Monday, December 31, 2012

Extractions & Commitments

Remember that root canal that I had done?  Well, it didn't take.

The work was finished about a week and a half ago.  I was supposed to get a crown for that tooth this coming Wednesday.  Last night while I was eating dinner I felt the tooth crack.  While I was eating a piece of bread.  I called my dentist, left a cranky message, and stayed up until 2 in the morning worrying about my stupid tooth.  This morning I went in to see the dentist who gave me the root canal.  He only had to look around for a minute to come to the conclusion that my tooth would have to be extracted.  My tooth is no more.  It has ceased to be.

Now instead of a crown I may very well get an implant on Wednesday.  My regular dentist called later this morning.  She was disappointed at the news, but tried to put a positive spin on things by telling me that getting an implant is actually easier than getting a crown.  It could very well not be true.  She could just be trying to make me feel better.  Either way, I do feel better and am now just anxious to get it all over with.  I am so tired of dealing with this tooth.  I'd like to move on a bit in 2013.

Speaking of moving on, I have, sort of, with new music.  At Christmas I decided to break out of my rut and ask for a couple of new CDs.   Music that was actually released this year.  I know!  Making commitments to new bands and feeling good about it.

I got two new CDs in my stocking.  The first one is Celebration Rock by Japandroids.  Which I seriously love.  It's fun, it's awesome, and it plays particularly well at top volume.  The energy they create is amazing.  I may also have a crush on the drummer.

The other CD I got is Synthetica by Metric.  I've liked them for a while so I'm psyched to finally have some of their music.  Catchy, layered, brilliant pop songs.  Emily Haines has a fantastic voice.  It's a great album and I'm really looking forward to getting some of their older stuff.

Yea for new music!  Both bands hail from Canada, so let's hear it for the Canadians.  Between them, The New Pornographers, and Arcade Fire, I've been digging on the sounds from up north. 

Also!  It's New Year's Eve!  I'm heading out for a bit tonight with the family, but we'll be home to watch the ball drop.  Frankly, I'm in the mood to get pretty drunk on champagne.  I'm not at all sorry to see the end of 2012.  It's been a bitch. I have higher expectations of the New Year.  Fingers crossed that 2013 lives up to them.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


I originally started this post two weeks ago.  I was going to write about the frenzy of the holiday season, how behind I was, how tired I was with trying to keep up, not just with the holidays but life in general.  So very tired.  I didn't get far with the post and decided that I would just set it aside for the weekend when maybe I wouldn't mind staying up late to write it.

Then Sandy Hook happened.  It felt selfish to write a litany of complaints. Instead of writing I spent the weekend crying.  Not that we knew anyone personally effected, but it was such a tragedy.  So many lives lost.  It was hard not to think of the children, their teachers, their families.  I won't go into it too much here.  Many others have done that already.  I will say that we need less access to assault weapons and we need more access to effective mental health care.  Both needs are going to be hard to meet anytime soon.  Our priorities in this country are mixed up.  We are a mess.

I had a hard time getting into the holiday spirit this year, even before Sandy Hook happened.  We did all of our usual things.  We visited Santa at Phipps.  I took the kids to the Nutcracker.  We bought our tree and the kids decorated it.  I sent cards- much later than usual.  I bought presents for everyone- way much later than usual.  We went to Christmas parties.  I enjoyed seeing people, but I just couldn't get into it. I kept waiting to feel festive.  It didn't happen.

This week has been better, I think.  I'm not sure that I feel festive, but we've been visiting with a lot of people we love, and that's been so so great.  We saw my mother and grandmother for Christmas Eve & Christmas morning.  That was awesome.  Between my father and my in-laws it's been years since I've seen my mom and grandmother on Christmas.  Around Christmas, but not on the actual day.  So that was really wonderful.  We went to my in-laws in Hidden Valley for Christmas dinner.  That was nice too, since my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and his fiancee were all there.  The next day they all went skiing with the husband and the boy, leaving me to read a mindless mystery novel while the girl took a nap.  More awesomeness.

We're back home now and we enjoyed dinner out with good friends last night.  Their oldest spent the night and the boys have been totally geeked.  The kids had a great holiday and the boy and the husband have several more days at home before the daily grind starts up again.  I've decided to forget about my lack of cheer and look forward to New Year's Eve- a holiday I've always loved.  Getting together with friends, drinking champagne, I even like taking stock and making resolutions.  Resolving to be a better person and the different ways to try and achieve that.  It's not that I think I'll turn out perfect by the end of the year- even just slightly better is ok really.  But it's always good to try, and at the beginning of the New Year I always feel like anything is possible.  Maybe even some New Year's cheer.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Motorcycle Boy

Several days ago, the husband sent me this link about the woman who wrote 'Nine 1/2 Weeks'.  Ingeborg Day had a fascinating life and the article is a pretty interesting read.  I now know that the movie is based on a book- honestly, I had no idea.  Also, the book is based on a real life affair that she had in the 1970's.  While she was a single parent living in New York.  So, wow.  Maybe I'm naive, or catching up on what everyone else already knew.  But I was pretty surprised.  And that's only the half of it.  Seriously.  Go read the article if you haven't already.

It's not that I'm so invested in the story about 'Nine 1/2 Weeks'.  Or that I think that the movie is some cinematic gem.  Honestly, I haven't seen it since I was maybe seventeen?  But I mean, I was seventeen.  That was some pretty hot stuff for a senior in high school, and it made quite an impression on me.  There were a lot of things in that movie that, at that age, I had never, um, considered.  Or realized even that other people... considered those things.

Oh, but Mickey Rourke.  If you're not familiar with 1980's Mickey Rourke, then let me just say now that he is not the same Mickey Rourke from about the mid-90's on.  He can still act (see The Wrestler) of course.  But that face.  I was crushing hard on that face in 1986.

Yes.  This one.

Maybe the only other actor I liked even better as a teenager in the 1980's was Matt Dillon.  Rumble Fish came out in 1983, but it took me a couple of years to find out.  Oh, and I should mention that I was also a huge S.E. Hinton fan back in the day.  So the movie Rumble Fish?  With those two in the starring roles?  Cinema nirvana for me at the time.  Actually, I still love that movie.  Of the S.E. Hinton books that got turned into movies, that has remained my favorite.

(OK.  So this is not the video clip I would have chosen, but it's all right.  So many mash ups of Rumble Fish!  Which I guess is a form of flattery?  But seriously kids.  What is up with all the mash ups?  Old lady stepping off now...)

Maybe reading the article shouldn't have brought up memories of angsty teenage longing.  (Really, the husband was a little surprised when I finished reading the article that this is what I wanted to discuss.  What can you do.)  This is where my mind went though.  Which, now that I think about it, is not a bad place to be.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Metaphysics & Chewing Gum

It was last Thursday afternoon, right after school.  We were in the car, headed to Trader Joe's.  The boy was complaining about school, like he does.  Then the conversation took a sharp turn.

The Boy: "What I'd really like to know is, what makes us us?"

Me:  "I'm sorry?  What do you mean by that?"  The hell?  I thought we were talking about the trials and tribulations of fourth grade.

TB: "I mean, how'd we get here?  And I'm not talking about the Big Bang or evolution or anything like that.  I mean, what came before that?  What made the Big Bang happen?"

Me: "Hmmm.  That's a great question.  That's a question that scientists and philosophers have been trying to figure out for centuries.  Thousands of years.  No one knows."

TB: "Really?  Huh.  Maybe I can do that when I grow up.  Be a scientist.  Because I'd really like to know."

Me: "That's a great idea.  Really interesting..."

TB: "And Mom?  There's something else that's been really bothering me."

Me: "What's that?"  

TB: "Why don't you let me buy the kind of chewing gum I like?"

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

In the Clear

Last Wednesday I went to the endocrinologist to talk about my recent blood work.  Of course, thanks to the magic of the internet and email and such, I already had my results. My thyroglobulin was -0.1, standard range is 3.0-40.  And my thyroglobulin antibodies came in at -20.0, which is also standard.

I already knew that these looked good.  I remembered some conversation- probably in August- about these numbers and where my doctor wanted to see them.  So I was pretty confident going in to see Dr. E. that morning.

