Sunday, September 27, 2015

a practical mindset

So I have been a vegetarian since I was a senior in college, waaaay back in the eighties, and the children have always been vegetarians.  Back when they were infants, I negotiated with the Sober Husband that we would raise them as vegetarians until they were old enough to decide for themselves, and they decided for themselves that they are passionate about vegetarianism.  They have never intentionally eaten meat and can be quite judgmental.  I am not the alpha vegetarian in my home; my slips with seafood are quite sternly viewed (I have never eaten birds or mammals willingly, but I have had my moments of cheating with a lobster or crab).

The Sober Husband never wanted to be a vegetarian and was quite cranky over my vegetarianism.  I remember a vicious fight where he complained how much my being a vegetarian impacted him and how it was a blight on his life.  I thought that was rich coming from a man who lived off tortilla chips and ramen when I met him, but my viewpoint was ignored.  But as the years went by and the children's viewpoints hardened, he became more compliant.  He now often says he is a vegetarian.

However, today he was busted.  I got an email receipt telling me he'd bought a turkey croissant at a cafe.  When he got home, I tipped him off that he'd been busted.  He played dumb at first but then copped to it.  "It was the only savory thing they had."

I gave him a hard time.  "You ate a dead bird.  Would you eat the fat bird?", I said, referring to his Amazon parrot.

"If it died," he said practically.

Friday, September 25, 2015

dancing the limbo

So I had a mammogram recently, the first one I'd had in a long time.  I had intended to have one a couple of years ago, but I ran into problems trying to get one.  First we had insurance that viewed it as optional, and I couldn't afford to get one.  Then we got new, fancier insurance, but I ran into a procedural wall.  When I asked my then physician to order me one, she stared at me blankly and said, "You can do that on the website."  When I went home and tried to order one via my healthcare provider's website, I failed.  I am a reasonably intelligent person who has been using the internet since the internet was a baby, but I could not find any way to request a mammogram on that website.  When I asked the person at the desk at my next appointment, they were likewise dismissive and flat out refused to help me.  Yes, a grownup, a grownup with a graduate degree at that, should not be so easily thwarted, but I had a lot of other things going on at the time and this procedural barrier stopped me from getting a mammogram.

So what with one thing and another and my not thinking I was at high risk, I didn't get one.  And then a few years went by, and I saw a different doctor, who finally didn't seem to think it was my job to go out in the world and make someone give me a mammogram but who sent an order through the ethos to a breast clinic to give me one.  I went, had the procedure done, and went home with an air of having taken care of business.

Next I got a call at 5:05 p.m. on a Friday from the hospital who had done the mammogram, asking me in urgent tones to return their call.  I did promptly, but they didn't call me back but instead closed up shop for the weekend at 6:00 p.m.  "Who does that?" I fumed.  "Who calls someone after five on a Friday and ruins their weekend?"  Anyone I told I was worried told me I was being ridiculous and stupid both, as no way on earth would anyone call someone about a bad mammogram and leave a cryptic message after five on a Friday.  What an idiot the DH is, hahaha so very stupid.

With no support whatsoever I got through the weekend rather gracelessly.  On Monday the hospital called me again and let me know that there was a problem with my mammogram and I needed to come back as soon as possible.  The very next day I returned for a diagnostic mammogram, and the tech showed me that there is an 11 millimeter growth in my left breast.  "It could be a lymph node," she said optimistically.  "Have you been sick?"

"I did have a really awful respiratory infection, " I said.  

"That's it, then!" she said perkily.

But then I stopped and thought.  It felt like just yesterday, but... "It was really in July," I said.  "I was sick in July."  The radiation tech didn't have a good way to spin this, and her cheer wound down.

After the diagnostic mammogram results were sent to some mystical doctor off-site, I was sent for an ultrasound.  These images were also sent off-site to the Oz-like being, who said that I needed to go for a fine tissue biopsy.

Here is where I ran into trouble.  The first vacancy was for two weeks away.  The person at the clinic doing the schedule visibly freaked out and asked me to wait, and she scurried off.  I could hear her in the next room urgently asking for something to be done to get me in sooner.  This did not add to my confidence level.  But nothing evidently could be done.

At this point I became stressed... and the stress continues and continues.  If I act like I have cancer, I am being a drama queen.  If I act like I don't have cancer, I'm in denial.  It's a no win situation.  And no one is helping.  Absolutely everyone I talk to about this seems to think I am an idiot for not getting the biopsy done sooner.  Never mind that the only way I could get it done sooner would be if I could change my growth and move it up near the surface, where it could be reached without ultrasound (the actual growth is waaaaay back by my ribcage and will supposedly take approximately one and a half hours, with me under sedation, for a physician to reach with ultrasound to let them know what the hell they are doing).  A friend tipped me off that I have access to a fancy sounding "health care concierge" thanks to the Sober Husband's glamorous new job, and I was relieved and excited... but the health care concierge got back to me in a couple of days to tell me that there was no possibility of a fine needle biopsy anywhere near San Francisco on less than two weeks notice.  

