Friday, February 26, 2010

Greetings from Earth



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

vindicated in my complaints

Long-term readers may recall that I have railed against my insurance company (going so far as to write on this blog that I would dearly love to lightly stab some of its executives), one of the crappiest insurance companies I have ever had the misfortune of being insured under. Well, my insurance company is soooo crappy (how crappy is it?), so crappy that it has singlehandedly reignited the once-dead debate of national health insurance reform. Yes, my insurance company is Anthem Blue Cross of California, currently gouging California consumers with a 39% rate hike despite its literal billions raked in last year.

The insurance commissioner of California stated that he has "a healthy skepticism" about whether Anthem Blue Cross is breaking the laws requiring an insurance company to spend 70% of its income on health care. Additionally, Anthem Blue Cross is facing investigation over literally hundreds upon hundreds of incidents involving misleading its insureds to rip them off, failure to pay claims, failure to abide by rulings against it in favor of its insureds, etc.., etc...

Among its other misdeeds against me personally, Anthem Blue Cross refused to pay a cent for a doctor-ordered mammogram for me and charged me hundreds of dollars for a routine pap smear. To add insult to injury, Anthem Blue Cross sends me form letters and robocalls me to nag me to get mammograms and pap smears, services for which it refuses to pay. Their basis for refusing to pay is that those were optional tests, tests done when there was no reason to believe that I had cancer. On the one hand, they strongly believe I must get preventive screenings and nag me to do them, but on the other hand, they claim screenings are frivolous and I should do them on my own dollar. Subsequently I have not had a mammogram in a couple of years because I am on a budget and find it difficult to spare a couple hundred dollars for optional medical testing.

We were charged over two hundred dollars last year for getting Iris and Lola a routine, annual physical and the normal vaccines for their age. Again, Anthem Blue Cross displayed a rather cavalier attitude towards preventive medicine. Are they shortsightedly trying to discourage people from vaccinating? I imagine there must be many parents out there insured under Anthem Blue Cross who find it very difficult indeed to pay for routine, normal vaccines. I will pass up mammograms for myself, but I'm not going to stop getting the children vaccinated.

There was also the oh-so-amusing time when Anthem Blue Cross sent me a letter requesting that I switch to a generic antidepressant. I raised this with my psychiatrist (whom I pay completely out of my own pocket), who told me that the generic drug was not a true replication of the drug (he had a complicated explanation for that involving molecules which bind on the left side and molecules binding on the right side) but that I could save money if I tried a higher dose of the less-effective generic. When I tried to fill my prescription for the generic drug, at my crappy insurance company's own request, I found out that my insurance company was going to charge me a $225 copay. When I reported that back to my psychiatrist, he was really shocked. "That pill only costs 75 cents a pill! How on earth can they charge you $225 for that?"

Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between being insured under Anthem Blue Cross of California and being uninsured. Oh, wait, the difference is that if I were uninsured, I could just cut to the chase and write my big check without having to endure forms, unintelligible letters, profoundly irritating phone calls, and a massive, two hundred page booklet setting up all sorts of threatening conditions under which Anthem Blue Cross will dodge out of coverage. As a representative from Mt. Zion Hospital said to me when we were trying to work out coverage for my surgery, "I've never run across an insurance plan requiring anything like this."

Lord, I wish Doggy-o, the Sober Husband's employer, would get a decent healthcare plan. Sadly Doggy-o has gone the other way, downgrading our Anthem Blue Cross plan from the previous, extremely sucky plan to a fresh, new, unbelievably even suckier plan, done just in time for my recent surgery, which is going to bust our budget for the year. Sigh.

You can read more about Anthem Blue Cross in the San Francisco Chronicle.

p.s. For Christmas this year, I would like a mammogram.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

the convalescent's day

Yesterday was my first day since surgery I didn't have a companion by my side, a caretaker to fetch me my meds, drinks, and whatever else I wanted. The children were back to school after winter break, and the Sober Husband went back to work after a week and a half's family leave.