After I was checked in by a friendly nurse, who chatted away about sunglasses and her lack of spelling skills, Dr. E. came in.  He asked me a bunch of questions- have I felt any lumps, anything unusual, sore throats, etc.  Not a thing.  I've been feeling pretty good actually.  It was a quick and easy exam.

We sat down at the computer and went over the numbers.  Thyroglobulin is basically a tumour marker.  The only reason you would have thyroblobulin in your blood is if you still had some thyroid tissue left.  Nothing else can make thyroglobulin.  In thyroid cancer patients who have received treatment, they like to see the measurements below standard- as close to zero as possible- which mine is.  It's a good indicator that there is no more thyroid tissue left inside of me.  Which is awesome.  The antibodies are measured just as a way to check that the thyroglobulin measurement is accurate.  Very high or low numbers can indicate that there is an issue, although that's not necessarily always the case.  But for me the number is where it should be, so nothing to worry about there either. 

What this means for me is that I'm excellent really.  Everything is right where it should be.  They won't need to see me again until next August, right around the same time that I had my RAI this past August.  I'll have a week set aside.  On Monday I'll go in for a thyrogen shot.  That Wednesday I'll go back for another and I'll have blood work done.  Friday I'll finish up with an ultrasound and an appointment to discuss my results.  If everything goes well, and it really should, everything will look much the same as it does right now.  At that time they'll decide if they'll want to see me again the following August for the same thing- thyrogen injections with blood work & an ultrasound- or if I can get away with yearly blood screenings at that point.

The last thing we had to discuss before I left was my Synthroid dose.  I'm at 137 mcg and I thought that was working well for me.  My TSH came in at 0.33 and the standard range is 0.40- 4.5.  Again, they like to see thyroid cancer patients with a slightly lower value.  Dr. E actually wants me to take the same dose every day, but one day a week he wants me to add 1/2 a pill to my regular dose.  I'll get my blood drawn at the end of January and hopefully this will put my numbers where he would like to see them.

We were done.  I headed home, officially declared free and clear of any traces of cancer.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Exhaustion, Music, & Blood

Our Thanksgiving holiday was great, but very tiring in the end.  It's a holiday of excess, and that stretched into all five days for us.

I won't get into all the gory details, but everyone at my house consumed too much food and drink over the Thanksgiving holiday.  The holiday included two dinners out, one night of Thai food take out, and, of course, a Thanksgiving dinner for the five of us that easily could have been a dinner for ten.  What the hell were we thinking?  Also, the husband and my dad went to a brewery on Wednesday and the boy went to a sleepover on Saturday, where the mother plied the guests with ohmigodsomuch junk food.  By Sunday he had a stomach ache.

Something else we indulged in on Wednesday was going to our favorite CD & vinyl store in the city, Soundcat Records. Back before kids, the husband and I were big on CD shopping.  We probably hit Paul's CDs (which is now Soundcat) at least once a month to pick up several CDs each.  After the boy was born we slowed down our shopping a bit.  And now that the girl is here we hardly seem to go at all.  Sad, really.  But part of the problem is that we don't have the time to listen to CDs the way that we used to.  And since I'm not listening regularly it feels like I'm over-indulging when I do buy CDs.  It practically gives me a hangover.

Since I haven't been listening to CDs very much, I have also developed kind of a commitment phobia to new bands.  I could probably solve this problem by writing down new bands and songs I like when I hear them, but I haven't managed to get in that habit yet.  As a result I either buy stuff that's been around forever that I know I like.  Or, I replace old cassettes with CDs.  Out of the five CDs I bought last week, only one was new.  The Divine Fits.  The next most recent CD I picked up was 'It's a Bit Complicated' by Art Brut from 2007.  The rest of my purchases were 'Gimme Fiction' by Spoon, 'Boomslang' by Johnny Marr & The Healers, and I finally replaced my cassette copy of 'Green Mind' by Dinosaur Jr.  Oh, and I'm so glad I did.  I love every second of that CD.  Remember when Spin proclaimed that J. Mascis is God?  He just might be. 

So awesome.

Anyway.  By Sunday night we were all exhausted and I went to bed at the same time as the kids.  I had to get up early anyway to go and have my blood drawn. 

A few weeks ago I went to get my tsh levels tested.  Everything looks good and there are no changes in my Synthroid.  I'm still at 137 mcg and hopefully will be for a long time.  But, remember when I was supposed to call and make appointments and then I never did? Well, getting my tsh results prompted my doctor's office to call me, their loser patient.  The nurse was very nice and booked me for an appointment to have my thyroglobulin levels tested.  She also booked me for a follow up appointment with my doctor for this Wednesday.  So, I'm hoping to post more good news here later this week.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Root Canal

The day before my birthday I woke up with a toothache.  Cold really bothered it.  Hot drinks bothered it, but not as much.  If I left it alone the pain dulled, but as soon as I ate or drank anything the pain shot back up again.  It got worse as the day went on, so I ended up at the dentist's that afternoon.  I was sure that it was a tooth on the upper left, second from the back.  I've had problems with that tooth before, and it had always been attributed to sinuses.  This time it was much worse.

After poking and prodding the tooth, and subjecting it to cold, and having an x-ray, I was told that my tooth was very healthy and they couldn't find anything wrong with it.  'I don't doubt that you're in pain.  We just don't see anything.'  My dentist gave me a referral anyway to a root canal specialist.  All my symptoms pointed toward a root canal.  'Maybe he can find something,' she said.  'He's very conservative.  He won't do anything unless you absolutely need it.'

I talked with the husband that night.  I was really hesitant- I didn't want to have a root canal unless it was absolutely necessary, and it didn't sound like it was.  Also, I didn't want to have a root canal on my birthday.  I decided to see how I felt the next day.

The next day it felt better.  And over the next couple of days the pain  was barely there.  But Sunday afternoon it came back, and it was there when I woke up on Monday.  With Thanksgiving coming up I really didn't want to wait too long.  I called and made an appointment for Tuesday afternoon.

This was good because on Tuesday my face hurt.  The whole left side.  I was miserable and I couldn't eat.  I was actually looking forward to a root canal.

I went in at 2:30.  The waiting room quickly filled up with people who were sent straight from their dentist's offices.  Scheduling there must be crazy.  Despite the emergencies I was seen pretty quickly.  Dr. C came in and I liked him right away.  He told me that he was surprised that my tooth hurt because he couldn't see anything wrong on the x-ray I brought.  He did a lot of the same stuff that I'd already gone through at the dentist's office.  Everything seemed fine.

'You know, you have a crack on this bottom tooth.  Let me see if that's the problem.'  Strangely, when he squirted my bottom back tooth with cold water, it hurt like hell.  Everything he did to that stupid tooth hurt.  I was amazed that that tooth was the problem, yet a totally different tooth was in pain.  He said that happens sometimes.  Fucking teeth.

Anyway, the root canal was done quickly and rather painlessly.  My face was numb but otherwise it was no problem to pick up my dad from the airport right after the procedure.  And I was fine to eat dinner that night.  My jaw is a little sore, but otherwise things seem to be fine.  I have a follow up appointment with Dr. C on Wednesday.

Out of curiosity, I looked up teeth and RAI.  I've always had great teeth.  In my twenties I got two very small cavities- probably because brushing teeth after closing down bars doesn't make for the best cleaning.  But that's it.  Never any problems otherwise, so it's weird to suddenly need a root canal.  Turns out that radioactive iodine can actually promote tooth decay- having a dry mouth allows bacteria to breed.  And a few people mentioned that after RAI their teeth broke more easily too.  Maybe as a result of lower calcium?  But the direct effects on broken teeth from RAI are less clear.  In the meantime, no more chewing on ice cubes for me.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Yesterday was my birthday.  This year's birthday was pretty low-key.  Which was great, because I feel like this year itself has been full of too much.  I'm hoping a low-key start to the year will usher in an equally low-key year.  One where I can catch up, catch my breath, and get healthier and stronger than maybe I've been in a number of years.

The boy's school holds a food drive every November for East End Co-operative Ministries.  I started off the day by picking up the donation and taking it to the food pantry.  This may not have been the best thing to do on my way to a birthday lunch.  It feels good to donate and to bring things to people that you know they truly need.  But, oh the guilt.  When I got there at 11 am there were maybe a dozen people arriving at the pantry.  All of them elderly.  Two of them were veterans and one of the veterans was missing his legs.