 "If it were me," someone said to me approximately nine times today, "I would get the biopsy done sooner."  Well, if it were you, bitch, you'd soon realize that like King Canute you cannot order the tides to go out and you cannot order a radiologist to do your bidding.  Perhaps if I hacked off large amounts of my torso myself I could get this done sooner, but if I want it done by someone skilled, I am going to be waiting two weeks.

Meanwhile there is not a lot of support at home.  "Be nice to me; I may have cancer," I said to a rather crabby family member.  This family member tossed their hair and said snappily, "You told me not to worry."  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

shingles vaccine from hell!!

I am strongly pro-vaccine.  It's delightful that children aren't stuck in iron lungs nowadays.  I remember having the mumps and am glad my kids didn't have to suffer that way.  My grandmother died of cervical cancer, and I'm happy my daughters can get a vaccine that will dramatically decrease their chances of getting that cancer.  Etc.., etc.. But now I have met the shingles vaccine, and it has kicked my ass.

The other day I had a physical, with a new-to-me doctor.  The main takeaway was that your DH is officially an old.  I turned fifty, and I have arthritis in my knees.  It is time for me to get a colonoscopy.  And I was subjected to a shingles vaccine.

I was happy to get the shingles vaccine, as one of  my colleagues at my volunteer job had a debilitating case of the shingles and was ill for a month.  She went through hell, and that was fresh in my mind.

But the morning after the shingles vaccine, I woke up with my arm swollen, discolored, and itchy.  It was very dramatic looking, a huge, dark red circle protruding from my arm.  I went ahead and left for my volunteer shift, working in a wildlife rehab clinic.  About an hour into my shift I began to feel lightheaded and faint.  I took a break and went to the break room, where I hydrated myself and ate a bunch of peanut brittle on the excuse that raising my blood sugar might help.  Once my blood was surely fizzing with sugar, I went back to work.  I felt like I was going to faint.  My colleagues said I was flushed.  I went and sat outside in the shade, and before I knew it, an hour had passed by.  I went back inside.  Although everyone urged me to go home, I didn't want to make Iris uber Alles leave early, as it was her last weekday volunteer shift before school started.  Eventually we left, and I drove cautiously.

At home I took to my bed.  My arm worsened.  I began feeling violent stabbing pains, and flu symptoms were starting.  Dr. Google was inconclusive.  It seemed like I was having a worse reaction than normal, but since my breathing was okay, it seemed safe.  But I was miserable.  If I stood up, I felt dizzy and faint, so I avoided that.  I emailed my doctor.  I whined.

The next day I woke up with a pounding headache, but the pain had subsided in my arm.  It was still swollen, sore, and discolored, but it mainly only hurt if it were touched.  My doctor wrote back saying that the dizziness was enough of a concern that I should have gone to the E.R.

My love for vaccines has been tested.  I love all but this one.  The sad part is that this vaccine is only good for five years, so it isn't going to be that long before the time to get it again rolls around.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

hangin' on the telephone

Recently I was stuck in hellish traffic.  The Drunken Housewife of the past had determined that it would be delightful to go to an outdoor play in the East Bay on a Friday evening, requiring that the present day Drunken Housewife drive with the children, a heavy picnic basket, and lots of blankets through Friday night rush hour traffic across San Francisco and over the Bay Bridge and through Berkeley and  through the chokepoint of the Caldecott Tunnel.  Taking mass transit was not feasible, as it would have meant walking down the hill to the MUNI subway, taking the subway to a transfer point to BART, taking a long BART ride, and then waiting for a shuttle bus.  All of that would have been fine if not for the heavy picnic basket and all the blankets and the fact that you can never get a seat on BART during rush hour.

The driving was stressful.  After some shameful swearing at some nearby cars and an unforgivable snapping at poor Iris, I determined to relax and unwind.  I asked the children to tell me stories to amuse and distract me.  Iris made up a long one about a heroic little bat with opposable thumbs.  Lola's story was more abstract and abandoned.  We turned to discussing Lola's big new transition:  the time has come for Lola to carry a cellphone.  "You can call me," I said.  "I think we should take up prank phone calls.  I'm going to call you a lot."  It then occurred to me that I had never placed a prank phone call to the dignified Iris.  And Iris never calls me, unless it's to ask to be picked up somewhere.  "Hey!  Why don't you ever call me?  Just to talk.  To tell me that I'm your hero."

"Momdude, that is really weird," Iris observed critically.

