Thursday, November 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I realize that I, in a moment of unrestrained ambition, started this new blog with the intention of posting creative projects, photo tips, & some occasional witty repartee about this comical life I live. I, unfortunately, forgot that summer was approaching & it would be approximately three months before I could wipe my ass without a knock on the bathroom door, let alone sit down and CREATE something. In fact, all of my blog followers have forsaken me, but in their defense, how can one follow something that isn’t moving?
My summer had been rolling right along at a rather rapid but enjoyable pace, with a vacation to Florida & lazy days spent lounging by the pool with girlfriends. Then we got back from Florida & my kids decided they didn’t like the pool anymore & things started going downhill. Fast. Rock bottom was reached last Thursday morning at approximately 8:30 a.m. CST. The night before I had been unable to sleep for most of the night. No pain of any kind, just restless & constantly going to pee only to find when I get there that, “Silly me, I guess I didn’t need to pee after all.” That was my first red flag.
As Chuck left for work, I had a twinge of pain in my lower left “flank”, the technical word for the part of your back that directly coincides with your left kidney. Second red flag. For some reason, I dismissed it & sent him on his merry way. For about 15 minutes, that is. It was then that I was struck with that indescribable feeling that can BEST be described as someone grabbing your kidney with vise grips and squeezing as HARD as possible all the while enthusiastically dancing the macarena. Yep, time to proudly announce the arrival of kidney stone #7.
I called Chuck & summoned him immediately back to the castle where he found me as close to upside down as I could get, on the couch, writhing in pain. I had already called my mom & summoned her so she could babysit & the boys’ trauma could end right there, without them being dragged to the ER. Wyatt was already sure I was on my way out of this world & I would have been ok with that, at the time. For those of you who have heard that there’s nothing like a kidney stone, let me tell you – THERE’S NOTHING LIKE IT.
Off we go, me reclined in the front seat of the Suburban, feet braced against the windshield, as Chuck drove 10 freaking miles an hour. That was 10, not 100. TEN. I kid you not, my neighbor could have gotten me there faster on his Gator. As we pulled up to a RED light at Mississippi, behind another truck, Chuck said in his calm, lilting voice, “I wonder WHY in the world that guy turned left on a RED light?” to which I replied, “Probably because his wife is passing a f*%$#!g kidney stone in the seat beside him!” and he stepped on it and ran it too. Now, in his defense, I realize that it probably only seemed that he was driving slow, but by the time we reached the fifth RED stoplight at Evergreen Street, Chuck & I were both feeling like this was the first phase of Obama’s healthcare plan and he was determined to show me what I deserved for casting a vote for that Palin bitch. “I’ll show you what being denied healthcare feels like, you Republican nit-wit.” But I digress…we eventually made it.
Made it to the hospital parking lot anyway. The drive-thru emergency entrance & covered canopy IS BEING COMPLETELY REDONE (no doubt using stimulus money) because it apparently isn’t up to par or isn’t working right or the owner of the construction company’s brother is on the hospital board. Dust, Visqueen, jackhammers galore… No chance for “just drive through & kick me out so I can get hooked up to narcotics while you park.” No sirreee. We got the last parking space in outpatient parking and I WALKED TO THE ER about a distance of half a block. Fun. At this point I’m just happy it’s within sight, kinda like an oasis in the desert.
MUCH to my relief, even though the parking lot we used was completely full, the emergency room had one lone woman, in worse shape than me, fighting early labor. We got checked in and hurried through the standard questions like, “On a scale of one to ten, how bad is your pain?” to which you want to say “Let me tie your penis in a sailor’s knot & you tell me…” “Has your address changed?” Not since the third stone, ten years ago! “Here are your rights & responsibilities as a patient…” OK, how ‘bout we make a deal? You give me drugs NOW & I’ll be nice and say great things about you! How will that work? Somewhere about this time, as I am, I kid you not, lying down in a regular chair with my feet straight up in the air, clutching my back, my sweet husband looks down at me and says, “My wrist is killing me. I wonder if they could check for carpal tunnel.” And what COULD have transpired at that moment is the best argument the liberals have against concealed weapons, in a nutshell.