Everyone was very nice and quite helpful.  They brought a cart out to my car to pick up the nine boxes of food from our school.  And that was it.  I left wanting to cry.  But a very good friend was taking me out for my birthday, so I pulled it together and headed over to Walnut St.

B. took me to Sushi Too.  It's a longtime favorite and it's a really easy place to take both of my kids.  The girl, who has actually been really picky lately ate a ton of food.  I got her the yaki udon with miso soup (B. and I agree that it's the best in the city).  She also had some of my vegetable tempura.  It was a great lunch and it was good to see B. and catch up.  We used to work in the same office.  Now I do some part time administrative work for her once in a while, but it's always from home and we hardly see each other at all.  We could have talked for hours, but she had to get back to work and the girl was ready for a nap, so we left.

After the boy was done with school, we went to his friend's house.  I had a drink and got a present from the friend's parents.  It was a great way to start off the evening.  We went home and got ready for my sister-in-law to come over.  She showed up around 7 to watch the kids while the husband and I went to Dish.

We chose Dish on a number of recommendations from friends, and we've been meaning to go for a while.  It was fantastic.  Nice atmosphere, good service, and the food was excellent.  The husband got steak and I had the seafood pasta.  We split the eggplant appetizer and the tiramisu for dessert.  OK.  We may not have split the tiramisu.  I think he had one bite- maybe two?- and I had the rest.  Everything was delicious.

All in all, a good birthday.  Honestly, it feels kind of shitty starting this post talking about food pantries and ending it talking about fine dining.  But that was my day.  It's humbling and it makes me feel very grateful.  Grateful for what I have and grateful for the people in my life who I was able to spend the day with.  Not a bad way to start the next year of my life.

I've been posting Smiths and Morrissey videos here recently.  So here's one more.  When I worked in radio this was one of the songs that I would play for myself on my birthday.  Happy Birthday to me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On Writing and Not Writing

I haven't been posting here too much lately.  For a variety of reasons.  The main one being my ongoing problem of not feeling like I have much of consequence to write about.  Except for negative stuff, which, gah.  I don't know.  Life is good really.  Except when it's not.  There hasn't been anything major or tragic happening.  It's all been little things.  Not getting enough done, not keeping up with things around here.  And lately things that are a little more bothersome.  A couple of issues at the boy's school.  Which, thankfully, haven't effected us directly.  But I'm involved because I'm on the PTA board. 

There's also one thing going on that I've actually lost sleep over.  A friend of the boy's- who may or may not be a friend anymore- hasn't been treating him well at all lately.  And this is a kid who used to be a close friend.  I wouldn't care too much, except that they do have a few mutual friends.  So figuring out the best thing to do going forward is difficult.  I think right now the idea is to just take a break and see where things go from there.  And yes, I realize that this is a symptom of parenting in the 21st century.  That my parents in the 1970s wouldn't have given this a second thought.  But there's a lot that my parents didn't do, and maybe they didn't have all the answers in the 1970s either.  At any rate, I'm a worrier by nature.  I'll probably need Xanax by the time the boy hits his teen years.  Maybe I should even be on it now. 

So!  The good thing (yes!  I can write about good things too) that has been keeping me from posting is that I took an online writing course.  It ends this week.  I've written for years, but I never took a formal writing course.  Really, I should have ages ago.  And I had meant to in college, but I got sidetracked by my college radio station and ended up making that the focus of my college career.  Anyway, this opportunity came up and, it was great.  Part of the writing course included daily prompts, which led to me neglecting this space, but in the end it was worth it.  I can't promise that my writing is any better, but I can promise that I'm thinking about it differently, and trying to come up with a more consistent practice.  Hopefully that will translate to better writing in the future.

Also, I learned about Elmore Leonard.  And why he's so awesome.  I'm looking forward to adding some of his books to my very, very long reading list.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Trick or Treat

How was your Halloween?

Ours was good and filled with candy, zombies, and chicks.  Not pictured, the baseball player and pit crew mechanic who accompanied the zombie in plundering our neighborhood for candy.

Because of Hurricane Sandy, trick-or-treat was moved to Saturday, November 3.  I was a big curmudgeon about that earlier.  But really, it was better.  They totally could have gone trick or treating on Wednesday, but the weather was cold and drizzly.  Dry and a little warmer is obviously preferable.

We had friends over for trick-or-treating.  I took the girl to a few houses first, then came back and traded off the passing-out-candy duty with the husband, who then went out to look for the other dad and the boys.  Since other dad does not believe in cell phones (!), it took almost half an hour to find him.  He also didn't take the discussed route through the neighborhood, which also made it tricky to track them down.  sigh.

For a month I've been saying that the girl was going to be a duck for Halloween.  When a neighbor with a baby almost exactly a year younger than the girl asked me if she could have the chick costume for next year I was surprised.  The bill on the costume so clearly looks like a duck.  But then, seriously?  Look at those tights!  How could I have missed that this was so obviously a chick costume?  I don't know what the hell I was thinking.

The boys came back earlier than I expected- there was still half an hour to go!  But the baseball player complained that his bag was too heavy and he didn't want to carry it anymore.  I gave them candy duty and finished up dinner.  After dinner, a friend of the girl's and her parents came over for some drinks while the kiddos chowed down on candy.

A pretty awesome Halloween, really.  Even if it was three days late.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


In the last couple of weeks things have gone a little less well than expected.  Not terrible or anything.  Just disappointing.  Definitely disappointing.

Life has been hectic, as I've already mentioned.  That's not always a bad thing, but I was so looking forward to a break.  Last Tuesday, October 23, my favorite singer, Morrissey, was supposed to come to Pittsburgh.  It was going to be great.  My best friend, who I've known since college, was going to come up, and we were going to go out to dinner, then head over to Heinz Hall to catch the show.  Even the weather was gorgeous.  It was going to be an awesome evening.

Then this happened.

Of course he should be with his mother.  I'm not at all going to dispute that and I certainly hope that she gets well.  But I was also really, really bummed.  Alecia didn't come to town, we canceled our dinner reservations, and that night I drowned my sorrows in two pom-tinis that my husband made for me.  Truthfully, he was quite sympathetic.  He's pretty great that way.

Then Hurricaine Sandy came to town.  Even though we were on the very edge of the storm (really, mostly just rain in Pittsburgh) they canceled school on Tuesday.  And, they pushed trick or treating back to Saturday.  In the grand scheme of things it's not much.  But as a result, the boy was so excited about having Tuesday off, that he woke up early to enjoy the day off (I know, it doesn't make sense to me either).  After a full afternoon of playing with friends, he ended the day frankly, kind of snotty and cranky.  I mean, I know he was tired, but he was also kind of a pain. 

Saturday should be fine.  It's just that it won't really feel like Halloween.  Not to me anyway.  The boy and his friends are excited to have trick or treating on a weekend instead of a school night, and I suppose that really is better.  But still.

A couple of other crappy things have happened in the past week, including a friend's miscarriage and the boy potentially getting turned down for a special program at school.  I won't go into either of those things, but, yeah, it's made for a sucky couple of weeks.

I will say that I am also on my list of disappointments.  Still behind on things, still treading water, and really beginning to worry how many people I'm bumming out because of my actions.  Or inactions.  I can think of two people who seem pretty disappointed with me.  I care, I really really do.  But I'm also feeling like there's only so much I can do right now.  I almost wish I would be confronted by one or both of them- passive disappointment is usually frustrating for both parties- but I don't feel like listing excuses for people either.  So.  Here we are.

I also know that I don't want this blog to turn into a Debbie Downer thing.  Once again, I'll try to come up with something other than this kind of garbage for my next post.  Honest.

In the meantime, in honor of Morrissey's mum and looking forward to some re-scheduled tour dates, please to enjoy:


Saturday, October 20, 2012


I first heard the song 'Shivers' on the 'Dogs In Space' soundtrack.  I love that soundtrack.  I have to admit that there are a lot of Australian bands on there that I had never heard of before (I saw the movie three years after it was released- and the movie was set in the late 70s).  Actually, other than Michael Hutchence, I don't think I knew any of the Australian bands on that album.  The other bands and singers I knew- Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, Gang of Four.  But anyone who was Australian was new to me.