The day started by my realizing I'd let the cup of coffee the Sober Husband brought me before making his escape get cold. I didn't feel up to getting myself another cup of coffee, and so I just took a painkiller and wrote off the possibility of coffee. I felt weird and lonely (not having had a moment alone since my surgery) and weak and pathetic. I didn't feel well enough to play Warcraft, but after a while, I did manage to log in and play easy Warcraft (Warcraft can actually be rather demanding, and dulled by pain meds, I've been just doing easy things in the land of Azeroth.. especially since on one of my first returns to the World, I was running a random heroic dungeon with one of my guildies and some unknown players, and I realized afterward that I'd gone through the whole thing on my rogue without using poisons on my daggers. I had wondered why I was doing so little damage, heh. In a more sharply aware group, I would have been summarily voted out for that stupid mistake, but this group contained a sympathetic guild member of mine as a healer, a new tank who was continually apologizing for his own perceived errors, and two remarkably tolerant other strangers who mostly devoted their energy towards cleaning up after the tank and reassuring him. Usually the World of Warcraft is not such a kind and encouraging place).

I did manage to microwave myself some lunch, noting darkly to myself that I wasn't going to be getting good service any more. As the day wore on, I took a nap, which was interrupted by a hangup call and by construction racket. After a few hours of interrupted sleep, I felt like hell, and I was long overdue a painkiller. After the painkiller sank in, I played a bit more Warcraft, and then the husband arrived with the children. Asking me how my day went, he got up, saying, "Good! Good! You didn't even mention pain anywhere!" before I'd gotten to the part about how awful I felt after my lame nap.

"Come back here!" I shouted at him querulously. "I was just getting to the part about the pain!" I am certain he rolled his eyes then.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Cat by Iris

So everyone knows Ray Charles, (Baby, as called by Momdude,) the most depressed cat on the face of the Earth. He just sits around all sad and self-pitying. He is very sad and likes to suck on clothing as if it were his mother. He is over a year old now and was never weened.

One day at my art class in golden gate park, daddude came to pick me up, and I had a drawing of his bird. I had drawn the bird with a mad looking eyebrow, and daddude said that didn't make sense because birds don't have emotions and don't feel anger. When I told this to Momdude, she pointed out that his bird DOES have anger, it is a very VERY mad bird and wants everyone in the house (except for daddude,) killed. Momdude said that "Baby" had plenty of emotions that he was always expressing.

Ray Charles is frequently pointed out as an idiot. He is good friends with our other idiot cat, Henry. They love each other more then they love the people who give them food. Lucy wrote a comic about them getting married and having a baby who was an idiot. The comic reads;

One day two cats got married.

They were Ray Charles and Henry.

One day they had a baby.

It was an idiot.

But it fell well into the family.

They were all idiots!

Currently Ray Charles is huddled under the bed feeling depressed for no apparent reason.


not feeling so hot

My recovery has had some setbacks, and I'm not doing so great.. For a while I was feeling hopeful that I'd be bouncing back quickly, but it looks instead like it's going to be like I was told to expect: several weeks of pain and discomfort and low energy.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hello Earthlings!

Hello Earthlings!

Yesterday I visited the neurologist at the headache clinic at the hospital. And he said that I have migraines and I will for the rest of my life and I have to take responsibility for it and eat more and eat less aged cheese and ALWAYS eat breakfast. He also said I might have Anemia or I might have a problem with my thyroid. So I need to get a blood test! Ack! I don't like needles. I don't like shots. I don't like shots that last for ten seconds. And I don't like the idea that people are taking my blood and doing stuff with it! Those vampires!

I also need to get this biofeedback therapy thing if our insurance covers it. They stick electrodes on me and show a thing on a screen. It sounds very boring, but according to daddude, it is a mental challenge. a very boring one involving electrodes.

Also the neurologist had giant feet. And he said there would be no needles, and then he says that they're going to suck out my blood! It all sounds very pointy.

But what I don't get is how people can stick electrodes on you and see how stressed out you are. Also I wonder if they're gonna put one of those things on my finger that goes "Beep Beep Beep" when I'm stressed out.

