clicked (yeah, I know) and saw that the degree mill is indignant about a spam attack which has maligned its reputation. Please!

Via John

What you wish the computer would tell you every time you hit a 'file not found' error.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Well, it sort of figures

I found a series that truly matches my brand of sick and twisted humour--and on the last week of play for now. :) A friend introduced me to 'Venture Bros.', a cartoon by the creator of "The Tick" that's been running on Cartoon Network's AdultSwim (I'm also a fan of some of the other AS shows, like 'The Oblongs', 'Witch Hunter Robin', 'FullMetal Alchemist', 'Futurama', and 'The Family Guy'.) Not bad for someone without cable. :)

Here's one review that gives you a sense of the show at Retarded Jimmy's. There's also this at About.com, although I hesitate to send you there because of the &%%&@*&! popups and evil frames. And there's this Tick fansite's take on the show.

It helps to be a late Baby Boomer or a Gen Xer (I'm the latter) who grew up on things like Jonny Quest and all those genius-boy science/spy adventure books, TV, and movies of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. And Hank's costume as pure Freddy from Scooby Doo doesn't hurt, either. I'm still waiting to find out that Dr Venture and The Monarch are actually twins (who know, it may be, I've only seen one out of the thirteen episodes). It's a great parody of not only those adventure stories, but life, too. None of the characters are 'real', and you tend to probably care about the villains more than the 'heroes' as people--Dr Venture's rather despicable, the boys are morons, and the bodyguard is a psychopath version of Race Bannon...actually, H.E.L.P.eR the robot is probably the most endearing. But the silliness has a bite that totally...and I can't believe I'm about to say this, given my anathama for postmodernism in school, deconstructs those beloved icons of our childhood, turns them on their heads, spin them until they're ready to puke, and puts them into their proper perspective all at once. Here's hoping there will be a second season. Or that I'll at least be able to see the other twelve. (I saw Dia de los Dangerous!, by the way).

I've had incredibly vivid dreams of late

with exquisite detail, entertaining plotting, good characterisation, and a sense of solidity and depth that seems almost more real than real life, yet with surreal elements like flying fish or head-eating monsters. They're not nightmares, but rather adventures, whether trying to bring spontenaity into a world of conformity or fighting against Cthulhoid mobsters. I wish I could just record them as they play, because I can never quite capture them as clearly again. It's more entertaining than TV or movies, and even a bit more than reading. It's fully interactive. I love them. I just wish I could market them somehow, because let me tell you, they'd sell.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A close call with quite a bit uncertainty

I can't believe I forgot to mention this before, although I guess I was doing the wait-and-see how things pan out, but on the same day of my surgery (last Thursday) my stepbrother, Robert, was in a car wreck. I'm not sure of the cause; he was on his way home and collided with a truck, and black ice may have been involved. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt, and went through the windshield. He could feel his feet but couldn't stand and got cut up on his face, may have dislocated a shoulder, has a compression fracture in his neck, and his spinal cord is swollen, so it's been a really scary time for him and for my stepfather and mom. He's been over at UK. I checked with my mom and she wrote today that Robert is going to Cardinal Hill today. He says he can feel his feet and it feels like they have thick pads on the bottom of them. He can't stand unassisted or walk yet. He can raise his left arm from the elbow up but has to wear a sling on it when he's up in a chair. His fingers on that hand areabout halfway curved toward the palm. He moves them some but doesn't have the finer movements yet. He is left-handed. He can not move his right arm but just an inch or so off the bed. It sounds like he came very close to being quadroplegic. Cardinal Hill is a rehab hospital here in Lexington. I really hope this improves, although it might be a long haul. It's really scary how things can change is a moment. Robert is about to turn 21 (I think, or it may be he is 21 and about to be 22). I don't know him that well but he's rather likeable; on the one hand he's the one of John's children I know because he lived with John and my mom during high school, but on the other hand we don't see each other that often and I think he's kind of shy. But he's a good kid, although somewhat plagued by youth. Having been an only girl, I just don't get typical teenage guys that well. Another of my mother's stepsons from a former marriage is paralysed and in a wheelchair. Timmy had a car accident when he was 18. He was always the kind of kid who was into bikes and hunting and that sort of thing, so we mainly bonded with video games. He must be about 32 now, because he was 5 years younger. Strange that both should be in wrecks with such scary consequences. Gods, I wish we could just issue do-overs for all the scrapes kids get into, you know?