My favorite song on that soundtrack is 'Shivers', by the Boys Next Door.  It would be many years before I would learn that they were actually The Birthday Party before there was The Birthday Party.  Before I would even realize that that was Nick Cave singing lead vocals on the track.

Friday night we were hanging out at home, making dinner, and listening to 480 minutes on Soma FM (aka BAGel Radio).  They played a cover of 'Shivers' by Divine Fits.  I was ridiculously excited by this.  Because I love Divine Fits and I love that song and the two of them together just made me a bit giddy.  And, to hear that song on the radio.  Which I don't think I ever have.  Giddy about that too.  The feeling is like the one that you get when you realize that you and someone else are both crazy about the same band/author/director/whatever, and you've never met anyone who felt quite the way about them that you do.  And you're just so excited to meet someone who feels that way too.  In that moment, I felt that way about Britt Daniel.

Seriously.  Fucking fantastic.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Anxiety Revisited

When I posted about this last week, I actually had no idea it was a real thing.

Shortly after my post I thought, well, let's just look up post-cancer anxiety.  What do you know?  I found this and this.  Interesting.  I will reiterate here that, having had papillary thyroid cancer, I don't feel that I'm someone who has truly looked death in the face.  Others may disagree with that, but this year, having known of a couple of guys in their late thirties who have really fought aggressive cancers (one has lost, and one continues to fight his colon cancer), it feels disingenuous to put myself in the same camp with them.

However, I will own up to the fact that I was scared, especially in the beginning, when I was just learning what it meant to have thyroid cancer.  And I will also own up to the fact that cancer took over my summer.  It was with me from May through August.  I couldn't stop thinking about it, couldn't get it out of my head.  At times it would seem to leave, only to come back a few minutes later.  'Oh yeah.  I have cancer.  Damn it.'

So, to have something with me pretty intensely, and then to have it just gone...  It's hard to just drop it and move on.  In reading these posts, I don't think I have depression- although I haven't made my follow up appointments (*cough cough* I need to get on that...).  I'm also not sleeping much.  Otherwise, though, I would say that I'm enjoying life.

I think my issue is that I'm enjoying it so much.  So much, that I'm worried that something- cancer, heart attack, whatever- will come along and take it from me before I'm ready to let it go.  It's no longer the cancer that is ever-present.  It's the anxiety that cancer, or something else, will return and ruin everything.  Worry, lack of sleep, and probably doing too much because I don't want to miss anything.  It's all coming together to make me anxious and restless.

You should see it around here.  The place is a wreck.  I'm too tired by day to get much done and too worried at night to get the sleep that I need.  In addition to obligations, I'm also trying to work in things that I want to do- namely write, exercise, cook, and see friends.  It's making my days packed with stuff to do while other things (cleaning!) are falling through the cracks.

I think I may be slowly coming to the realization that my life needs a little more balance in it and that (gasp) I may not be able to do everything.  At least not with a one year old at home.  I also need to realize that, realistically, I probably will not die next week.  Or next month.  If my grandparents are any indication, I should have at least another good 35-55 years left.

Realizations are good.  Convincing myself may be a bit harder.

Friday, October 12, 2012

High Anxiety & Political Phone Calls

Things seem to have been on fast forward these last few weeks.  Ever since school started.  Every week I think I'll have a chance to catch my breath, and every week I realize I still have a million things to do.  True fact: there is never enough time to get it all done.  Ever.

The sound of time rushing past has been brought to a fever pitch by my new anxiety.  I've always been a worrier.  That's nothing new.  Becoming a mother almost ten years ago made that even worse.  Nothing like having a whole other life completely dependent upon you to make you really worry and, in my case, over-analyze every. little. thing.

This anxiety that I've been feeling lately has a new edge to it though, maybe desperation?  I desperately want to get a million things done which of course I can't.  This results in insomnia, which results in sleepless or near sleepless nights, which results in me being too tired to do anything the next day.  That of course is worse, because then I get nothing done and things pile up...and on and on.  You get the idea.

I don't know if this is some kind of post-cancer anxiety.  Does that even make sense?  Like I was worried about dying, or leaving projects unfinished, and of course what would my family do without me.  That's really all behind me now, but the anxiety and worries are maybe remaining.  I think.  It's the best explanation that I can come up with anyway.  There is really nothing else going on that should be causing me this level of sleeplessness.  Well, except for all the things that I'm not getting done.  I guess.

                                                         I feel you Dr. Thorndyke.

On a lighter note, last week I had the following phone conversation with a young (probably) college intern working for Tom Smith.  (I won't link to his page, but he's running for the senate in PA.)

Her: 'If the election were held today would you vote for Smith or Casey.'

Me: 'Casey.'

Her: 'What if I told you xyz about Smith's plan for the economy?'

Me: 'I disagree with him on several other issues, so I would still vote for Casey.'

Her: 'What if I told you that Casey voted with Obama 95% of the time?'

Me: 'I would still vote for Casey.'

Her: 'So, would you like to volunteer some of your time working on the Tom       
         Smith Restoring the American Dream campaign?'

Me: 'Hahaha.  Does it sound like I want to volunteer my time for Tom Smith?'

Her: 'Oh...'

So, kids, the moral of the story is, don't always follow the script.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Friday I was browsing the interwebs when I came across this.  Holy shit.  Twenty five years old.

I remember 'Strangeways' coming out.  I was a freshman in college, and for the first part of the year I had a single dorm room.  I was getting ready for classes that morning and listening to our college radio station.  The DJs, Rondell and Darrell, talked about the new album by The Smiths for a little bit.  And then they played 'Girlfriend In a Coma'.  It was so absurd and I'd never heard anything like it before.  I fell in love.

I grew up in a planned suburb between Baltimore and DC.  Most kids I knew were either listening to top 40 or hard rock.  Me and my friends were mostly in the latter camp.  We had MTV, and I had sort of tried to branch out musically.  I loved The Clash and The Go-Gos.  I had the Modern English album.  When I bought Romeo Void's 'Never Say Never' ep and excitedly played it for my friend Karen, we got maybe a minute into the song before she informed me that it sucked.  I put on a Led Zeppelin album instead.  I tried very hard to find someone to go with me to the U2 'Unforgettable Fire' tour.  My boyfriend finally relented, and he talked a friend of his- who listened to country music- into going too.  The concert was great, but it was hard to get into it when the guys I was with just stood there like they couldn't figure out what they were witnessing.

In that way, college and our campus radio station had been a revelation. Some of the music was familiar to me- songs I had heard in passing at parties or on movie soundtracks.  It felt fantastic to immerse myself in these albums, and to do so with new friends who were just as geeked about the music as I was.  The Smiths quickly became my favorite- no matter that they broke up before 'Strangeways, Here We Come' was released.  They were amazing and their last album helped to push me into a whole new world of music.

I still love all of my Smiths albums.  And I still buy everything Morrissey and Johnny Marr put out. I don't know if 'Strangeways' is my favorite.  I usually go with 'Meat Is Murder'- 'How Soon Is Now' and 'What She Said' tend to give that album the edge with me.  But I do love 'Strangeways', and it was the first cassette I bought by The Smiths (yes, cassette- all my college music was on cassette).  When I was home for Thanksgiving break my freshman year I went shopping with Karen.  I bought it while we were out and she seemed rather annoyed with my new music tastes.  Honestly, I was secretly pleased.  We didn't really stay in touch too much longer after that.

So, to celebrate the 25th anniversary, here's my favorite song from the album, 'Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before'.  Classic video to boot, with many Morrisseys on bikes.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cry Me a River

This morning has been full of tears.  The girl is tired.  We're all tired.  I went to bed after working late and the husband was snoring- as he does.  The snoring is worse in the fall because of his allergies.  It was so bad that the girl was awake when I got to bed around 1AM.  We both laid there, awake.  I kept hitting the husband- it's what I do and it only works for like a minute.  I spend that minute trying desperately to fall asleep before the snoring starts again.  It must work most of the time at some point during the night because I eventually fall asleep.  But it didn't work last night.