We finished the technicalities & they told us to sit in the waiting room and they would call me back soon. Thank you Lord, for the genius who put COUCHES in the waiting room so people in agony can lie down & writhe instead of chairs with hard metal arms, like I might want to sit patiently and peruse the latest issue of US magazine while a “renal calculi” of 2.5mm is making it’s way down my 2mm ureter. Being the only one in the room, besides Chuck, I chose to lie down and again, raise my legs in the air. I cannot tell you why that helps, but in this case it provided an ounce of relief, which was worth more per ounce, at that moment, than gold. Chuck looked down and informed me that the entire crotch of my pajama pants was a gaping hole so I laid my legs across him & at that very moment, and I PROMISE you I am not making this up for comic effect, Chuck, my dear husband of 15 years, decided to PLUCK A LEG HAIR OUT RIGHT ABOVE MY ANKLE. I was incredulous. I mean, what does one say in that situation? “If I survive this, I swear, I’m tweezing your scrotum!?!” Or rather, what CAN one say, in a public setting without fearing arrest? He PLUCKED a hair out of my leg as I was passing a kidney stone…….it leaves one speechless. And they wonder why we tell “man” jokes?
I finally got back to a bed in the actual ER & it's bed #6, which I know well, because last time I was in that room, I had to be rushed to surgery to have a stone removed with what they call “the basket”. Hoping that’s not an omen, I settle in & I am (remarkably) attended to in a wonderfully-efficient fashion. First the nurse came in, a protocol I was very familiar with, to feel me out and see if I’m just there smuggling in a vial of chicken blood to contaminate my urine & try to score a “fix”. When you’ve had seven stones and been to that very ER for the last four, two of which required surgery, it’s pretty easy to prove yourself credible. The doctor comes in, followed, soon after, by a little lady whose name I forgot, but who reminded me of Butterfly McQueen. She tried to whisk me off to the CT scan but the nurses stopped her & asked me if I would like to have drugs now or when I returned from the CT room. I told them that I had WANTED them at the intersection of Cantrell and Mississippi so I would rather have them NOW, if that wasn’t too much trouble. At this point, I’m thinking that nothing can be worse than the stone, so who cares about an IV insertion? As they started to do my IV, I suddenly realized why there were TWO nurses. Because the one inserting the needle in my arm was A STUDENT! I thought I was in for a nightmare when the older nurse said, “No! Not there! Down a little!” But to the student’s credit, she hit the spot & I was soon medicated to my satisfaction. I was then taken for the CT scan, where I learned that I not only had a 2.5 mm one stuck in my ureter but two others, 6mm and 3mm, just waiting, like Seabiscuit, to come out of the gate. I was then rolled back to the ER by a jolly little man that reminded me of Sherman Hemsley, though at this point, I suppose it could have been the narcotics at work.
While I was in the CT room, a morbidly obese man who was alternately puking and panicking was moved into the “room” next to me. I say this in quotes because when the wall separating you is nothing but a sheet, “room” seems like a misnomer. (At least I wasn’t on a gurney in the hospital corridor next to a man handcuffed to an ambulance stretcher like I was with stone #6. Don’t think I haven’t lived, folks.) The puking man’s devoted but pure-dee country wife was trying to talk him through his circumstances, but I truly felt like Billy Bob Thornton might pop his head in the curtain & ask if I would like to be an extra in Slingblade 2. There were not enough drugs to deal with the pain of listening to that couple & I began to pray the doctors would just let me go home & tough it out there.
Eventually, they told me the 2.5mm stone should pass on it’s own and the other two could attempt to pass anytime OR could stay inside me for 30 years or more. (Imagine how big that 6mm one will be in like, oh say, 2025?) And, by the way, the doctor said, “that 6mm one is REALLY GOING TO HURT if it attempts to pass.” Thanks for preparing me, because I’m kinda enjoying the 2.5mm one & the 3mm one should be a PIECE OF CAKE! Then he gave me the standard instructions: call your urologist & go home and ingest a few 5-gallon buckets of fluid & oh, here’s a little megaphone-shaped thing for you to pee in & look for the stone. At that moment, the older nurse came in with a wheelchair. You should know this: I don’t do wheelchairs. I do Demerol when I have a stone, but not wheelchairs. She INSISTED on the wheelchair (policy, I know) & I thought, “Well, it’s only out to the curb where Chuck will pick me up.” But I forgot the construction. So I was wheeled, much to my chagrin, ALL THE WAY down the walkway, across the road and across the parking lot to my car. I survived. Both the wheelchair ride & the stone. And Chuck plucking the hair out of my leg. Hopefully that wheelchair ride won’t be published in US magazine.