I have a drug problem

No, it's not what you're thinking. Apparently Lortab (hydrocodone) causes me to itch from head to toe (even the tips of my fingers, not to mention some more delicate areas) and puts me into an ultra-manic state where my thoughts jumble and crash against one another, I actually consider running around outside naked, and just generally bounce off the walls like a ping pong ball. So, the pharmacist suggested I try Benadryl. Knowing that most antihistamines knock me on my ass, I picked up some children's liquid and took the kid's dose. This meant I finally collapsed in a still frenetic stupour and awoke with what I can only surmise was equivalent to a hangover and was so sluggish and unable to put words together or drive, so I missed work. I finally found a happy medium by taking one-half a Lortab and one sip (not one teaspoon, one sip) of Benadryl. Even this gave me push of speech and a little too bouncy to be around. Today I checked with the doctor's office and we're settling on nice, normal ibuprofen.

I have to admit, though, I'm not surprised. My mom had the same reaction (minus the itching) to codeine in some cough syrup years ago. And the Lortab never made me sleepy. Still, it's a little scary, because 1) I could see where that could be an easily addictive feeling, when you seem to have the world in your hands, and 2) I've had a few episodes like this (usually related to medication), but many others where I could be considered hypomanic just on my own. That, along with my tendency for depression could mean that some of the emotional instability I've had in the past could actually be a form of bipolar disorder, rather than 'merely' BPD. I'm planning on getting back into therapy in the next month or two (after the surgeries), and so I can check then about that possibility. For the most part it's treated similarly although it might mean having a mood stabiliser such as lithium as well. We'll see. Usually at the best, I'd say it's not such a problem that I can't overcome it using skills, etc., although overall I could see how it's really mucked with my life. But sometimes...well, let's just say, I could use some help, and it would be nice to be more certain of the root cause. I still very much feel like I'm fine-tuning my life and health. In the meantime, I found a nifty spreadsheet that lets you chart ups/downs/anxiety vs. medicine, sleep, menstruation, etc. That will help next time I speak to someone.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Miss Me?

Feeling: Sleepy

Yep, I'm alive and well, although my cast keeps hitting some bizarre combination of keys that turns on Microsoft Narrator, meaning that the computer starts talking to me. I guess it's decided that a bum hand=bad eyes. Since I've been doing searches on bowel continence in spina bifida, it's been a little weird, but on the other hand it's easier to spell with some audio feedback.

The surgery itself, if one can say this, was actually a good experience. I've never really been taken care of by a group of people determined to ensure my good health. D and I had to go very early (6 am!) because I had to be the first case with the latex allergy. Everything went really smoothly. All the people I encountered were very nice and professional, whether the information greeter, office staff, nurses, or doctors. I really have to say, St. Joseph East is definitely my choice for anything like this in the future.

After completing the paperwork they took me back and I changed into a gown, cap, and little booties. Then I got up on a stretcher where they put warm blankets over me--I felt positively pampered. I had to have two IVs. One attempt did 'blow' and I've got a lovely bruise on my left hand as a result, for which the lady apologised immediately, but they numbed me before putting any in, so it didn't hurt. They gave me meds to keep down nausea, which also helped with my jittery empty stomach. The IV included Keflex to keep down the possibility of infection. Then they got another site ready for a local pain block. They took my vitals and checked my blood sugar. I got to talk to the surgeon and the anaesthesiologist. Then it was time to take me back. I remember looking at the giant eyeballs of operating room lights above me, and they put an oxygen line on me and then the anaesthesiologist said he was going to give me something to relax me, and the next thing I know, I'm in bed with a cast and they're checking my blood sugar again. I was awake, just apparently euphoric and giggly, thanks to versed and a little extra phenergan and benadryl in the mix. Apparently I made a happy drunk. D says she and her husband were there for about 20 minutes before I really came to and I was laughing. Apparently I was going on about the Christmas party and how I hoped I was this happy then, and well, a little bit about my concern for using the bathroom left-handed. (Dr O'Neill was sure I'd work that out on my own). Once I could get up, D took me home and tucked me into bed.