Finally the girl started to fuss.  Before she was born if the husband snored I would stumble into the boy's room and sleep the rest of the night there.  I looked at the girl.  We were both miserable.  'Do you want to go to brother's room?' I asked.  She nodded her head.  So we left our room to go into his.  'Bye bye Daddy, ' she said as we walked out.

The boy woke up briefly when we came in, but seemed to fall back asleep right away (I was told this morning he did not fall asleep.  sigh.).  Anyway.  I thought he was asleep and I thought the girl would pass out too.  But no.  She wanted to try and wake her brother up.  If he was there then it must be playtime.  By 3AM we were back in our bed.  I don't know what time we all fell asleep, but we somehow managed.  Of course at that point it wasn't enough sleep.  So here we are.  Tears all morning long.  I even tried to put her down for an early nap, but she was having none of it.

When she finally did take her nap, I opened up my email.  A friend had sent me this about River Phoenix's last movie.  Oh.  River Phoenix.  Honestly he was pretty great at what he did, and he is one of those people that I think about now and then, and I think about what a shame it is that he's gone and what he might have done if he hadn't died.

I remember hearing about him dying.  It was a Sunday evening and I was doing a radio show on Sunday nights then (well, Monday mornings really, from midnight-5AM).  The husband (who was then the boyfriend), my roommate and I were watching the news and heard about it that way.  We were all surprised, of course.  He was so young.  I did my show that night, mentioned that I'd heard about his death, and played the B-52s 'My Own Private Idaho'.  Friends of mine were up and listening and called to say that they didn't know he had died until they heard my announcement.  (Months later they would hear about Kurt Cobain's death from me too.  I'm quite the messenger.)  Anyway, very sad.

As I read this I realize that there's been lots of death on this blog recently, and I'm not sure what to do about that.  Write about something else, obviously, but I do feel like lately every time I turn around there's more death, or reminders of death.  So.  I guess I'll work on that.

Friday, September 14, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different

When I started this blog in 2009, I didn't know what my focus would be.  I meandered through about five months of posting.  Then life got busy, as it does.  And two months after that, I got really tired.  Because I was pregnant.  And I didn't post for a while.

Then!  I got thyroid cancer.  One of the good things that came of this- and believe it or not, there are a few- is that it motivated me to write again.  Writing is something that I enjoy, blogging is something that I enjoy, and it's felt good to be sure that I make time for myself at the keyboard.

Thyroid cancer has been my writing topic for most of my posts this year.  It has been six months since I felt the lump in my neck.  It has been four and a half months since my diagnosis.  Late spring and most of my summer were eaten up with surgery, worrying about and planning for my radioactive iodine treatment, and, of course, my treatment.  It has been about three weeks since I was told that I was in the clear.

It's great that, with the exception of a few follow up appointments and, probably yearly screenings, I will most likely be ok.  I couldn't be happier.  It does mean, though, that I'm probably at the end of writing about my cancer.  I'm sure that I'll mention any news that comes up, but really, for now I'm otherwise done.

So I find myself back in the same place I was in 2009.  Wanting to write, but direction-less.  Inevitably, I'll be writing about myself in some way.  Probably in a lot of ways, and in several directions.  I'm feeling the need to put it in writing, this permission to let myself write about other aspects of my life more regularly.  It's a way of making a clean break, when you don't really have an easy segue.  Like a man appearing on the screen to say, 'And now for something completely different...'

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Death, Death & More Death

Turns out this has been a lousy summer.  Not for me necessarily- thyroid cancer and RAI aside- but for people I know.  Some I know better than others.  At any rate, I know or know of several people who are currently mourning loved ones.

Two of those people were older.  My best friend's father-in-law died after many years of illness.  His family knew it was the end and they were all able to gather in Kansas and spend his last days with him at his bedside.  They shared memories, photos, and laughter.  And when he passed away two weeks ago, they shared their tears and their strength.  It was, stereotypically anyway, the perfect death.  The way any of us would probably want to go.  Surrounded by loved ones, telling you how wonderful you are and how glad they've been to know you.

My great-aunt Carol died last Wednesday.  She was 87 and had also been sick off and on for several years.  I'm not sure that she was surrounded by family.  What I do know is that she was independent to the end.  She lived in the house where she had raised her family, she had many people in her life, and she even tooled around on the internet.  I should have sent her emails far more often than I did.

Not everyone was older though.  I know of three others who died far too young, and at least two of them will not get to see their children grow up, which I find just heartbreaking.  And completely unfair.

I told you earlier last month about my neighbor who passed away.  Just a few weeks later, at the end of August, Paul died of a heart attack at 52.  He wasn't a friend of ours necessarily, but we were friendly.  He owned my son's favorite restaurant.  We went semi-regularly and always for the boy's birthday until it closed last summer.  We showed up at the restaurant a week after it had closed.  When we read the sign, the boy stood on Murray Ave. and cried. Occasionally he'll still bring up how sad he is that they're gone.  I heard from a mutual friend that Paul was catering and enjoying life again- restaurant ownership had been so stressful.  I'm just sorry that he didn't get more time to take advantage of his new-found happiness.

The same week that Paul died, I learned that someone I went to high school with had also passed away.  The husband is in disbelief, but I honestly think that Melissa may be the first in our class to have died.  There were only 45 of us in our graduating class at a small Catholic girls' school in Baltimore.  Apparently, she was 42, married with kids, and she died in June.  That's all I've learned.  I've tried to find more information online, but nothing comes up- no obituary, no news reports.  According to the one person who signed her guestbook at the funeral home's website, Melissa's facebook page was quickly taken down.  I find the whole thing strange, as if they tried very hard to wipe out her memory- at least online. Chilling really.

A long, hot, sad summer for sure.  I'm certainly ready for it to be over, and I'm looking forward to fall.  Here's hoping the cooler temperatures bring happier times with them.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Side Effects

So, remember when I told my endocrinologist that I wasn't experiencing any side effects?  That was totally not true.

It started the next morning.  At least, what I noticed started the next morning.  I was talking with my mother over breakfast.  Suddenly, part of the vision in my left eye was blurry.  There was a small blurry arc-almost like something was off with my lens (my eye's actual crystalline lens- I don't wear contacts).  It was weird, but I didn't want to say anything.  I was pretty sure my mother would freak if she thought something was wrong.  I just kept rubbing my eye, hoping it would just go away.

After five or ten minutes it did.  My left eye was just a little achy for the rest of the day.  I was worried all weekend though.  What if it happened again?  Would I be able to drive?  Read?  I told my husband and I also had full intentions of calling my endocrinologist and eye doctor the following Monday.  And then I didn't.  Nothing else had happened over the next three days, and it felt silly to call.  I promised myself that at the slightest hint of something wrong I would call.  Really.

Then I noticed a few other things.  Water hasn't tasted right to me since the radioactive iodine treatment.  I can't explain the taste.  It's just off, sort of sharp.  Of course, I certainly didn't think the issue was with me.  I walked around for a week thinking it was the water.  I finally asked the husband if he had changed the water filter since June.  He had.  Interesting.  Still not sure the problem was me.

Until I had an 'amazing!' chocolate chip cookie.  That tasted really fucking bland.  I said as much to the husband, who looked at me like I was crazy.  So then it dawned on me.  'Or, ' I said, 'this rai has effected me more than I originally thought.'  As the week went on I realized that cookies, brownies, a lot of baked goods, just didn't taste like I expected them too.  It was a bummer.  But what can you do.

Most recently, the sides of my mouth have split.  It seems that they're very dry.  At first I was blaming it on a tube of lip gloss that I'd decided was too old and should have been thrown out.  On a whim I googled the condition to see if there was an rai connection.  There was!  Which also explains why my nose is so dry.  Seriously.  So painfully dry.  I'd been blaming that on allergies, even though my allergies have never made my nose quite this bad before.  RAI.  It's just explaining everything.

Truthfully, I hate that I'm actually experiencing any side effects.  I'm just not that person.  I don't usually suffer side effects of drugs.  My body normally just takes it and moves along.  The husband pointed out that these side effects are really minor and- in all likelihood- temporary.  Which is true.  And it's way better than having cancer.  But my lips and nose still bother me all day.  It's low-grade pain, and it's minor and temporary, but it still kind of sucks.  I bought some Eucerin Aquaphor for my lips today.  Fingers are crossed that it will bring some relief.  At the very least, that it will keep things from getting worse.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Following Up

Two days after the scan I was headed back to Oakland to meet with my endocrinologist.  One thing that I hadn't counted on was the Pitt students coming back to campus.  There are dorms on Lothrop St, and part of the street was blocked off so the students could move in.  Traffic was a headache.  I was at least ten minutes late to the appointment.