"No one has ever called me to tell me that I am their hero," I mused.  "Pretty much people only call me if I missed an appointment or if I am supposed to pay them.  That's why I hate the telephone; it's never pleasant.  Hey!  I am going to call you, Lola, when you have a phone.  And I'll sing."  At this point, I sang:  "Did I ever tell you you're my heeeeero, you're the wind beneath my wings."

After this we all dissolved into laughter for some time.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

caring for our friends, with the Sober Husband

I hand the Sober Husband a magazine open to an article I recommend he read.  "Hey!  That magazine.  That's X's magazine."  It turns out this magazine I brought home was, unbeknownst to me, launched by a former colleague of the Sober Husband.

"Isn't X the one who had cancer? How is he doing?"

"Cancer?  He didn't have cancer."

"Who had cancer then?  I thought it was him.  Doesn't he have kids and he had a cancer blog?"

The Sober Husband demurred strongly, suggesting I was confused over one of his childhood friends.  I persevered.

"One of those guys from Doggyo had cancer.  Which one was it?  One of your friends.  I remember reading his cancer blog."

"One of my friends has cancer?  Now I want to know who it is.  I feel bad."

"Why do you feel bad when you didn't even remember?"

"Because someone I like has cancer."

"But you didn't even remember!"

Eventually we recalled that another colleague from the same former employer, with a very similar name, was the one who had cancer.

"He had a bone marrow transplant and everything," recalled the Sober Husband, forced to relive the whole ordeal and feel bad once more.  "But he recovered."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I dreamed a dream

I had a terrifying dream about a stalker who broke into our home while we were sleeping.  In the dream, I'd wake to find a hammer left near me, to let me know that the stalker had been there and could have killed me.  In my dream, I was freaking out but the Sober Husband was calm.  "How do you know he wants to hurt us?" my dream-husband asked.

In real life I told the dream to Lola (who was at the time wanting to hear my dreams, as she'd been writing an article about dreams and could never remember any of her own).  Lola opined that the Sober Husband would in real life react the same way he did in the dream.  So I told him about my dream.

"I think that person was being nice, leaving us hammers," he said.  "Like a gift.  Hammers are useful."

"How many hammers can you use? And it was scary," I said defensively.

"I could use a lot of hammers.  Some might be special, too."

"You don't think it's creepy?  Hammers are weapons!"

"I like hammers."

Monday, March 16, 2015


Last night freshman Iris uber Alles vented about an assignment in her world history class.  One part of the assignment was to "write about a small group of people who have changed things."  Although the assignment didn't specify that this needed to fall into the World War II era, Iris's class is studying WWII at the moment.  Immediately I had an idea:  the women of the Rosenstrasse protests.

Years ago I learned about these women.  Although most Jews in Germany were rounded up and sent to camps, Jews who were married to Aryans were exempt.  They were subject to a myriad of horrible restrictions (couldn't work, couldn't have a pet, must have their homes inspected, had to wear the yellow star, etc..), but they weren't sent off to Auschwitz or Treblinka.  However, at one point, high level Nazis decided that they were going to give Hitler a special birthday present:  making Berlin truly Juden-frei.  The Jewish spouses were rounded up.  To that point Germans had tended to look the other way, if not to celebrate and join in on Jew-killing, but these German wives were different.  They made signs saying things like "Give Us Back Our Husbands" and protested publicly on Rosenstrasse, where most of the Jewish spouses were being kept (some were sent to Auschwitz).  Shockingly the Nazis folded and freed these particular Jews, even releasing the ones who were in Auschwitz.  I thought these women were a good example of how a few people could make a difference.  Iris listened and made a few notes.

The Sober Husband was not ready to let me glean the glory of giving the winning suggestion.  "I know a few people who made a difference, " he said.  "What about the Nazis?  Himmler?"

I gave him the evil eye.  He continued in that vein.  "Hitler was just one guy, and he made a difference"

"I am sure," I observed loftily, "that the assignment wants positive examples."

"How can you be so sure?"  The Sober Husband smirked and continued to catalogue the powerful achievements of the Nazis.

"You're so negative!  I had an uplifting and thoughtful example.  You're picking something awful!"  Then I changed gears.  "What about Charles Manson, huh?  He had a small group of followers, and they had a giant impact."

He started to answer, but I plowed on.  "What about the Son of Sam?  He was just one guy, and he had the whole city of New York in fear!"

Our squabbling continued until I loftily accused him of jealousy over my excellent suggestion.  "I have told so many Jews about the Rosenstrasse protests, too.  No one knows about it, and it's fascinating.  You just want to be the most loved parent and not let Iris pick my idea!"

Defeatedly the Sober Husband instructed Iris, "Love Mommy the most. Do Mommy's idea."

Iris uber Alles had dropped out of this conversation early on and declined to make a ruling.  "Anyone want to watch 'House of Cards'?" she asked diplomatically.