There’s a little more to the story but I will skip that part and tell you, in short, that the 2.5mm one passed. I will also answer the questions that are bound to be asked because I get them every time. No, they don’t know what causes mine. No, they can’t give you something to dissolve them. Seems like there should be a formula as simple as “stain-dissolving Oxi-clean” that you could just swallow & be done with it, but it apparently is not that simple. It is true that some people just seem to form them much more easily than others and are certainly more prone to them. I’m also apparently blessed with “small ureters” & a stone that might pass painlessly in some, does not in me. Can’t they just “zap ‘em”? Well, the zapper is officially called EWSL (extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy) & the stones have to be big enough that they can’t be passed on their own. It is not painless. All EWSL does is break them up so they’re able to pass with all the pain and agony that I just went through. So only special cases can be “zapped”. The 6mm stone that has yet to get stuck may be a candidate when the time arises. I’ll be sure to let you know! Stay tuned for the adventures of stone #8.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Two weeks from today we will be loading up the Suburban and heading south. July 4th we will be in Fairhope, AL where we will meet my dad and Debbie, my stepmom, and hang out at our favorite Holiday Inn Express in the pool & also attend the Fireworks Over Mobile Bay at the Fairhope Pier. Really looking forward to this! The next day we'll load up again and head for the beach house in Seacrest. We had to find a new one this year because the other one sold, so we moved a block over. We LOVED the old one so I'm hoping this one lives up to Pineapple Paradise! Both are in Seacrest, right next to Rosemary Beach, so it would have to be pretty bad to be disappointing. This one is near the pool too, which is great! And we have a gulf view from the upper deck. Can't wait to watch the sun go down!
Friday, June 19, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I was never a mom who set out with preconceived notions of what her children would participate in as they grew older. I didn't envision dance costumes, violin recitals, or long days spent in the sun at ball tournaments. I also had no idea what they would become or want to become. I simply hoped they would find interests along the way & let those interests guide them in their own dreaming and decision-making. Although I took piano lessons as a child & learned to play quite well, I never enjoyed it & it certainly never became anything that I had a passion for. After I left for college, I can count on one hand the number of times I have even touched piano keys. So whatever my kids did participate in, I wanted them to choose. After we had children, our first two showed very little interest in sports. Chuck tried a bit harder than I did to steer them in that direction, at least with our son Wyatt, but he just never enjoyed it too much & never had the greatest luck getting inspiring coaches. His best one, unfortunately, succumbed to cancer & his worst one, also unfortunately, is still coaching. Ryder, like her mother, made it clear from a young age, that we wouldn't be choking on any dust or sitting in the hot sun for her. Sports were not an option.
Monday, June 8, 2009
I'm a big list-maker. Not sure it really holds me accountable & makes me more likely to accomplish the goals, but I do it anyway. Growing up, my best friend & I would make lists daily. Shopping lists, packing lists for trips we took together, things we were determined to buy from the Hang Ten catalog - you name it, we listed it. Now my lists are more likely to include the usual "what to buy at the grocery store", "what to pack for the beach", "ways to discipline other than yelling at the top of my lungs", "prescription drugs to ask my doctor about", etc. However, the other night, right as the last day of school was approaching, I decided to make a list of goals to accomplish this summer. Nothing big, but something to give me a little direction and be able to look back in August and not think I wasted the time.........So far, this is the list:
Friday, May 29, 2009
I recently went to my gynecologist in a borderline state of panic, having noticed some pain in one breast. This came only days after my mother was diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer. (Mine turned out to be nothing.) As I checked in, I noticed a sign announcing that my doctor had decided to stop delivering babies. I said an immediate thanks to God that I was past needing those services and went about my visit without another thought. About a week later my mother called me with the news of my gynecologist’s imminent retirement. Your mother is the one you call for support in a crisis of gynecological proportion. She isn’t supposed to be the one who notifies you of one! I immediately corrected her that it was just babies he was retiring from & not the profession as a whole. “No. I don’t think so,” she said, “It’s pretty clear that he’s retiring.” My response was something irrational, I’m sure, like “He can’t be retiring because I’m not done going!” She took that moment to remind me of the Designing Women episode where Suzanne Sugarbaker’s gynecologist retires and her sister Julia says, “Let him go! He’s paid his dues!” I know my mother shared that same thought. In typical “mother-mode”, she appeared at my house the next day, newspaper in-hand, to prove it to me. And sadly, she was right…again.
Now, choosing a gynecologist is no easy task for a woman. I know this, because I’ve been through as many gynecologists as Clinton has girlfriends. In high school, I went to a gynecologist named Dr. Grinny Ho. I challenge you to beat that one. Tell me a funnier name of an actual practicing gynecologist & I will buy you dinner on the spot. He was a nice man & had the redeeming quality of prescribing narcotics for cramps. But eventually, I moved. In college, I chose one from the phone book. Not a method I speak highly of. I thought his name sounded wonderful, like he would be this gorgeous hunk of man who would tend to my issues and give me a little eye candy while there. I was a college girl, after all. Priorities, you know. He ended up looking like the professor from Back To The Future. I will never, ever forget his hair. Or the butterflies all over his ceiling, as if pondering the wonder of the monarch in flight will take my mind off the cold, hard speculum & latex-covered hand.