I realize that snake is irrelevant, but I love snakes almost as much as I love chinchillas. Also this post is kind of boring without it.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

the pornographic mystery

Before I went into the hospital, I kicked up my heels one last time on a rare grown-up night out in downtown SF, with the Sober Husband and a rather hard-drinking couple we know from when our fourth graders were in preschool together. The Sober Husband rarely drinks these days, with weeks going by before he'll dare to sip a single, abstemious beer (he ignores the charms of alcohol and other substances these days, despite the fact that he put it away like a champion back in our courting days, claiming that he must always be at his sharpest intellectually each and every day and that even a single drink of an evening can cause him to be duller the next morning), but when we get together with these friends, he'll throw 'em back like a Drunken Housewife's mate indeed.

After the Sober Husband and I had had a pre-game drink at a lovely hotel bar and met our friends and enjoyed a huge, delicious, boozy Mexican dinner and postprandial drinks at the fabulous Colibri, we moved back to the hotel bar for a bottle of wine. Here my friend told me that her fourth grader had come to her with a big worry recently: he'd started typing in something on his laptop, and the browser autocompleted the search he'd started, suggesting to him that he wanted to search for "fat men with big dicks." Our friends' distraught son said to his mother, "Dad must have been using my computer! Is Dad gay?"

My friend and I roared and roared with laughter, being the sorts of mothers who find this kind of thing hilarious and having had many drinks by that point. The husbands were not amused. I shared that I'd had quite a discovery of my own that very day. I was using the Sober Husband's laptop for the first time in ages, he having been away on business nearly all week, and his laptop filled in the search window for me with the interesting suggestion, "Arab porn Arabic porn muslim porn arabic sex arab sex muslim sex." "Hmm," I thought. "The old husband must have been doing some interesting computer searches off in his hotel room this week." My friend, her 140 IQ shining through the haze of alcohol, instantly had a helpful suggestion: "We've got to get you a hijab!" We roared again. Once again our husbands were not amused.

"I must have searched that for work," said the Sober Husband. "Yes, I have to look that kind of thing up all the time for my job." We laughed again, and he soldiered on, saying haughtily, "I had to sign something once, saying I acknowledged I would have to view porn in the course of my employment."

Meanwhile the other unamused husband was trying to work out the implications of the "fat men with big dicks." "Why did he think I had searched that? And what made him think I was gay? Who did that search? Who has been using that computer?"

Later as we said goodbye, our friends said again that I should call after surgery if I needed anything. I said that if I were bored, perhaps the husband, using his discerning eye and expert opinion, could drop off a DVD with the "best fat men with big dicks" for my convalescing entertainment.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

home is the sailor, home from the sea

Well, I'm back home after surgery, and I shouldn't complain, but yet somehow I do. Overall the surgery went very well indeed, better than expected, and my recovery is trotting along, but it's still early days yet. Right now, I'm having considerable pain still (for which I have a variety of medications), and I'm generally feeling very weak and shaky. On the other hand, it's not as bad as it could be, and I have every hope I'll be feeling better soon.

The actual surgery experience itself was very good, much better than my prior surgeries. I highly recommend the Mt. Zion Hospital to any of you who may be in need of surgeries, and I strongly prefer it to any of the other hospitals I've spent time in here in SF. (Pathetically enough my dear friend Kim called me on an odd behavior of mine once some time ago. She pointed out, rightly enough, that wherever I took her in San Francisco, I would stop to point to some hospital and then share a medical horror story which had occurred there. I told her that I thought we'd worked through the list by then, but now I have a new hospital to add to the Marvels of San Francisco Tour). After I checked in for the surgery, I was stored in a pleasant, private room while waiting, and various medical people would stop in to place an IV, review my history, take my blood pressure, etc.. When the time came to whisk me away, I was given some powerful sedatives there in the room and wheeled away on a bed, which was a very big improvement over a prior experience over at California Pacific Medical Center (where a person waiting for surgery must sit in a public waiting room with other surgical patients, all pathetic examples of human suffering in undignified cotton robes, and then we had to walk by ourselves --- after having our spectacles confiscated -- down a long, scary hallway into a big, scary operating room). By the time I'd entered the OR, I was exchanging pleasantries with a surgeon about my tattoos which I didn't remember later and feeling just fine.