Turns out that was just fine.  Everyone else was late too.  As a result my doctor was running late.  He came into the room thirty minutes after my appointment time and was very apologetic.  Then we talked about the results of my scan and where we would go from there.

Like I was told earlier in the week, the results were great.  Right where everyone wanted to see them.  My doctor was very happy.  He wanted to know if I was experiencing any side effects from the radioactive iodine.  None so far.  He also wanted to know how I had done with weaning.  Had that been really hard on me?  On the baby?  I told him that, while neither one of us had been happy about it, we were fine after several weeks.  And if that was going to be my biggest complaint it was really ok.  I knew how much worse things could have been.  (And can I just say?  I'm surprised that he even asked.  I'm really liking Dr. E.) 

With that out of the way, my endocrinologist wanted to talk about moving forward.  First, there was the issue of my thyroid medicine.  Based on my last bloodwork, he had decided that the dose (125 mcg) wasn't high enough.  He was bumping it up to 137 mcg.  We would check bloodwork again in six weeks to make sure that the dose was ok.

Also, he wanted me to come back in three months for an appointment and to have more blood work done.  They would be screening me for cancer, making sure that nothing had returned.  If that looks ok, I'll come back six months after that to have another screening.  And if that's also clear, I'll go on a yearly screening cycle.  It's good to have goals.

The last thing he asked me about was the calcium that my surgeon had me on.  Did I still want to be on that?  He felt that my current dose was too low to make much of a difference.  I told him I was supposed to meet with her in September to go over the dose (of course, one thing that I have let slip is making that appointment.  oy.).  He said we could talk about it in three months if I would rather wait.  At this rate it just might come to that.

With the appointment over, he handed me my bloodwork script and sent me on my way.  At the front desk, I tried to make my appointment to come back in December.  He's booked through the middle of January.  Of course.  The woman at the front desk said that she would have his secretary call me to see what we could work out.  Suddenly, I'm not too optimistic about getting that September appointment with my surgeon.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Last Scan

The Tuesday after my isolation started, I went in for a follow up scan.  My scan was at 8am.  It was weird to have the whole routine feel so familiar.  Parking in the garage, making my way through the hospital, over the pedestrian bridge, and down to radiology.  Even the guy from nuclear medicine didn't call out my name.  He just looked at my folder, saw me sitting in the waiting room, and motioned for me to come back with him.  We were old pals by now.

This scan was much like the one I got on Day Zero.  We went to the same room and used the same machine.  The only difference seemed to be the time.  It felt like it went much more quickly.  Maybe ten minutes?  And then I was shown to a waiting room to get the results.  I didn't have to wait long.

The same doctor and resident showed up to give me the good news.  Everything looked great.  Even that small faint spot in my chest area was gone (almost certainly saliva as the doctor had suspected).  The only activity that could be seen was in my thyroid cavity, which is where the radioactive iodine should be.  I was told that the rai would continue to work on the remaining thyroid cells for about another month, and by then the remaining thyroid cells should be dead.

Can I just tell you how strange it feels to be happy that part of you is getting killed off?  I know that, in the end, my thyroid cells were doing me no favors.  But still.  Very strange.

So that was it.  I was free to go.  I headed home to try to get some things done before my family arrived.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Isolation Cinema in Review

Some spoilers and a very long post ahead.

Movies I watched while at home in isolation.  (Yes, my movie-viewing is rather out of date.  Such is life with a toddler.):

1) Repo Man
2) The Other Guys
3) Thank You for Smoking
4) The Kids are All Right
5) Bridesmaids
6) Super
7) Due Date
8) Grey Gardens
9) The King's Speech
10) Slumdog Millionaire
11) The Help

This is actually the order that I watched them in.  Repo Man was the only movie I had seen before- and it's one of my favorites- so finding it on tv shortly after I got home from receiving treatment was sort of comforting.  And funny.  Because both me and the car were radioactive.  heh.  I thought it was quite the coincidence.

Thoughts on the other ten movies...

The Other Guys and Due Date were both funny enough and mindless.  My husband and I both read Thank You for Smoking years ago.  I was glad to finally get to see the movie.  I thought it was very well done and that Aaron Eckhart was a great choice for the role of Nick Naylor.

Grey Gardens was ok.  I wanted to watch the original after learning of the HBO prequel.  It's supposed to be a cult classic, which I found intriguing.  Mostly I thought it was sad.  I couldn't decide if there was mental illness, a lack of money, or a lack of knowledge on how to keep up the house.  (Feeding the raccoons that live in your attic?  I can't even.)  It was probably some combination of all three.  It was interesting though, particularly when they would talk about life when the kids were growing up.

The movie that I found really disappointing was Super.  I had really wanted to see it- the premise of regular guy Rainn Wilson becoming a superhero sounded like a lot of fun.  But I wasn't sure about the religious aspect?  It was kind of clumsy and non-committal.  Like, he was 'chosen', or his wife was, and Jesus kept popping up, but the filmmaker seemed to be unsure of how far to take it and how committed The Crimson Bolt should be to God.  And let me just tell you now how much I hated the ending.  gah.  I know fans of the movie would say that I didn't get it, but I'm pretty sure that I did.  It was pathetic and I just didn't like it.  Too bad because Kevin Bacon was actually pretty great (as usual) in the movie.

The King's Speech was another movie with a great cast.  Very solid and very well done.  The Kids Are All Right also had a great cast- I love Annette Bening in everything I've seen her in.  She's fantastic.  And I really liked the movie too.  Although I wasn't completely sold on a couple of things.  Mostly Laser's character.  I get that he wanted to track down his bio dad and that he was at a vulnerable age where he really felt the need for a male role model around.  As a result, he wants to track down his dad, play on every sports team, and hang out with some juvenile delinquent.  And that's what I didn't understand.  Why would he hang out with Clay if he supposedly loved all these sports and was having a great time?  I'm not saying that they'd never be friends, but wouldn't he have other jock friends too?  Why were we only seeing him getting male bonding time with the kid who was a total tool?  That didn't make sense to me.  Neither did Paul's reaction at the end of the movie.  I'm not convinced that he would have felt that crushed, but maybe I'm wrong about that.

The other three movies I'm going to say were definitely my top three favorites of the week.  Bridesmaids, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Help were all fantastic movies. Bridesmaids was the funniest movie I saw all week, and I was definitely in need of a comedy.  Although it was sad in parts- I actually cried when Annie had to move back in with her mom.  Still very funny- especially the airplane scenes.  Calling it The Hangover for women sells it short- besides, they never even make it to Vegas.

Slumdog Millionaire was really good.  There's a lot of controversy surrounding the movie for different reasons.  Since this is just a quick-ish rundown of the movies I watched during my isolation week, I'm not going to go into it. I have mixed feelings about some of the things I've read.  But as a story about love, family, and getting rich on a game show, I think it really holds up.  Great story, good acting, gorgeously filmed.  And although it was billed as a feel-good movie, I cried at the end when Salim was killed.  Bittersweet.  What can I say.  I'm a big crier.

Which brings me to the last movie.  The Help, which was awesome, but I think I cried my way through a good portion of this movie.  The subject matter is, of course, upsetting. But there were also so many other things to be sad about in the day to day lives of the characters.  Still.  Beautifully written and acted.  Bryce Dallas Howard was so good and her character was such a horrible horrible person.  Viola Davis was incredibly good too.  I know you're supposed to feel hopeful for Aibileen when she gets fired in the end, but all I could think about was how sad it was for Mae that Aibileen would no longer be in her life.  Probably because Mae was not much older than my daughter is now.  I'm getting choked up just thinking about it.

So, movies, yea!  I have missed them and it was good to do some catching up.  No idea when I might get to indulge like that again, but it was definitely the highlight of isolation week.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Home Alone

I have officially been home alone for a day and a half now.  I totally miss my family, but I have to admit that there's something nice about being the only one here.  I eat and sleep when I like.  I watch whatever I want on tv.  I've had several friends call in the past couple of days, and I can have an uninterrupted conversation with them for as long as I want.  It's like being 23 again.