After moving to Kansas City, my search started once again. I sought an experienced, board-certified male doctor this time & instead wound up with one who looked like a cross between Johnny Cash & Wayne Newton. He stamped my file “chaperone denied” both times he examined me, even though I was never asked if I preferred the nurse to be present. Nice. Completely creeped out this time, I had had enough. I decided to take the advice of all my girlfriends and go to a woman. “You’ll be sooo much more at ease,” they said. Now the entire “do-you-prefer-a-man-or-a-woman” question is not unlike asking someone whether they vote Democrat or Republican. Both can spark a heated debate! People have their distinct preferences, but suffice it to say, she solidified my preference in having a man perform the yearly inspection. ‘Nuff said. Next we moved to Colorado, where I found the gynecologist of my dreams. Not a physically gorgeous man, but he listened & I wasn’t treated like a number. This was a good thing because shortly after finding him, he told me I was pregnant. Although your husband plays the biggest role, by far, in the pregnancy and birth of your children, you have a special place in your heart for the man who not only delivers your child into the world, but orders a steady drip of Demerol & stitches you up with the deftness & talent of Martha Stewart cross-stitching a sampler for the wall of her summer home. This man was wonderful. In my seventh month of pregnancy, I developed kidney stones, literally moments before my husband Chuck’s plane took off for Tucson. Unfortunately for me, not enough moments for him to exit the plane! I was taken to the hospital by a friend and was amazed the next morning when I awoke to find my gynecologist sitting by my bedside. Apparently he had been there off and on through the night since he was on call & felt sorry for me because Chuck couldn’t get a flight out until morning. That’s medical care at it’s finest. When, five months after our daughter’s birth, we got the news that we were moving back to the south, I said, “That’s fine, but no more kids if Dr. C can’t deliver them. That’s it. We. are. done.” God has nothing if not a sense of humor, right?
After settling into our new home and scanning the provider list of our insurance company, I call to make an appointment with one of the few offices listed. They tell me that Dr. Rokas* has an opening and I say, “Fine. Book me.” Now that I’m NOT having kids & I’m much older, I’ve lost some of the gusto & criteria with which I formerly sought out my physicians. I figure a big, Greek guy can’t be all bad. I’ll give him a shot.
I don’t remember a lot about my first visit except for thinking, “He doesn’t look Greek at all.” He seemed nice enough, had a wonderful nurse & I felt very comfortable. I decided to keep him. What I hadn’t planned on was settling down here and eventually having two more babies. I saw him at least once a year for thirteen years and for two of those years, many more times, since I was pregnant. I ran into him on occasion outside of the office, for instance, shortly after my first office visit, at an Arkansas Travelers baseball game. I leaned over to my husband and said, “That’s Dr. Rokas,” & he said, “Wow! She’s gorgeous!” I had to inform him that yes, his wife is gorgeous but her husband is actually my doctor.
Once, during the horrid ice storm of 2000, we were forced to hole up in a hotel for almost 5 days. Chuck came down with a stomach virus with our family of four, my mother and our elderly neighbor all crammed into one room. It was & still is, the closest I’ve ever come to hell on Earth. After an intensely frustrating night with a screaming one year-old, a bored pre-schooler & a violently-ill husband, I announced to the room that I would have Dr. Rokas tie my tubes right there on that hotel bed if he was available. I was officially done. Early the next morning, as I was headed to the lobby for breakfast, the elevator doors opened & there he stood, like a genie out of a bottle, fresh off of a night on-call, ready to grant my wish. Apparently he had no power at his house either & they, too, had sought refuge in this hotel. He didn’t actually tie my tubes that day but his sweet wife did occupy my restless children long enough for me to grab a bite to eat. Two months later, he would give me the news that my third and final child was on the way. So much for that tubal.