The recovery room was also much nicer at Mount Zion. My prior memory of a surgical recovery room was of a full-voiced nurse bellowing into my face, "YOU'RE... IN ... THE... RECOVERY... ROOM!" as though exactly what one wants to shake off a general anesthesia is a good scream. This time around, there was a kind, caring nurse using a pleasant, low voice to chat with me until I was deemed ready to be taken off to my room. I do have to say that the aide charged with transporting me complained that my bag (which really was a light bag, containing some underwear, a couple of novels, a toothbrush, one dress, a hairbrush, and not much more) was too heavy and she couldn't bring it and my bed as well. After taking me to my room, she later arrived with the bag and dumped it in a corner, churlishly announcing, "Here is your HEAVY bag!", which I found as amusing as annoying.

The worst thing that happened to me was that my first nurse didn't want to give me any pain meds. It had been spelled out to me, over and over again, by my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the recovery room nurse, the admitting nurse, etc.., etc... that I had a carefully prescribed pain regime for after the surgery, which was completely normal for this surgery. I was to be given a button controlling a powerful narcotic, which I would give myself whenever I needed to (but no more often than every six minutes) for the first day or so, and then I would be transitioned onto oral painkillers of a less strong nature but able to call for heartier injections as necessary. A goal would be for me to manage my pain on oral medications alone. I was also given some hearty prescriptions to get filled before the surgery, so I'd be dosed up and comfortable at home.

However, this first nurse, a rather annoying woman named Patricia, had no respect for my surgeon's orders. She started getting a pill for me, which I was in no condition to swallow. Here I should say that the one thing which is worse than I expected, which I wasn't prepared for, is how much my throat hurts. Whatever was put down my throat during surgery really ripped it up. It didn't hurt my throat this much when I had a gastroenterologist perform surgery exclusively by little tiny knives and a little tiny camera which were shoved down my throat to my bile ducts on great, thick metal cables. My speech was an agonized croak for the first two days, and my throat still hurts a lot now, five days after surgery (if you have tried to call me and I haven't spoken to you, that is why and it should have been explained to you by either the husband of the house or a child of the house). The idea of swallowing a pill was ludicrous, and I said hoarsely I was supposed to have a button. The nurse hissed at me, "I had this same surgery as you, and I didn't have a button. I didn't take anything for it at all! You don't need a button! You don't need anything!" She made some other remarks about how my surgery was nothing, really nothing, and I shouldn't get anything for it. I mumbled, "Morphine" a few times, and with a lot of hostility she eventually gave me a single injection of morphine into my I.V. and flounced off, holding her ground about the magical button.

Later my surgeon came by to check on me, and by that time, my pain had gotten out of control. It was agonizing, having built up over the hours. I asked for the button, and she got someone to install it quickly. A lovely male nurse came on duty much later, and when he left in the morning, I asked him to make sure I didn't get Patricia again. Instead, I got another lovely and kind nurse (with the exceptions of the bag-hating recovery room nurse and the sadistic Patricia, every nurse and doctor I had at Mount Zion was good looking and kind, with a pleasant bedside manner).

I had a large, private room, which was a happy surprise indeed (I'd expected to share a small, noisy room, like I did at CPMC before), and the Sober Husband was encouraged by the staff to spend the night there, on a chair which folded out to a rather uncomfortable bed. A kind nurse brought him sheets, blankets, and a pillow, and the visiting hours were not enforced at all. This was really very helpful all around, as I didn't need to ring for the nurse every time I needed to get handed a drink or some ice chips the first day (the first day, I was really just lying there in bed, doing nothing at all except clicking that button once I managed to get it, submitting to having my vitals taken, and gesturing for a drink) or be assisted to the bathroom the second day (I had to have my oxygen unplugged and get some assistance with my massive IV stand, which would have to have the special button draped around it).