Since I was told to hold off on any cleaning and organizing until the weekend, I've spent a lot of time either on the computer or watching movies.  I've scrubbed the tub every day after my shower, but that's about all I've done for cleaning.  I haven't even loaded my dishwasher.  It's full of clean dishes and I've been afraid to take them out and put them away.  I think this afternoon it might be ok, since it will be 48+ hours at that point.  Maybe I'll wear gloves too.

I'll need to clean my kitchen anyway because I plan to make The Grit spinach and feta lasagna tonight.  It's got pasta (obviously) and it's loaded with cheese- I think it will be the perfect post-low-iodine-diet dinner.  I've already indulged in a bagel with cream cheese this morning, but I think the lasagna will really satisfy all the carb & dairy cravings I've been having.  By the way, if you don't own The Grit Cookbook you really should.  My carnivorous husband enjoys every recipe I make out of it, and I can't say the same for my other vegetarian cookbooks.  Everything in there is crazy delicious.

I'm trying to be careful, not touching too much, lots of hand washing.  There's a quilt draped over my couch and one covering my bed.  I'll wash those on Tuesday along with all the clothes that I've been wearing.  I've been using a plastic cup to scoop my cat's food and I've tried not to pet him too much.  He's usually such a cranky old man and he likes his space.  For a few hours yesterday morning though, I felt like I couldn't get away from him.  He kept sitting near me- maybe a foot away.  At one point I tried to move my seat, but he just followed me.  I tried telling him, 'Hey cat!  Don't sit so close to me!  You can make yourself sick.'  He just ignored me.  He's stubborn that way.

Aside from cooking, today will be full of computers & tv, lemon drops & Gatorade. It's a rainy day in Pittsburgh, so maybe I'll take a nap too.
It's a life of luxury up in here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pink Hearts

I had gotten the body scan and now it was time to go get my blood drawn again.  As my mother and I walked across the street to the Falk Building, I called the husband to let him know about the earlier time.  It certainly wasn't the best news he could have gotten.  But he was pretty sure that he could round up the kiddos and get them out of the house by noon.

Once my blood was drawn, it was time to head back to nuclear medicine.  My mother and I took a detour to the cafeteria to see if there was anything I could eat before I got the RAI dose.  I had been told it was best to have something in my stomach, and I had originally expected to have a little bit of time to get something- maybe even go home to eat. The best I could find were some salads that I would have to pick through.  It felt like too much of a bother, so we just went to nuclear medicine.

They took us back almost right away.  I had to meet with a really nice woman who was the RAI safety expert.  She went over a lot of stuff that I already knew.
There were a couple of things that I asked her about though.  First of all, with the whole family out of the house, I had really hoped to get a lot of cleaning and organizing done.  Very lame, I know.  But this house has been a work in progress and, with a couple of young kids in the mix, it feels like it's perpetually a mess.  The woman who gave me my low-iodine dose yesterday actually teased me a little about it, and said I should just try to enjoy my vacation.  As dumb as it sounds though, I would enjoy my vacation more if I could get the cleaning done.  I'd feel really good about that.

Well, when I asked about it, I was told that maybe it would be a good idea if I put that off until the weekend.  Really, unless I decide to lick everything or pee everywhere (which would be so weird), it should be fine.  Especially if I wash my hands a lot.  But, to err on the side of caution, I should hold off.  I was also told to do anything in the kids' rooms on the last day or so of isolation.

My other question was about food.  Was it really ok for me to keep getting stuff in and out of the fridge?  Yes.  Well, what if I make a lasagna (ohmigodicantwait) and have leftover cheese?  Is that ok to put back?  She didn't seem too sure about that.  I was told it might not be a terrible idea to toss it.  Or use all of it in the lasagna and make it extra cheesy.  So!  I will now plan to clean out the fridge next Tuesday before everyone gets home.  It might be overkill?  But it seems hard to know for sure.

The meeting done, I was taken back to get my large dose.  It was very anticlimactic.  The people in Haz-Mat suits?  Not there.  The big-ass lead cup?  Meh.  Not so big.  The pill was also not too big- the size of a Tylenol maybe.  I put on gloves, took the pill, and washed it down with water.  I had taken my anti-nausea medication one hour before.  I was told that if I did get nauseous it would probably be in the first half hour.  One minute in, so far so good.

When we pulled up in front of the house  I noticed some pink hearts drawn in chalk on the risers of our stairs.  I thought, how sweet.  The kids were drawing while they waited to leave.  When I got up to the walkway though, I saw that they had drawn and written a lot more.  In big letters, 'We miss you Mom',  'The Boy & The Girl love you Mom', and 'Family' with a picture of all of us decorated the walkway.  It was just about the best thing ever.  Totally, totally made my day.  The kids.  They rock my world.

My mom picked up her things and headed back to Baltimore.  The house was quiet.  I had been told to definitely take it easy for the first couple of days.  I made myself some matzo crackers with peanut butter & jelly, and settled down in front of the tv.  All set for some R&R.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day Zero

The day started off with good-byes.  The boy was sad and near tears.  I've never been apart from the kids-or the husband- for this long of a period.  Maybe two days tops?  But six nights is definitely the longest amount of time.  Of course, the girl didn't know what was going on, but she knew something was up.  As my mother and I got ready to walk out the door she toddled over, threw her arms up in the air and yelled, 'Mamaaaa!'  I gave her one more hug, but I still felt terrible as I walked out the door.

We got to the hospital and headed to radiology for my scan.  It was a little different than the breast scan, but not too much.  This time, the side of the machine (it still looked like a 'cabinet door') that I saw was black with several thin white lines on it.  The woman informed me that they would scan my head, neck, and chest first.  It would take about ten minutes.  The room was dim and it was just after 8 AM.  The machine was close to my face, but not really uncomfortable.  I closed my eyes. I had stayed up too late with the husband the night before.  I wasn't fully awake.

Next came the body scan.  First, they send the machine along the length of your body fairly quickly.  This trains the machine so it knows how close it can get to you.  Then, they start the scan.  It goes much slower.  The woman said that it goes so slowly, sometimes people don't even realize that the scan is happening and they get impatient and ask for the scan to start.  yeesh.  I know these people are sick and might not feel well, but between that and freaking out about cup sizes, maybe some of these people just need to chill.

The scan took maybe another ten minutes.  Then we were sent down the hall to wait for the doctor.  He would come in and discuss the results of the scan.  We waited a long time.   Like half an hour.  My mother was convinced that they had forgotten about us.  I didn't really care- where else did I have to go?  We were scheduled to be in Oakland all day until 1:00 PM.  It just didn't matter.

The doctor and a resident finally came in.  Turns out the results were pretty good.  They only detected remaining thyroid cells in the thyroid cavity- where my thyroid used to be until this past May.  They weren't anywhere else, so it didn't look like anything had spread.  So, awesome.  The only other thing that they saw was a very faint, small dot in my chest area.  He was pretty convinced that it was saliva in my esophagus.  Apparently that happens, like 10-15% of the time.  It might even still be there next week when I get my follow up.  He wasn't concerned, but said that they would keep an eye on it.

He went over a lot of stuff that I already knew about the radioactive iodine (RAI) dose.  One thing he mentioned that was new was when to go off the diet.  Everyone, (including the safety expert I would meet with later), said that I could go off my diet 24 hours after I received the RAI.  He said that was fine, if I really couldn't wait.  However, he always felt that it was better to wait just a little bit longer, and he would recommend that I not go off the low-iodine diet until Friday morning.  gah.  What a drag.  His view was, since the thyroid cells stop absorbing the RAI as soon as you start eating food with iodine in it (cold iodine, he called it), it's better to give the thyroid cells as much time as possible to absorb the RAI.  Fine.  I can wait one more day for cheese.  I guess.

To wrap up, I was told that a RAI dose of 150 mci had been decided upon.  Both he and my endocrinologist felt that was best.  Also, my dose time was moved from 1:00 PM to noon.  Someone had a meeting and they were trying to get everything done earlier.  The family would have to leave town a little sooner than expected.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Getting Ready

My appointment this morning wasn't until 10:30, and it was only for a Thyrogen shot.  I couldn't justify parking in the garage for that.  I can be pretty cheap about parking.  I'll drive around and around neighborhoods looking for street parking to avoid meters or garages.  Near the hospitals though, there's not much opportunity for that.  I parked at a meter roughly a block away and went to get my shot. 