I have many memories from the 13 years that I was in Dr. Rokas’ care. Seeing the ultrasound images of our boys and watching our daughter’s eyes well up with tears when she learns that a little sister is not in the cards…finding out when I go in to schedule a tubal that I’m already pregnant and will have to postpone those plans…hearing Dr. Rokas assure me that I AM indeed pregnant no matter how much I think I am not…bringing that third child into the world & getting him to cry when he came out completely silent----at that moment, my doctor was elevated to hero status…and in a moment of serious airheadedness, wrapping my entire body in the small sheet the nurse handed me to cover myself, forgetting to first don the snap-front robe. (She should have handed IT to me too! I thought it was strange but, in my defense, I never saw the robe & I had completely covered myself.) His expression when he opened the door is one I will never forget & that moment of embarrassment is second only to removing my pants at my neighborhood pool to reveal I had never put my swimsuit bottoms on. In all honesty though, if you’re going to kneel eye-level with my vagina, shouldn’t we just dispense with the glorified table runner & get on with it? All dignity went out the door with that one… But I digress…
I will miss him, for sure & I am glad that my childbearing years are behind me. Dr. Rokas was present at both the boys’ births and was just as comforting & wonderful as the doctor who delivered my daughter. I’m glad I didn’t stop with the childbearing like I had threatened to. He has assured me that his colleagues can step in & take over once he’s off lying in the sun with a margarita in hand. I hope so. Because dentists fix teeth & orthopedists repair bones, but a good ob/gyn changes your life. I have three wonderful children to prove that!
*Name changed so as not to force him into hiding from embarrassment!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Finally we get a break from the clouds & rain! What a great weekend we just had. I could go for a slight rise in temperature but the sunshine was wonderful. Funny thing is that my kids are now so conditioned to being inside, we practically had to drag them outside kicking & screaming. In all honesty, they were not out there nearly as long as I had hoped & I'm considering telling a little white lie regarding the positive effects of Vitamin D. Builds muscle, makes you run faster, gets you to the next level on Lego Star Wars for Wii....whatever it takes...
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I have long been satisfied with traveling within the United States & the Caribbean. In fact, it irritates me how some get so obsessed with Europe, the Orient, etc. that they take for granted what is right under their nose! Sure, some day I would like to take in a little more of the earth, but for now, I'm happy to skip the Xanax prescription & travel by boat or car. Flying is not my thing. Really, the only country I have on my "must-see-before-die" list is Greece. But today, I add another.....Have any of you ever heard of the Whitsundays? The Whitsundays are a collective of 74 islands, off the coast of Queensland, Australia, bordered by the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea. BEAUTIFUL. Apparently, folks, it really looks like the photos. Blue water and white sand so fine that NASA has used it to make the glass for its telescopes. (And the penalty for taking some can run up to $5000! I'll just sit in it, thank you.) Both Fool's Gold & Muriel's Wedding were filmed on Hamilton Island, one of the 74. I think a week at the Daydream Island Resort & Spa might be just what I need. I mean, seriously, this is stunningly beautiful landscape. And I'm trying not to think about those deadly jellyfish I saw on Animal Planet that are native to Australia.......
Monday, May 11, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
I had my eye on this book when it was first released. Summer is my season. I live for it each year. I spend the winter in complete hibernation, decked out in old sweatshirts & jeans, waiting for the leaves to turn green, the neighborhood pool to be filled to the brim & the humidity in Arkansas to reach unbelievable levels! I love not having to get up & get the kids out the door. I love for them to be able to play in the neighborhood late in the evening. I love an impromptu firefly hunt with no rush to get to bed by 8:00. I love our day trips to Albert Pike Recreation Area to play in the river and grill hot dogs. And I LIVE for our annual beach vacation. Summer is nothing but good for me. And this book embraces it wholeheartedly. Author Suzanne Brown has done a great job of capturing it in all it's essence. The subtitle, "A User's Guide", could not be more perfect. Filled with gorgeous photos that are an inspiration in & of themselves, the book includes such things as:
Monday, May 4, 2009
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Technically I missed a day because it's 12:36 on the 2nd but I'll just do two today! One really early and one late! Tonight I went on a little creative photo safari, shooting at night, in the rain. Loved it. One of my very favorite types of photography....and soooo fun to experiment with!
Friday, May 1, 2009
After cross-stitching for years, I have branched out into embroidery. I've listed this as an ongoing project because, at this point, "ongoing" can be read as S-L-O-W! I'm still learning. I'm sure if any readers out there are experienced embroiderers, they will be able to tell just how novice I am! But I found this pillow kit on deep discount and it spoke to my love of bright colors and purple, in particular. I have, however, decided to skip the pillow part & just frame and mat it for my wall. The kit is by Kristin Nicholas, who also has a blog. I love Kristin's work and her love of color. She has a great book, Colorful Stitchery, that I highly recommend, as well as a book for teaching kids a love of stitching, called Kid's Embroidery.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
It's my hope to feature a weekly project on writecreateclick. It might be something to improve your home, a project to do with your kids, a project to bring out your inner artist (we all have one, you know) or just a simple craft to do for yourself or give as a gift.