On the second day I had a lot of trouble with nausea, and I didn't eat those first two days. I was supposed to start getting up and walking around, but I hadn't felt strong enough. Even though I didn't feel ready to, I decided that I had to make myself get this convalescence off right and do what I could to get better, and that meant getting up on my shaky feet and stumbling down the hallway with my IV, so I did. On my first, wobbly walk, the nurses and doctors (with the exception of the pain meds-withholding Patricia, whom I swear hissed at me, probably having heard that I had asked not be assigned to her again) rewarded me, like a good little dog, with a lot of generous positive reinforcement. This did help motivate me to get out and take other shaky walks on that and the third day. The Sober Husband and I took field trips to other floors, getting off the escalator and slowly exploring the new hallways.

On Day Two, as well as nausea, I was beset by an intense itching all over my body, a reaction to the other drugs I was on. This was maddening, and the poor Sober Husband was continually having to scratch different parts of me, until a kind doctor gave me a really stiff dose of Benadryl in injection form (who knew it wasn't just a pill?).

While I was in the hospital, Iris uber Alles was often on video conference with us. I didn't speak to her at all that first day or so, as my throat was so sore and my voice so lacking, but I waved occasionally. At Mt. Zion, children are strictly forbidden from visiting, but the video conferencing made up for that. We felt as though we were hanging out with Iris, who saw my undignified old rump hanging out of my hospital gown as I teetered past the computer on way to the bathroom. The Sober Husband made up for my lack of talking (indeed sometimes I put in earplugs so I could doze off while he addressed Iris in stentorian tones).

There was a lot of talk of having me stay a third night as it didn't seem I could meet the criteria for leaving the hospital if I couldn't eat anything, but I managed to get through that on the third day and get discharged in the afternoon.

Monday, February 15, 2010

field trip to the bathroom (Hello Earthlings, Momdude is back in this post,)

Iris' take on the story;

(Note, this may not make any sense whatsoever.)

Since Lucy did not like the idea of the Nueva School, Momdude has been thinking about joining a homeschooling group for children. While I was in the tub, it got brought up. Once I understood the conversation, I said, "I think she'd get a PhD in video games." Then Momdude frowned. After some more jibber-jabber I don't remember, Lucy said, "Could we study toilets?" So Momdude said, (Momdude asked I removed this part, "I didn't sound like that. I was much more sophisticated." So Lucy looked all enthusiastic. And then they started talking about what they would study about how people go to the bathroom. And then I said, "You could take a field trip to the bathroom!" And then everybody laughed.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

La la la snakes photo discussion

Ha ha ha ha ha! Peese shut mouf, woomun. That is Larry the croc from Pearls Before Swine, created by Stephen Pastis. He is the most hilarious character.

That chinchilla is so awesome! Look at him! With his little hands! If anyone out there has a chinchilla, please comment saying so.

That rabbit is freaky. Look at his ears! Look at his tail! I just don't like rabbits as much as other people do. But I would never murder one.

That snake is so shiny, like, how does he get so shiny? Like, shiny shiny?

What do YOU think of these photos? comment our opinions.

Momdude is home today. She is fine. But the cat Ray Charles is being bad and refuses to interact with anyone. All he ever does all day is be depressed without reason to be so depressed. Sometimes he reminds me of Larry the croc, but other times he does not.

la la la snakes.


Friday, February 12, 2010

hello again earthlings!

Hello it is I, Iris. I have decided that from now on, for as long as I am posting on this blog, I will have a picture of snakes being weird. so here.

"I am evil. I am a snake."

ha ha look at his face!

apparently in Momdude's hospital room there are two tv's with cable and a table and a guest bed that folds into a chair. that sounds better then my room.

also the food there was actually FOOD! they gave her real vegetarian food but she didn't eat it so Daddude did and he said it was fine.

here's a picture of a chinchilla.

"Oh I am so cute I am so cute singing about it all day long"

you know chinchillas have 300 hairs per square centimeter? it's true. and that automatically makes them better then rabbits. rabbits are weird.