The guy assured me that he remembered me from the day before, but he had to ask for my name and birthdate anyway.  'Who would come in two days in a row for a shot in the butt if they didn't have to?', he joked.  Yeah.  I guess so.

The way back to the car was all uphill.  And a steep hill at that.  The whole way up I walked by person after person smoking cigarettes.  I can't remember the last time I saw so many people in one place smoking.  Doctors, patients, maintenance workers, nurses, visitors, all up and down Lothrop St.  I even passed a meter maid taking a long drag while she wrote a ticket.  How could all these people smoke and manage that fucking hill every day?  It was crazy.  I have a few friends who still smoke and I'm fine with it, but I'm amazed at how many people still smoke.  The cost alone would have made me quit by this point.

I went back in the afternoon for an appointment with nuclear medicine.  The woman who took me back was really nice.  She was there to talk with me about my scan the next day.  She also had a low dose of iodine to give me.  It was for the scan, so they would be able to see where thyroid cells still were in my body.  The hope would be that everything was taken out and that nothing had spread.  This iodine was equivalent to the amount of radiation you might get on an airplane.  Totally safe to be around everyone.  Unlike the dose I would get Wednesday.  I was told not to worry when I saw the 'big-ass' lead cup that my large dose would be presented in.  'Some people freak out about the size,' I was told.  Honestly, I was just highly amused that she used the phrase big-ass with me.  I guess it's good that I don't look like someone who would be offended by that phrase?  Or maybe she doesn't care and says that to everyone anyway.

The rest of the day was spent getting ready for isolation.  The boy and I went grocery shopping together.  I bought lots of cheese.  Ohmigod, how I miss the cheese.  And the bread.  But I think I miss the cheese more.

We went home and tried to work on laundry, packing, all those things you need to do before you go away on a trip.  The husband would be taking off with the kids while I was at the hospital the next day.  It felt very strange.  I was going to miss them terribly.

Monday, August 13, 2012


At some point over this past weekend, I started to get anxious about the week ahead.  As happy as I was that the week was finally here and that I would get to actually have the treatment over with, there was also a feeling that it was finally here.  How painful would it be?  How exhausting?  How nauseating?  Of course, my large dose isn't until Wednesday.  But I was still worried about the beginning of the week.  Shots!  Hospitals!  gah.

So, for all my weekend build up, today was fairly anti-climactic. 

My mother arrived last night.  Part of the reason that she's here is to hang out with the kids while I go to my appointments.  So, I took off for the hospital by myself this morning, and on the way indulged in a little Hello Nasty at top volume.  Nothing like some Beastie Boys at 8:30AM to calm my nerves and kick off a week of medical appointments.  I got to the hospital just in time.  It started off with a blood draw.  They were testing several different things, but the most important seemed to be the pregnancy test.

I learned something from the phlebotomist today.  If you need to have your blood drawn, be sure to drink some water before you go.  Even a little bit of dehydration- like I had today from only drinking black coffee before the appointment- can make it difficult to find good veins for the draw.  It had me worried, but it wasn't nearly as terrible as the phlebotomist led me to believe.  I prepared myself for her stabbing me over and over because she couldn't find a vein.  Then it ended up no worse than any other blood draw that I've ever had.

I had to stick around for an hour just for the pregnancy test results.  I understand why they can't just take your word for it, but seriously.  Not at all pregnant.  sigh.  I knew that I'd be there for a while today though, so I brought and started reading Cleopatra.  (I'm only about twenty pages in, but so far, a good read.  The author is certainly sympathetic to her subject.)

Of course, the results came back negative for pregnancy.  Shortly after the results were in I was called back to receive my first Thyrogen injection.  For no good reason, I went back with the mindset that this was going to be awful!  And painful!  I was getting the shot in my ass, further convincing me that this was going to suck...

And then it was over.  Honestly, barely felt it.  I mentally rolled my eyes at myself.  All that worry?  Seriously?  I think I'm just on edge about the week ahead.  All the doctor's appointments, the large RAI dose on Wednesday, my family leaving me for a week.  It will all be fine, and I know this, but that doesn't mean that it's not stressing me out .

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Yesterday was day one for me on the low-iodine diet.  I won't go into all the restrictions- you can find a complete list of them here. I'll tell you what I've been eating, and what I plan to eat.  It hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be.  Maybe a little bland, but that's my fault since you can have most herbs and spices.  I should really be trying to get more creative.

Breakfast has been good, actually.  Probably my favorite meal of the day.  Oatmeal with cinnamon and blueberries.  I miss having a little milk in my coffee, and I find that I drink less of it when it's black.  Maybe I'm more tired and cranky than usual?  I can't really decide.  Maybe the kids are just making me crazy and the extra caffeine wouldn't help me anyway.

Lunch has been the same for the past two days.  A green salad with tomatoes and chicken, with olive oil, vinegar, and pepper.  Tastes good, but not overly filling.  I've been having fruit with it.  Today I also had some carrots with unsalted peanut butter.  That was actually way more delicious than what I expected.  The peanut butter was by Golden Organics and it was delicious.  So creamy, that I didn't miss the salt at all.

Yesterday I also snacked on raw cashews- definitely need to be spiced up.  I was not expecting them to be so bland and chewy.  I found a recipe for roasting them in the oven with some spices.  I may try that tomorrow, or I may just make cashew hummus.  I also snacked on matzoh crackers- very bland and I will be spreading peanut butter (or cashew hummus?) on them from here on out.

Last night for dinner I had chicken, chard, and a peeled potato mashed with a little sweet curry powder.  It was ok.  Part of my problem is that I don't usually eat chicken anyway, and I'm remembering now that I don't actually like it that much.  My husband cooked up a couple of chicken breasts for me though, and I feel like I need to finish them.  The diet limits you to 6 ozs. of fresh meat a day, so I probably won't finish the chicken until tomorrow.  I might try turkey meat for the rest of the diet instead.  I don't know that I can rely on egg whites and unsalted peanut butter for my sole protein sources.

Tonight it's an egg white omelet with some spinach- I may skip the chicken.  Thankfully you can still drink on this diet.  It would be sad indeed if I couldn't wash this stuff down with a glass of wine. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

I Scream

To get ready for my radioactive iodine treatment, I need to go on a low-iodine diet.  I'll be starting that tomorrow, Tuesday.  There is a lot that you can't have on a low-iodine diet.  So, what I wanted to do this past weekend was go out to dinner and enjoy some food that I won't be able to eat while I'm on the diet.

We went out Saturday night.  We decided to get some Indian food in Oakland.  We headed over to Atwood Street, which has lots of great ethnic restaurants, including this one, which is our favorite place in the city to grab Indian food.  It's always good and it's a pretty easy place to take the kids.  Parking along Atwood was no problem, because it's early August, and the Pitt students haven't come back yet for the new school year.

The food was delicious.  The husband got chicken curry, the boy got Tandoori chicken, and I got palak paneer, which I almost always get.  Very predictable.  We also split orders of naan and a vegetarian platter.  The girl ate a little bit off of everyone else's plate, but mostly had rice.  Toward the end of dinner she started to get restless.  I walked her to the front of the restaurant a couple of times, but the guys were still eating and she was starting to get shrieky.  We went outside.

It was a really nice night, very warm and summery.  The shop next to India Garden recently became a Latino market, and there was a bunch of guys outside eating taquitos from a cart.  The husband came outside, we threw our leftovers in the car, and then walked up the street to my most favorite ice cream shop anywhere.

A million years ago, when I worked in Oakland, stopping at Dave & Andy's was a big deal.  I love their ice cream, I love the shop, and I'm so glad that I get to share it with my kids now.  The guys got cookies & cream, and the girl and I split some strawberry shortcake.  Big chunks of strawberries and bits of shortbread cookie.  Serious perfection.  Just like the whole evening.

When we got back to the car the boy said, 'Well family, I had a great time tonight.  How about you all?'  Agreed.  It was most excellent.