I did go to the Christmas party, and enjoyed it, but most of the time from Thursday morning through Saturday was spent sleeping, eating, taking meds, repeat. I got a lot of rest, got to do a lot of experimenting (taking a shower with a bag over my hand, the same bag D had saved from where they'd put my clothes during surgery), putting contacts in one-handed, driving, etc. I also did a little reading. Yesterday I was able to go to a friend's, play in the game, pick up my dog, and watch TNT's 'The Librarian' which was hokey but fun. (My favourite exchange, at least paraphrased:

Noah Wyle (the over-educated son with no direction in life): These books speak to me.
Olympia Dukakis (the mother): They speak to you? What do the say? Do they tell you to do things? Do they tell you to start fires? You shouldn't listen to what they tell you, especially if they have you do bad things or hurt animals.

Have I mentioned that it also had Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin? Hilarious, although someone really ought to encase the Ark of the Covenant behind glass...they probably lose more janitors that way....

So today I'm back at both jobs and doing pretty well (except for the mistyping) but I'm a little tired, which I suppose makes sense. I get the cast off December 15th. Then at some point in the future we do this all over again. Yay. But I will say, even with stitches and occasionally gesticulating unwisely and causing some pain, my hand hurt worse before the operation than it has since (and the lortab is doing wonderfully with what pain there is).

Hope life is treating you okay. 'Bye for now.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A special bonus post

I'm over at Eagle Creek library at a rather blurry Gateway computer. I met with the professor today who is the director of graduate studies in the department I'm considering joining as a doctoral student. The bad news is that they no longer offer medical sociology as a concentration because the former professor who specialised in this field, Dr Gallagher has retired and they have not yet replaced him.

For those unfamiliar with it, medical sociology is the study of how people are impacted by health conditions, healthcare organisations, healthcare policies. Unlike general sociology, which is primarily academic in focus, medical sociology tends to be more practical, with medical sociologists conducting research, teaching, but also working within healthcare systems and helping to change policies or advocate for patients. That means that it has a much wider employment outlook, especially as healthcare concerns grow.

Now the thing is, UK is in a position where there is a Behavioural Science in Medicine programme, and there is within the sociology a lot that can be used to get to an 'unofficial' specialisation in health-related topics: there is an entire rural sociology programme in the Agriculture college, for example, that deals with rural health, plus there are gerontology courses and a look at ageing in society...family, ageing, and health is still a viable concentration for the doctorate. So I might still be able to do research and find positions in my area of interests. (One thing that I'm interested in, coming from my medical librarian experience, is how the Internet changes health care provided to patients and the patient-provider relationships, as well as how it affects the course of disease as a support vehicle).

So the question is, do I pursue it, and keep to my goal, or hang back and rethink this? I may check with the rural sociology expert first and just do a little more research. I wouldn't be applying until January (for the fall), so I have some time. I'll post more as I figure it out, and in the meantime, I still have some short-term goals to work on. :)

A post before surgery

Feeling: Trepidatious

Well, it's almost here. Tonight I'm finishing up some preparations, sending my dog off to a bit of a sleepover, washing dishes, making sure I get in one last bath and get into some comfy clothes that I can then just go over in to the hospital tomorrow at the ungodly time of 6:15. I know it's rather minor surgery, but it's my hand, and it's my first time to have anything worse than a bad scrape or maybe a broken tailbone...the first real wound, I suppose, much less the first surgery, so I'm nervous. But D will be there (and mayber her husband, E, too). I'm sure everything will be fine. I'll be a lefty for awhile. But it should really help with the pain and problems that have been building over the last 20 years. So wish me luck and cross your fingers for me (since I won't be able to). :) I'll hopefully be able to post by Monday or so. Take care.