"Wait, I hear the space unicorn calling with my giant ears! I must flee!"

now in the ultimate comparison which of these pictures is
a. the cutest
b. the weirdest
c. the funniest


It is up to you to decide....

but in my opinion the chinchilla is the cutest the rabbit is the funniest and the snake is weirdest.

Comment what you think on the ultimate comparison.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hello earthlings!

Hello it is me Iris Uber Alles and I am supposed to post on this blog while momdude is away. I'm supposed to say that momdude had her operation today. She is fine.


here is a picture of two snakes kissing for you to enjoy.

awesome huh?

I just finished my homework for the week and I can't wait until next week when there will be no school and no homework!!!

ski week rocks except for the fact that all my friends leave town and rent a giant house in Lake Tahoe. I am somewhat alone for the whole week, but it is still fun to lie around and watch tv.

I hate the stupid digital converter box thingy! It makes the tv worse when it's supposed to make it better!!!

I think I've said too much so I'm going to stop.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

living it up

It's been hectic here. Today I cleaned the kitchen, made cookies for Iris's publication party at her writing class, emailed the children's teachers, ran over to Haight Street to find nose jewelry containing no metal (the surgeon was vehement yesterday that I could not wear my silver-and-pearl nose screw, because "anything metal heats up" --- what are they going to do up by my nose which is going to be so dangerously hot?), bought gifts for the children while I'm in the hospital, got myself a Captain Sensible CD as a special treat, wrote notes for the children to read each day I'm gone, read the first 175 pages of A.S. Byatt's latest novel [I realized the day before that if anything went awry, my biggest regrets in life would be not reading A.S. Byatt's new book, not visiting Antarctica, not finishing writing my novel, and not seeing the children as adults, and of those things, I could at least partially achieve the A.S. Byatt novel-reading), played cards with Iris and Lola after school, took Lola to her art class, comforted Lola's art teacher after a child in the class took a freakish fall and visibly dented her skull, got Iris over to her publication party and listened to many nine and ten year-olds read their work aloud in little, faltering voices, inquired about Lola's registration for an upcoming writing class and instructed the Sober Husband how to follow up on this in my absence, packed my bag for the hospital, cleaned the litterbox and remarked pointedly that it was the last time I would be doing that for some time, thanked my mother-in-law for coming out to help, wrote a Valentine's Card for the Sober Husband, drank a few glasses of champagne made from the world's oldest champagne maker (since the 1300s!), and explained the children's upcoming obligations one last time to the Sober Husband, who may or may not remember them.

Tomorrow I'm off to the hospital for a few days. I'm not sure when I'll feel up to blogging, but stay posted: I have arranged for a few, very interesting guest bloggers who will hopefully be blogging up a storm here, to the point where my return will be met with "Oh, her again?" as a reaction.

love to all, from yer Drunken Housewife.

Monday, February 08, 2010

the preliminaries

I had an appointment at the hospital today to prepare for my surgery. I filled out a few clipboards worth of forms, had a lot of blood taken (Lola was indignant when she heard that they didn't give me a cookie after taking the blood. "Evil!" she said firmly), met with an anesthesiologist who measured my neck's circumference and took a good long look down my throat, and was shown where to check in on Thursday.

Everything seemed well-organized, with the only down point being when I asked about getting vegetarian food in the hospital. The person I was meeting with sighed. Fixing her gaze upon me with peculiar intensity, she said, "You can refuse the food. Remember that: you can refuse the food." No one needs to remind moi, a picky eater and vegetarian to boot, that I can refuse food. What I wanted to hear was that there would be something I might not need to refuse. This will be the third hospital in this town that I will have stayed in, and I haven't yet been served a vegetarian meal. The hospital where I had two surgeries in 2000 added insult to injury by sending me a flier in the mail a few months after my stay -- during which they didn't bring me a single vegetarian food --- about how I could improve my health and live longer by adopting a vegetarian lifestyle.

I picked up a couple of take-out menus from neighboring restaurants on my way back to my car. I don't think I'll be very hungry in the hospital (the last time I was hospitalized, I just went without eating for two days; if food came when the Sober Husband was visiting, he ate it), but if I do get hungry, I think "The Falafel King" is my best best.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

cut off at the pass

I asked first grader Lola to tell me a story the other day while we were killing time, waiting for Iris uber Alles to finish her writing class. She happily obliged:

"Once there was a maaaaagic kitten, and he was just the size of a speck of dust. He lived on a blue couch! Then he traveled to Buttocks Land, where he met a pair of buttocks. They were very sad, because they had lost their toilet!"

"Stop right there. I don't like where this is headed."

Friday, February 05, 2010

the snit

So the Sober Husband has been gone this week on a business trip to the East Coast, and before that, he had a business obligation taking up the entire day on Saturday. Complicating matters Iris was sick during this whole time, leading to some stressful juggling on my part. The worst was on Saturday, when miserable, feverish Iris needed to stay home and perky, healthy Lola needed to be taken to a birthday party downtown, and my car was down the Peninsula with the Sober Husband.

What was shaping up to be a rough week got rougher when I had a sudden realization in the car the other day that time is up: my surgery is next week, and I'm not ready.

Meanwhile, the Sober Husband, ensconced in luxury hotels (why does he insist upon emailing photos of his suites and the magnificent views from the windows?), was out of touch with me. During the first few days of his trip, he sent a couple of emails to the children, but none to me. I answered the phone when he called, and he just said, "Put Iris on; I'm returning her call" and then hung up when he was through speaking to her. What a difference from the old days, when we talked on the phone for an hour or more every day whenever we were apart. On top of that, Iris was excited that he'd promised to take her to the Academy of Sciences during her upcoming vacation... which was when he was taking off work allegedly to take care of his post-surgical wife in the days immediately following her return from the hospital.

I became livid, particularly as I'd sent him off in style on his trip. (He'd effectively guilt-tripped me, saying, "What if my plane crashes? You'll want my last memories to be happy ones"). I sent a pissy note to him informing him that he was treating me as though I were nothing but the mother of his children and that if he didn't take care of me after my surgery, I was going to call a cab and check into a luxury hotel which offers room service, and I was going to stay there, charging up a storm, until I felt able to take care of myself, and I would no longer read his automated daily spending reports and budget nagging. He whined weakly that he "did email you", but I riposted that a picture of the view from his resplendent hotel signed "Love, Daddy" was not an email to me and did not count.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

an elite group

Lola came home from first grade with a picture, which she kept concealed, but which I later saw was labeled "Purple Vampires Who Have Finished Law School."

This struck me as such an elite group: Vampires of a certain exotic pigmentation, who also must not have only been accepted to law school but also have completed their legal studies. It was a kindness, however, not to require the vampires to have all passed the bar exam.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

clearing the decks

It's February already, and I'm seized with a feeling of doom. Back in December my fabulous surgeon scheduled me for "the first available surgery date", which was mid-February. Back then, that seemed so far away. Now all of a sudden it's here, and I am not feeling ready.

I scheduled a couple of fun things (next weekend we'll go out for a night of hardcore drinking with my favorite hard-drinking couple, the husband of which once said to me, "Open another bottle; I'm Scottish!". I held a brunch for the 'funemployed" members of my Warcraft guild, where we drank mimosas and ate a fresh-baked coffee cake and frittata while annoying the on-line strangers who ended up completing our dungeon group). I meant to declutter the house, get rid of all those bags of books I always claim I am going to take to the used bookstore, and finish some partially-done quilts, and I haven't done that. I wanted the Sober Husband to take a day off and go hiking with me around Muir Woods, while the children were stowed away at school, but that isn't going to happen. Instead he ended up doing two business trips (he's up in the frigid Northeast right now). I also wanted to see a play which just opened at one of my favorite theatres, but I don't think that's going to happen, either.

While most of the "have some fun before several really crappy weeks of convalescence" hasn't panned out, I'm trying to get a variety of child-related things taken care of before my surgery. I'm wrangling a variety of of obligations related to our applications to a school for gifted children [I took Lola for hours of additional testing; I drove Lola down the peninsula for her day visiting the school in the worst storm of the winter, hydroplaning twice and blurting out that classic prayer, "OhGodohGodohGod"; Iris also spent a day visiting there on another stormy day as well]. I've got a playdate finally set with Lola's new best friend from school, a delightful and very highly-scheduled child. I chaperoned a first grade field trip and helped the fourth grade do a sewing project. The art teacher invited me to come back and help more over the next several weeks, but I can't.

I wish I hadn't known so far ahead of time about this surgery. It just gives me too much time to dread it. The first time I had surgery, it came out of the blue: I was admitted to the hospital one night and operated on right off the next morning. If I'd had time to worry, my worries would have been washed right away by the handy morphine injections they were giving me.

I'm not finding much comfort anywhere or understanding of my dread, either. My own darling husband said, when I first told him that I was worried about having surgery, in a judgmental tone, "Well, you chose to go down this path by getting that ultrasound." [My psychiatrist first said, "What an odd thing to say!" but after pondering it, found the logic in it. "If you had just sucked it up and endured the pain, it is true you wouldn't have had that ultrasound and wouldn't be having surgery"]. Another loved one questioned why I would be spending two to three nights in the hospital, saying incredulously, "I thought they'd have you out right away!"

"It IS major abdominal surgery," I said defensively.

"I know someone who had that surgery, and two weeks later, she just repainted her whole house! She just went right outside, and she repainted that whole house! By herself!"

After that I had very little to say whatsoever. My surgeon has advised me to take an entire six weeks of convalescence, the first three weeks of which I should do absolutely nothing whatsoever, but I felt like the hero of "The Magic Mountain" when he was called upon to explain why he was spending the flower of his youth secluded in a sanitarium.

Indeed I stopped asking for help, since it didn't seem to be doing anything other than making me feel worse and to realize that people I like to think love me don't really, at least not as much as I like to think they do. This depressingly leads me to the conclusion that I am a supremely unlovable person. But! Support is coming from unexpected quarters. My mother-in-law, with whom I have always had a pained relationship, is flying in to be with the Sober Husband and the children while I am in the hospital. This will allow the Sober Husband to visit me in the hospital, which has strict rules forbidding child visitors. She also sent me a signed Mary Karr first edition to read during my convalescence, a very thoughtful gift indeed. A beloved friend from high school is flying in for a few days the second week after my surgery to do some cooking and drive the children around (this isn't unexpected because this friend is really very kind and conscientious, but unexpected because she's going to trouble and expense to help).

And then again, I feel like a loser for wanting help. I should be able to figure this out. If I were a different sort of person, a less lazy one, I would cook nutritious meals for my family for every day of my convalescence and freeze them all. In reality, the freezer unit on my refrigerator is very, very tiny, and it is almost entirely taken up with my ice cream maker (which I like to keep at the ready, in case someone gets a whim to make ice cream), several pounds of coffee, a couple ice cube trays, a bag of popcorn (Handy Hint: all the kernels pop if you keep them frozen), and the ends of puglieses I save for when I need good bread crumbs. Also, I don't cook the sorts of food which freeze well. The kind of food I cook tastes fabulous fresh, usually pretty good the next day, but just becomes a horrible mess if frozen. I remember some amazingly difficult Barcelonan dish I made in a large quantity and froze, which the Sober Husband said of dismissively, "Isn't this going to make us sick?"

If I'm not cooking gourmet, I'm having the children eat canned lentil soup or macaroni and cheese out of a box, and those things don't need to be frozen ahead of time. I like to excuse this sort of laziness and child-pandering on the basis that it's compensated for on the other days of the week, when I present the children with a delicious labor of love with a variety of fresh ingredients. In this case, they'll just have to have a few weeks under their father's care, whose skill is capped at making Ramen noodles.

The other problem is the driving. I won't be able to drive for a few weeks, and the children require driving, quite a lot of driving. I suspect at the least they'll miss their art classes and Lola's dance classes, Iris's book club and Lola's special comic book drawing outing. A few weeks of living on Ramen noodles and not being enriched shouldn't harm them too much, but I'm not looking forward to it myself. One Ramen meal a week is more than enough Ramen for me, personally.